Sprint 4G (WiMAX) vs. LTE
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Do you have any indication from Sprint how long they will be keeping their 4G (WiMAX) network, now that they have shifted towards LTE tech in their long-term plans? Specifically, how long will my Ting 4G (WiMAX) phone continue to have any sort of 4G service? Will Sprint still have access through Clearwire's WiMAX network (as it does now) in 2013? 2014? 2015? Or is investment in a current 4G Sprint or Ting phone to be considered a short-term thing, to be made obsolete next year or the year after?

I read Sprint says they will continue selling WiMAX devices through 2012. Since they are sold on 2 year contracts, does that imply Sprint may shut down its WiMAX service at the end of 2014, figuring on selling new LTE phones - and contracts - to its 4G customers then?

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  • DISCLAIMER: Speculation

    According to Wired, Sprint will continue to sell new WiMax devices through the end of 2012. source:  http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/10/sprint-lte-rollout-2013/

    That being said, since Sprint uses 2 year contracts, I imagine they'll be keeping the WiMax network active through the end of 2014, although since I don't work at Sprint I cannot be sure of this timeline.

    -Shawn

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  • Thanks for the Wired link, Shawn. Looks like Sprint is being careful to keep all options open. Guess it'll come down to whether it is profitable for them to keep the WiMAX network up (run by Clearwire, which Sprint more than half owns) alongside LTE. For instance, if they build out LTE first in cities they don't have a strong WiMAX presence in, and then come out with phones that handle both, they could get a faster "4G" buildout and be motivated to keep the WiMAX running not just for legacy phones, but for those new WiMAX+LTE phones - if those will ever even exist. On the other hand if they end up with WiMAX redundant to LTE everywhere in the near future, maintaining WiMAX just for legacy phone customers is a different calculation, one that might encourage them to drop WiMAX as soon as they could do so without losing too many upset legacy phone users. And they could deal with that by offering a discount on a new LTE phone coupled with a new 2-year contract. That would pacify Sprint customers, but still leave Ting'ers in the cold. And if I'm not mistaken Ting is the only reseller of Sprint's WiMAX - the other folks reselling their circuits only offer the 3G. So if Ting does get word of any commitment from Sprint to keep WiMAX lit, that would be good for us all to know.

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  • Reading up more on this, Sprint had been planning to build out LTE in partnership with LightSquared, over spectrum LightSquared was petitioning to convert to this use. But the FCC has now turned that spectrum conversion proposal down. So there's speculation that this will drive Sprint back into the arms of its WiMAX supplier Clearwire, which has its own LTE project underway (although currently underfunded) and claims to have plenty of available spectrum to develop it in. Meanwhile Google has just dumped its own minority investment in Clearwire at a significant loss, leading to other speculation that Google plans its own competitive service. What does this mean for WiMAX? Well, Clearwire needs continued infusions of capital to keep from going bankrupt. If it does, its WiMAX could go down with it. But if Sprint ends up dependent on Clearwire for LTE, the cash infusion for that just might also help keep the WiMAX lit.

    Disclaimer: This is just from light reading, not any deep knowledge of it at all.

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  • While Sprint has just announced they will offer no more new WiMAX phones, it's said Sprint will continue to support WiMAX for current phones "through 2015." (http://www.androidauthority.com/sprint-lte-rollout-69650/). That's a reasonable lifespan for current phones. There's also a map shown there of the LTE coverage they aim to have in the next couple of years that extends LTE into areas where there's currently no WiMAX. By the time that happens, should we expect Ting will also have LTE phones and service available?

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  • I am sorry, but if Sprint (and Ting) actively sell LTE phones know that they will be NOT supported for next 3 years, this sounds to me like... don't want to use fightingwords, be here it goes.... fraud or misleading new customers? I had NO idea what the difference was and if the phones support only one or both standards.  But, Sprint DOES and does not warn customers about it. They should be selling phones that support both standards during the long transition period. I wouldn't mind to wait 5-6 months, but 2-3 years?  My phone, that I just purchased is going to be DEAD by know and LTE will never have been used even then!

    Not happy.  This also explains why Sprint will not sell new Windows 8 phones. No manufacturer in their right mind would expose their product to the poor 3G Sprint network. Just saying. At this point buying an iPhone 5 (even if it was available) would be a total waste of money, and source of constant frustration. 

    Sorry, I am in the process of digesting the reality and weighting my options.  

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  • Bogdan, I hope I haven't confused you with my previous posts. LTE phones are supported by Sprint now, with an ongoing roll out to new cities. That is, Sprint only has LTE in a few cities at present, but expects to have all the major cities covered in the coming months. Meanwhile Sprint continues to have WiMAX in all the locations it previously did. It's WiMAX that they will support at least through 2015. But by sometime next year, as I understand it, they expect to have LTE running in all their old WiMAX territory, and beyond. 

    It would be nice to have LTE + WiMAX phones, but it doesn't look like anyone is manufacturing them. Personally, I find my Ting 3G + WiMAX phone serves me well on both. Network conditions are quite different on any carrier, depending on location, though. I'm mostly in either semi-rural locations where Sprint 3G works very well, or visiting large cities where their 3G may be overloaded, but WiMAX works well.

    By 2016 I expect I'll want an LTE phone. Meanwhile even iPhones have only been 3G, up until the very latest just released, on any carrier. You're looking at the speed of new technology introduction, not fraud.

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  • No Whit,

    It is not you.  Phone spectrum for smartphones is not the area of my interest (prefer computers and photography), so I was completely ignorant on the technology. As an average user, I only look at 4G designation, and not the rest. My point in my post was, that Sprint may have started pushing the LTE technology WAY too soon ... maybe... I don't know., since I cannot find reliable source of information regarding the network upgrade. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley I do not consider living in the boonies I checked Sprint's  map and it seems that technologically most advanced place on earth has no indication of LTE ,and waiting till 2016 ... kind of makes me mad, or extremely disappointed at best.  Sprint should provide a timetable for their clients of what can be expected and when.  Managing clients expectations IS THE NAME of the game in any business. 

    Sorry for using "big fighting" words in my previous post.  Needed some release, and Pepto Bismol was not cutting it for me.

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  • Ok.. found this article on Sprint and LTE rollout... this makes things a little more clear.  Hope it helps other people to cope with the 3G icon on their LTE phones... :http://goo.gl/dtP6K

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  • |
    Ting now supports select LTE devices as BYOD capable. Check out the white list (https://help.ting.com/entries/22567167-byod-whitelist) to see if your device can be "Tingified"!
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