Is Sprint Really The Slowest?

Open Signal Maps (at opensignal dot com) list the speed of Sprint dead last at just 1.36Mb and even slower than Cricket while the others get 3, 5 or 7Mb.  What does everyone else here get?  I got much slower than that when I tried it once, just 27kb on Virgin Mobile which is even slower than dialup and not fast enough to even open a web page or play an internet radio station.  I don't see how they can stay in business with speeds of just 1.36mb but that's probably an exaggeration. 

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  • Frankly, I'm considering leaving Ting for this very reason (Sprint's HORRID network).  I just ran Speedtest and it came up with 182ms ping, 0.32Mbps down, 0.40Mbps up.  Loading mobile webpages usually takes 20-30 seconds, more data heavy pages a minute+.  No LTE in my area, though I've heard even the people that get it aren't happy.

    I have to say though, everything else about Ting I absolutely love (the bucket concept, the customer service that has a live person answering within 2 rings, etc.).  My bills average $30/mo vs. the $100 for Verizon that I left.  

    Right now I'm typing this on my laptop which has an internal T-Mobile aircard (HSPA+, no LTE capability), and Speedtest shows 101ms ping, 5.32Mbps down, 2.31Mbps up. 

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  • Probably. The one time I did a 3G speed test I was only getting ~100Kbps down (with a very poor signal), don't remember the up speed.

    I'm on wifi probably 98% of the time I use my phone though so I don't care. I have wifi at work, home, parents, the mall, grocery store, and so forth all with much better speeds than LTE. Even my mom, who has Verizon LTE, uses 95% wifi and 5% cell data (~100MB/month on cell) even though the data is essentially unlimited since it is a work phone. I only use the data to do email/sms (via google voice) and navigation searches, so speed doesn't matter to me at all. I wasn't paying for data before, so it works for me.

    If data was cheaper (say $5/GB) I would probably be upset at the slow speeds because then I might be enticed to actually use the data (say streaming music while out and about).

    Part of the reason I chose Ting was because it upgraded me to a smartphone without having to pay lots of money for lots of data I really didn't need.

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  • Today on Open Signal maps they say the speed of Sprint has Dropped to just 0.55mb down with ping times of 334ms!  That ping time is even longer than Cricket and Cricket is so bad it's also unusable!

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  • Luckily here in the Chicago burbs, LTE is up and running. On my EVO 4G LTE, I am hitting 6.37mb down, and 3.75mb up on 4G. On my wives GS2, not so good. .022mb down, and .02 up on 3G. Even worse on my daughter's nexus 4g. .015 down, and .01 up. Good thing we are on WiFi 90% of the time. Its the price you have to pay for affordable cell service, with awesome customer service.

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  • I think it really is going to depend on area.  For me, I am pretty much stuck on 3g anyway on my Epig 4G Touch (WiMax only), but 3g speeds in this area have been pretty comparable to other services I had.  Then again I rarely use 3g for more than syncing and maps, wifi for all else.  My average speedtests though for my area of Cincinnati normally has me at around 100-150 ms with at least 1 Mbps up and 1 Mbps down.  More than enough for my needs, but I could see where some people would consider that unsatisfactory. 

    It's what I am stuck at since Sprint has like zero Wimax coverage here. 

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  • I'd be thrilled if I got 1mbps!  I've been visiting Oceanside and get a better ping, but the speeds are still 0.15 both directions...

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  • Sprint is the pits.  When is 4G not 4G? When it's Sprint!  A guy walks into a bar, says his car broke down about half a mile down the road.  "Hey, buddy, lemme call a tow truck for you, okay?  He's about 5 miles down the road."  He pulls out his flashy Samsung S4.  The guy says, "Who's your service provider?"  Whereupon the fellow with the S4 says, "Sprint!"  The other guy heads toward the door.  He turns and waves.  "Thanks anyway, but walking will get me there faster."

    All this and no data roaming, too!

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  • Too bad Ting is tied to a hopeless loser like Sprint!

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  • An LTE tower can range from 1 mile to 15 or more, but there are other factors, such as the size of the tower and if there are any obstructions between you and the tower, for instance, that can affect whether the signal reaches you or not.

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  • Andrew I don't know what you are smoking but it sounds ridiculous to say that LTE has 15 times the range of 3G!  Usable ranges are more like 1/2 mile to a mile in my experience.  With a high gain antenna on the roof you might get 1-2 miles.   While I don't have much experience with Sprint since it's too slow to use for anything or run any tests I found that T-Mobile towers have a range of up to about a mile with the second 1/2 mile being hit or miss depending on terrain, etc.  The distance and speeds depend on the kind of service, height of the tower, kind of antenna used, population density, number of obstacles in the way and how high the power is turned up. They can increase the range a lot just by turning up the power but don't do it in high population density areas and choose to put more towers in the area instead so there is one about every mile along major highways and in areas where most people work and live like near schools, libraries, govt. building and housing areas.   I get speeds of 6Mb or 22Mb depending on whether I'm near a 3G or 4G tower but it drops off rapidly as the distance increases.  The speed and reliability is only good near the tower and up to about 1/2 mile away due to the low power and small antennas used in hand held radios so they don't have much range. I have a 3G tower about a mile away on one side of my house and a 4G tower about a mile away on the other side so I can't get anything but Edge unless I go up on the roof then it can't make up it's mind which one to use and keeps jumping back and forth between the two.  Driving across Texas I noticed there were some kind of cell phone towers spaced about every 10 miles, usually on a tall tower on a hill near the highway. I don't know who's they were but in that case the range must have been nearly 5 miles for each one since it was out in open country where the antenna radiation pattern could be optimized to have the strongest signal just 2 directions along the highway.  You can't do that in the city though and usually have to maintain an omnidirectional pattern to be able to cover everyone around it who is nearby.  

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  • Chris, Sydney will be getting back to you on your questions in the existing support request you have open. Let her know if you have any additional questions about LTE with us as well though.

    Steve, from the Wikipedia article on LTE ( at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_(telecommunication) ): "Support for cell sizes from tens of metres radius ( femto and  picocells) up to 100 km (62 miles) radius  macrocells. In the lower frequency bands to be used in rural areas, 5 km (3.1 miles) is the optimal cell size, 30 km (19 miles) having reasonable performance, and up to 100 km cell sizes supported with acceptable performance. In city and urban areas, higher frequency bands (such as 2.6 GHz in EU) are used to support high speed mobile broadband. In this case, cell sizes may be 1 km (0.62 miles) or even less." So you are correct about average city-based ranges, but LTE does have an extremely large range, even if that's more in theory than general practice.

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  • I've seen even longer ranges than that when the service was analog back in the '80's using one of those trunk mounted radios in my car!  Using a high gain Yagi antenna laying across the seat I was able to drive from Phoenix nearly half way to the California border.  It wasn't until I went up over a hill and down the other side that I lost the signal.  That doesn't mean it;s practical though.

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  • Haha not practical indeed.  

    Analog signals were by far the strongest.  TV broadcasters faced a similar issue with their digital switch over. 9/10 their foot print got a lot smaller.  No more late rainy nights catching signals from a state away ;)

    Looking very much forward to future "white fi" roll outs in the future.  That's something cell companies have to be terrified of! haha

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  • Josh, I don't know why people keep perpetuating the myth that digital TV signals are weaker but it's not true.  Whether the signal is digital or analog has nothing to do with the range except the digital signal will drop off quicker when you get to the limit of their range.  Here in AZ when the TV stations switched over to digital their coverage areas actually got bigger!  I can now get all the Phoenix and Tucson stations in HD where I could barely get only a few snowy Tucson analog stations before.

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  • Now I didn't say DTV signals were weaker now did I? I said it has a smaller foot print in most cases.  Ask anyone who work at a station.  Troubles arise especially when you have a region varies as topographically as this area does (Southern Ohio).  Many people on the outlying areas straight lost a connection to the broadcasters here.

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  • Damn lack of coffee... Meant to add relevant information.  I don't know if Ting would have been able to offer the prices and structure they had whole selling from Verizon or anyone else.  

    In fact, personally, I wouldn't have started Ting service had it been on Verizon or A&TT networks.  Stronger they are, but I boycott those two.  

    Plus I'm a silver lining kind of guy... slower data means longer time to reach higher buckets! hahaha ;)

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  • I used to manage my employers corporate cell phone plan with Sprint.  Corporate folks sometimes get better info and explanations than does the ordinary consumer.  Here's what I learned from my Sprint technical support folks: 

    The original Sprint 3G network was designed and implemented well before smart phones.  At the time, their 3G network was over designed to have more than enough bandwidth to handle the phones of the day.  However, the exponential increase in data usage caused by the proliferation of smart phones was not foreseen.  There are so many smart phones using large amounts of data that the system is simply overwhelmed.  Sprint's original cell site equipment makes it more difficult to expand and upgrade their 3G system.

    Sprint's 4G Wimax was a stop gap measure designed to both implement allocated frequencies by a use or lose deadline and to get Sprint by until they could implement LTE.  As part of their LTE implementation, they are upgrading their entire 3G network.  This work is all being done simultaneously and they are also modifying each cell site to be more easily expanded in the future.  As LTE rolls out, 3G service will improve as well.  They are adding a lot of bandwidth to the system but it takes time and cash flow.  Cash flow is one of the problems.  Sprint was having problems implementing the new network as fast as they wanted to (and as fast as their customers want them to) because of inadequate cash flow.  They are managing their debt well and their recent acquisition by Softbank will infuse them with the cash they need to finish out the network upgrades and to expedite those upgrades.

    So, have a little patience.  It's only going to get better and I think it will happen fairly quickly for most of us.  You can visit Sprint's website and get to a map of system upgrades in your area for more information on what they are up to.  A week ago, my area had no LTE service.  Today, there are numerous towers broadcasting LTE service although there is still a lot of work to be done to cover the entire area.

     

    There's a website called Sprint 4G Rollouts Update located at http://s4gru.com/ 

     

    The forum on that site is a good place to get more info about the updates to the Sprint system.

     

    DC

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  • I forgot to mention one thing.  I do a fair bit of traveling and it has become easy to tell where Sprint's 3G network has been upgraded.  On towers that haven't been upgraded, my 3G speeds are slow as mentioned above, and I have trouble maintaining the connection.  I frequently have to engage and disengage airplane mode to re-establish the connection.  On towers that have been upgraded, my 3G speeds are nearly as good as 4G Wimax and I never lose the connection.  Given how much I use Wi-Fi, I'm not sure I'll need LTE if 3G ends up that good everywhere.

     

    DC

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  • Chris Bryan said "So they are going to come back and retrofit a tower with 3G after they upgraded it for 4G LTE?".

     

    In some cases, yes the 3G upgrades will come after LTE is up and running.  In others the 3G upgrades will be done first.  Sometimes it will depend on the equipment delivery schedule.  Sometimes it will depend on the back haul capabilities to the cell site.  But, my Sprint technical sources say every tower will end up with upgraded 3G technology before its all said and done.  Obviously, areas of higher population density are being completed first so as to get LTE service to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.  That's just business economics and is especially important given that Sprint is behind in LTE implementation.  Unfortunately, that means most "small to medium" communities will be upgraded during the later part of Network Vision.  I share your frustration on that note because I frequently travel to a small community where the 3G is poor at best and I'm told it will be another 6 months at least before that cell site sees any upgrades. The overall plan could change now that Sprint has been purchased by Softbank but I'm pleased with what I hear about Softbank and believe this will end up being a positive for Sprint customers.

    DC

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  • No, not blowing smoke Chris.  I've already explained my affiliation with Sprint as a corporate customer.  Can you not read?  Yes, Sprint wanted to complete all upgrades on each tower at the same time but it hasn't worked out that way.  Equipment is different for 3G vs LTE and equipment deliveries have played a role in the timeline as have decisions to ramp up LTE deployment ahead of 3G in some cases.  You have obviously never managed a large complex project.  Thanks for letting me add one more name to the list of people I would never consider hiring.  Apparently all you want to do is whine.  I'm sorry Sprint is not making Chris Bryan the priority he thinks he should be.  I'm out.  You can lead a whiner to reason but you can't make him think.  Good luck.

     

    DC

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  • DC, Why would they upgrade 3G after LTE is up and running since 3G would then be obsolete?

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  • steve c asked "DC, Why would they upgrade 3G after LTE is up and running since 3G would then be obsolete?"

     

    Good question. If I remember correctly, LTE is only for data while 3G is both voice and data.  So, they'll need the 3G for voice service at first.  And Sprint currently has a large number of phones that are not LTE compatible so they need the 3G for that as well.  Eventually Sprint will upgrade to VoLTE (voice over LTE) which may then allow them to repurpose the 3G bandwidth.  They have designed the new cell site hardware to allow them to upgrade and repurpose much easier than they ever could before.  There's more to 3G than that but I've forgotten the other particulars.

     

    Here's a repost from another site by a user that goes by halcyoncmdr123 that gives some more info about Network Vision.  I've read his stuff before and he's usually got good information:

    From halcyoncmdr123:  "Network Vision isn't just about upgrading the 3G or adding 4G. It is a complete replacement of all of the equipment on almost all of the towers nationwide (~39,000). Eventually almost all of the towers will have 4G LTE on them . Less than 100 won't be upgraded due to an inability to get adequate backhaul, etc. to the site to support it (very rural areas), or where it would cause cell interference with neighboring sites (very urban areas).

     

    The second part of Network Vision is the shutdown of the Nextel iDEN network (done), and the subsequent re-use of that 800MHz spectrum to increase voice coverage, and eventually LTE. Most Sprint phones released in the last few years will be capable of using the 800MHz voice (many areas of the country already have it enabled on the upgraded sites) but no current device can utilize the 800MHz LTE signal yet, that will require new devices. The first Tri-band LTE devices should be coming out later this year (800/1900/2500MHz LTE). These will utilize not only the current 1900MHz, but the new 800MHz being deployed and Clearwire's 2500MHz spectrum. Clearwire's network will be setup to utilize "Hotspots" in urban areas. They are planning on setting up the network with 20MHz spectrum capable of theoretical speeds of about 150Mbps. For reference, Sprint's current 1900MHz LTE is being deployed with 5MHz of spectrum with a theoretical limit of 37.5Mbps. Of course there is excess spectrum currently in the plans so Sprint can monitor how the network operates as Network Vision deployment finishes. This leaves room to add more LTE/Voice/EVDO(3G)/etc. carriers in areas that need them after the performance of the new equipment can be evaluated.

     

    Network Vision is the first network replacement of its kind in the western hemisphere, there is a learning curve that goes along with it.This is why NV started off slowly, so each of the vendors nationwide could discover issues on a smaller scale before the pace picked up further in the schedule as planned. Areas like Chicago proved this was a wise decision. Issues with handoffs between the old legacy equipment and the new Network Vision equipment increased dropped calls and such by a huge amount and resulted in the deployment plan needing to be adjusted dramatically to attempt to compensate."

     

     

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  • The Sprint coverage in my area is pretty bad, but when I am able to connect I can browse the internet and use connected apps with relative quickness. I do wish that Ting would lash themselves to a better network, but I'm usually in an area with WiFi, so the shoddy coverage isn't a huge deal for me. 

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  • Non issue for me since I choose not to be a slave to the date lie. I almost never have to use data, and when I do the speed is not an issue. A little discipline goes a long way.

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