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Sprint Android Data Usage Drops
Despite Company Offering Unlimited Data Plans
by Karl Bode 08:41AM Tuesday Dec 11 2012
New data from the NPD group shows that data usage among Sprint Android customers has actually dropped significantly over the last six months. Sprint Android users have consistently used the most data among smartphone users, but for an unspecified reason Sprint's average monthly Android smartphone usage dropped from 1.38 GB per month in May 2012 to 0.76 GB in October. The drop is particularly curious given the availability of faster LTE service in some markets, and Sprint's continued dedication to unlimited data. The full, raw data can be found here, and does appear to suffer from a small sample size.

topics flat nest 
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Palm Coast, FL
·Bright House Net..

2 recommendations

Usage drops?

I would imagine their usage has dropped because their 3G network has become unusable in most locations. I know several people with their service and numerous types of phones who are fed up. They can't check e-mail, they can't do anything. It's great that Sprint is still offering unlimited service, but it would be nice if the service was usable.


Re: Usage drops?

Bingo. Their 3G is fine... till the day gets going, then it grinds to a crawl all day long. When i get tot he office at 7am, 3G is pretty darn good, but my 8:30 or so it grinds down to about 2G speeds for the rest of the day.

Only reason I put up with it is because I am still on SEROP and I mainly use WiFi anyway.


Snellville, GA
This is definitely the case for me when I am out and about. If there is no wifi available, I am usually going to have a bad time.


Re: Usage drops?


Snellville, GA

Re: Usage drops?

Thanks for doing the dirty work for me.

Have to agree 100% that Sprint's 3G network is almost unusable during the day for anything other than checking email. I'm in the Philadelphia area and over the last 6 months my satisfaction with Sprint has dropped significantly.

R.I.P Dadkins
Elk Grove, CA
You hit the nail on the head!
Nothing more to it than that.
Romney becomes "the" Epic Failure!

East Amherst, NY
·Verizon FiOS
It's obvious, their network is overblown.

About a year ago I could get 700kbps which was workable for $25/month, but in the last 6-8 months down to edge speed (128kbps) MAX. At that speed streaming is pretty much useless, web pages take 10 seconds or more, GPS takes a minute to boot, etc.

In any case, I took my business to ST for $45, however the LOW is about 2 MBps and in good signal areas 7 Mbps. Even when TMO goes into EDGE (lots of areas in buffalo) it goes down to 180kbps which ironically is faster than a good day on the Sprint 3G network.

Put bluntly, Sprint saturated their network w/ iphones and smartphones on boost/VM/MVNO all over the place, and has been dragging on backhaul upgrades. Result: 1985 network speeds.

I feel bad for contract people, because they are stuck (well ETF ish), and to make matters worse Wimax is dead and they are deploying LTE at a snails pace.

I understand building networks is slow and expensive, however by allowing unlimited without a throttle (like Verizon) is simply KILLING their network. They are like 2 years behind Verizon on the adoption curve. Even VZ only has less than 20% on LTE to this day, so this problem is going to fester for another 2 years.

Add on top of that they are saddled w/ EvDO ( at lest TMO has 4Gish speeds), and the pain will continue.


Sprint's network performance shows that while their unlimited network may be great marketing, their network simply cannot support it. At this point I think most people know the bad rep Sprint's data network has and it's a considerable part of the reason Sprint can't seem to get more customers.

T-mobile's network can at least support unlimited. Sprint needs to either get LTE deployed everywhere FAST, which I don't expect will happen or give up on unlimited.

Austin, TX
Sounds about right. LTE is nice where you can get it though. Give it a few'll see a point of inflection on Sprint's data usage again, as LTE (fully) hits major markets.

Mineral Wells, TX

Re: Usage drops?

I'm sure it will speed up once the Nextel network is shut down and reframed.. it could be as to why they are having problems due to the fact that they want to shut it down fully by next year.. but even then with 4g and unlimited I cant see them being able to speed it up.. but with the rumors about them buying clear and Softbank goin around.. they might be able to speed things up within a year or so..


Clinton Township, MI

Salisbury, MD


People are getting sick of playing Angry Birds?

anon anon

Data from only 1000 Android phones

and not all of them on Sprint. How can that be any kind of accurate gauge?

Austin, TX

Re: Data from only 1000 Android phones

It can't.


keyword is average

Since it says average... I assume this is due to all of the free or near free Android devices being sold to the average user. Most people don't use much data... I use about 5-8GB per month where my wife about 600mb...

Have a nice day.
New Albany, IN


Throttling will do that.

Austin, TX

Re: (;

Nah. Just an overcrowded network that hasn't had significant upgrades in four years.


Not surprised

Earlier this year I was traveling on a trip through all of southern NY state, into PA, OH, IN I had great speeds on 3G going down and coming back. I listened to streaming music while google navigation was going no prob.

Did the same trip again in November and I was lucky if I could stay on 3G let alone use it! Most of the time the phone kept dropping back to 1X and it couldn't do anything more than keep google maps happy. Music streaming was impossible.

That's the first thing I thought of when I read the title, lol. Data usage is down not because of the users, but because of the crappy service.

io chico
Chico, CA

Experiences may vary

My Galaxy Note 2 came with a default setting to always look for and prefer using WiFi over mobile data. I would bet most users leave that setting at default. My previous Sprint Android phone didn't have that preference.

I have a great experience with Sprint and had horrible service with AT&T and can't even get a Verizon signal.

I will stay with Sprint as long as I don't have to be on a skinny data diet.


Re: Experiences may vary

Yeah, Sprint added a connection manager on newer Android phones that favors WiFi more than default Android. It came out with June phones so that would be one factor for the difference since May.

Also, they are switching Nextel users in droves to CDMA, who may not be heavy data users.

No doubt that iPhone users are hogging the 3G network. It was fine until iPhone came out. The iPhone doesn't have Sprint's connection manager.

Fremont, OH

Re: Experiences may vary

Sprint had issues LONG before the iPhone came over. There is a reason Sprint has the most MVNOs. $20,000 gives you access to all you need.


Clinton Township, MI

Re: Experiences may vary

said by TBBroadband:

Sprint had issues LONG before the iPhone came over. There is a reason Sprint has the most MVNOs. $20,000 gives you access to all you need.

Bullseye. Sprint has been installing "band aids" aka patches to it's wireless Lucent switches for years. Now, Samsung is running around trying to install LTE equipment (which is disquised as Rel10) but they are doing it little at a time and it's not going as fast as most would like. Sprints biggest hurdle that no one seems to address is backhaul. They had issues with it in 2007 in most markets and even after all the MAN's were completed. Closing down all the iDen sites isn't going to give them that last mile they so desperately need in most markets. Detroit being one. AT&T isn't going to give sprint the light of day and they control that last mile around here.
Network Guy
New York

How is this surprising?

Their 3G network sucks moose cock, I wouldn't imagine it fares any better with 4G.

Austin, TX
·Time Warner Cable

Re: How is this surprising?

It does get better. Says the person who has pulled 30+ Mbps down and 10+ Mbps up over LTE. Granted, normal speeds on LTE are about two-thirds of that, but that window into fast connectivity is why I haven't gotten out from under my just-renewed Sprint contract.

St Thomas, VI

Yup. Sprint's 3G sucks

The markets that have the new NV upgrades have decent 3G plus there are a few pockets in certain areas that have actually work great.

Too bad they aren't in any heavy populated areas. I travel a lot and rarely does my 3G work faster than dial-up speeds. This past Sunday in Disney World's marketplace I had no data access for much of the day. It is so frustrating.

My data usage has dropped significantly.

1. more public wifi hotspots where I travel
2. almost unusable 3G data
My signature is on strike.

Irving, TX

Re: Yup. Sprint's 3G sucks

I finally dumped Sprint and moved over to Verizon last week because I got so damn sick & tried of their slow ass 3G speeds. My 4S was practically unusable when WiFi was not available. Although I have the 1g/mo plan from Verizon I'd happily prefer a cap (which is almost as fast as WiFi) as opposed to their slow ass unlimited 3G.

Iowa native
Springfield, MA
·Verizon Broadban..

Maybe thanks to iPhone

Maybe their Android users are migrating over to iPhone.

Sprint is popular with low credit customers because they have security deposits that are affordable. They have been known to have deposits at $125-250 tops. Other carriers have been known to charge security deposits up to $800-1000.

I know of some people with bad credit who got approved on Verizon with no deposit. The big carriers have lessened their credit standards in recent years to keep up with the recession that caused many people to take a hit on their credit as they have to put off paying the credit cards to make sure the rent is paid.

Maybe Sprint will sell an iPhone to a low credit customer for a security deposit of $125 (plus the cost of the phone and activation fee).
Network Guy
New York

Re: Maybe thanks to iPhone

In the advent of national prepaid wireless, that's very 1990's thinking of Verizon.

Fremont, OH
Sprint already sells the iPhone to all customers on the post-paid side. All you gotta do is pay for it and your deposit. They don't care of the score you have as they never see it.


Can't use their data because it so sloooooow

Sprints 3g is horrible.. The only reason people are using less is because it's that much slower and is unusable most of the time I ever need to use it.

Pleasant Grove, UT

Sprint 3G Sucks

My 3G usage with Sprint has dropped big time. 3G is pretty much useless in the daytime anywhere I go in Salt Lake and Provo and it has gotten worse over time. It has always been bad, but has gotten worse when the iphone rolled out. Service sucks at my new home so I use wifi there. The only shinning star is that I can get a good wimax signal inside the building I work in. I will occasionally run bittorrent or Netflix on my Nexus S and it works well there.

Ashburn, VA

Real Story About Statistics

This brings up a concern for mobile data usage across the board, and not strictly with Sprint.

We are frequently presented with usage data statistics that have been implemented by the industry to justify the caps and associated pricing. It might be that these stats are absolutely incorrect and that usage is most directly impacted by the quality of the network, and NOT by the demands of the consumers.

If network quality is truly the predominant factor on any stats related to usage, as it appears to be in this instance with Sprint, are we certain that this is not also the greatest factor with every wireless service provider?

There is certainly a direct relationship with the quality of the network and data usage, but I'm curious to know by what degree this impacts the average usage statistics.

I suspect the average consumer wants access to a lot more data, but they just can't get it reliably. Sprint is not able to say that demand is down based on these stats any more than Verizon or AT&T can say they are meeting the demands of their customers, because the usage stats are broken and they do not tell the full story.

Naples, FL


The service SUCKS... that's why. It's mostly unusable.



Re: Because...

I am so glad it isn't just me. I thought maybe my phone was bad or something. I traveled half way across the country over Thanksgiving and the so-called 3G was horrible. Most often I get 100k or less. A few days ago I was getting 10k down and 8k up.

Force roaming to US Cellular gets me over 1 meg down all the time. Guess my phone is OK after all.

Naples, FL

1 edit

Re: Because...

I had an issue about 2.5 years ago where I would come in to work, have 3-4 bars, set my phone down and go to text later and would be in roaming. On top of that, when this happened, I would have trouble sending text messages and getting a network error when doing so. Sprint at first tried to blame the problem on handcent, another person tried to tell me I had to many texts on my phone and to delete them, I blasted her on that. They also had me completely reset my phone to scratch, and it STILL did it even with the STOCK messaging program. So, they wanted me to go to the Sprint store, which I did, at least 3 times and each time, they said nothing was wrong with the phone. The tech at the store even got the issue with the stock messaging program, and this was after a hard reset of the phone. So after 2-3 months of this going back and forth, they allowed me to get a NEW phone outside of my normal cycle to try to fix the issue and the same exact issue with the new phone, the new phone was the HTC EVO, the original. So 2 phones, same issue with both, multiple trips to Sprint store, they still refused to believe it was THEIR problem and not mine. I told them to shove it and sold the EVO and went to Verizon.

And on top of that, I had been with Sprint for over 10 years. Just blows my mind that they refused to look into the issue even though it was proven it wasn't my end.


Jonesboro, GA

Depend on where you live

I have 4G coverage at my house and Sprint has been great.

But I just dont like the idea of no SIM card.

Newport Beach, CA

1 edit

4G is Funked er I mean Throttled

It appears that they are using some type of packet dropping, extended ping scheme or other to throttle data to 2.2 Mb +/- 0.2Mb for total upload and download bandwidth. Speed consistantly goes up as it should and then falls down. and other traffic shaping checks are blocked.
»Sprint blocks

Edit +/- 0.2 MBps and ...... NOT +/- 2Mbps


Rosston, TX

Sprint 3G has gone down hill

Sine summer of last year, 2011, I used a 3G Serra data card and would always get around 2 Mbps in the late evening and at least 1.5 Mbps during the day. I got the same speeds using my Android phone.

Now, a year later, I might see 1 Mbps in the late evening and daytime speeds jump around 100 Kbps to 600 Kbps.

I took my phone into a 4G area and was not impressed. A few times I saw it hold at 3 Mbps, but most of the time it would start off the speed test at 2 Mbps and drop to 1 Mbps half way through. 3G was around 200 Mbps at same time. This has been in the early evening.

Two words...over and loaded.


San Francisco, CA

Slightly off subject question:

Is Sprint going to use Clearwire's backhaul on the new LTE deployment?
I'm guessing that's going to be no.

I'm lucky to be in a Wimax area and its great when I'm stationary. But if Sprint's new LTE will be on riding on their 3G back-haul, it will not be good news.

Rushville, IL

Re: Slightly off subject question:

They are running fiber or using microwave for the backhaul. This has to be in place before LTE goes live. You can usually tell once the backhaul has been completed as 3G shoots up close to 2Mbps. If you are seeing less than that then the site isn't complete yet. I don't think the LTE equipment will work with the current backhaul they have in place.

When they start doing the upgrades coverage will suck until they are done. It seems that it pretty much goes to crap until they have a cluster completed.


Of course....

What isn't mentioned in the headline or anywhere in the blog piece is that their iOS data usage has skyrocketed according to this study. Naturally, that tidbit wouldn't get the mob in as much of a frenzy though....

Brunswick, MD

data drop is because the network blows right now`

if i'm not on wifi OR on one of the nearly non-existant 4g LTE sites data is nearly useless.