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Study: Sprint LTE Coverage Maps Total Fantasy
Company Significantly Over-Stating LTE Coverage
by Karl Bode 10:40AM Friday Oct 05 2012
A new study insists that Sprint's LTE footprint is significantly smaller than the company has advertised. When Sprint began launching markets this past summer many users noticed they couldn't get signal. Sprint users complained that like most coverage maps, Sprint's maps didn't adhere to the law of reality, Sprint insisting the significant gaps were due to "street level deployment" of services.

Click for full size
Now a new study by Advanced Frequency Engineering (via Fierce Wireless) points out that markets that have been "launched" by Sprint suffer from significant coverage issues:
quote:
"The results of site surveys and 4G LTE availability tests show that while Verizon and AT&T had ubiquitous LTE availability in the test markets, Sprint LTE service was not present or not accessible in 75-90 percent of Sprint's advertised LTE coverage area in the cities tested at time of testing."
The firm stated that the difference between actually deployed LTE and Sprint's LTE coverage maps was particularly dramatic in Dallas, as the image to the right highlights.

Most carrier coverage maps suffer from exaggeration, and many market launches have been partial -- though Sprint's seems particularly inflated on both counts as the company tries to compete with the deeper pockets of AT&T and Verizon. The recent launch of the iPhone 5 in particular helped highlight how far behind Verizon Sprint is -- though the carrier insists they have at least a hundred launches on deck before the end of the year. Just how robust those launches will be remains to be seen.

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Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1

Their coverage choices

Sprint has (great) LTE in Ellicott City Maryland, but not in Washington DC. They cover a small town but ignore the nation's capitol. I don't understand the logic.
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less talk, more music

tiger72
SexaT duorP
Premium
join:2001-03-28
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:1

Re: Their coverage choices

They'll get there eventually. If their network sucks in a small town while they're still testing things out it's less visible than if their coverage sucks in the capitol.
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA

Re: Their coverage choices

Actually, Ellicott City is between Baltimore and Washington, DC. So many people who work in the nation's capital could live or also commute from there. I actually know several people who do this, so might as well put the LTE in the capital.

Ctrl Alt Del
Premium
join:2002-02-18
kudos:1

Re: Their coverage choices

Ellicott City is part of the Baltimore DC area, but it is not between the two. It's to the west of Baltimore, and about 20 miles from DC.

As you drive down I-95 towards DC (at 3 MPH in rush hour) you quickly loose LTE. By Laurel it's difficult to get solid 3G.
--
less talk, more music
cbobby

join:2009-06-14
New Windsor, MD
This week they put up a "temporary tower" 4G...according to the tech I talked to - the one working on raising the tower - at the New Windsor water tower pad above the town.

I think they turned it on yesterday...I don't have a 4G device but my 3G speed is back to what it was when I first got Sprint in 2008.
xenophon

join:2007-09-17
Sprint should state in the maps that it is expected coverage by Dec 2012 as that is when the first markets are expected to complete.

They could avoid this if setting expectations correctly. They'd be better off just turning on LTE in 100 markets, let users us it 'unofficially' and not 'announce' the market until complete. It would create positive buzz that users are getting LTE even though not announced yet.
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA
That's saying something considering how hilly Ellicott City is. Also, it's part of Metro DC-Baltimore.
rmrper

join:2006-06-13
Wylie, TX

Study is pretty accurate from what I can tell

I live in DFW (closest LTE to me is the North most section of the map). This study mirrors what I have seen in practice, as the area I live is on Sprint's LTE map, but not available based on the map from this study. My EVO 4G LTE has only seen 4G signals in some of the areas this study notes are live. Last I heard is that DFW won't be closer to done until at least Feb 2013, and I think that is still optimistic. I really wish Sprint wouldn't have said a market is live for LTE without being at least 50% done. I'm not unhappy with my phone, but there are lots of folks on Sprint's user forums who got phones specifically for LTE service that was coming soon, only to find out "soon" may be closer to a year.

LightS
Premium
join:2005-12-17
Greenville, TX

Re: Study is pretty accurate from what I can tell

I'm not far from you, yet Sprint has LTE over here I've heard. I'm surprised they don't have LTE coverage in Wylie, yet my VZW phone does...
m3nphls

join:2012-10-02
Brooklyn, NY

Re: Study is pretty accurate from what I can tell

You can't compare a big dog like VZW who knows how to build a network with Sprint which is a poopy company that is still struggling.
big_e

join:2011-03-05

Sprint will not survive.

LTE and their network vision upgrades are Sprint's last hope for subscriber growth/retention to gain financial solvency. Now it appears their upgrade is just a badly engineered as their previous network. Stick a fork in. Sprint's done.
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH

Re: Sprint will not survive.

been saying that.

swintec
Premium,VIP
join:2003-12-19
Alfred, ME
kudos:5
Reviews:
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said by big_e:

Now it appears their upgrade is just a badly engineered as their previous network. Stick a fork in. Sprint's done.

Markets are only 20-30% done now and you are saying it is a failure? Give me a break. Their coverage maps suck for sure but it is far to early to say they are done.
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Jon Geb
Wal-Mart Sucks

join:2001-01-09
Howell, MI

Re: Sprint will not survive.

Meanwhile at Verizon, they are working on secondary and rural tiers now.

Woody79_00
I run Linux am I still a PC?
Premium
join:2004-07-08
united state
Sprint could very easily survive if they would begin making the right decisions: To entertain the mind, here is what Sprint SHOULD be doing:

1. Sprint should have held off the LTE deployment....waited a year or two to even think about rolling it out...when it becomes cheaper, until then 3G is good enough. Upgrading to 4G after costs come down.

2. Since we are taking a more cautious approach to network upgrades, right away Sprint offers plans 20-25% cheaper then AT&T and Verizon. In the American Market price is everything...see Wal-mart...its matters not to 80% of the consumer market if Sprint has LTE or not..if its 20% cheaper then Verizon and AT&T and allows the users to talk, text, check facebook, browse the web...its a money maker...in markets where Sprint offers service its a winner.

Bill Gates said it best in The Pirates of Silicon Valley when Steve Jobs yelled "our stuff is better" Gates replied "That doesn't matter"

why did Windows beat Apple out? Answer is price...price was the single point that gained Microsoft an advantage...price.

If Sprint is smart, they will undercut the competition by 20-25% and hold off on upgrades until prices come down...3G is good enough for the next 2 years to the average American...let Verizon and AT&T play this upgrade game (while having to keep raising prices to do it) while Sprint pursues a more conservative plan of only upgrading the network once every 4 years while offering significantly lower prices for a competitive service while raking in huge amounts of profits to boot.

this would force AT&T and Verizon to either lower prices or close up shop...its a win-win for Sprint and they need to get on it....
big_e

join:2011-03-05
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Frontier Communi..

Re: Sprint will not survive.

Sprint's network has been in shambles for years. Their 3G is far from good enough. 100kbps and 500ms latency during most hours of the day. The only way they can fix their 3G is to roll out network vision which will contain the software based radios that give them LTE anyways.

They got into the position they are now, by playing by your rules and putting off needed upgrades for years.
TuxRaiderPen

join:2009-09-19
said by Woody79_00:
Sprint could very easily survive if they would begin making the right decisions: To entertain the mind, here is what Sprint SHOULD be doing:

If Sprint is smart, they will undercut the competition by 20-25% and hold off on upgrades until prices come down...3G is good enough for the next 2 years to the average American
When you have crap coverage it doesn't matter what it is if you need to make a call... sproostgin coverage has been weighed, measured and found wanting. And now they've been caught red handed, and NO they are not the only ones lying it happens at VZW on down...They would need to undercut things by 60% to compare with their coverage.

sprint got themselves in this mess when they merged with nexhell. The results of the mess nexhell created is costing sproostgin BILLIONS which all could have been avoided had the FCC done its J - O - B! Yeah thats not happening.... Bad move, and now tmobile is going to do the exact same thing. just a shuffle of technologies involved GSM and UMTS ( and these are distinct seperated tech, and GSM is not synonomous for both! ) for iDEN with CDMA /LTE.

said by Woody79_00:
this would force AT&T and Verizon to either lower prices or close up shop...its a win-win for Sprint and they need to get on it....

VZW nor craptt is going anywhere regardless of the consolitdation of the rest of the losers in the wireless field tmetropcs hmmm... I've been calling them that for years.. now it is.
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justin03

join:2002-09-06
Massapequa, NY

Re: Sprint will not survive.

They also got themselves into this mess when they started selling iphone. If your network is already performing badly and a majority of the cell sites have contention , u decide to sell a phone thats going to attract a lot of people. What happens now? . You have unlimited data but whats the point if you cant even get broadband speeds. Dial up on a iphone is rediculous . Sprint is pretty much the same as nextel now with speeds, unless you happen to live in a upgraded area. I could have waited 6-9 months for possibly good speed but why would i pay a min of 80 a month for dial up speeds.

Ha

@comcast.net
Really? A Knights Tale reference? ..... Actually..... LOVE IT!
justin03

join:2002-09-06
Massapequa, NY
Sprints 3g data network is almost unusable in some markets. I had purchased iphone5 and returned within 3 days. Couldnt even connect to app store and websites. Would get 0 download sometimes and .50 up. Usually it was around 20-60kb down on speedtest.net. Driving to work at 630am i was able to get 1mb down 3 hours later pretty much useless. This was on longisland in deer park , islandia , hauppauge. If they dont upgrade there network asap there going to lose a lot of subs

solveforce
solveforce
Premium
join:2007-03-08
Yorba Linda, CA
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
I have used Sprint for years and they have worked fine for me. Every provider has strengths and weaknesses especially as it relates to coverage area. Depending on who gives you the best coverage and pricing plans will usually determine who goes with what provider. Sprint will be fine. I am sure other people say the same thing about Verizon and AT&T is certain situations.
--
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Nunya Biz

@centurytel.net

Karl Bode

Note to Karl Bode..

The article is fantastic!

However, if you're going to provide an image (especially a map), you really need to offer a LARGER pic. The map(s) you've got in this article expand only slightly on click-through and remain much too small to be reasonably legible, or useful.

pende_tim
Premium
join:2004-01-04
Andover, NJ
kudos:1

Has Always Been Like This

Nothing new here.

IMHO Sprint's map as always overstated their coverage area since they first provided one may years ago.
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The Beer
I Love It When A Plan Comes Together
Premium
join:2001-07-24
Atlantic, IA

St Jo is fine

I was in St Jo, MO this weekend and had great LTE coverage getting 20x10 in every building I was in.
georgeglass5

join:2010-06-07
New York, NY

Thats one of the reasons

I moved on to verizon, sure its not unlimited, but this reasoning of "Soon", is a cross I'll let them bare. They should have it all done, I figure in about 2 years, farming & LTE Build out, etc. In the meantime, 15 to 20meg dwn & 15 to 20 meg up on the S3 is wicked fast
gzub

join:2004-11-25
Franklin, MA

Sensoryly coverage for Sprint 4G

If you look at Sensorly's coverage reports »www.sensorly.com/map/4G/US/USA/S···10sprint from users with Android Phones it shows better observed coverage than what AFE reported. There are sections where there does not look to be coverage shown on AFE where someone has actively mapped the coverage on Sensorly...

Geoff
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA

Re: Sensoryly coverage for Sprint 4G

This is true. I know even from one phone to another phone of the exact same brand, the coverage can be different. Anyway, that's my recent experience in testing some phones on Verizon.
ArizonaSteve

join:2004-01-31
Apache Junction, AZ
Reviews:
·voip.ms
·CenturyLink
·T-Mobile US

Aren't they all?

Well the T-Mobile coverage map is total fantasy too. It shows good coverage nearly everywhere but they don't tell you it's all 2G and 3G while they don't have many 4G towers anywhere except near T-Mobile stores. On Samsung phones one of the firmware updates between 2.2.1 and 2.3.5 changed the display so it says 4G on the screen all the time now which makes everyone think they are getting 4G when they are really on 3G most of the time. The only way you can tell now is to run an app like OpenSignalMaps to see what kind of tower you are connected to. Their 3G can go up to 7Mb though so if that's all you are getting it's still not too bad.

Bahamut X
Premium
join:2000-12-09
Fort Worth, TX

Re: Aren't they all?

said by ArizonaSteve:

The only way you can tell now is to run an app like OpenSignalMaps to see what kind of tower you are connected to.

This website says I should have no signal whatsoever...

and you wanna say I should trust it to tell me what I'm attached to?
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I work at T-Mobile. I play games and enjoy time off of work. I've been a member here longer than I've worked there. I have my own opinions, they do not hold anything to T-Mobile USA, etc etc etc...

djdanska
Rudie32
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-21
San Diego, CA
kudos:4

Re: Aren't they all?

Opensignalmaps is a waste. I don't know anybody who bothers to use it.

deheza

join:2004-06-10
Allen, TX

Sprint has spotty LTE coverage in the Dallas area.

The coverage is very iffy in the Allen area. It's spotty between Allen and Love Field. It's very good at Love field. It's like the old Sprint days again when they had spotty phone coverage.
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VerizonFios, Callcentric, Future-Nine, Vitelity, CallWithUs, Voip.ms, Anveo.
A stable system doesn't have enough features.
Prespd

join:2004-03-10
Wyoming, MI

Sprint SF Bay Area

Click for full size
Click for full size
Great signal in Cupertino/Sunnyvale area in the Bay Area. Speeds on sprint only about 6MPBS, but for an non-official launch, I'll take it. 3g still sucking wind, and when you lose LTE, things like Pandora aren't switching automatically to 3G. So I hope Sprint is working on that. I'd sure like to submit my reports to help them tweak the system.

Edit, just checked 9Mbps down 5 Up. Inside office 4th floor not near a window.

SrsBsns

join:2001-08-30
Oklahoma City, OK

In progress

@ everyone complaining saying Sprint is done and they suck etc.

The coverage maps on Sprint.com are the projected coverage when the network is fully built out in the markets shown.

The markets went live but that does not mean complete. If you want to know compare what they report vs what we know is the completed market rollout check here:

»s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/212-n···ng-list/

DFW is only 18% complete so its going to get way better.

The only really story here is Sprint posted maps that show a completed build out.