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Featured: Sprint’s LTE Service Lets Customers Down

October 7, 2012 - Written By Christina Gardner
Source Credit: Sprint’s Website

 

I’ve never had the chance to use Sprint’s service, but I hear many comments on it both bad and good. However, if Verizon keeps at the rate they are going I just may be visiting Sprint soon. Latest news is  Sprint has had some issues with its LTE services. A study conducted in 4 major cities shows Sprint’s well behind those like Verizon and AT&T. That is a sad and disappointing statistic to hear, since Sprint is one of the few with unlimited data still.

A test conducted by the Advanced Frequency Engineering (AFE) shows their LTE service as:

“..not present or not accessible in 75% to 90% of Sprint’s advertised LTE coverage area in the cities tested at time of testing.”

Could it be that Verizon and AT&T are snatching up all the good mobile spectrum? It is a possibility. The results of this test were quite surprising to Sprint as they retaliated these claims quickly. A spokeswoman for Sprint by the name of Kelly Schlageter stated these results were “surprising” as they had launch several LTE areas over the summer. She also stated that about 100 more would be in effect “in the coming months.” Interesting, kind of makes you wonder if this test is one of those that may be producing false results? Yet, the tests for Verizon and AT&T showed 100% coverage. Do I smell something foul here? I don’t know, but it would seem fishy, or maybe Sprint’s network is really not that good. My best friend owns a Sprint device, and I know that when she comes out to visit me, she has little to no signal. There is a about a 25 minute difference between her home and mine.

Here are some samples of what the AFE test results showed for coverage with Sprint:

  • 10% coverage in Dallas, Texas.
  • 20% coverage in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • 25% coverage in Kansas City

Now keep in mind here, that Sprint’s headquarters in actually stationed in Overland Park, Kansas.

  • 15% coverage in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Those are some interesting numbers, especially when you compare them to the numbers of Verizon and AT&T who are sitting at 100%. Does it make you want to think twice about heading to Sprint?

Performance, download speeds, and streaming were among the common things tested for. It also makes this really surprising because when you look at Sprint’s coverage map, it clearly shows that these areas should have coverage. That would be strange and alarming if I was a potential customer, but can we really trust these test results?

Sprint's 3G/4G Coverage Map
Click for larger view

Schlageter went on to state:

“There’s not a market where we don’t know how many sites we have [on LTE] and how many are launched. That’s why [the study is] surprising. It’s a hard number.”

 

I will be the first to admit I’m really not sure what to believe at this point. Do I believe what Sprint has to say, or do I trust the results of a research firm? It’s a  hard place to decide. She also mentioned that the possibility of a cell tower being down while the test was conducted could be a factor. She also defended that the LTE service may have been announced, but not “publicized” via advertisements yet. Well that doesn’t make any sense, how can you announce a service, but then say because it hasn’t been “publicized.”

She was then asked how their LTE Service map could show that an entire area as being online, but only a “portion was activated.”

“Schlageter urged individual customers and potential customers to input an actual address instead of an entire city to see what their coverage will be.”

Well that definitely doesn’t make me feel very good, because they are right. A map shouldn’t portray an entire area only for them to have a PORTION with actual LTE coverage. That would be considered dishonest would it not?

Customers are able to purchase LTE devices and if they dissatisfied Sprint has a 14-day return policy. Whoa, I mean talk about making sure you are truly happy with the service before that deadline is up. I suggest you get into your car and start traveling to common areas and testing out your LTE device to make sure it’s what you are expecting because it would seem Sprint is using loopholes to claim they have LTE, when there is truly no LTE activated in that area.

Other analysts heard the news like Jack Gold, and still gave Sprint the benefit of the doubt by saying:

“..the test results are “not too concerning given the startup nature of Sprint’s LTE network.” But he warned that if Sprint’s limited coverage continues beyond three to four months, “they have a real problem.”

I would agree with Mr. Gold here, however it’s a bit alarming now. Like it or not, Sprint shouldn’t be announcing or producing maps that show LTE when it’s truly not LTE ready yet. It is common business practice almost anywhere. Doing such, could cost you quite a few critiques, but a huge numbers of customers as well. How does the Android world feel about this? Has anyone actually experienced this issue first hand? I would love to hear your story!

 

Sources: Computer World