The world of mobile devices requires serious competition to keep pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible. 15 years ago most people couldn’t even fathom having the Internet on their phones everywhere they went, but today it’s almost unfathomable not to have it. Once 56K dial-up speeds were the cream-of-the-crop for home users, and now most modern LTE mobile networks get at least 10Mbps connections, and that’s not even on a good day. While there have a few different kinds of 4G networks out there, LTE seems to have won the war and is being considered the true 4G technology, and has now been adopted by every major wireless company in the US. Sprint and T-Mobile are behind Verizon and AT&T, but that gap lessens every day, and now Sprint is here to try to rubber band that gap the other way with their new network upgrade initiative, Spark. Simply put Spark is the name for Sprint’s new triple-band LTE network that, when launched, will start out at a respectable 50-60Mbps and move to a rather incredible 1Gbps throughput over the next 3 years. This comes right when Sprint has started seriously hemorrhaging customers and needs to do something drastic to keep people coming back to its network.
When Sprint launched WiMAX a few years ago, they were the first on the cutting edge of 4G speeds. While WiMAX maxed out at around 6Mbps on a good day, most people were getting less than the 3G speeds that other wireless companies offered. Sprint’s LTE upgrade did little to help the issue, and the LTE spectrum that they were able to acquire was not as hardy as that of other companies, leaving LTE coverage in buildings and more remote areas a thing of smoke and mirrors. Then there’s the fact that Sprint’s LTE network only runs on the 1900mHz spectrum, leaving them with a single band network rather than the dual-band networks that AT&T and Verizon currently run. Sprint aims to fix this by utilizing its current 1900mHz spectrum, as well as the old 800mHz Nextel spectrum and the 2.5GHz Clearwire spectrum, giving Sprint the first tri-band LTE network. This will hopefully be enough to not only handle the current bout of traffic, but to be able to increase current network speeds by more than 100 fold in 3 years.
As of today Sprint is launching its new Spark network in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami. These 5 cities are among the elite included in Sprint’s new plans, which is scheduled to reach over 100 million users with Spark by the end of 2014. That’s 100 cities for those more concerned with geographic coverage rather than population densities. Current and future Sprint users will be able to use the new Spark network on only a few choice phones, and none of them have even launched yet. The first set of these new tri-band LTE enabled phones are launching November 8th and include the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy Mega and LG G2. The only other phone that Sprint has announced compatibility with Spark is the HTC One Max, which is scheduled to come out before the end of the year. It’s pretty disappointing that no currently available phones will be able to utilize this potentially awesome new network, but them’s the breaks when it comes to the crazy world of mobile devices after all. For now users that are planning on picking up these new phones will be able to enjoy the new 50-60Mbps network speeds, and hopefully in 2-3 years time when this technology is available to more people, that magic 1Gbps number will be reached.