The average download speeds on Sprint’s LTE Plus network have increased by 33 percent compared to the same period last year, the carrier states. The claim is based on data gathered by Ookla Speedtest, which is also used by T-Mobile to back some of its recent network speed and coverage claims. Sprint noted that in more than 25 markets, the average download speeds on the carrier's LTE network have improved by at least 40 percent. For example, the download speeds experienced by the carrier’s subscribers in Chicago, Minnesota, and Indianapolis went up by at least 60 percent, with users in Chicago already getting average speeds of 32Mbps. Sprint's customers in Atlanta now also get average download speeds of 32Mbps, which is an 86 percent improvement compared to the same period last year. Other major markets where Sprint's download speeds increased by at least 40 percent include Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington DC.
The improvements in the network speeds were achieved through the utilization of the network's 2.5GHz spectrum, Sprint said. This frequency can handle more bandwidth, which directly translates to faster download speeds on the user's end. In addition, the carrier is taking advantage of some new technologies to further improve the performance of its 2.5GHz LTE network, including HPUE, beamforming, and Magic Box. HPUE was introduced by the firm last year and aims to extend the reach and improve the indoor coverage of its 2.5GHz network. Magic Box, on the other hand, is an all-wireless small cell solution that Sprint distributes to its customers for free. It uses the 2.5GHz network as a backhaul to bypass crowded spectrum and improve the data speeds and network reliability experienced by the user.
Sprint is also planning to deploy new equipment and utilize additional technologies that could further boost data speeds. Massive MIMO antennas, which are now being tested in Seattle, could increase the capacity and performance of the carrier’s network by as much as ten times through simultaneous transmission and reception of data between the base station and user's devices. Other technologies that Sprint is also considering to deploy in the future include 256-QAM modulation and four-channel carrier aggregation.