American carrier Sprint achieved a 36-percent year-on-year improvement in national average download speeds on its 4G LTE network, according to data gathered by Ookla's Speedtest service. Sprint subscribers experienced an average download speed of 25Mbps across the United States last month, which is an improvement over the 18Mbps average achieved on the carrier's network over the same period last year. Sprint CTO John Saw claims that Sprint now offers the fastest average download speed in a number of markets in the United States, including the cities of Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City.
Sprint's CTO attributed the increase in average download speeds to the recent investments made by the carrier in regards to its LTE network, stating how the firm already deployed its three LTE bands — 800MHz, 1900MHz, and 2500MHz — in thousands of base stations across the country over the last two years. The rollout of the 800MHz band allowed the network operator to improve its coverage inside buildings and increase the time spent by the carrier's subscribers on LTE, which further contributed to boosting the average download speeds enabled by its infrastructure. Meanwhile, the deployment of the 2.5GHz frequency to more cell sites allowed the carrier to offer significantly faster data speeds by virtue of having more bandwidth available.
Another factor that helped improve Sprint's download speeds is the rollout of small cells and the wider distribution of Magic Box; thousands of strand-mounted small cells have already been deployed in recent times, which increased the download speeds experienced by Sprint's subscribers by as much as sixteen times, according to the company. On the other hand, the network operator has already deployed around 200,000 Magic Box units, which contributed to improved indoor data speeds and coverage. Sprint is now also rolling out 4×4 MIMO antennas and 256-QAM data modulation to more cell sites across the country with hopes of achieving comparable headways. MIMO antennas allow cell sites to receive and transmit multiple data streams simultaneously, while the 256-QAM data modulation allows for more data to be sent in a single transmission.