Dec 28 AT 9:38 AM Anthony Domanico 55 Comments

Sprint rolls out first LTE cluster, claims 3G network enhancements coast to coast

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Back in October, Sprint announced an aggressive LTE rollout that would bring full nationwide LTE coverage by the end of 2013. The LTE network would launch in several cities sometime in mid-2012, and Sprint is apparently hard at work building out the infrastructure needed to support such a network.

Sprint announced this morning that their first LTE cluster was live in the town of Kankakee, Illinois, approximately 60 miles outside of Chicago. With this rollout, Sprint is claiming that it has completed its field test of LTE capability, and are all set to launch their first LTE devices sometime in mid-2012.

At the same press event in October, Sprint indicated that it was hard at work on several improvements to its 3G network, which was hit hard when the iPhone 4S came to Sprint’s network in October. Users were reporting worse than ever 3G speeds, with data speeds that matched what I was experiencing on T-Mobile’s Edge (2G) network.

Sprint also announced this morning that their 3G network has been upgraded from coast to coast, marking the achievement of significant milestones in their Network Vision deployment.

As I’m normally connected to Sprint’s WiMax network in Minneapolis, I turned off 4G this morning to see how improved Sprint’s 3G network really is. The speedtest results are painful, with data speeds ranging from 150-300 kbps down, and 200-400 kbps up, and that’s even with a full 6 out of 6 bars on the Motorola Photon 4G. This compares to my usual WiMax speeds of 3-10 mbps down, 1-1.5 mbps up. Apparently Sprint still has some work to do to enhance their 3G network, unless “from Coast to Coast” truly means “on the coasts.”

While Sprint still has a lot of work to do on its 3G network, the rapid LTE deployment and advancements Sprint has made with LTE cluster rollout are certainly welcome news for Sprint’s customers. Here’s hoping the rollout stays on track and that we see LTE on the nation’s #3 carrier by the middle of next year.

Show Press Release

Sprint delivers 3G network upgrades coast-to-coast, marks significant milestones in Network Vision deployment

As 2011 draws to a close, Sprint customers from New York City to San Francisco now enjoy enhanced 3G coverage, resulting in faster data speeds and fewer dropped calls

LTE deployment is on track for 2013

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 27, 2011 – As part of its Network Vision program, Sprint (NYSE:S) doubled its 2011 capital investment over 2010 to make tens of thousands of capacity upgrades, resulting in a better wireless experience for its customers. Smartphone penetration is expected to double over the next four years.* With Network Vision, Sprint is making it easier for data to travel, so its smartphone customers — who use on average 10 times more data than feature phone customers* — can use their devices the way they were intended.

As a result of the network improvements across the country, voice service is enhanced and Sprint customers can expect to see better performance on their smartphones, mobile broadband connection cards and mobile hotspots when using the Sprint 3G network. Performance improvements include:

Faster data speeds that enable instant web access for news updates, HD viewing and game-playing, quicker video downloads and clear video chats

Better signal strength when making a call or using the web

Fewer dropped calls for peace of mind when talking to friends, family or colleagues

“With the network investments we made in 2011 and as the only national wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited data plans while on the Sprint network, we continue to offer better value than Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.” said Bob Azzi, SVP — Network, Sprint. “But our commitment to an exceptional wireless experience doesn’t stop there. Sprint’s on an aggressive path to roll out Network Vision, and in collaboration with our partners, have already achieved many significant milestones that offer improved customer experience on the Sprint 3G network, and we expect to maintain and even accelerate this momentum in 2012.”

Throughout 2011, Sprint achieved a number of significant milestones in the deployment of Network Vision. It is on track to offer LTE devices by mid-year 2012 and complete the majority of its Network Vision rollout in 2013. Sprint expects to make additional announcements about the timing of LTE markets and devices early next year. Milestones include:

Completed development and integration of back-office systems to support the new base stations to ensure a seamless rollout

Finished lab testing of all components of the Network Vision platform, eliminating most technical risks of the program and validating rapid LTE deployment schedule

Launched Sprint Direct Connect® on CDMA and introduced three devices, allowing our iDEN customers to move to a truly mobile data experience with a comparable platinum push-to-talk experience

Launched first multi-modal base station in Branchburg, N.J., and validated improved 3G data performance metrics, such as voice quality, drops and blocks and data speeds

Launched first cluster of cell sites in Kankakee, Ill. and completing field integration testing

Nationwide, Sprint is overhauling its entire network and replacing existing equipment with the newest, most advanced equipment available in the industry through a program called Network Vision. Announced in December 2010, Network Vision is planned to consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers.

Network Vision and the recent upgrades reflect Sprint’s commitment to customer service, which tied for the No. 1 spot among major wireless carriers for customer satisfaction in the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index. The survey showed Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all industries, over the past three years.

Source: Engadget

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • honourbound68

    geez… good news but i’d be happier if they figured out the loss of signal bug that many of their samsung phones (incl mine) are affected by.

    • dclaryjr

      I’m with ya. I replaced an EVO4G with a NexusS and I’ve had lots of problems with the data signal. I really would like to do a phone upgrade (got the cash), but there is nothing from Sprint at present that tempts me. I’m sure hoping HTC announces something decent at CES. I’m in a small market that will probably be WAY down the list for LTE…I’d like to have something that at least works consistently on 3G.

      • wyatt

        same thing for me. evo4g had wonderful signal strength. the nexus s leaves a lot to be desired.

        i left tmo with my nexus one for sprint with an epic 4g. it sucked. i moved to the evo and it was amazing.

        now i’m back with a samsung phone and i HATE their phones. here’s hope HTC pushes out something more like a sensation for sprint.

      • mark

        I too have the Nexus S which replaced my defective Evo 4G (Sprint says there are no longer any replacement Evo’s available). I like the Nexus but miss my Evo 4G for a multitude of reasons.

        -Happy Holidays

    • LukeT32

      Go to VZW. Problem solved.

  • Santana

    About time. They need to speed up the rolling out process and get some good phones out there

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      They have some good phones; their version of the Galaxy S II is good, but they definitely need some LTE devices and a decent LTE network soon.

  • pmex83

    Sounds like some good news for Sprint customers

  • Alan Reboli

    I actually can’t complain. I have an Evo3D and I did notice an improvement in speeds. Thank god!

  • Mustin

    If Sprint can get the coverage and speed of pretty much any other carrier it’ll be number one. I love my Sprint phones and I love the plan – I just don’t like the fact that I’m roaming on Verizon’s network most of the time.

    • wyatt

      does roaming have any ill effect on your bill? if it doesn’t cost anymore, then what the matter with roaming if your service doesn’t change?

      i’m curious, i have pretty solid sprint service in NYC

      • kazahani

        The big issue with roaming is that you are given second priority to all of Verizon’s customers. In a congested area, you might be booted off of the tower to allow a VZW customer to connect, and your data speeds are not nearly as fast.

      • Steve Barry

        No, roaming doesn’t up your bill at all. That’s the one nice thing about Sprint is you roam on Verizon’s network. If you happen to have a corporate discount on your account, you get a specific PRL which also enables 3G (Verizon’s 3G mind you) while roaming instead of 1x which is literally dial-up type speeds.

  • wyatt

    IIRC their WiMax network can be changed fairly easily to their LTE network. Hopefully once they have a decent LTE footprint, they can change that infrastructure over.

    I’m pulling for sprint.

  • Shawn Flanagan

    In St. Paul on Sprint with the original HTC Evo 4G. Not getting very impressive speeds on either network (3G/4G).

    Speeds:
    3G – 300kbps down, 500kbps up
    4G – 1200kbps down, 1200kbps up

    • Erick

      Wow, I didn’t think it was that bad around here on Sprint. Quite a few co-workers have it and haven’t complained about speed. I am a Verizon user, normally I’m seeing about 1800 Kbps down on Verizon 3G in Saint Paul, well over 20 Mbps on 4G.

    • squiddy20

      How the hell is upload speed faster than your download? o.O

      Somethin’ just aint right there…

  • uknowme

    Yeah this will be great when everything is in place. I have no issues on my Evo 3D lately, but it was pretty bad when the iPhone came out.

  • Jordan

    I am in Minnesota and I have seen. The best 3g speeds ever with Sprint. Getting around 1.0 in the Blaine area

  • staryoshi

    I would like to see 4G coverage to larger cities that do not yet have it (eg Colorado Springs) in the meantime while they are working on their LTE network. I went with sprint for the unlimited data, but now I’m kicking myself for not sticking with Verizon… 4gb/mo on a better network would have been fine… I still love my Epic 4g touch, though.

    • Steve Barry

      Once Sprint has a good LTE network, you’ll be glad you stuck with them. You’ll then have truly unlimited data on a network that’s just as fast as Verizon’s at a fraction of the price. The only downside to Sprint right now is their 3G network speeds, and those are being upgraded and basically replaced by LTE. They have the best prices, and they carry great phones too. And for what it’s worth, you can count on about a 0% chance of them expanding their current 4G (WiMax) network anywhere. It wouldn’t make fiscal sense for them to do that since they’re deploying LTE, and I don’t think it’s quite like a flip of a switch to go from WiMax to LTE.

      • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

        Actually, they’re just contracting out their LTE deployment to LightSquared like they did with their WiMAX deployment via ClearWire.

        There’s really no switches to be flipped AFAIK; they should be able to have both standards functional at the same time.

  • ben dover

    Glad to hear they are updating everything but it was a little too late for me…

    I’ve put up with crappy service for the past year on Sprint so I made the switch to Verizon to get the gnex and I’m very happy with the coverage and network speeds!

  • mellanhead

    Maybe they try getting 4g everywhere first before rolling out LTE. We have been paying for 4g service for almost 2yrs when it is still not available in our area. All you get when you ask is “Oh, it will be a couple of months”.

  • Zagrash

    nothing says “hotbed of technology” like Kankakee, IL =)

    hope this bodes well for areas a bit closer to civilization. With T-mob’s future looking a bit uncertain, I’d like to have some options.

  • Vin Carrillo

    @ Shawn – I beat you! And sadly by not much:

    3G (I don’t get 4G)

    123ms Ping
    388kbs down
    680kps up

    @ Sprint – BAH HUMBUG!

    • Shawn Flanagan

      Nice! I hope Sprint keeps improving their 3G speeds while we wait for them to finish their roll out of LTE. I generally use 3G on my 4G phone, because the 4G Wi-Max speeds aren’t good enough for me to waste my battery life on.

      3G battery life = ~24 hours
      4G battery life = ~6 hours

      I hope Sprint gets some nice high-end LTE phones on their network next year. I need to upgrade my HTC Evo 4G, but I’ve been holding out for a good phone with ICS, like the Galaxy Nexus (or something similar) to come out on Sprint’s network.

      • Shawn Flanagan

        Forgot to mention that I do most of the downloading on my phone (games, music, apps, podcasts, etc) using Wi-Fi at home or work, getting 5-10mbps, so I don’t really care about cell data speeds enough to waste my battery on 4G. I should add that this could just be an exception for me, since I’m using the Evo 4G which has horrible battery life on 4G Wi-Max.

    • userx

      I have you all beat.

      Detroit, Michigan:
      3G: 3 Tests:
      Down: 75 kbps
      Up: 415 kbps

      this is fair , right? an extra $10 a month, for the past 2 years, to get THIS?
      i should be able to sue for next receiving a MINIMUM amount of speed.

  • Benjamin Rubenstein

    Here in Memphis, my 3G speeds were so slow that loading web pages was painful. In the past few weeks, my speeds have jumped back into the 1 Mbps range. I consider that a big improvement and I definitely notice a difference.

  • Scott

    In Houston, the speeds are more along the lines of Analog cell phones! Evo 4G and Nexus S are both getting less than 100kbps. A Buddy with a Virgin Mobile (they are on Spring as well) is getting about the same 92-100 kbps. Sprint is full of BS.

    • Bhake

      Outside of Houston here in Katy, we also had horribly slow 3G speeds (100-300 kbps). But today is much better on these towers. Getting 1.5 mbps 3G now on my Photon.

  • spintrex

    Can’t notice much difference… it’s good news to hear 4G LTE coming out but for the most part I use 3G to not drain out the battery. The way I see it… with those 3G speeds we can only expect a data cap.

  • revs

    really not a fan of lte i prefer hspa+42 i get the same speeds with less battery drainage
    sprint hsould try that but i dunno is that just a gsm thing ?

  • revs1227

    and yes sprint 3g is even dredful in ny my gf gets top 1mbps !
    so pathetic my edge speeds are almsot the same !
    and the 4g is no exhistant on long island

  • redraider133

    That is good for those sprint customers now should get some better 3g speeds

  • teudster

    I am stuck in my current plan until next June, but here are my facts. The promise of first 4G network and unlimited data are wearing off for me. In 18 months of service I have spent 95% within Wifi reach. 4G network in my area is not justifiable given the battery life. Signal in my own house was one bar (they gave me a AirRave as soon as I called – that was nice). Since I started I have added extra 20 a month on the inFamous data charge (two other phones which do not enjoy 4G), they removed 1 year handset upgrade option, and cut the discounts. So by June I really hope they start a LTE model lineup and show some signs of LTE network build up. Like I said the promised of unlimited data on a super slow 3G network is BOGUS.

  • donger

    Good news for sprint customers.

  • crazy-4-android

    I hope they can complete this and improve upon the issues soon.

  • userx

    I have you all beat.

    Detroit, Michigan:
    3G: 3 Tests:
    Down: 75 kbps
    Up: 415 kbps

    this is fair , right? an extra $10 a month, for the past 2 years, to get THIS?
    i should be able to sue for next receiving a MINIMUM amount of speed.

    • userx

      Just went to a tmobile store, and did a side to side comparison, sprint gave me 270kbps while tmobile gave me 3.2 mbps. needless to say, i jumped back onto Tmobile, got a white GS2, and then called into sprint n canceled. Eat shit Sprint.

      Dan can take the iphone, their service. and shove it up the ass of every nascar and NBA fan on your network.

      Who would of thought the only reliable phone service in the US, would be the one WITHOUT the iPhone. Fucking worthless slag’s.

  • Richard Yarrell

    I wish sprint well and all my evo family friends…

  • Nathan D.

    Nice, Sprint is stepping it up, now T-mobile is the only one that doesn’t have LTE now.

  • Jorge Eslava

    After reading the comments with the test results it looks like they are still working on the improvements in some areas, I hope the best for Sprint since I want to join Republic wireless and they use their network.

  • RayW

    I like the 3G coverage. When I’m in a 4G area even with “Fair” service my Evo 4G provides better service (Netflix works) than the hotel’s Wireless G service. 3G is also better. I live in Houston and I get good coverage in most places. The 4G service is good when it is available. My plan is to root and use CM9 until Sprint has solid LTE service here. Sorry about the bad coverage in Katy. I would expect it to be good there. Clearlake is the best for me so far. I get great coverage indoors there. I have to go to SBUX in Pearland. The 4G better than the free wireless.

    Cheers!

    • rev2redlineguy

      Are you referring to the SBUX by SuperTarget in Silverlake? I shop out there and have actually gotten pretty good 4G coverage when I am at the Pearland Town Center area. I think I even tried 4G a few times at Baybrook mall and got pretty decent coverage too but at the cost of 4G sucking the life out of my battery….the only major downfall.

  • rev2redlineguy

    I live in Alvin, Texas (30 miles south of downtown Houston) and here are the results of the best speedtest.net so far today on 3G:

    Ping: 130ms
    DL: 615 kbps
    UL: 149 kbps

    Now on 4G, here is one of the best results I got so far:

    Ping: 127ms
    DL: 2822 kbps
    UL: 366 kbps

    This is on my EVO 4G phone and inside my house. I usually use my wifi when I am at home (or Starbucks, several places that have it) a majority of the time since 4g sucks the life out of my battery. Anyways, I hope it gets a little better on the 3G side to where it passes 1MB+.

  • http://www.mikeytusa.com mikeytusa

    Kankakee, Illinois? Why not somewhere like NYC or Boston, or somewhere with like, customers?

  • Gordon Runkle

    Just down Hwy 52 from you, in Rochester. Feels like I’m on dial-up. OK, just a little better. It’s actually worse than it was last week. :-(

  • Joshua Lewis

    Here in central Wisconsin (Green Bay area) Speedtest on 3G (5 of 6 bars) I get about 500kbps both download and upload – 531kbps down, 530kbps up. These speeds are normal for me, right in line with what I usually get. Just learned that there are some WiMax networks around here as well, I was getting 6551kbps down and 1421kbps up on 4G.

  • spazby

    I am on 4g, motorola photon, and speeds have been great… It doesn’t much matter to me if I am getting 5 or 6 on wimax or 16-30 on lte. On the other hand, 3g on sprint is completely unbearable, even with their “coast to coast improvements” but luckily I am in a good 4g area…

  • Shawn Clark

    Idk if its just my EVO 3D but my 4G hasnt been working as supposed…i wonder if its because of this LTE enhancement they working on…