Sprint, for reasons we still don’t understand, decided to launch a WiMAX network several years ago instead of waiting for the 4G LTE standard to become finalized. That decision has been incredibly painful for them. WiMAX smartphones were huge, delivered terrible battery life, and to top it all off, the WiMAX network wasn’t even that fast when compared to what HSPA+ technology could provide. Anyway, the company is now changing gears and will switch to 4G LTE this summer. The folks at PC Magazine have run some initial benchmarks on a test network in Atlanta, Georgia and here’s what they have to say:
“Sprint’s LTE network is faster than its old WiMAX network. It’s a bit faster than T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21, and it’s about 25 times as fast as Sprint’s 3G network. But it doesn’t quite match AT&T’s and Verizon’s LTE speeds in cities where they have more spectrum.”
Got it? Good. The bigger question is of course coverage. Sprint doesn’t expect to fully deploy their new high speed network until 2014. Six cities will go live during the next few months, which means the majority of Sprint’s customers will be left twiddling their thumbs, waiting for their downloads to finish, and waiting for Sprint to issue a press release saying their town can now access a decent network. For an operator that’s not doing so good, this deployment schedule needs to be accelerated or else they risk becoming irrelevant.
So who has the fastest 4G LTE network? Surprisingly it’s AT&T, though to be fair Verizon has had their equivalent network fully operational for over half a year longer. At the end of the day though, PC Magazine makes a point we should all consider:
“Sprint’s peak download speeds hit 26.5Mbps down, which is as much bandwidth as anyone really needs.”
Seriously folks, what are you going to do with a pipe that fat?