Light Reading

Sprint Adds 20 New LTE Markets

Dan Jones
3/17/2014
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Sprint has gone live with 20 new 4G markets this Monday, claiming that it now has 402 LTE towns and cities on air.

Here are the new markets that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) announced today:

  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk, Conn.
  • El Centro, Calif.
  • Hot Springs, Ark.
  • Kenosha, Wis.
  • Lancaster, Pa.
  • Mason City, Iowa
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Nogales, Ariz.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Ocean City, N.J.
  • Peoria, Ill.
  • Provo/Orem, Utah
  • Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.
  • Shawnee, Okla.
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
  • Trenton/Ewing, N.J.
  • Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
  • Willimantic, Conn.
  • Zanesville, Ohio

Here's how the operators stand with their LTE deployments in the US today:

Table 1: Major 4G LTE Deployments in the US

Operator 4G technology Number of markets Average download speeds
AT&T LTE (Also markets HSPA+ as 4G) 500+ markets (nearly 280M people covered now) 18.6 Mbit/s
Leap Wireless (Now owned by AT&T) LTE 11 markets 3-15 times faster than Leap's 3G
C-Spire LTE 43 markets Data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G
MetroPCS (Now owned by T-Mobile) LTE 30 markets 2-15 Mbit/s (depending on market)
Sprint LTE 402 markets (expects to cover 250M people by mid-year) 10.3 Mbit/s
T-Mobile LTE (Also markets HSPA+ as 4G) 230+ markets (200M+ people covered now, expects to cover 250M by year’s end) 25 Mbit/s (on unloaded network)
U.S. Cellular LTE 92 markets Up to 10 times faster than 3G
Verizon Wireless LTE 500+ markets (300M+ people covered now) 14.3 Mbit/s
Sources: Carrier data, Light Reading, OpenSignal, RootMetrics

Related posts:

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
3/18/2014 | 1:15:26 PM
Re: Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
From the user experience we're seeing even in this thread it would seem that maybe things haven't improved much yet.

Any more experiences?
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/18/2014 | 11:49:28 AM
Re: Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
Their coverage maps and definition of what a launched market actually is have long been a little iffy, right? Have they gotten any better? I remember that study from Advanced Frequency Engineering in 2012 that had a lot to say about Sprint coverage:

"The results of site surveys and 4G LTE availability tests show that while Verizon and AT&T had ubiquitous LTE availability in the test markets, Sprint LTE service was not present or not accessible in 75-90 percent of Sprint's advertised LTE coverage area in the cities tested at time of testing."

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/advanced-frequency-engineering-releases-results-of-initial-study-of-availability-and-performance-of-sprint-4g-lte-network-and-comparison-with-att-and-verizon-in-selected-markets-172370831.html

 

I know Sprint's justification is they're engaged in "street-level coverage," but I'm guessing that doesn't much help annoyed customers who think their market is "launched."
LawD
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LawD,
User Rank: Lightning
3/17/2014 | 4:40:47 PM
Re: Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
Exactly. As one example, several of the Louisiana "markets" that were included in a previous round of additions barely exceed 10,000 people (each).
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
3/17/2014 | 4:14:16 PM
Re: Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
Sprint's strategy is to get the LTE out as soon as they have street-level signal up.

Bob Azzi said this in summer 2012:

"We weren't planning to wait until we had all our cell sites covered," explained Azzi. Instead the cities went live "when we determined that we had a sufficient footprint that enough people could find it in enough places."

See: http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/4g-lte/sprints-4g-lte-scramble/d/d-id/697233

It's often debatable what "covered" really means in LTE terms:

http://www.lightreading.com/when-is-a-4g-lte-market-really-covered-anyway/a/d-id/703418
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/17/2014 | 4:04:21 PM
Re: Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
I am a Virgin Mobile customer...which leases Sprint's network.   And I just recently updated my phone to an LG F3 with LTE/4G capability.

I live in the 98030 zipcode, which is a very dense suburban area with many apartments, and yet I have no 4G service.   However, when I go for my bike ride on a sparse trail, or to the gym, both further out into the edge of the suburbs, getting close ot a rural area, then the 4G icon comes on!

So maybe they are still testing it in low population areas.  They might want to make sure that people don't overwhelm it.   As I mentioned in a previous post, Virgin announced that although they say unlimited data, after 2.5GB are downloaded they shut down your speed to below 3G (sorry about all the G's, but we experts know the difference, right).

I wonder if they worry that people with unlimited 4G service will just ditch their regular internet service and use their phone as a hotspot, overwhelming the phone network with Netflix, etc.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
3/17/2014 | 1:54:48 PM
Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets...
Interesting that Sprint is claiming 402 markets but doesn't yet cover 250M people, gives you an idea of market size I guess....
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