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Sprint's CTO Says It, Like T-Mobile, Will Deliver 1 Gbps Speeds in 2017

Sprint CTO John Saw
Yesterday T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray posted about his carrier's network improvements and revealed that the the carrier had achieved 979 Mbps LTE speeds in the lab using 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM technology and an un-specified, un-released smartphone. Ray said that “This is the fastest speed possible on a mobile device today and T-Mobile will absolutely be first to Gigabit speeds!”.

Today, Sprint's CTO John Saw responded to Ray with a post detailing how much Sprint had improved its network in 2016. According to Saw, Sprint expanded its 800 and 2500 Mhz LTE coverage, optimized every cell site and deployed two and three channel carrier aggregation with antenna beamforming in all its LTE Plus markets. The number of LTE Plus markets grew from 100 at the beginning of the year to 250 at year end. Sprint is now handling over half its LTE traffic with it's 2500 Mhz spectrum which is where Sprint has lots of bandwidth and can deliver the highest speeds.  In terms of speed, Saw touted the PCMag 2016 Fastest Mobile Networks report's finding that Sprint beat T-Mobile and AT&T in average download speeds and achieved greater reliability than Verizon. However, Saw is cherry picking the results as PCMag ranked Sprint fourth (out of four) overall in network performance.

Like T-Mobile's Ray, Sprint's Saw suggested that his network would deliver 1 Gbps speeds in 2017 saying. "...in 2017 we expect to unveil some innovative work with 256 QAM and Massive MIMO pushing 1 Gbps class speed boundaries, all on our licensed spectrum." Apparently Ray and Saw are in competition to see whose network will be first to achieve 1 Gbps.

While speed is great, I think most customers would rather see Sprint and T-Mobile spending money filling in the big holes in their coverage, especially along major highways. There are huge gaps in Sprint native coverage along heavily traveled I-80 in Nebraska, Wyoming and Nevada. I-90 is even worse with no Sprint service for 1200 miles from Spokane, Washington to Sioux Falls, South Dakota! Of course the same can be said about T-Mobile which has its own large coverage gaps along both i-80 and I-90. Why are the number three and four carriers network guys competing on maximum theoretical speed when their networks' greatest real world weakness is coverage?

To his credit, Sprint's CTO took the high road and did not respond to the nasty things his T-Mobile counterpart said yesterday about Sprint's network which he called "...DFL on every meaningful metric".

Source: Sprint via Fierce Wireless

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46 comments:

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  1. Seriously, we meed more realiable coverage than speed. See Cricket has more customers than Metro amd Boost.

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    1. Yes. If you average the supposed 1GB spreed with the majority of places, which get 0mbps on Sprint, it's a lot less right there.

      You are correct. Sprint's immediate problem is the vast majority of the US with no megabits per second at all. Not making the few fast areas faster.

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    2. Metro has about twice as many customers as Cricket.

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    3. Cricket doesn't even have half the customers. Most are leaving because the throttling is so bad. They're desperate with all those switch credits.

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    4. What does DFL mean in this context?

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    5. I'd always known DFL as the official Minnesota name of their Democrat party. This meaning is new to me.

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  2. Yay, we'll have two Gigabit networks that no one will be able to use.

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  3. Coverage is more important than speed.

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  4. Still no 2500 on my nearest tower; it remains PCS only. While the service is acceptable at 20Mbps, I would welcome the speed boost of LTE CA and MIMO.

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    1. 20Mbps is *acceptable*?!? Talk about your spoiled first world problems. That's plenty of speed. I'd rather see them spend money on coverage first.

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    2. It is good speed for most things, but it is easily saturated with a single Netflix 4k stream. If I want coverage, I use Verizon. If I want speed, I use Sprint. Sprint needs to offer the solution that their high frequency spectrum allows, and that is speed. Enough said.

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    3. If I want coverage, I use Verizon. If I want speed, I use Verizon too.

      Everywhere I go, Sprint is typically 2G or 0G. Rarely 3G or LTE.

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  5. Why do people with coverage issues tolerate Sprint if there are better options?

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    1. I don't think many people with coverage issues stay with Sprint. Sprint coverage is good in most cities so people who live in cities and don't travel overland don't have coverage issues.

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    2. Sprint coverage is only good in about 10 states, and also a minority of cities, not most.

      If you have good Sprint coverage exactly where you are in your house, all you have to do is go a few miles and you will lose that Sprint coverage. I was one of those who had Sprint for years and thought it was normal for a carrier to only have coverage here and there. But I was saving a lot of money by doing so.

      That's a big reason why people stay with Sprint. To save money. And for that reason they put up with only having sporadic coverage. And there's also those shut-in types for which Sprint works in their house. If they never leave their house, and Sprint Works inside the house, then Sprint is great for them.

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    3. You exaggerate, I've never been in a city of 100,000 or more that didn't have Sprint coverage and many smaller cities and towns are covered as well.

      From San Francisco I can go 90 miles North, 240 miles East and 500 miles South before I lose Sprint coverage. I would need a boat to go West but I imagine Sprint's signal, like all the other carriers', dies about 10-15 miles offshore.

      In the end, it's about works for the individual user not for you, not for me. Sprint's coverage is inferior compared with AT&T or Verizon but it still meets the needs millions of people.

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    4. Because the well known "better options" are despised by many people for various reasons. These people would never support the "better options" with their hard earned money.

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    5. Well said, Dennis. As a local truck driver I was worried about Sprint coverage having holes in case I broke down. I tested their coverage for months by listening to streaming internet radio (at low bit rates to conserve data - 32kbps AAC is fine for background music) as I went about my day. I only lost signal in two places.

      One was only a one-mile stretch of road the was so densely covered in tall trees that I wouldn't be surprised if even Verizon didn't work there. If something should happen there then the worst case scenario was a half-mile walk to get signal - no BFD.

      The other stretch of road was definitely more problematic. However, I'm only on that road maybe twice a year on average (and it's not like there aren't alternative routes with coverage, even if they are somewhat longer), so it wasn't worth extra cost to go with another provider just for that. Instead I picked up a tablet with T-Mobile band 12 support, got one of their SIMs & put it on the free 200MB/mo plan, and installed Hangouts to place calls. I've had that tablet for about a year now and haven't needed it once. I take it out once in a while to keep the plan active and the battery charged, but that's about it.

      Sprint's coverage (via cut-rate MVNO RingPlus, no less) works for me, saves me money, and I have a backup in place should it ever fail.

      That is why I use Sprint (well their network, anyway).

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  6. "
    Today, Sprint's CTO John Saw responded to Ray with a post detailing how much Sprint had improved its network in 2017."

    Wow, their tech is so far ahead of its time! 😀

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  7. From reference.com:
    "The United States Geological Survey recognizes 35,000 cities and towns"

    Narrowing it down to cities, also from reference.com

    "According to a study of the United States census completed for Walk Score in 2009, approximately 20,000 cities or metropolitan areas are located in the United States"

    Only a very tiny number of these cities are over 100,000. You initially said "cities", not the tiny subset. I didn't exaggerate at all, but was going on what you said earlier.

    "In the end, it's about works for the individual user not for you, not for me. Sprint's coverage is inferior compared with AT&T or Verizon but it still meets the needs millions of people."

    Yes, those who are willing to tolerate bad coverage in order to save money. I was one of them.

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    1. LOL. You remind me of the troll on HoFo (NotABiot). You can't seem to understand that not everyone has the same coverage wants as you -- therefore not everyone is "sacrificing" coverage if they use T-Mobile or Sprint.

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    2. Now, I wonder who the troll is? 70% or more of American cell customers need good coverage. There is a group that is just fine with lousy coverage, but it is pretty small. And regardless of your opinion, all but an extremely tiny minority (those who hate Sprint/TMO coverage but no AT&T/Verizon coverage) do indeed sacrifice coverage in order to go with the two worse networks.

      Your opinion is uninformed and goes against what cell phone customers actually choose.

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    3. LOL. The lady doth protest too much methinks.

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    4. Perhaps Sprint service could be better however I simply don't need a mobile phone to survive, I suppose that some of those complaining can't get Pokemon Go to work then that could be an issue--but an issue for them not a majority.

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  8. The Sprint native coverage maps on your own page (Boost for example) found here:

    http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2011/09/coverage-maps-for-all-prepaid-carriers.html

    show very poor Sprint coverage in California: looking like only a third or less has native Sprint coverage. According to these maps, the very large part of California surrounding San Francisco, let's say, about 1/4th of the state, also has rather poor Sprint data coverage.

    California is not alone: you have to go east of the Missisippi to find a state with good Sprint native coverage (with all states "negligible" other than Minnesota). And even in the East there aren't many.

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  9. It is unfortunate that he did not allude to Son's exploits with Oneweb. Coverage anyone? The writing is on the wall.

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    1. Corporations will cozy up to whoever is in power. Son still wants to buy T-Mobile and needs regulatory approval.

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    2. I hope you are wrong. A merger between T-Mobile and Sprint would be catastrophic for the consumer. Conversely, a Softbank and Oneweb combination would help to close the digital divide by delivering broadband to forsaken rural communities.

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    3. RE: Dennis:
      --- Fortunately, we have a President Trump who will prevent such a merger between T-Mobile & Sprint.

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    4. Even if Trump stops the merger with T-Mobile, there still remains the risk that Sprint could declare bankruptcy. Softbank, now with Sprint's spectrum but not its obligations, might not be as strong a competitor as Sprint.

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  10. I live in and spend about 95% of my time in Indiana, traveling all over the state on the weekends. Sprint is excellent here - coverage and speeds as good as anyone and far better than T-mobile. If you live in Indiana, Sprint is a great way to save money with no sacrifices necessary.

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    1. With about 2/3 of the state covered, Indiana is indeed one of the small set of states with decent Sprint coverage.

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  11. You people are so negative on here, hating on the carriers, Each carrier has 35,000 ish cell phone towers, they all have dead spots, some more than others but really they are all pretty equal now, Why can't you people just use the app "carrier compare" to check best coverage at your house and job, That way each person gets there own best coverage. Simple because lets be honest the vast majority of us never leave our comfort zones of job/home so nothing else really maters and with each carrier offering roaming on other networks now, there is not much difference.

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    1. "...with each carrier offering roaming on other networks now, there is not much difference."

      That's true for voice and text, but not data. There's huge differences still in data coverage between carriers.

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  12. Sprint RingPlus is crap. they make up plans that don't give you what they say they are suppose to give you. they have incompetent programmers who cannot get their plans to work correctly. like if you're suppose to have bottomless 2G data, you instead get billed for overages instead. the Sprint RingPlus do not know how to run a MVNO without always screwing up. they are suppose to have a new dialer which is most likely going to be just vaporware. but don't believe it if they cannot get the rest of their business working properly. Sprint RingPlus is a house of cards that is long overdue for falling apart.

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    1. "Sprint RingPlus is crap..."

      While it is my view that your rant isn't too far off base, you are being misleading when you call it "Sprint RingPlus"

      Well, "Sprint Boost" is true. Boost is part of Sprint. But RingPlus is no way part of Sprint at all. It is an MVNO that uses Sprint lines. You can certainly lay any blame for network quality of RingPlus on Sprint, of course. However, Sprint has absolutely nothing with RingPlus's crazy plan-spew, overbilling, and other business practices.

      They are indeed separate companies.

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    2. Ray didn't say 75% of markets, that was my misinterpretation.

      I don't understand your point about band 12 only markets. I don't think there are any band 12 only markets. T-Mobile primarily added band 12 coverage to existing markets. If band 12 is available in a given market what difference does it make if band 4 or 2 are also available. Band 12 is primarily to improve indoor coverage and coverage at the fringes of the network. Even if you are in a band 12 market, you usually want to be on band 4 if it's available as it will usually be faster because T-Mobile has much more bandwidth on 4 than on 12.

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  13. Yhe Spromt network coverage is inadequate for me but I know people who happy with it. I fope that they stay around . Having 4 competitors is good for the consumer.

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    1. Does speint have the same issue as TMO, that they will work outdoors but not indoors?

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    2. Not really, walls, earth and steel block radio waves. So all carriers have poorer signals indoors.

      However, lower frequencies penetrate walls etc. better than higher ones. Five years ago Sprint and T-Mobile only had relatively high frequency spectrum (1700-1900 Mhz) while Verizon and AT&T, in most markets, had lower frequency 850 Mhz spectrum. That meant that if all other factors were equal (which they never are) Verizon and AT&T would have better indoor coverage than Sprint and T-Mobile.

      Today Sprint has 800 Mhz spectrum in almost all its markets and T-Mobile has 700 Mhz in about 2/3'rds of its markets so there is much less difference in indoor coverage than there used to be.

      That said, there are many other factors that determine indoor coverage, with the most important being the closeness and tuning of the towers serving your location. For example, in my local Costco Warehouse, even though my T-Mobile phone only supports 1700 and 1900 Mhz, T-Mobile has coverage throughout the building. My AT&T phone supports AT&T's 850 Mhz band but there's no AT&T signal in a third of the building. Sprint also has a dead spot in the warehouse but it's smaller than AT&T's dead spot.

      The only sure way to know if a given carrier works in a specific indoor or outdoor place is to try it. My experience isn't yours and yours isn't mine.

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    3. Happy new year, Dennis. What are you basing your 2/3rds for 700 MHz estimate off of? That coverage estimate seems a little high.

      Also, T-Mobile may be grandfathering its $25 unlimited talk and text plan. Please keep an eye on it and confirm if it ends up happening.

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    4. According to Neville Ray, T-Mobile LTE covers 313 million people, band 12 covers 250 million 250 is 80% of 313.

      The $25 T-Mobile Prepaid Plan was discontinued today. It's not available to new users but current customers on that plan are grandfathered. I'll be doing a post on that change today.

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    5. Thanks, Dennis. If T-Mobile is positioning 250/313 as 80% of its "markets," that's misleading to me because I associate "market" with geographical presence rather than number of customers, and would guess that most people do the same.

      250 million has to include customers receiving supplementary coverage from band 12 on top of bands 2/4 because there's no way T-Mobile can get that many customers from band 12-only PoPs.

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