Sprint Starts To Build Their LTE Network, But Is It Already Too Late To Compete?

Posted by on December 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Yes, that little yellow dot is Sprint’s current LTE coverage, perched over the small town of Kankakee, Illinois, a stone’s throw from Chicago. While the site exists for testing purposes for a network that won’t even start to roll out in earnest until next year, it’s a harrowing reminder that Sprint is way behind the competition in rolling out next-generation cellular tech, even if the other guys are fumbling a little.

The truth is that Sprint wishes that its WiMax technology, which started rolling out a year and a half ago in their current 4G-branded phones, had actually taken off. I paid $10 extra monthly for the access when I had my Epic 4G on the service, but never once actually used it. WiMax doesn’t have the throughput that LTE does, but Sprint had the advantage of being on the market for nearly a year as the competition put their money behind the competing standard. Sprint finally acknowledge that their money was on the wrong horse, but the nation’s third-largest carrier seems to have devolved into a ‘chasing the Joneses’ strategy. First with (finally) getting the iPhone, and now with this. While they broke some ground by coming out with great Android phones last year like the Evo and the Epic, Verizon seems to have swallowed that advantage as well.

Sprint will continue to support WiMax through 2015 as a parting gift, but who’s going to keep a WiMax phone until 2015? Thankfully, that AT&T/T-Mobile merger didn’t go through, so at least they’re not in last place…

Source: The Verge

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  • Cjburgos83

    Based on number of users on WiMAX vs lte the U.S. and around the world, yes WiMAX has taken off. In fact its brought in plenty of cash flow.

    You’re missing the big idea. LTE is an extesion to sprint’s 4G service which is already operational and profitable nationwide. Any application currently available on a mobile platform runs equally the same on WiMAX as LTE. This is because you don’t really need 100Mbps to Google search or sync your inbox. Even live video stream only needs about 1Mbps up. Sprint can offer the same user experience as they launch lte and lte Advanced, using WiMAX.

    If we look around the market there isn’t much competiton to begin with. Verizon has had 6 major outages in the last 3 weeks with no sign they have consistent control over the technology. Att is grasping for spectrum and only has 3-5 lte markets launched.

    Kinda hard to see your point considering all the above.

    • Anonymous

      WiMax is “operational and profitable”, but its coverage is simply not on par with Verizon’s LTE in many areas, including my own as mentioned, and invariably, Sprint has spent billions on Clear to formulate a dead end. Verizon has had three major outages, not six as you mentioned, and they will be the leader of this space for some time. When LTE-Advanced rolls down the pipe, which is the IEEE standard for “4G”, they’ll be ready for it the fastest. AT&T is having issues, but they’ve always had issues.

      If I was in an area where WiMax was readily available, I’d contend that LTE isn’t much better, but it’s not, and it never will be. So long as my phone struggles to watch video over a cellular signal when not in a dense, urban area, nothing is fast enough.

      • Cjburgos83

        Then your article is mostly based on personal feeling and not facts? Just because it hasn’t worked out for you doesn’t mean won’t work for someone else. 6in LA . 3 of them were nationwide. Interesting enough I’ve had my WiMAX 4G hotspot since april and it has not once failed.

        As far as real world results for the majority of the population whom live in large cities, it works. And that’s where it really counts to be competitive since thats where the majority of users are located. Both have advantages respectively but it doesn’t make neither of them uncompetitive. LTE is an extension, not a replacement yet. WiMAX is what is good for consumers now. You’re looking beyond the the needs of consumers

        • Anonymous

          Not when those millions of users are going to have to swap their phones, or deal with the dual-branded “4G” under Sprint. “Which phone is 4G?” “These both are, but they’re not compatible. And the coverage maps are different.” Sure, I don’t get WiMax, but a lot of people don’t and I live in a decently-sized town. I got screwed on WiMax because of Sprint’s poor decision. Yes, it’s fine for urban centers out east, but I couldn’t even get it in a big place like Phoenix or Albuquerque.

          Sprint could’ve spent that time building LTE, kept unlimited plans, and been ahead of the game. They continue to be a distant third place.

          • Alicant310

            Who is saying anyone is being forced to swap phones? Wimax isnt going anywhere. Last time I checked it has funding through 2015. Thats 3 years from now.Avg churn rate for typical consumers is 1.78 years on any phone.In your situation, LTE will come faster to your area before Wimax2 begins rollout. The idea is not to sell consumers LTE or Wimax phones. it is to sell Sprint 4G devices that support Multi-mode seamless capability. it will be summarized into two basic coverages. 3G or 4G as it is on any other network.

             Wimax wasnt a poor decission, just an inconvenience to your geography. it put them ahead of Verizon, att, tmobile in most major markets by 2 years. In fact, its because of wimax theyre able to compete and be one of the only 2 carriers in the US that offers 4G. Second, Wimax and LTE are the essintially the same technology and work more alike than disalike. hence, LTE can be deployed as a second layer above wimax because they coexist.

            Moreover, multi 4G layers allows Sprint to manage their spectrum more effectively in heavily populated areas.For example, if youre simply web browsing on facebook,cnn,or google, there is NO REASON why you should be taking up space in a 4G channel. Hence, the ABIS accounting server should route you through 3G. The moment you launch a video stream such as youtube, facetime, qik or a torrent download,you should be pushed to the best available spectrum on 4G so that you dont take space for others on 3G.

            Thats the problem ATT and Tmobile are facing. 1technology,limited spectrum.theres only so many places you can route customers if everyone is coming through the same door(HSPA/UMTS). Verizon aswell. thsts why everyone is screaming for spectrum.

  • Cjburgos83

    The big idea is LTE and LTE advanced fall under one umbrella like wimax: and that umbrella is mainly the Sprint 4G brand. There is no lte here WiMAX there. It’s just Sprint 4G. The transition is meant to be invisible and supported where coverage is appropiate.

    All in all, no ones 4G network is near par. It’ll be atleast 2 more years before it is a standard. Thus far Verizon is the only carrier out of the 4 matching sprint. So its really hard to see a disadvantage you point out.