A step in the right direction for Sprint coverage and data speeds
When Sprint first launched its Spark LTE technology earlier this month, our curiosity was piqued. Utilizing 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz frequencies, supported devices would be capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 Mbps in any of the five rollout markets, including New York, LA, Chicago, Miami and Tampa. With the carrier’s god awful 3G speeds and bumpy initial LTE rollout, the promise of being the fastest network in five of the largest consumer markets in the country seemed too good to be true.
Unfortunately, at least for now, it is.
We’ve had a chance to test Sprint’s Spark here in New York City, and we can confidently say that theoretical speeds are still theoretical. For the past few days I’ve been carrying the HTC One max with me throughout Manhattan, and have been running speed tests in a handful of neighborhoods both uptown and downtown. Downloads seem to have averaged around 8 Mbps, regardless of where the test was being conducted, while uploads seem largely stuck below 4 Mbps. I did manage to pull nearly 20 Mbps, though that required a full five bars and a healthy dose of luck.
Spark is by no means worthless, though – I noticed great coverage on most of my jaunts throughout the city, and Spark managed to keep a relatively reliable signal even in some of Verizon’s darkest dead zones. If nothing else, Sprint has at least given its LTE network the jolt it needs to be on par with the competition – these speeds are above what Verizon LTE has been serving up, and on par with T-Mobile. In New York City, AT&T is the only network with a clear advantage over Sprint.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Spark (it’s hard not to with that damn pinwheel), but for now, don’t let the marketing hype get in the way of the facts: the potential is there, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary just yet.