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Sprint spending additional $200 million on 3G network as LTE rolls out

Although Sprint's "Network Vision" project -- which will eventually move customers off of CDMA and to LTE -- is in full swing, the LTE network just isn't lighting up in as many places as customers would like. Seeing increased load on its 3G network because of a spike in customer additions in the recent months, Sprint has strategically decided to invest $200 million in improving the speeds on the legacy technology.

Its unfortunate to see Sprint having to make a tactical decision to invest in 3G with money that could surely be better spent on an LTE rollout, but the speeds can only get so slow before something has to be done. Hopefully as more of Sprint's customers move over to LTE the carrier will be able to better balance its network.

Source: FierceWireless

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • I'm with sprint and I'm happy to say I am thrilled to hear this.
  • All I can say is, "I should have bought the GSM Evo 3D".
  • Our entire company switched to Verizon because Sprints 3G was so over saturated. LTE on Verizon was simply a sweet bonus!
  • I've tested 3G speeds within LTE coverage and it was still terrible. I haven't noticed any 3G enhancements with Network Vision. I'd love to be wrong. My phone without WiFi is practically useless.
  • My phone without WiFi IS useless.
  • I was coming on to say the exact same thing. All we hear about is "Network Now" "Enhancement" We're spending boatloads of cash to make our networks better!" BULLS#*T I have never seen worse DL/UL speeds in my life! Your networks push so little data that my google talk cant even connect!! I cant even stream a s freakin song on spotify without it pausing every 3 seconds. Sprints a joke man and I cant wait push em' overboard without a life vest.
  • Sadly, this HAD to be done. Sales of Sprint's LTE phones have been soaring, but without enough LTE coverage. I suffered through the over-saturated 3G network until we were turned on to the new Vision Network last month. It was miserable! Even now, it's still pretty slow in Chicago. Until the full Vision Network is opened, Sprint customers need this band-aid. Good decision Sprint.
  • Slow is right. I have a hard time believing this LTE rollout will get everyone off 3G though, even when it is fully implemented. I have never once seen that as Sprint's intention with Network Vision, part of which is an upgrade to 3G.
  • Sprint finally started working on the roll out for Lte in York Pa this past monday, which i highly welcome, though they have heavely limited the hours, lol, mon: 8-8
    tues: 8-6
    humpday, spotty all day
    thurs: 9-10 But hey atleast i know they are working on it. EDIT: hey looks like i have Lte for a little right now, lol. EDIT 2: and it's gone, now im sad. :(
  • About 2 years to late.
  • Anything to improve the 3G network is a welcome addition.
  • 3G isn't going away for a long.. long time.
  • Yeah, 2 years to late. There Network is BS. The network vision has been preached for how long and yet no one ever sees it on a consistent basis at best. I have had sprint forever and everytime I see a Verizion commercial with a new zillion LTE towers it makes me a sad Panda.
  • Wow!! A zillion LTE towers??? That is amazing!
  • I always use zillion and amazing when playing word association with in, it's amazing how my bill this month is a zillion dollars.
  • Yes, but you aren't a sad Panda...or are you?
  • Finally, Sprint is upgrading my home market and although there is no LTE yet, 3G speeds are much faster. Within the last 2 weeks 3G speeds have gone from 100 - 200kbps consistently to 1.6 - 2.3mbps which is good enough for streaming any video and 99% of what most people do on a phone. This $200 million is in addition to all of the 3G / 4G LTE / HD Voice improvements already underway.
  • Glad to see Sprint finally fess up about what plagues their 3G. I understand it's a legacy technology and the transition to LTE is eventual, but even with an LTE-capable Galaxy Nexus I only have 3G in about 90% of the places I go. Sprint recently flipped the LTE switch on in two adjacent cities and I'm very pleased to have access to LTE at work, but once I leave the city limits it's back to a painfully slow 3G network until I get home and can use my wi-fi and/or AIRAVE femtocell. Good move Sprint. A little invested in your 3G network will hopefully go a long way. You can't afford any customer defections at this juncture.
  • I don't know if this is the best strategy on Sprint's part. I think they would be better served by spending some of the Softbank infused $8 billion to (quickly) build solid LTE networks in major markets. This will alleviate some of the heavy 3G traffic which by default improves the network. I'm about two months into my second contract with Sprint and I must say that I am not at all impressed with the executive leadership at Sprint. Dan Hesse and the boys have really stunk up the place. Firstly, by the whole WiMax debacle. Choosing WiMax over LTE in the first place shows an incredible lack of vision by the brass at Sprint. Not to mention the horrid coverage and service you got from WiMax. Now they are trying to regroup and get a functional LTE network in place. Meanwhile, Verizon hit the ground running. They cannot boast about having the first LTE network, but they can surely claim the title of the best.
    I think selling out the majority to Softbank is the best idea Sprint has had since I have been a customer.
  • What area are you in? If you're in the South/Southeast, that's because the Network Vision vendor hasn't gotten around to switching the 3G side of the tower from the old backhaul (what's causing the slowness) to the new one. When they get the 3G equipment swapped out, 3G speeds will improve. By contrast, in places like Chicago and San Francisco, Sprint (or rather Samsung, the company that's responsible for the Network Vision rollout there) is getting 3G equipment in place as soon as, or many times before, 4G goes online. So when a site has 4G, 3G will actually benefit.
  • I am leaving Sprint as soon as my contract is up. I am tired of all of their lies and deceit.
  • How has Sprint been deceitful? The whole point of Network Vision is, "Yeah, we know our network sucks, but we're working on it."
  • That's a great idea, but a) they didn't actually say that they would be interrupting service, b) when they did, they offered no compensation and c) for the last month, our cell service has been basically non operational because of it. And I'm in Chicago. Not a suburb, not northern Indiana. Effing Chicago, like just off the Brown line. You wanna know how many bars I got? One. Sprint is giving too little too late. They should have invested in this when Verizon and AT&T were investing. They've lost a lot of customers to those carriers because of it, and they're about to lose 3 more.
  • Definitely 2 years late! they should have spent all that money that they wasted on clear wire to upgrade their 3g network back in 2010. I live in Phoenix AZ and in some areas I don't get any coverage at all, during peak hours sometimes I can only get 14 kbps, I think dial up would do better. It really doesn't make sense when they say they give you unlimited data if you can't do anything at such slow speeds. I'm mostly connected to wifi so I really don't use much data but when I need it I would like to be able to use it. I've been a sprint customer for 10 years but I'm already out contract so I'm ready to go to another carrier, just waiting for the right phone.
  • +1000 What use is to have 'Unlimited Data' when the data is 'Unusable' for most users. To add insult to injury the $10 'Enhanced Data Fee' now tagged to all smartphones. In my home area and all the markets I routinely work on, 3G speeds are - as you accurately stated - slower than dial-up most of the time. I can't even get email since the service routinely times-out with 3G... forget about web surfing or streaming. On two of the cities I work, there is 4G but very spotty and weak inside the building. So I pay for 'unlimited data' on all my five lines and we are basically living on wifi. As you, I have been with Sprint for well over 10 years now, two of my lines are now out of contract and waiting for the the others to complete the time in the next 3-4 months after which I plan to evaluate my choices and move to another provider unless some significant improvement occurs on the markets I use. I have no immediate plans to invest a penny on new LTE phones if no LTE is locally available at time of purchase. I was burned by the 4G debacle already. I would rather pay more for data I can actually use, than continue with this.
  • Don't say "Unusable for most users" when you, yourself, have no clue what the actual numbers are. For me, I live in mostly a rural area and get no LTE. Heck, even 3G kinda sucks. But you know what? My 3G is "Usable" and does what I need it to do. I'm in no way defending Sprint because they have made mistakes but don't try to include those that do not have a problem.
  • Nice to hear Dan and crew are working on their 2G...I mean 3G network. But my biggest question is wtf is going on with LTE in the nations capital?
  • Cause Obama is trying to implement LTEcare. This will give everyone in the nation "free" LTE...well...not really cause he will have it asessed in everyone's taxes, well at least for those who do pay taxes and if you don't purchase a phone with LTE by 2014, there will be a $2000 tax....ahem....penalty.
  • Grow up, the election is over.
  • Douche
  • People dont understand...that its all backhaul upgrades...this will still apply for the fact that there spending an additional 200 million on "3G" just means those Legacy 3G locations backhaul (usually T1) will be upgraded to faster connections and eventually not a waste @ ALL!!! and BTW, here in NY we just started getting a taste of LTE getting 30-35Mb second down about 5-10up...eventually sprint will have the most advanced network without question..But it cant come soon enough!
  • Still no WiMax or LTE in San Diego, CA. You know San Diego, right? The home of Qualcomm, which makes the F*&%ING CHIPSETS in your phones Sprint! They have repeatedly (as in for the last 12 months) said that they are upgrading their data in my area but I'm still getting less than 400k daily, and closer to <100k on average. Damn, December can't come soon enough. After 14 years with them I just can't take the dropped calls, unsent/unreceived texts and the slower than dial up data anymore. It's really a shame as March of 2013 would be my 15th anniversary with Sprint, but divorce is inevitable. Their service has gone from good to absolute shit is the span of 3 years. I just need to see if T-Mo or AT&T is better in my neighborhood.
  • +1000000... man sounds like my story. Been with sprint for around 15 years also and I haven't had such bad network speeds since before 3G was around when I had a Palm Treo. San Diego's been completely neglected and every time I call tech support they act like everything's all good. I usually get under 100k these days and in some areas I get 10k or less. It's like dialup speeds but worse. I also don't get how qualcomm doesn't call up sprint and tell 'em to get their ish together. Just can't imagine how they test their chips reasonably well with such bad service in the area. I'm still holding out a little hope though since verizon and ATT are so ridiculously expensive and limit their data.
  • This is good news, hopefully for the people that teir 3G sucks because I cant complain at all about my 3G service. I get anywhere from 700kbpd to 1300kbps on 3G and I have Wimax. PS Im in Richmond, VA
  • I've been with sprint over 12 years now and I can say, on my part, that nothing really has changed. Am I happy? YES! Am I disappointed? YES! Will it get better? Hope so. Do I see it happening? Well, I see it getting better but nothing substantial unless you live in an area with LTE inwhich I don't. I hope thier plans pan out cause I want Sprint to succeed. Without Sprint, that means less competition which will drive up costs for consumers. We all know that AT&T and VZW would LOVE for you to mortgage your home to pay the price they "really" would love to charge you. So be contentious folks. I understand the frustration. I just wish Sprint didn't do things assbackwards.
  • Could the reason for the 3G upgrade be because of Sprint's prepaid wireless group? Sprint has Virgin Mobile, Boost Wireless, Kajeet, Ting, etc. all using that spectrum.
  • Hope this happens more quickly. I know that deal with Softbank will take time to close, but those funds will help and Sprint has a lot of catching up to do. My data speeds where I live are okay, but when I go to work, they slow down to a crawl. I mean slower than dial up. Sometimes it's faster, especially in the mornings before more people show up in the office. Seriously though, I couldn't believe how slow the speeds were at times. If things aren't looking better next year, I may consider switching to another carrier, even if it costs more. At least their service will be usable whenever and wherever I want. Sometimes websites and apps simply don't work because the data connection is so weak. Overall reception seems to lack compared to competitors too. I was in a gov't building waiting in line to vote early last week and this girl on Verizon was cruising through the web at high speeds with pages loading very quickly. My phone showed that I was roaming with 1-2 bars signal, roaming, and the 3G indicator lighting up on and off. I couldn't even load my Twitter feed, much less check email. Edit: In the time it took me to write this post and respond to an office chat, enough people have arrived in the area such that my data speeds were cut down to a third of what I was getting before I wrote this. There could be other factors, but consistency would go a long way along with better reliability and service.
  • its odd how things work, I had an outage and I got 45 dollars in service credits. I get 1.1 mps up and 1.2 down in philadelphia, while by my work which is 20-25 miles away it is slow. I was told I was getting a network upgrade and I did. Couldnt be happier. Want LTE, but am not lost without it
  • Too little, too late. I'm gone.
  • Yeah sprint is so bad I use a T-Mobile prepaid at work along with my sprint phone. T-Mobile coverage is better and 3g speeds are 10 times faster than sprint.
  • I just want them to fill in some holes in my neighborhood with service.
  • i get patches of 4G on my S3 (very small patches i might add) in Austin, but even when i get a 4G signal, it is sloooooooooooowwwww. ETF may be worth it at this point.
  • For those who want to track Sprint's LTE roll-out at a granular level in each market, check out I've found it invaluable as I've been watching the weekly updates there for tower upgrades in my home market, Chicago.
  • People say Sprint needs to up their game and complain when they don't. Sprint decides to up their game and people complain. Awesome.
  • can someone explain how come when i had the gs3 on att i could still get 4g and at times lte but the gs3 on sprint drops down to 3g instead of 4g?
  • I'm really not sure what all the fuss is about. I've been on VirginMobile for years so supposedly I get the 3G leftovers from all you post-paid users and I've never had a problem with my network except for the whole building penetration issue. I lived in Southern California in the San Bernardino/Riverside area and my 3G was fine. Now I live in Portland, Oregon and my 3G is great, although we have great 4G WiMax coverage in Portland as well. I guess I'm just lucky! Of course, I've never experienced any other carriers network so I have nothing to compare to but my network, 3G or 4G, works for what my demands are.