Sprint Nextel Corp., in the midst of a buyout battle, fared poorly in a 30-city test of wireless network speeds.
By MARK DAVIS
The Kansas City Star
PCMag.com said Monday it found faster service on rivals’ networks using LTE, or Long Term Evolution, technology than on Sprint’s LTE network both in Kansas City and nationally.
The tests throughout May focused on data transmissions. These come across the broadband connections the networks provide smartphones and tablets for downloading apps, reaching web pages, streaming video, uploading pictures to Facebook and other popular uses of the wireless devices.
The tests also looked at 3G network data speeds, which represents older and slower technology than LTE. Their conclusion was that consumers should get LTE-capable phones. The tests didn’t compare voice service.
The testers said they found “AT&T’s LTE network to be the fastest of the group, but Verizon Wireless typically triumphed on our reliability gauges.”
They reported that T-Mobile’s growing LTE network “looked great in the few cities where we could find it.”
As for Sprint, “just like in 2012, (it) didn’t win any cities, but it’s on an upward trend” as it replaces older technology with LTE.
Several factors account for why Sprint’s “speeds are not yet as high as we’d like to see them,” spokeswoman Kelly Schlageter said in an email.
The Overland Park-based carrier is still building up its network’s density, which means limited LTE service showed up in some cities tested though Sprint hasn’t officially launched service there, she said.
Sprint also plans to boost its LTE speeds and 3G service by using wireless spectrum that will become available after it shuts down its old Nextel network this month. Spectrum is the licensed airways that carry wireless signals.
It also plans to use other spectrum owned by Clearwire Corp., which it is trying to buy, to boost its network performance.
Sprint similarly lagged in a 20-market test of LTE speeds reported last month by the website TestHive.
Nationally, AT&T’s LTE service scored highest in the PCMag test with a 97 combined score, compared with Verizon’s LTE combined score of 89 and Sprint’s 44. T-Mobile didn’t get a national score for LTE because its network wasn’t yet in enough of the tested cities.
Sprint’s LTE score was higher in Kansas City at 60, but its ranking did not improve. It fell to No. 4 here because T-Mobile’s LTE scored out at 86 in Kansas City.
Testers drove around in blue, electric-powered cars and tested all the equipment simultaneously on the run and at stops.
Here that included stops across the street from the Barnes & Noble on the Country Club Plaza, at the City Market, in a Crown Center parking garage, at a Target parking lot, and, according to one tester’s post, at “Swopes Park & Zoo.”
PCMag posted its test results as Sprint announced it has begun to offer LTE service in 22 more markets, including Miami, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., and Tampa, Fla. It said the faster service now covers 110 markets.
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