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Sprint’s network speed trails badly in Kansas City

Updated: 2014-01-09T03:54:35Z

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

Sprint Corp. offers the slowest Internet speeds in Kansas City among the four major wireless companies, a network testing company said Wednesday.

RootMetrics said its tests, performed in November, found that average download speeds on Sprint’s network were less than half the speeds of the other carriers.

The Sprint network ran so much slower, according to RootMetrics, that its average download speed was slower than the other carriers’ upload speeds. Typically, wireless devices download data, such as installing an app, much faster than they upload data, such as posting a photograph on Facebook.

“It is slower as measured by RootMetrics,” said Bob Azzi, Sprint’s chief network officer. “That’s going to change here soon.”

Sprint’s data network, which uses Long Term Evolution, or LTE, technology, runs on half as much wireless spectrum in the Kansas City market as its rivals’ LTE networks do, Azzi said. Half the spectrum means half the speed.

The wireless spectrum is the licensed airwaves that deliver phone calls, text messages and Internet activity to mobile devices. Sprint gained more wireless spectrum nationwide with its purchase of Clearwire Corp. last July.

Azzi said Sprint will use the Clearwire spectrum to boost data speeds in Kansas City, though he would not say when. The Clearwire spectrum is part of the company’s new, faster network it has dubbed Sprint Spark.

Sprint Spark is now available in 11 markets to customers who have newer phones equipped to use the Clearwire spectrum. Azzi said it will deliver data speeds in Kansas City that will be “as good or better” than Sprint’s rivals.

In its tests, RootMetrics also looked at network reliability, calls and texting services to generate a combined performance score for each carrier.

AT&T edged out Verizon, with combined scores of 96.9 and 96.7, which RootMetrics said mean they shared the top ranking. T-Mobile, the fourth largest carrier based on subscriber counts, topped No. 3 Sprint with overall scores of 93.4 and 91.2.

AT&T and Verizon also were the most reliable networks, scoring 97.8 and 97.7, with Sprint at 93.8 and T-Mobile at 91.6.

In the network speed tests, T-Mobile outscored AT&T by 0.7, which RootMetrics again considered sharing the top ranking. Sprint’s speed score of 77.2 badly trailed the others, each of which was in the low 90s.

In handling telephone calls, the four carriers were “statistically comparable,” RootMetrics said. And it said the text performances were “a draw.”

RootMetrics said it conduced 26,553 call, data and text tests “during all hours of the day and night” from Nov. 15 through Nov. 23. It seeks to replicate the “real world” behavior of customers.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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