Sprint data coverage in Phoenix: Is it 4G, 3G, or dial up?

Summary:
Sprint has no 4G in Phoenix and surrounding areas and their 3G network is slow. Sprint’s download speeds in the Phoenix area on average is 263Kbps which is about 40 times slower than AT&T and Verizon. Of all the speed tests I performed 14% of the time my connection was slower than a dial-up modem and only 17% of the time I was getting the minimum advertised 3G download speeds.

I’ve been a Sprint customer in Phoenix for a while now, and ever since I joined I’ve been told that 4G speeds is just around the corner ready to launch in just a few short months. Good thing I have a 4G phone and pay the extra $10 premium data fee right? Well, my friend on Verizon consistently gets much higher download speeds on his 3G phone.

So I decided to collect some data and figure out the real life speed of the Sprint network in Phoenix. Do we have 4G speeds, 3G speeds, or dial up modem speeds?

Methods:

  • I used Ookla’s Speed Test app on my 4G phone.
  • I collected data in real life situations – mostly outdoors, once at home, once at work, and a couple of times driving on the freeway.
  • I was never “in the middle of nowhere”. Always in the city, and populated areas. These cities are Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, north and south Scottsdale.
  • When I was indoors I was always a couple feet from the windows. No elevators, no basements, etc.

Sprint does not have 4G in Phoenix. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile do have 4G in Phoenix. Does Sprint even have a respectable 3G connection in Phoenix? I don’t think so. They define a 3G network with speeds between 600Kbps and 1400Kbps. But in practice you’ll get speeds even less 300Kbps. Sprint 3G network is slow and sometimes you get speeds slower than a 52K dial up modem.

I should also mention that Speed Test sometimes (at least 3 times) would not even run because of network communication issues. I did not include these failures as 0 Kbps. I either waited for the network to come back or just moved somewhere else to rerun the tests. Do you think I should’ve included these failures? In that case the average speed would be even lower than 263Kbps. Another thing to note is that the median for the download speeds is 160Kbps.

Do you see any yellow or orange on this map? This screenshot was taken from Sprint’s own coverage map. There’s no 4G LTE or 4G WiMax in Phoenix.

Results:


After trimming the lowest and the highest values for download speeds I simply pasted my test results into Wolfram Alpha for some simple stats.

All values below are in kilobits/second (Kbps).

Lies:

12 Responses to Sprint data coverage in Phoenix: Is it 4G, 3G, or dial up?

  1. david December 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    see, i knew i wasn’t the only one with shitty connection speeds.

    • howtoguy December 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      Yup. I’m tired of waiting for Sprint to upgrade to 4G. I’m jumping ship once contract is up. To be honest I’d happy just with normal 3G speeds…

  2. phil December 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    very nicely done. I think most Sprint users will agree with this post and most will have had similar experiences. I think your data chart matches pretty well with what mine would look likelike, although I am pretty certain I have picked up some 4g WiMAX signal (clearwire?) in the Cave Creek road and Greenway area. not that it matters, the entire Sprint data system is an absolute pathetic sickening joke, especially in the context of the 4g lies their sales associates are telling potential purchasers.

    • howtoguy December 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      You’re right. Clear does show some patches of 4G in Phoenix – I read somewhere that they were just experimenting. Either way like you said – it doesn’t matter – 160Kbps with on my 4G Sprint phone is ridiculous.

  3. mike December 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    Sprint 3g is horrible in phoenix. Its below average every where though. I left to verizon a few months back and see speeds between 28 and 40 mbps! Blows my mind that sprint is getting any customers here. Even straight talk has 3g thats 3 times faster then sprint

  4. jeff March 14, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Test

  5. jeff March 14, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    So how come no posts here in 2 1/2 mos? Why does everybody & everything I read insist there’s no 4g, specifically wimax, in Phoenix? Even sprint & virgin mobile say there is no wimax….. But…. I know someone who gets 4g on their phone & it is presumably wimax cuz its a wimax phone.

  6. modulation March 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    You’re right, there is WiMax here in the valley – if you know where and how to look for it. There are actually 6 spots – 2 in Phoenix, and 4 in the east valley. I can verify that at least the 2 in Phoenix are currently active, and I get down speeds from 5 to 7 mpbs on average in those areas. Go to clear.com and zoom in to the Phoenix metro area on their coverage map to find the location of these 6 isolated WiMax zones.

    But that’s it. There’s never going to be any expansion of Clear/Sprint WiMax beyond the areas here and elsewhere that already have it. I seriously doubt that Sprint will even have LTE in this area before 2014, if then.

  7. Ken June 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Good stuff, this confirms what I’ve been pissed at about Sprint for YEARS! Lies lies lies! I’m moving on!

  8. clint July 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    It will be a cold day in Phoenix when Sprint finally gets better than 56k speeds.

  9. Joe July 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I was a Sprint customer starting the day the came to Phoenix until last Ovcober. I left last for Verizon with my 5 phones and COULD NOT BE HAPPIER. Unlimited data does no one any good at dial-up speeds.

  10. Aussie September 12, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    It’s been just around the corner or within weeks for many years now and still NO LTE IN PHOENIX… Again and Again we have been told it’s coming just wait a little longer. When Sprint finally completed their buy out of Clearwire we were going to get it moved up… then when they merged with Softbank everything was going to be fast tracked… Then we were told that since we waited so long we were going to get the new “advanced LTE” but still NOTHING. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile all have great LTE networks up and running in Phoenix… Guess it really is time to quit believing in fairy tales… All 5 of my business phones are out of here when the contract is up next month…

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