June 20, 2016
Sprint is back!
PC Magazine’s 2016 Fastest Mobile Networks report validates Sprint’s improved network performanceBy Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO
PC Magazine has released its annual Fastest Mobile Networks report testing the speeds of all four carriers in 30 cities, and according to veteran wireless industry journalist Sascha Segan, “this year’s story is that Sprint is finally back.”
PC Mag notes we “showed spectacular peak download speeds nationwide,” and on a nationwide basis we beat T-Mobile and AT&T in average download speeds. Furthermore, we beat Verizon in reliability (yes, really).
Our outright wins included Las Vegas, Seattle, and Columbus. In addition, we placed second in St. Louis, Boise, and Charlotte. While PC Mag may have declared winners for each city, the important takeaway is that all four networks in 2016 are now competitive. And with the opportunity to switch to Sprint and save 50% off most competitors’ rates, our network is a great choice for consumers.1
There are many types of network tests within the industry, and here at Sprint we look at all of them. In this year’s PC Mag report we’re pleased to see how much we’ve improved. Compared to last year’s report our national LTE Mobile Speed Index increased by 22%, and our average download speed across 30 cities improved 62%, jumping from 12.7 Mbps to 20.6 Mbps. Nationally our maximum download speed also grew a whopping 70%, increasing from 72 Mbps to 122.6 Mbps.
There’s a lot of interesting city-specific data in this year’s report.
- Atlanta – Sprint performed best in some of the densest parts of the city, and testers found zero dead spots calling this “a huge leap forward.”
- Columbus – Sprint delivered the “most consistent 4G experience.”
- Houston – Sprint had the highest average download speeds with PC Mag commenting that Sprint has “juiced up its LTE Plus network in Houston to a startling extent” with testers seeing download speeds over 100 Mbps at multiple locations across the city.
- Seattle – Testers found that Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all showed “spectacular peak download speeds well over 100Mbps,” but Sprint’s average download speeds “blew everyone else away” making Sprint “by far the superior choice.”
- Kansas City – PC Mag notes that our hometown has become one of the best-connected cities in the nation, and we showed very good speeds with average and peak downloads coming in just below market leader Verizon.
- New York – We recently turned up two-channel carrier aggregation with LTE Plus and it shows with “blistering” download speeds.
- Washington D.C. – Sprint posted the highest peak download speeds of 104 Mbps and our average download speed of 25 Mbps was second only to Verizon.
The only category where we lagged was in upload speed, which brought down our overall scores. Our lower upload speed though is actually by design because we know our customers download much more data than they upload. Sprint’s network is specifically built to support this, making more efficient use of our spectrum with less capacity dedicated to uploads. Because our network uses TDD-LTE we have the capability to do this while the other carriers using FDD-LTE do not. According to PC Mag, if they’d only measured download speeds, we would have seen significantly better results, including winning San Francisco, where we poured on the speed with peaks of 122 Mbps in Huntington Park.
So what does this mean for customers? Last year, using PC Mag’s average download speed, it would have taken about 4.5 seconds for Sprint customers to download Rihanna’s song Work - now, just 2.5 seconds. This year on average, for customers of Verizon (the carrier deemed to have this year’s Fastest Mobile Network), it takes 2 seconds to download that song – just 0.5 seconds faster than Sprint.
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but we also know we still have a lot of work to do. We clearly see that the deployment of more 2.5 GHz sites using carrier aggregation has had a significant impact on our performance. As part of our densification and optimization strategy we’re working to bring more cell site solutions on-air, targeting those areas where more coverage and capacity is needed.
Bottom line: You’ll see Sprint and the other carriers continue jockeying back and forth for position when it comes to various network tests. But the reality is that all four carriers today offer a great network experience. And yet, when it comes to value, there’s a huge difference between carriers. Sprint is the clear winner with its offer to switch to Sprint and save 50% off most competitors’ rates. Customers no longer have to choose between a good network and one they can afford – at Sprint, they can have both.
 Discount applies to base monthly service plan and access charges only. Discount does not apply to certain charges such as taxes, surcharges, roaming, premium content, add-ons, and apps. Exclusions apply and new plan features may not be an exact match. Carrier features differ. Plans exclude unlimited music and video streaming, data carryover, tethering and cloud options that other carrier plans may offer. Discount offer limited to regular rates on consumer plans as of 6/1/16 for: Verizon Plan 1GB, 3GB, 6GB, 12GB, 18GB, 20GB, 25GB, 30GB, 40GB and 50GB; AT&T Mobile Share Value 300MB, 2GB, 5GB, 15GB, 20GB, 25GB, 30GB, 40GB and 50GB; and T-Mobile Simple Choice 2GB, 6GB and 10GB rate plans. Discount does not include competitor promotional or sale prices. Offer/coverage not available everywhere or for discounted phones. Subject to new-line, up to $30/line activation fee, credit, valid port-in. Customer must choose from same porting carrier rate card.