Sprint May Be Forced to Switch to LTE Soon


Sprint’s been having a lot of trouble lighting up new WiMax towers as of late – it’s been a REALLY, REALLY long time since we last saw another city get 4G. Part of it is due to Clearwire’s financial situation that’s all but frozen their efforts to expand their WiMax offering.

If you thought Sprint might have wanted to consider LTE before because of the situation, then you’ll be happy to learn that they’ll probably have no choice. PC World caught up with Sprint’s Bob Azzi, who is their senior vice president of networks.

If Sprint wanted to move on without Clearwire, then they’d have to use LTE technology because the spectrum they own will soon only be compatible with LTE after a rebanding occurs. They’ll go from 120MHz in the 1900MHz band to 14MHz in the 800MHz band.

And the conversion wouldn’t be hard at all, says PC World, as all it’ll take is installing new baseband cards at their network facilities and running a software upgrade. It’s clear Sprint’s hand is being gripped so tightly that they’re looking to make a major move – any major move – sometime this year. And fortunately for Sprint users, an LTE conversion might be the only route to go.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. How would a switch to LTE affect their current lineup of WiMax 4G phones (EVO, EVO Shift, Epic, etc.)? Would they be rendered useless (as far as 4G connectivity is concerned)?

  2. I kinda knew the wimax network won’t work, and its CLEAR fault that the service isn’t full fluid network in 4G cities, you can’t maintain a 4G connection if your on the move. CLEAR really need to get their priority in check and improve on the technology instead of selling home services and subsidizing 4G laptops at best buy. Its lame.

  3. @SprintUser we hear the technologies Samsung and Ericsson use are so similar that they’ll be able to run side-by-side. They may even be able to compliment each other. I’m not clear on the hard technical details, though.

  4. It has been said that Sprints 4g is spotty spotty and…so I have believed it…pluss Sprint has been known to be spotty all around. That being said I hope a switch of 4g …better 4g will help clear their spotty issues…I doubt it however…and people were so quick to go off at the mouth about Sprint being the 4g leader …huh…I wish Sprint well when they switch over to the real er 4g and hopefully beef up their network

  5. Well…they were first. That’s what they wanted.
    Moral of the story: be careful what you wish for. You might actually get it.

  6. I get decent 4G in my city but admit, often (but not always) even within throwing distance of a 4G tower, I have to switch 4G off, and then back on, to get it to “see” the 4G signal. It also always loses Internet connectivity as it “seamlessly” switches between 3G and 4G signals. Finally, they cap the connection rate to just under 4Mb/s. If LTE can continue to provide the rates they have been (or more than 4Mb/s), I hope they are forced to switch.

  7. Could not have said it better MR. Free

  8. I have home Clear Wimax and it works great. I don’t really care what comes down the pipe in a year as long as it is better than what is available today. I have no romantic attachment to Wimax or LTE. This industry advances fast, and whatever you buy is obsolete before you unpack it. Whatever happens, Sprint will probably continue to lease Clear spectrum for at least another 3-4 years until the LTE changeover is complete. I doubt there will be many Sprint Wimax devices in circulation at that time, so anyone that owns an Evo today shouldn’t be too concerned.

  9. Either way the 4g expansion BS is just that!!!! We’re all paying for it beforehand!!!!!!!!

  10. @MensahWatts… Sprint has perfect 4G service here in the BIG CITY OF NYC and the service to this day has been great.. You must live at some NON DISCRIP LOCATION.. Yes being first means everything and they did it well with wimax and with the Evo 4g the first 4g device on android the granddaddy of 4g… Switching will be fine.. SPRINT RULES ALL CARRIERS

  11. Sprint might have to switch to LTE and yet they win an award. I mean how is it a company screw up and wins an award. I do not get it once bit. WiMax was a not so bad idea from the start. Seemed like it might work if they are the only company using the technology and could make there 4g network fast, but now that they have to switch make them look like a joke. Now the phones they have out now are no good anymore on 4g and only good on 3g. Give me a break!! Good thing I have verizon and do not have to worry about shit like this!!!!!!!

  12. @Richard,Ditto!

  13. Wake me up when Wimax 4G goes dark and all the Evo’s and Epics go 3G only. I think we’ll be waiting awhile for that to happen, if ever…

  14. @Brad… Don’t fool yourself Mr. Brad what’s so special about Verizon??? It took them 2years to even catch Sprint from a 4g standpoint and as of today THEY STILL HAVE NO 4G DEVICES WORKING IN THE REAL WORLD… And when they do it will only be the THUNDERBOLT.. What’s so SPECIAL ABOUT VERIZON”’THE NICKEL AND DIME YOU NETWORK… THEY RIP YOU OFF FOR EVERYTHING… VERIZON AND AT&T ARE A JOKE

  15. Chuck norris has 4g!

  16. @Richard
    What are you talking about? Sprints 4G hasn’t even been out for a year! I don’t like Verizon myself but your sense of time is way out of whack. Currently tmo but switching to sprint in June

  17. 4g in ft myers is being done right now. The clear coverage map had a lot of green added in the last month and I have connected to sprint 4g every so often

  18. @Richard are you a retarded sprint fanboy? “THEY STILL HAVE NO 4G DEVICES WORKING IN THE REAL WORLD” are they only working on computers? because there is no 4G phone to the public doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Verizon’s LTE is going to be a lot faster than Sprint’s 4g. Sprint might have it, but by being first they limit themselves to being the slowest of 4g

  19. The reason verizon was lagging is because LTE as a standard came after WiMAX. So if sprint wanted to be first, they had to go the WiMAX route. As far as the existing 4G devices it depends on what is possible in the hardware from a firmware update standpoint. The underlying technology is the same between LTE and WiMAX, the difference is the network handling on top of it. Biggest problem is the change in carrier frequency band since that can’t be changed with any firmware update.

  20. We just got 4G here in Huntsville and Madison Alabama..but it’s only in two areas. I pulled speed tests of 5.84mps download and 2mps up.

    Sprint needs to drop the NASCAR sponsership and focus on conversion to LTE. I am concerned about speed of LTE once a ton of people have the devices. Afa as 3G converage Spring has been great in my travels.

  21. So it looks like if Sprint does make the switch to LTE we will still have an incompatibility between networks if they are on 800mhz (AT&T and Verizon are 700). That’s just one more frequency that phone makers have to add to their device if they want to make them roamable. And T-mobile has stated they don’t have enough spectrum, so they will have to partner up… Seems the entire countries wireless industry is still going to be a mess. So much for this progression bringing any type of competition.

  22. @Richard, always much fun scrolling through your fanboi rants. Truly feel it may be based on personal shortcomings, inadequacies or insecurities-regardless, Sprint was the 1st carrier to lie & claim they are 4g close to a year before the ITU lowered standards making every carrier 4G. I’m not impressed. What’s impressive is TMOs speed capabilities which no other can touch. Just saying-without yelling, lol.

  23. Doesn’t matter to me. I hope sprint will do something for me and my evo when it no longer works at 4g.

  24. I’ve been pleased with 4G on my Epic as long as I’m sitting still in one spot that has coverage. I live and work in the Baltimore-Washington area and see great speeds when I have a connection. My biggest gripe with it is it CONSTANTLY goes up and down when driving around the Beltway. Music streaming and SiriusXM both suck when I’m driving with 4G enabled because every few miles the connection drops and then comes back up so that every 4-5 minutes there’s a good 20-30 second pause.

    Even though I live in one of the first Clearwire areas with supposedly the best coverage, I rarely enable 4G because of the spottiness of coverage and poor hand-off between towers.

  25. Thank god I’m on T-mobile!!! I’m able to get about 10 mbps down all of the time and it’s getting upgraded to 42 mbps this summer!

  26. 4G here in Los Angeles is unusable for me. Like @Sean if you’re moving and streaming it bounces in and out of 4g-3g so bad it constantly breaks your stream. So I just leave it off. Hope they take care of existing EVO users or take off the $10/mth charge for nothing.


    ” SPRINT SUCKS “. It has a great competitive price plan, and great devices (EVO) but the coverage is mediocre at best.

    Enough said, NEXT.

  28. Wimax sucks it has no building penetration

  29. Doesn’t matter what “G” a carrier has-It’s about speed.

  30. I’m confused as to what they mean by switching out the card to LTE. I’m confused because the current WiMax network is owned by Clearwire. In what system is Sprint going to swap the cards in, being they don’t own the current Wimax site? Is the article saying Clearwire will also be making the switch or is there something that I’m not aware of?

  31. Hear in Houston, Humble (where I live) 4G is perfect, i love the fact that i can do data and voice when 4G is present!

  32. Now it makes sense on why Sprint hasn’t release any new Top Tier phones. Why would they if they don’t know what chipset their future 4G phones will need?

    Still, I think Sprint needs to release something NOW with a triband (CDMA/LTE/WiMAX) radio or they’re going to see more customers jumping ship.

  33. Yay! My Sprint will have a faster 4G network! ^^

  34. LOL. Richard must work for Sprint. I like what they offer, but i wouldn’t go back to Sprint because the customer service was always bad. I tried to look at the map, which cities have good 4G coverage?

  35. Switching to Verizon for the Droid bionic
    After losingthe ability to upgrade yearly,
    sprint has nothing for me anymore

  36. @crabjoe – Sprint would be changing the carrier cards on their current cellular (voice/3G) network. They’d essentially be going back and doing the same cellular upgrades Verizon & ATT are in process of doing. Your WiMax reciever on the phone wouldn’t be used anymore.

  37. well, they better switch soon.
    i’m in Charlotte, NC–and unless you’re driving on the major highways–you don’t get 4G coverage for some reason.

    and yes, building penetration sucks.

    come on LTE!

  38. @me

    AT&T and VZW LTE will be incompatibility with each other too if I remember correctly, there’s too much of a spread between their frequencies and who said they will allow roaming with each other off the bat. So if Sprint decides to use the 800 Mhz, handset makers will already have to make different phones for each carrier.

  39. This might explain Sprint’s rush to add a $10 data fee to ALL smartphone users, and not just 4G users. If Sprint loses 4G services from Clear, or has to go without any 4G services for a period of time, then current 4G users can’t sue that they are being charged for a service they no longer have access to. Sprint’s defense is, “every smartphone user pays a $10 surcharge no matter what. Suck it.”

  40. Uninformed people dont realize how stupid they sound. SMH

  41. This must be a kiddie site.

  42. Well that pisses me off. I love my Evo, 4g is good around me and regular coverage is also good.

  43. @sean

    So are you saying that they’d be replacing their current voice/3G cards with voice/3G/LTE cards?

    BTW, have you heard when Sprint will start upgrading to 1x Advance?

  44. Sprint,meet T-Mobile…. T-Mobile, meet Sprint. Now get married already so we can move on.

  45. I dont how many of you caught that tmobile is looking to buy clear out right. There was a article on this by bloomberg a few weeks back.

    If this goes through I can see why sprint is looking to change. Also if true it will be interesting to see how tmobile uses clear. Also tmobile is suppose to lte by 2013.

    Tmobile with hspa+, wimax and lte if anything it should help with improved coverage.

  46. I’ve had the Epic in NYC for almost 2 months, and 4G essentially doesn’t exist. Occasionally, if I’m outside and standing in one spot on the sidewalk, and I feel like uploading 1-2 photos quickly to Facebook, I turn 4G on, upload them, and immediately turn it off again. There would be no point to “leaving 4G on”, because the moment you move the phone more than 6 inches in any direction, it loses the 4G signal and won’t get it back until you reboot the phone. 4G is worthless… in fact, Sprint’s signal in general stinks in NYC. But the 4G is utterly worthless. And now I can’t get a new phone in 12 months? Sprint can eat my sack.

  47. I have an Epic and live in Topeka, KS. i switched from tmobile because it seriously was crap here. When we finally got 3G it was spotty and unreliable at best. SPRINT has been awesome for me here and when I go to KC and use 4th its always pretty fast.

  48. @swayzduhustla, I know what you mean-I think the same exact thing everytime you post, lol!

  49. When Sprint switches to 4G LTE then all CURRENT 4G (Wimax) devices will be rendered unusable. 4G LTE has standard network components required that must be stored in 4G SIM card and must be passed to 4G Networks. But since WIMax 4G devices does not have 4G SIM therefore must be replaced.

    VZW 4GLTE has 4G SIM.

  50. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like Sprint is gaining Spectrum in both the 850mhz and 1900 mhz bands with this deal. With majority stak in the 2500mhz bands even without clearwire and the new multimodal towers seem to put Sprint in a decent position, no?

  51. Sprint is great … their current flavor of 4G is great. Kiddies need to re-read the story. Your 4g phone is already hardware compatible and will only require a software push to enable the transition. Cards at towers will be replaced …. duh!

  52. @Alex and @goblueboy… Both you guy must be from some far away land.. goblueboy pulling the chain of verizon a carrier with NO 4G OR LTE PROVEN SMARTPHONES ON THERE NETWORK… FUCK A USB COMPUTER STICK.. And Alex pulling the chain of tmobile… at least with tmobile they are getting GREAT SMARTPHONE DEVICES… I am digging that Samsung GALAXY S2 and that Lg optimus 2x and Lg optimus 3d I know it’s not officially stated but those will be on tmobile and that’s kool.. BUT IN THE BIG CITY OF NYC TMOBILE SUCKS can’t get signal in tall BUILDINGS or BASEMENTS LEAST SPRINT RULES IN THAT AREA…. You guys know that verizon RIPS you OFF and nickel and dimes you at every cost VERIZON AND AT&T BITE ASS

  53. If they do end up doing something like this, they will probably stop selling EVO’s or discounting them heavily (its still a damn good phone on 3G anyway) and offer 4G device owners upgrades to newer devices that are LTE compatible. Because I for one would complain like a whiney bitch if 4G got cut off my EVO. I dont actually really care but its the point that im not getting what i paid for.

  54. I just turned on my Wimax today and got a connection for the first time. I am in Fremont California. My connection remained all the way to work in San Ramon California. That’s a 20 mile spread.

  55. Well my biggest concern is my EVO. For the most part i don’t care about carrier drama. Hardware comes out fast, Government forces them to let our phone numbers remain portable, and even with a 2 year contract it means what’s going on today doesn’t matter a lick two years from now … but if for some reason WiMAX is forcced offline early that’s a game changer.

    I would _hope_ Sprint would at least offer an aggressive trade-in plan to keep customers happy and not just say “just kidding about your phone having 4g and all”.

  56. @Richard

    Umm… You say VZ and T nickel and dime you, but didn’t Sprint just add a $10 data charge on their customers because they were selling service under their true costs? Leave it to Sprint to through loss leader pricing into the market.

    Technology costs money and Verizon may be expensive, but at the least they are pushing the wireless curve with their massive LTE. It should be noted the LTE standard has only been fully approved a year or so, so they are moving about as fast as one can. Going to be a very different 4G race in less than 10-12 months.

  57. Sprint is going to operate both to get the best of both 4G technologies. Expect multi banded chips devices to emerge in Q4. FYI Sprints new network project will have Verizon roaming on Sprint by 2012. Boo Yay!

  58. I work in Chicago and live in the North burbs. Sprint’s 4G works great, I can’t complain. Video chat is crystal clear. I like my Sprint.

  59. Correct me if I’m wrong everyone’s talking about the 10 dollar charge that sprint does but doesn’t at&t and verizon charge 30 dollars for any smart phone 4 g or not which leads me to believe that when did you start offering 4 g phones it’s gonna be more just my 2 cents

  60. Well Richard …looks like I need not make my Full comments being everyone else seems to have filled you in…its always a good thing to be able to wait…cause the truth always comes to be seen…lol even on a Good old Phandroid post….coolish lol

  61. Seems to me like T-Mobile made the right choice with HSPA+ let LTE and WIMAX iron out before they built out. Sorry for all those EVO’S out there that are going to get screwed over.

  62. @Luke T-Mobile did a pretty slick move, but its kind of dumb that their “4G” phones the G2 and MyTouch 4G arent even capable of HSPA+ 21Mbps. The radio inside of them is limited to 14.4 Mbps. Now their Samsung Galaxy S 4G will be capable of 21 Mbps. But when they put out 42 Mbps, best believe they gotta get a new phone to support it. I wish T-Mobile the best of luck advertising how some of their 4G phones have faster 4G than others.

  63. I don’t understand some people. Those having signal problems do you update your PRL … For those in NYC, I live up in Yonkers and i have 4g alday on… I getr about 2bars 51% of the time and 3bars 49% of the time. I loose it when I head up to Whiteplains or higher up. I’ve ran several speed test and I have an average speed of 6MBs/1.5MBs… Srint for me has been and will be the best service out there. Cost of plans and upgrades Every year… If sprint is so bad why would you even get them just to complain about them…

    From what I read they would be able to run both services and from the beginning this was stated… They new that Clearwire was a gamble but was first to test and run 4G* But they weren’t going to drop LTE… Sprint has a long way to go but They are taking things in the right direction…

  64. Its not that big of a deal when 4g just demolishes battery life anyway if your phone is top of the line then you can wait 30 seconds more to download crap

  65. Some of these comments are flat out dumb. WiMax wont be going dark anytime soon. Sprint owns 54% of Clear. T-Mo wont be buying Clear out right.

    If Sprint jumps to LTE, you can bet they will run CDMA, LTE and WiMax side by side. WiMax will just become the iDen of Sprints network as they phase it out. Since all thats required to switch is a card switch and software, it wouldnt take much to roll WiMax into LTE. For Evo/Epic owners, by the time that even comes close to happening, you’ll be ready for an upgrade. Yes, even those that dont get yearly upgrades anymore.

  66. How is 14.4 Mbps bad?? How many other carriers can regularly produce those kind of speeds? I easily get 18 Mbps on my G2 in the Midwest.

  67. Every cell phone company, has its best phone, in terms of RF reception. You just can’t buy a phone, without looking into reviews and see what consistently comes up, as far as flaws, glitch, etc. I have been with Sprint 9 years. My first phone, had no signal in my home and daily, I would get dropped calls. Instead of talking crap about Sprint, I sat in front of the computer and read which phones, were known to have good and even stellar reception. You may buy 3 different phones, after 3 years with Verizon or other and if the phones happen to be good, as far as reception is concerned, you lucked out. My advice? Check,,,, etc. When you get a fundamental understanding, then you can trash a company. Remember, a phone may be exclusive, to a phone service like Sprint, Verizon, AT&T but, one company makes the phone and another provides the service. Crappy phone, with a good service company or, great phone, with a crappy service company. Next…

  68. The information contained in this article regarding Sprints spectrum holdings is really off base. To set the record straight Sprint owns currently 36mhz in the 1900mhz band in most markets and will continue to own that spectrum but will also be adding 14mhz of the 800mhz into things as well as its 2500mhz spectrum that it has as part of the joint venture with Clearwire. This spectrum will be utilized through new multi-mode cell sites that Sprint will be implementing through its network modernization project. This article makes it seem as though Sprint is losing its 1900mhz holdings, this is not true at all.

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