Sprint to begin decommissioning WiMax towers by the end of 2015



The first bell tolls for WiMax have officially started ringing, as the service is about to be stripped down by Sprint. A filing with the SEC suggests the company is planning to begin decommissioning as much as 6,000 towers by the end of 2015.

This move would effectively be the first in getting older WiMax customers over to LTE, though the transition might not be as smooth as folks are expecting. For starters, some of the WiMax towers are likely in areas where LTE currently isn’t deployed.

While Sprint could get LTE up and running in those areas by the time the hardware is taken down, there are no guarantees. This means folks might be hopped back over to Sprint’s 3G network, which has gained notoriety for its declining performance over the past few years.

Sprint outlined plans to handle customer accounts who aren’t pleased with the changes whenever it comes time to cross that bridge. You could continue service and be upgraded to an LTE-capable smartphone at no cost and no change to your service plan, or you could choose to discontinue service without the penalty of an early termination fee.

Either way, you have some options coming up if your two-year contract is still intact and you still happen to have a WiMax-enabled device. All of this should go toward helping Sprint reach 100 million pops on their Sprint Spark network upgrades (faster speeds, better building penetration and all that good stuff) by 2016’s end.

[via Fierce Wireless]

Quentyn Kennemer
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  1. To begin by the end of 2015?

    Wasn’t the original plan for by 2015 to be done w/this?

    I’d say this does not bode well for those awaiting LTE………..

    1. What are you talking about there is LTE already. its not completely rolled out yet but cities like Chicago and Indianapolis have it already.

      1. I realize that,I’m in an area that has/had WIMAX & now has LTE,but,those that don’t have LTE & are on WIMAX may be in for a long wait for LTE.

        You gotta admit,SPRINT’s track record w/coverage & expansion isn’t exactly stellar.

        Even though the change to LTE is nice,it doesn’t necesarily translate to expanded coverage.

        My area is a prime example,LTE strength
        /coverage is not any different that when we were on WIMAX.

        The speeds are better on LTE,but,the coverage is still the same,which equates to even greater disappointment…………

        1. Check out this site for coverage.

          Plainly shows LTE in WiMAX areas. LTE coverage will be better than the abandond WiMAX.

          1. I’ve seen the maps.While LTE is supposed to actually seve a broader area,I’ve found that hasn’t translated to the real world,at least where I’m at.

            Spotty coverage is spotty coverage.You can wrap it any way you want……………………..

          2. Sprint’s network has improved and coverage has increased everywhere I go and everywhere I’ve been. For the last Space Shuttle launch in 2011, I was roaming in Titusville, FL.

            I went back to Titusville and Cape Canaveral this past November and not only did I have 4G LTE, I also had full signal and coverage in areas where even Verizon customers had dark spots.

          3. I would have stuck w/SPRINT,or,consider going back to them,but,my area’s coverage hasn’t changed.
            The performance is better,but the range is the same.

            I wish this wasn’t the case,I actually liked SPRINT’s Customer Care Dept,but,I couldn’t bare another month of $85/mo for virtually no coverage.

            I just recently went back to work in an area,while supposedly in SPRINT’S coverage area,is still in roaming,even w/LTE coverage.
            Basically,no increase in actual equipment,tower sites,etc…..

            So,I’m just sharing my experience,especially w/those that are not in the heavily populated markets,or,mid-level for that matter,that you may be waiting in vain for better coverage,regardless of the technology.

            SPRINT’s track figure speaks for itself………..

          4. Have you stopped to ask yourself WHY Sprint’s coverage hasn’t improved in your area? Is it possible that they’ve tried to build new tower(s) and the NIMBY’s won’t let them?

            Is it possible that you are unfortunately in the area that is at the outreach of all the towers in your area?

            I’ll admit, Sprint’s coverage isn’t the best, but damn man, it has improved for nearly everyone. Why is it slower for them to roll out new upgrades to the network? Because they’re doing ALL the upgrades to the tower at once, which is unlike AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon who laid the fiber optics at the tower sites first and later came back and added the technology to increase data speeds and capacity.

          5. All I’m saying is,if SPRINT is going to only BEGIN to decomissioning WIMAX by the END of 2015,it wouldn’t make sense to wait out potentially an entire 2yr contract for any improvement,provided switching to another carrier (that covers your area,of course) is an option……

            As for the why’s for SPRINT’s lack of expansion/coverage,the other Big Three have managed to do just fine in my area……

          6. Most customers won’t have to wait for the WiMax towers to be decomissioned. My area had LTE & WiMax at the same time. My area being Atlanta and the surrounding counties. I swapped from phone to phone when Sprint’s LTE first came out, sometimes falling back to a Nexus S4G or original Evo 4G while waiting on my next LTE phone to arrive. Had WiMax when on a WiMax phone. Had LTE when on an LTE phone.

            Again, it’s not going to be the same for everyone, but then again, not everyone is in a bad spot either.

          7. I hope you’re right about the wait.
            Everyone,regardless of carrier,should be able to expect decent coverage,especially if the carrier touts your area to be on their map of “excellent” coverage.

          8. I’m out in Covington on the east side and we have wimax but when looking at Sprints coverage map it says it isn’t available here even though when I had my Evo 4G I could connect and get pretty decent speeds. But I’m rocking my Note 2 now, Sprints LTE has Damn good coverage in the Atlanta area.

          9. Because their decomissioning of Wimax has nothing to do with whether or not the area has LTE. Very poorly written article by Quentyn, mainly. Not his first.

          10. How so? He stated that one (WIMAX) doesn’t necessarily have anything to do w/the other(LTE).

            He didn’t have to spell it out in exact lawyer-speak,I got the gist of the article on the 1st glance……………..

          11. All I ask for is reliable service for texts and calls. F&$k LTE. Use wifi unless you travel a lot.

          12. Public WiFi averages like 2Mbps and it’s open.

            Our home WiFi averages is about 3Mbps and I’m not the only one staying at home.

            I prefer to use my unlimited data I paid for. I got that option because WiFi isn’t an option for me…. anymore. =.[

          13. According to that map I have LTE. I don’t, but that’s what that map tells me. : I remember having 4G with my old phone that could connect to the WiMAX network. I’ve never had 4G thru their LTE network.

      2. If you have a country that has 350 million people to provide wireless service for you’re gonna have a bad time.

  2. LOL…I just laugh at all of Sprint’s “big” announcements now. To me, it’s just PR, hoping that they’ll be able to keep some customers that are itching to leave after their contract is up. Only reason I’ve stuck around is signal being the most solid at my house, as compared to all the other providers.

    1. So,you’re a prime example of “Weak Coverage is Weak Coverage”,whether wrapped in LTE or WIMAX?
      Or,has LTE resolved the scope/quality of coverage,w/o addition of more sites in your area?

      1. No LTE at my house, but other carriers don’t even get signal. Verizon is the closest (maybe getting 1 or 2 bars), but Sprint is still the strongest. Of course, my area is in the hills and notorious for being a weak coverage area, but still important to have some sort of wireless coverage. LTE, in the areas that I do frequent, ranges for average to very fast…just depends. Comparison to WiMax is day and night. Keep in mind, I frequent very popular parts of Los Angeles, which is such a big city, that it’s difficult to know when there is or isn’t LTE coverage.

      2. Dude speaking from a Sprint customer who is just starting to get 1 bar of 4G LTE at my home….the speed has not improved. They are probably in a conversion process around my area with their wimax…once in a while i turn on my Evo 4G to see it still connects and yes it does….They could have done leaps and bounds around my area leading into NYC but its a slow ass roll out and im surprised Sprint didnt say Spark’em up….My speeds are horrendous at 1 bar of lte …..500kb to 1.5Mb

  3. How is sprint coverage in the north east – specifically NYC and Westchester? of course their coverage maps says it’s fantastic but I’ll take the opinion of the actual user over that…

    1. Well Northeast its pretty sh!tty to me. 4 years ago it was awesome, but now its a clogged mess on 3G. Im in Union City, NJ across from NYC right next to the Lincoln Tunnel a major highway leading in to NYC. They only have the 1900 MHZ lit up across this city and my GNex sporadically connects on certain spots, at times its causing a major cycle in which my phone can not make up its mind. In my home I have to restart my phone to catch one bar of 4G LTE. The Wimax spectrum is still up and running, and it will be a long time before sprint spark lights up around here with the 2600mhz…..unless it already is…i wouldnt know….but my speeds at 1 bar range from .500Kb to 1.5Mb….and consistently on the lower side. Ill probably be getting an S5 to see if im getting spark speeds….but i doubt it…Huge potential to change around perceptions with their customers if they would have focused on the Tristate area for 4G LTE and Spark

      1. thanks – I’m trying to cut my bill down and their 80 a month is making it an attractive option.

      2. If you have a Spark device, you wouldn’t be so disappointed. Spark is very live in an around the tri state area with peak speeds as advertised. I live in Brooklyn and hardly drop LTE anymore.

        1. surrounding areas of NYC meaning Brooklyn being one of its borroughs has strong spark service. Im in union city, nj…have you gotten spark speeds going thru the lincoln tunnel and passing by over here….Or u have never been thru here with ur Spark device? I’m curious if ill be jumping in to heaven like speeds in my area.

          1. There are Spark sites on both sides of the Lincoln Tunnel. Most former WiMax sites have been upgraded but there are a few that haven’t been yet. Your experience on Spark will be great but not as great as in NYC until the summer probably.

    2. As long as you have a Spark device, your experience will be superb. Spark is live all over NYC. I hardly drop LTE anymore since getting a Spark phone. Highest speeds I have gotten on Sprint are 66 Mbps.

      Coupled with HD Voice, NYC and the surrounding areas are pretty strong on Sprint.

  4. WiMAX was actually quite fast for me back when I was on Sprint. I regularly saw 15-20Mbps down with WiMAX.

    LTE, on the other hand, on Sprint, is non-existent here, which is another reason I dropped Sprint because I didn’t want to get a new 4G phone and not be able to use the 4G. Smart choice.

    1. Yes. When I *had* WiMax coverage it was good. But the technology behind WiMax is VERY bad for mobile use. The frequency was like 2+Ghz. A cordless phone has that same frequency.

      You go inside some places, or you get to some areas and you instantly lose coverage because the signal couldn’t penetrate. Unless Sprint added more towers.

      I really believe WiMax was a very bad investment.

      1. I agree. It was a terrible investment and they only half rolled it out before they finally realized that LTE was the way to go.

        Building penetration wasn’t terrible for me, but it wasn’t great either. It worked at my house and work, which is where I spent most of my time, so I was happy.

      2. Because Sprint is deploying Spark on 8T8R radios, the indoor penetration of LTE on the 2.6GHz frequency is nearly equivalent to PCS. Additionally speeds are insanely fast, even on 1bar of signal. On -115dbm, I easily get between 15 and 20 Mbps down.

  5. clear wire was terrible to work for and the installs sucked the technology faded and here we are full circle

  6. My question thru this all is, if they wanted to be the first for 4G couldnt they have used the new spectrum and throw in wimax at 800mhz, 1900mhz, & 2600mhz? or was the tech itself limited to 2600mhz….I was wondering why didnt they do that just like everyone was doing with LTE? enlighten me please

    1. Clearwire owned 2600 mhz spectrum. WiMax can be deployed on other frequencies, however, the reason Sprint was forced to switch to LTE was because the rest of the world pretty much did. Economies of scale.

  7. I don’t know how many people have argued that WiMax would never be shut down. Sprint could have waited, but they wanted to be first delivering 4G nationwide.

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