T-Mobile’s 3G Network Faster Than Sprint’s 4G Network?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on June 5, 2010

4G networks are supposed to be faster than 3G networks, right? However, as per a recent study by Phone Scoop, the much anticipated Sprint’s high-speed 4G network is slightly slower than T-Mobile’s HSPA+ (High-Speed Packet Access) network. While HSPA+ isn’t a pure 3G technology, it can be considered as an upgrade form of 3G or 3.5G at best. This is certainly bad news for Sprint customers who’ve been planning to buy the HTC Evo 4G – the first 4G phone to be offered by Sprint.

The Phone Scoop report suggests that T-Mobile’s network offers marginally better performance for download speeds, and drastically higher upload speeds than Sprint’s 4G network.

The speed tests were conducted at six different locations throughout Philadelphia, PA. Sprint’s WiMAX network reported speeds ranging between 748 kbps down and 60 kbps up all the way to 4,066 kbps down and 978 kbps up. The average speeds were 2,785 kbps down and 589 up. In contrast, T-Mobile’s HSPA network offered speeds ranging from 976 kbps down and 938 kbps up to 5,442 kbps down and 1,888 up. The average speeds for T-Mobile were 2,960 kbps down and 1,283 kbps up – higher than those of Sprint’s 4G network. An excerpt from the report states

“Does T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network offer “4G speeds”. Yes, absolutely. In fact, despite being an upgrade to existing “3G” technology, we found that T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network was often slightly faster than Sprint’s “4G” network. By some measures, it’s much faster. “

One of the major reasons why Sprint’s 4G network offers a lower upload speed is because Sprint has capped upload speeds on WiMAX. Further, T-Mobile has a distinct advantage over Sprint as HSPA+ network is an upgrade to an existing network while 4G networks require new equipment and a complex rollout process. Sprint’s 4G network isn’t 100% ready yet so that might be another reason why it showed poor results in the speed tests. Lastly, there are just not enough 4G devices available. In fact, the Evo is the only Sprint device on the 4G network, while T-Mobile offers nine devices that can use HSPA+.

The report also clarifies that no network in the world is currently “true 4G”. For a network to be classified as 4G, it must provide download speeds of at least 100 mbps. No technology, be it WiMAX, LTE or any other currently fulfills this bandwidth requirement. Unfortunate, as it is, the term ‘4G’ is currently just a marketing trap used by carriers to fool customers.

I’m sure the Sprint’s 4G network performance will improve over the course of next couple of months. However, these tests bring out a few important questions – Has Sprint jumped the gun in it’s quest to launch a 4G network? Are WiMAX and LTE mature enough to be launched? While there’s no doubt that the prospects of 4G technologies are fascinating, I’m concerned by the mad rush amongst operators to jump on to the 4G bandwagon with poorly performing and unsustainable networks. What’s your opinion on this issue? I’ll be glad to hear from you.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

{ 7 trackbacks }

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris M June 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I would like to mention something about how Sprint deceived me into buying the Evo. I order a new phone from sprint.com. Before you order or look for a phone. Sprint makes you put in your zip code first, then it shows you which phones that are availabe in that area. Some are not because they don’t provide the same services in all areas. So Friday June 4th I went online and bought htc Evo phone from sprint.com, after i typed in my zip code. I proceeding with buying the phone online. I am still waiting for it. Then I went to best buy and they told me 4G services is not only NOT available in the new york area where I live. It wont be here for a long time. There is no set date. I feel I was mislead by false advertisement into believing that the phone will have 4G speeds. Thats why I bought the phone. I want to deny the delivery of the phone, on top of the $450 i spent on it. They want an addition $10 a month just for a special service for that phone. Being that it’s not a 4G service I don’t believe they should be advertising it after i put my zip code, that 4G was available in my area. Shoppers tread carefully.

Richard F June 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Chris, that’s entirely your fault. The list of 4g networks, both upcoming and already deployed, is easily found on sprint’s website with minimal research (www.sprint.com/4g ). They only ask for your zip code to confirm you do have sprint service and won’t be roaming constantly.

Evo #1 July 7, 2010 at 12:32 am

I agree with Richard! You should know that Sprint could not launch a 4G network instantly all over the US! I recently got the ECO and have to say I aka fan, but then again I am in a 4G area.

the mechanic December 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm

… $10 million??? for what? did rogers cause a fatal food poisoning outbreak? did rogers perpetrate a devastating oil spill? $10 million for doing nothing more than boasting about how good its product is in advertising material? holy smokes! since when is that illegal? the crooked federal government of canada really is shot to hell …

… this malicious prosecution was brought not by unsatisfied rogers customers but by the lawless canadian government which is being used by two of rogers’ competitors to unfairly attack the company with hateful litigation. in actual fact, the CUSTOMERS of rogers are COMPLETELY SATISFIED with the product rogers is selling …

… and why has the corrupt canadian government agreed to assist two of rogers’ rivals by undertaking a malicious prosecution against the beloved canadian institution? the reason is because the bankrupt stephen harper government is so flat broke it will go to any extreme to find easy cash, including by laying false charges against wealthy companies like this fabricated charge against rogers communications …

… on the positive side, at least the filthy canadian government is taking rogers to court as opposed to unilaterally declaring the company guilty and then issuing an outrageous fine that can’t be opposed. there is no question in anyone’s mind that when this matter is challenged in court it will be tossed out, just like the stephen harper government should be tossed out …

Bui Duc Tien October 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

HSPA+ = 3.75G, max speed of it can’t faster than max speed of 4G but with low Infrastructure or many user or far NodeB, or cost (^_^) may be HSPA+ with good condition can faster than 4G.

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