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Replying to:  Boise ID needing to switch from VZW by ondisplay   Jun 24, 2013, 11:05 AM

Re: Boise ID needing to switch from VZW

by cellphonesaretools    Jun 24, 2013, 11:56 PM

ondisplay said:
So... I'm not thrilled about it but I believe I am going to have to leave VZW after 8 years.

Like a lot of people I find myself in a situation where I need a new phone but do not want to give up my unlimited data or pay full retail. Anyway, I have heard pretty good things about Sprint in this area and was hoping I could get some feedback.

Is the data truly unlimited or is it throttled? Any other unadvertised restrictions?

Realistically what am I looking at for a monthly cost? SMS and data are what I primarily use the device for I use almost no voice minutes.


Sprint does have truly unlimited data plans, at reasonable prices, but of course there are restrictions. Like you can't use you Sprint mobile as a hotspot for all your friends and consuming boatloads of Gb of data every month...common sense restrictions like that. And of course, every carrier's "unlimited" data plans refer only to their own network, not consuming data while roaming.

You absolutely must try it out in the areas you frequent, don't take anyone else's word for it. Sprint's networks (both 3G on CDMA and 4G LTE) work fine, where they work, but unfortunately at this time, Sprint's networks are (a) in a state of transition, and (b) spotty in terms of both coverage and signal strength.

For example, where I work (NW area of Los Angeles county in CA), the company uses Sprint-Nextel (was all Nextel, but has switched over to the Sprint side over the past year). I can look out the window of our 5-story building and see our closest Sprint antenna on a tower, less than one mile away, at literally the same elevation as the floor on which I work, as direct a line of sight as you could possibly get. Superb, consistent signal strength. However, although the 3G network has 5-6 out of 6 signal bars pegged all the time, Speedtest pings take 500-900 milliseconds (that's pretty slow) and the download speeds range from 20-40 kbps, which is deadly slow. There is no LTE here yet.

At our house (10 miles from where I work), we have 0-2 bars of signal strength out of 6 possible, voice call audio quality is poor, Sprint Direct Connect barely works 50% of the time, and our data speeds range from 30-50 kbps, almost deadly slow, so effectively Sprint 3G data for us is unusable. The only place we can actually use our Sprint smartphones for data is when we are at home and using WiFi, which of course doesn't count against our Sprint unlimited data, because our home WiFi is via our AT&T DSL service. When we're out & about we rely on my wife's work-issued Verizon iPhone 4s when we need a bit of data on the road (restaurants, weather, etc.)

That said, others who live in areas where Sprint's Network Vision project has been completed, report excellent 3G data speeds. And those few lucky souls who live in area where Sprint's LTE has been turned on permanently, report very fast data speeds, but very spotty coverage overall. And it's really only a few areas of the US where Sprint's LTE is truly fully-operational.

In a nutshell, you have to do your homework and test any carrier's network performance yourself in the areas that are important to you to have good signal and good data speeds.

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