06
Jan
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As we already know, Sprint is going to roll out its next generation 4G LTE network in four U.S. cities somewhere around mid-2012, and it would only make sense that they already have some of the towers undergoing testing. The first of such alleged tests surfaced online today:

While I can't promise you it's 100% legitimate, here's my analysis:

  • The device used is more than likely a dedicated LTE hotspot and not a handset (like the LTE Galaxy Nexus). If you remember, such was the case with Verizon's LTE network, and it's easy to understand why - building a complicated phone with a new chip and having it available for testers this early would be a lot harder than a dedicated device with only one job - being a hotspot. Either way, the laptop in the video is tethered to an alleged LTE device via Wi-Fi.
  • There is no solid proof that what we're looking at is LTE, although I did verify the IP addresses that popped up during the speed tests do belong to Sprint PCS (for example, 66.87.120.97), as opposed to, say, Sprint Broadband. Considering how high the speeds get (see below), it doesn't look like WiMax either.
  • The tester claims he's in San Antonio near an LTE tower, although the Speedtest.net marker puts him somewhere next to Houston. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time GeoIP reports the wrong location, especially with a new network, but I thought it was worth pointing it out.
  • The tester also claims that "it" is broadcasting at 20MHz. As JJsQuest pointed out in the comments, this number refers to the bandwidth allocated by the carrier; in other words it's the amount of spectrum used for transferring data. For example, Verizon uses a 2x10MHz allocation (10 down and 10 up), while AT&T is using a combination of 10 and 20, depending on the area. If Sprint is allocating 20MHz in a single block, it might just end up being the best setup yet.
  • The downstream results come in at around 30-40Mbps, while upstream maxes out at 5Mbps. The tester says the upstream is actually capped at 5Mbps during the day.
  • The timing of this video, given yesterday's LTE announcement and the facts above, in addition to speed tests that are completely within the realm of possibility indicate to me that we're likely indeed looking at Sprint LTE.
  • Of course, with only a few people on it at any given time, it's no surprise that the download speed is so good, though it's not even the highest LTE throughput we've seen (I remember drooling over 50Mbps+ during AT&T tests). Since we know nothing about the devices used, the maximum speeds could be higher - for all we know, there could be a cap on the downstream as well, or his Wi-Fi card is maxing out.
  • Oh, and THEPLANETEARTH, aka TheComputerMaster, if you post videos of your desktop online, be sure to clear your history next time - nobody wants to know which porn sites you frequent, OK? And grab a bag of commas and a spellcheck while you're at it, you're going to need them.

Update: Mr "what the fuuuuudge" uploaded a new video where he hits even higher speeds:

Here's an earlier video uploaded by the same tester - maybe you'll find some more clues there that I missed:

As a Sprint customer, I'm excited about 2012 and especially 2013, when the LTE rollout is supposed to be completed. LTE plus unlimited data are the only straws I keep holding onto, considering 3G speeds in the SF Bay Area are absolutely atrocious, and 4G is highly spotty. How about you?

Source: Sprint forums [1] [2] [3], thanks Justin

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Patrick

    That sounds good...hopefully they have a big enough pipe on those connections. Around where I live 3g has been terrible for months now and it has to do with capacity. It always confuses me that they supply enough bandwidth to 4g, but not enough to 3g. Maybe their 4g now will be a good indicator that they will do well. It would also be nice if 4g extended out as far as 3g does now.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I don't think the capacity is hurting on the hardwired end of the tower - it's the amount of towers handling the amount of connections - they're over-saturated and can't handle it. Network Vision was supposed to address it, and it alleviated some stress, but it was nowhere near enough. They're betting huge on LTE, and aren't developing WiMax anymore. 3G is in maintenance and fix-up mode, and I don't expect things to improve until we see LTE devices and networks en masse.

      • NV Builder

        Artem said "Network Vision was supposed to address it, and it alleviated some stress, but it was nowhere near enough."

        Artem, it seems you think Network Vision has been completed. In fact, it has just started. There are literally a handful of site that are now in testing. A few of those may be actually carryng traffic. Before you imply that Sprint's effort has failed, do your homework.

        Network Vision across the country won't be completed for at least 2 years, though some cities will have the upgrades completed this year. However, at this time, there are no cities offering NV to customers.

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          Thanks for stopping by, NV Builder.

          If Network Vision has not been completed anywhere yet, then Sprint is surely being confusing with all the "hey, network updates are complete in this and this city", dropping references to Network Vision here and there. Such as this one in SF where I live http://community.sprint.com/baw/community/buzzaboutwireless/network-and-coverage/blog/2011/12/12/sprint-enhances-3g-network-coverage-in-san-francisco-bay-area.

          And others: http://community.sprint.com/baw/community/buzzaboutwireless/network-and-coverage/blog

          Considering Sprint said it would begin NV at the end of 2011, these announcements aligned all too well.

          Are you a NV engineer? If so, can you tell us anything about how the NV rollout is going, what you think of Sprint LTE, etc? I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the network I've been with for 12 years.

        • DCMAKER

          in Chicago the network has been about 60% or more completed and the 3g is horrible. I can ates(sp?) to that. Camp Lejeune is about 25-75% complete in some areas and it has been a Godsend and it is fairly decent 3g. You can go to sprints website and see where the the upgrades are being done and what has been upgraded and has is being updraded.

        • NV Builder

          There is a big difference with all the "3G " upgrades currently in process, and the Network Vision rebuild that is currently underway. Sprint is upgrading sites constantly to improve service, be it coverage area and/or backhaul. However, this has nothing to do with the Network Vision project, which will eventually overlay LTE on 100% of Sprint's sites. Many of the largest cities will launch in 2012, most will probably launch in 2013, and there will be a handful of stragglers out to 2014 and maybe beyond. Once Sprint decomissions iDEN, the 800 MHz spectrum with then be utilized for voice and probably LTE. The 800 MHz will significantly boost voice coverage area, and indoor coverage, as well as being able to support LTE. Once NV Vision launches, Sprint will have a state of the art network that in theory should be awesome.

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          Thanks. Do you have any information on the LTE cities past what's been announced? Maybe the SF Bay Area plans?

        • DCMAKER

          NV Builder...you did not listen...you can go to sprints site like i said and look at the progress of NW vision and see what is and has been built in your area....That is NW vision's progress...not standard maintenance....

        • Tony Archer

          You are correct. The only announced completed cluster is some small town in Illinois as a test market. I'm sure the announce LTE cities will be some of the first to build out network vision.

          The rest of the upgrades, while being serious upgrades, were mostly just to bandage up terrible service in areas like San Francisco. They are doing this all over the country, but it is not Network Vision.

          Slides like this from the network vision update are what truly impress me:

          http://s4gru.spruz.com/pt/New-Network-Vision-and-LTE-Deployment-info-released-in-Sprint-Webinar-today/blog.htm

  • Topgun

    5 meg cap on upload? Thats a mistake. Big reason I love VZW's lte is NO cap on upload. Upload usually matches download averaging about 30-40 in the chicago area on my Galaxy Nexus and Razr

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      The upload is in place during testing - there's no reason to assume it's going to be present there when the network goes live. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if it remained limited to a certain speed. I'll be happy even with 5MBps up.

      • Topgun

        I disagree. They have their 1mb cap on the WiMAX now. (I think its 1). They will probably continue that practice. Most users don't realize like in home internet, upload is just as if not more important in a lot of cases with the internet, esp in mobile. Uploading videos/pics...etc.

        • DCMAKER

          Yea 5Mbps would be awesome...though I would prefer better... I use upload like crazy but hey i'll take what I can get. I hate being stuck with 512kbps-1Mbps upload. Oh how I wish I had SureWest internet (best ISP in the world!!!...well US)

        • Donatom3

          I've uploaded higher than 1 mpbs in many locations with wimax. Highest upload on their wimax I had was about 1.8. It may be capped by area depending on capacity. I don't even get 5mpbs on my cable modem now even though that's the speed I'm paying for.

        • DCMAKER

          As I said in a higher post I get 1-1.5Mbps on their wimax from what I remember in Wilmington and Chicago but i have only used it for like 2 days when I was on vacation.

  • Frank

    If this is real, I hope this isnt the max speeds these towers can put out because there is no one else on the network, and I have friends here in San Antonio that are on ATT's LTE network that are getting 45-60 mbps even though there are multiple LTE devices on those towers. I hope this is just tuned down speeds

    • DCMAKER

      That would be MAX speeds per device not max tower speeds. The tower speeds are limited by the backbone brought to the tower alone with a couple other variables....I forget the other variables though. It has been a long time since I have read up on these things.

  • Austin Conatser

    It's EXTREMELY likely that the speeds will be capped. This was a test probably before the capping system was in place or it's possible that the capping system will even out speeds depending on the number of connections and since he was the only connection, it gave him full speeds with little restriction.

  • Freak4Dell

    As a Sprint customer, you should switch to somebody else. :)

  • Dan Bobke

    My broadband connection at home is usually hitting bandwidth of 20-25 Mbps down and 2.5 Mbps up (consumer broadband has a upload cap to mitigate serving content). I can pay for more, but who needs that? If you are even getting close to that on a phone device, you have some of the best Internet connectivity in the world. How can anyone possibly complain about 15-20 Mbps on a mobile device when many, many people do not have that bandwidth at home?
    Upload speed is hardly relevant for a mobile device - how much are you really uploading that it matters? A picture or video here and there? 5 Mbps should be plenty for that.
    I have a 4G LTE Xoom that I test the Verizon 4G speeds with. In a strong signal area, I can easily hit 17-20 Mbps down. If Sprint can match that, their customers will be ecstatic!

    • DCMAKER

      have now your being BSed capped at 150g and 250g....I almost do that on sprints slow slow 3g....

      Also to be honest I have been happy after sprint upgraded their 3G lol I went from 10-60KBps to 60-250KBps with a 50-80KBps upload ^^ that ain't to bad. When I was home in chicago the 4G wimax isn't to bad either though Wilmington NC 4G imax is awesome 6MBps give or take down and 1-1.5MBps upload on a mobile phone That is nearly as fast as my home connection lol (well my old home connection I just use my phone now)

      • micah

        You most definitely see the glass half full.

        • DCMAKER

          first off the whole glass half full or half empty is stupid. Its completely situational when you look at it from a grammatical aspect and a logical aspect. If it was full and you used half of it then it is half empty. If it was empty and you filled it half way then it is half full. Use your brain. Lastly i was looking at it in a positive out look. I am getting along just fine with a now mediocre 3G and I almost do as much bandwidth as I would do on a capped home connection. Though I will never buy an ISP with capped bandwidth. I will shop around until I find one that is not capped. Plenty of ISPs in every area.

  • Jim

    Will Sprint now add another $10 a month for super data service? When I had Sprint they added a bogus $10 a month for 4G on the Samsung Epic 4G which was total BS since I never had 4G in the city I lived in.

  • Mat

    Lol... at 6:26 "Elevator Sex Elevator Fetish 18+ 1080P" Yeah, definitely take Artem's advice and clear your history :-P

    • Chris

      That was a YouTube video though, so probably not porn

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        But the redtube in the 1st second is :)

        • DCMAKER

          and how do you people know all this stuff?

  • Ray

    The best part about this is that there will be no iPhone users clogging up the network. Not for a long time, anyway.

  • DCMAKER

    @Artem Russakovskii I am surprised you did not know this. Well this is my educated guess from testing when i had an AT&T phone and now when I have a sprint phone. The spot where you pop up on the MAP is where Sprints network is dumping your internet connection. First, I am stationed at Camp Lejeune and thats when I did all these tests. For an example with AT&T It would dump me I think (going from memory these tests were over a year ago) It would pop me out in middle of the US. Somewhere above Texas and maybe a little farther west. Through these tests I found if I tested NC speedtest my ping would be in the 250-350ms but if I tested a location near where I popped out I would have a ping in the 150s. From those tests it shows that their network AT&T does not dump you out in the same location that you are in....it can be 100s to thousands of miles away, which can cause your ping to become terrible (if your trying to do something in your location because it makes you do a massive loop). With Sprint it does the same thing. It puts me in Florida, near Atlanta, few hundred miles west of NC in a neighboring state(can't remember which one), Midwest area...like Michigan or somewhere in that region. It will put me in all sorts of areas and every time I test this If I test NC i have a higher ping but if i test the closest sever from that location its a lower ping. So if you play games through your phone like I do its best to pop onto speedtest.net and see where your located whether its Midwest, Texas, Florida, or somewhere else and find a server in that region.

  • some internet dude

    4MBps not bad, by the time there all set and done I wonder if we will see half that speed. And possibly caps on top of that.

  • JJsQuest

    "The tester also claims that "it" is broadcasting at 20MHz. ... I'm concluding that he's simply ignorantly referring to the Wi-Fi connection between the laptop and the hotspot, meaning it's really of no interest to us."

    This is hilariously ironic. I'll explain...

    LTE can be deployed in 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz bandwidths. This is HOW MUCH of the frequency spectrum is used, NOT what frequency the signal is transmitted at.

    For example, Verizon uses the 10MHz version of the LTE technology.

    Now the Ironic part...

    Not only is the author the ignorant one here, this is actually the most important thing pointed out in the article! Why? If Sprint plans to use a 20MHz deployment, it will in theory have twice the throughput capacity of Verizon (non-capped).

    Now THATS NEWS!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Thank you for that, you're absolutely right, the zero level of knowledge of the tester rubbed off on me, and the "it is broadcasting" bit made me think of the hotspot that is doing the broadcasting, etc.

      I've researched LTE in more depth and will update the post. One thing I'd like to point out though is that Verizon is using 2x10MHz (10 down and 10 up), so while it's not all used for one direction, it's still better than just 10MHz. Heh, they even refer to it as 20MHz. Surprise, right - a company is positioning itself in a better light? http://bookstore.ucsd.edu/images/pdf/VZW_LTE_Competitive_Comparison_Overview.pdf

      We still don't know if Sprint is doing the same, however. It's quite possible, so we'll have to see whether it's true 20MHz or 2x10.

      • Tony Archer

        I doubt Sprint is deploying a full 20 MHz to their initial LTE network as they are at first only deploying it on repurposed 1900 MHz PCS spectrum. Part of the reason they can do this, is that CDMA 1x Advanced only needs half the voice carriers as the original CDMA 1x

        The Nextel network will need to be shut down sometime around 2013 before they can use 800 MHz for EVDO/LTE

        http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=9639

    • DCMAKER

      I always read AT&T/verizon use 20mhz and how can Sprint use 20? I have always read that they only have enough spectrum to offer a 10 mhz. Note some location of AT&T they only have enough for 10mhz according to some articles i have read. (read these from various sources that pop up on the news section under the Sprint stock charts on yahoo finance)

      edit: just read your post artem....i would have to agree with those speeds its 2x10 or just 10 because of what I have read from other articles.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        I've addressed the first 2 points in the post now. Whether Sprint has enough bandwidth for a true 20MHz remains to be seen.

        • DCMAKER

          did you see my post on geoIP and your locations and how Sprint/AT&T's network functions from my tests and experience?

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          Yeah, it makes sense, it's just confusing to anyone doing these tests. I remember WiMax at one point would put me in Overland Park, KS, where Sprint's HQ is located, rather than California, so maybe it's not GeoIP, but rather where their main exit nodes that actually go out to the Internet are.

        • DCMAKER

          Which if that is true....why does their network function this way? It is so inefficient for pings and data to travel. If i do stuff in the east coast with my neighbor I have to send data in a 2000 mile loop.....What the??? ^^

          Also if that is true.....why does it change. AT&T I think always stayed in the middle of the US for me but sprint jumps all over the Eastern/central area

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          That's why I thought GeoIP was at fault - depending on the IP you get, you can be placed either in KS or in CA (in my case). Both were still WiMax, but put me thousands of miles away.

        • DCMAKER

          does it affect your ping too? or am i the only one?

  • Lance

    I'm done with Sprint come June when my contract expires. My EVO served me well for a good while though. Thats was back in Sprint's hey day.

    • DCMAKER

      Why? Sprint is by far the cheapest and gives "unlimited data". Granted their devices blow...best one is the EVO3D because the photon has a horrific pentile display sadly.

  • jbonics

    If you watched more than a minute of either video you need a life. Don't comment back you know its true. I just did a speed test in 30 sec. Worthless. Just make a 10 min. video next time hell 15 f it. I hope those speeds give you radiation.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You're a hit at parties, aren't you?

      • DCMAKER

        i figured you would have deleted his garbage comment artem....

  • NV Builder

    And for all of you who think the Network Vision LTE will include Unlimited Data, Sprint has already begun phasing out the Unlimited Plans, and will soon only have smartphone data (NO tethering) on the unlimited plan. Sprint will also phase this out sometime soon, so they will be competing on price only sometime this year.

    • DCMAKER

      i question that...they are hurting bad enough and they need to lure people over....the only thign they got going for them is unlimited data...they dump that...they got nothing....

      If they dump that I am calling bankruptcy.

  • KCGreg

    Artem,
    Good stuff. It's fun to see how a new network develops. I heard that Sprint was to use a more advanced type of LTE that would allow them to pull from different bands. For example... 10meg down at 1900mhz and then use 10meg up at the old Nextel 800mhz freqs. Or some combination there of. Someone in Houston needs to break out a Spectrum Analyzer and find out for us.

  • Mike

    Win is Sprint supposed to upgrade in Detroit ,Mi anyone???? please let me no!!!

  • http://arxfidelis.com Donald

    People need to understand about speed test. They are just a snapshot of the test there. You have no clue what the server is capable of handling. That test may only be on a 50 meg max connection. I have 70 meg service and those sites only see about 45 meg. So as far as server congestion versus the speed of the server.

  • Dave

    Here is Houston the 3g is horrible  4g is defiantly spotty.     Lets hope for some impovements 

  • http://www.daewootech.net Daewootech

    i feel like its gonna be another 
    WIMAX fiasco like with my EVO4G.... where ill get a phone, and the bay area will be the last to get LTE and when we do get it, its going to be as shitty and spotty as 3G and WIMAX... well my plan is up in june, and they only have 1 LTE phone out so far, im going to hold on to my EVO for a lil bit longer and see what happens.

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