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, 126.96.36.199), 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?