Sprint hardly needed any more bad news-what with AT&T angling to purchase T-Mobile, which would make Sprint a small fish in a big pond-but BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk has nonetheless offered some: Sprint's 4G WiMax network is slower than Verizon's 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network.
Piecyk and his team, according to the Boy Genius Report (BGR), conducted more than 1,000 tests around New York City-no easy metropolis to support, as AT&T can attest -pitting the HTC Evo 4G, Sprint's first WiMax-ready smartphone, against the HTC ThunderBolt, the first 4G-enabled smartphone to hop aboard Verizon's LTE network.
"The speed tests were conducted using the integrated mobile hotspot functions on both devices, and the testers were equipped with both an Apple iPad 2 and a Toshiba laptop for the tests," BGR reported April 1. The Verizon package, they found, was consistently quicker, averaging download speeds of 9M bps and upload speeds of 5M bps, while the Sprint's WiMax network averaged 1M bps loading both up and down.
Making matters worse for Sprint, Piecyk and company also found Verizon's LTE coverage to be more reliable and to offer better coverage than Sprint's WiMax. And, purely kicking Sprint while it was down, the team went ahead and mentioned that the ThunderBolt had better battery life results than the Evo 4G.
The Evo 4G-despite a shortage of parts last summer and an over-the-air update fiasco that reportedly severely damaged some users' phones-has helped Sprint to stand up to, as much as possible, the Apple iPhone on rival networks. It features a 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen, a 1GHz processor, Android 2.1, front and back cameras and, of course, WiFi support and mobile hotspot capabilities.
The ThunderBolt-arguably an equal competitor to the iPhone 4-also features a 4.3-inch display, a 1GHz processor, the front- and rear-facing cameras and the like. But it comes with 32GB of storage-and a $250 price tag, which is $50 more than most smartphones. Except for the 32GB iPhone 4, at $299.
Sprint might take heart-if it had an LTE network, the 4G flavor expected to eventually dominate the wireless world. On April 5, Finland-based Elektrobit Corp. introduced two new products designed to help network vendors test the strength and data rates of their LTE networks.
"By focusing on measuring, modeling and emulating the radio channel, EB allows manufacturers to provide stronger products for their audiences," the company said in a statement.
The first product, a 1-to-4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) Extension, helps to raise LTE testing capacity by 100 percent, "thus enabling more cost-efficient MIMO testing with a single product," said the company.
The other product, a "beamforthing" application, enables network performance, reliability and coverage optimization, "giving vendors the ability to create a competitive product portfolio for the LTE market."
In addition to Verizon's speedy LTE network, Sprint has AT&T to worry about. Should federal regulators approve AT&T's proposed purchase of T-Mobile, it'll give the carrier a significant boost in the LTE space-which is, it has said, a primary driver behind the deal.