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PC Mag: Fastest Mobile Networks 2013

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I dont care about being the fastest. I want reliability and hopefully unlimited data. 

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I dont care about being the fastest. I want reliability and hopefully unlimited data. 

Exactly, I've actually been able to watch youtube in HD on my phone on 3G when it's one of the faster towers. I'd rather have lower speeds, but a more reliable network where I don't have to worry about losing signal in buildings and what not.

 

 

-Luis

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At least they gave Sprint some credit for the improvements.  

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I have a question, please dont confuse it for whining:

 

In these types of studies where Sprint always comes last, a lot of people here jump to defend Sprint by saying that Sprint's network cant be judged since it is not finished (AJ comes to mind, I'm sorry if I'm mistaken). My question is, how come T-Mobile whose LTE network is built even less than Sprint, is able to perform better? (Also, this study was for T-Mobile LTE, not HSPA)

 

T-Mobile would be a direct counterexample of the claim "Sprint is worst because they haven't finished the LTE overhaul"

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Well that is kind of the answer to your query. T-mobile already had enhanced backhaul i.e. fiber, microwave run to a lot of their urban cell sites when they began deploying HSPA/HSPA+. Therefore, when they add LTE the backhaul is already in place.

 

Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

 

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Well that is kind of the answer to your query. T-mobile already had enhanced backhaul i.e. fiber, microwave run to a lot of their urban cell sites when they began deploying HSPA/HSPA+. Therefore, when they add LTE the backhaul is already in place.

 

Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

This only justifies T-Mobile being able to finish sites faster. Not them performing better with a not-finished-yet LTE network.

 

When a Sprint LTE site is accepted for LTE, the backhaul must of been in place in order for that acceptance to take place (or so I have read Robert mention). Its irrelevant that T-Mobile already had the backhaul but Sprint had to put it. When Sprint puts the backhaul (and hence the site gets LTE accepted), why does T-Mobile keep on performing better? That's my question. I hope you understand my reasoning.

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This only justifies T-Mobile being able to finish sites faster. Not them performing better with a not-finished-yet LTE network.

 

When a Sprint LTE site is accepted for LTE, the backhaul must of been in place in order for that acceptance to take place (or so I have read Robert mention). Its irrelevant that T-Mobile already had the backhaul but Sprint had to put it. When Sprint puts the backhaul (and hence the site gets LTE accepted), why does T-Mobile keep on performing better? That's my question. I hope you understand my reasoning.

 

 

here is my best guess.... tmobile doesn't have as many LTE devices out there as sprint does. so if they were in an area still being built out there wouldn't be as many completed towers as there are towers, so more people are sharing less towers then if all the towers were upgraded. and since tmobile has less LTE devices out there, there are less people sharing fewer towers on tmobile than there were on sprint. which translates to faster speeds from tmobile than sprint.

 

hope that makes sense.

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From the article:

 

 

Where we found it, T-Mobile's LTE was faster and more robust than its low-cost rival Sprint, but that may be in part to very few people actually using the network. We always see fast speeds on unloaded networks.

 

Moreover, in markets where T-Mobile has 10x10 LTE deployed, it's obviously going to have faster speeds than Sprint's current 5x5 LTE deployment.

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In these types of studies where Sprint always comes last, a lot of people here jump to defend Sprint by saying that Sprint's network cant be judged since it is not finished (AJ comes to mind, I'm sorry if I'm mistaken). My question is, how come T-Mobile whose LTE network is built even less than Sprint, is able to perform better? (Also, this study was for T-Mobile LTE, not HSPA)

 

Besides the 5 MHz FDD vs 10 MHz FDD issue, these studies tend to focus exclusively on urban areas.  So, T-Mobile rarely gets a big fat zero for data speeds along highways and in more rural areas where Sprint already does or soon will have LTE, while T-Mobile will be lucky to have LTE there in 3-4 years, if ever.

 

AJ

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"Its network team is smart, prioritizing solid web page performance over raw speed-test results."

 

:)

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I have a question, please dont confuse it for whining:

 

In these types of studies where Sprint always comes last, a lot of people here jump to defend Sprint by saying that Sprint's network cant be judged since it is not finished (AJ comes to mind, I'm sorry if I'm mistaken). My question is, how come T-Mobile whose LTE network is built even less than Sprint, is able to perform better? (Also, this study was for T-Mobile LTE, not HSPA)

 

T-Mobile would be a direct counterexample of the claim "Sprint is worst because they haven't finished the LTE overhaul"

 

 

I think a lot of it has to do with how sprint is deploying LTE vs. T-Mobile.

 

In the Boston market for example, there are all sorts of odd places that have LTE but Sprint only has a few LTE sites online in downtown boston proper.  So combined with more people on a site and poor signal, you end up with overburdened cells and/or poor performance related to poor signal.

 

At the end of the day, I blame sprint marketing for being over-zealous "launching" markets that are not ready yet.  Since launching means nothing, they should be waiting.  Instead, they launch, and you see speeds like that in a "launched" market.

 

My big question is if sprint is going to be able to add capacity at a rate faster than data consumption is growing?  Or will they go back to their old ways of over capacity/under served?  To me, that's the million dollar question.

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So... I'm to believe that I should be more attracted to a carrier that charges me $10 or more per gigabyte and can bring me 15, 20, 30+ mb  than to one that can get me unlimited data with an LTE network that should get 2, 4, 6, 8+ mb under current conditions?  Right. 

 

And this article will continue to bring the whine, people will read the first page or two and wonder why sprint is "so behind".  

 

And to conclude Tmobile is in 3rd place.  The non-existent LTE?  Not complaining about that.   I've long said that to the average user an upgrade to LTE on Tmo makes no perceptible usage difference... but if I take the ping times seen on HSPA+ in many of these cities (and noted in the article) , I'm apparently very wrong.   Ping times have a noticeable effect on the user's perception of speed...  If a Tmo user on HSPA+ in Atlanta, GA has a ping of 2309.43ms and an eventual dl speed of 15.79mb, how would the perception of speed compare to a Sprint EVDO  user with a ping of 588.34ms and a dl speed of 2.38mb?

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If a Tmo user on HSPA+ in Atlanta, GA has a ping of 2309.43ms and an eventual dl speed of 15.79mb, how would the perception of speed compare to a Sprint EVDO  user with a ping of 588.34ms and a dl speed of 2.38mb?

 

That's about the sum of it. I switched to T-Mo until Sprint finishes NV in the Raleigh market, and my plan was to use GrooveIP to make up for the 100 voice minutes on the $30 pre-pay plan. However, latency is just too high on T-Mo's HSPA+ network to get a reliable call with decent voice quality. On LTE with sub-100 pings, though, it should be feasible.

 

On a completely unrelated note, I really miss Sprint's integration with Google Voice.

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It's because Sprint launches individual sites. T-Mobile launches LTE kch like Sprint launches 3G upgrades. They wait until a group of towers are complete to turn them on creating better performance in the area where you are in whereas on Sprint you can be on LTE but still miles away.

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why does TMobile have such terrible ping rates. Their backhaul suck or what?

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why does TMobile have such terrible ping rates. Their backhaul suck or what?

 

No. Last night I used a Tmo LTE site in Albuquerque and got 48ms ping. Switched to HSPA+ on the same site and it had a 250ms ping. These likely are using the same backhaul. I believe it is an issue with the airlink of WCDMA networks.

 

Robert from Note 2 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

 

 

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No. Last night I used a Tmo LTE site in Albuquerque and got 48ms ping. Switched to HSPA+ on the same site and it had a 250ms ping. These likely are using the same backhaul. I believe it is an issue with the airlink of WCDMA networks.

 

Robert from Note 2 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

 

And at the very least, a LOT more people are saturating the HSPA+ airlink which will have an effect.

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HSPA also suffers a latency hit when dual carrier mode is enabled. The phone stays "parked" on one carrier for power efficiency, but whenever data needs to be transmitted, it acquires an adjacent carrier before starting the transfer. This process takes time, causing initial data transfers to have a high ping.

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HSPA also suffers a latency hit when dual carrier mode is enabled. The phone stays "parked" on one carrier for power efficiency, but whenever data needs to be transmitted, it acquires an adjacent carrier before starting the transfer. This process takes time, causing initial data transfers to have a high ping.

This.

If you're running consecutive speedtests for instance, one after another right away, latency stays amazingly low, LTE-like 30-40ms here in NYC. However if I take a test, then wait a few seconds before I fire up a second one, latency spikes to over 600ms.

 

It's a known issue on DC-HSPA+ networks easily solved by streaming radio in the background for instance :)

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I gotta say, the T-mobile LTE in Boston is pretty amazing.

 

Latency under 40MS, speeds over 20mbit.

 

Not launched in Boston yet but the coverage is far superior to the "launched" sprint 4g LTE coverage.

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I gotta say, the T-mobile LTE in Boston is pretty amazing.

 

Latency under 40MS, speeds over 20mbit.

 

Not launched in Boston yet but the coverage is far superior to the "launched" sprint 4g LTE coverage.

 

Same in Albuquerque.  Outdoor coverage is pretty good already.  On approximately 60% of their sites.  Average speeds are 15-20Mbps Download, and 10Mbps upload.  Peaks are approaching 50Mbps on some sites.  Speeds seem backhaul limited, not capacity limited.  On some sites I will get less than 10Mbps with full signal.  If I jump over to HSPA+, the speed is pretty similiar.  So I've concluded that all sites are likely running 50-60Mbps on the airlink, but is limited to what the backhaul at the site currently can handle.

 

However, walking indoors I lose the AWS LTE signal unless I'm within half mile of the site.  So typical crummy indoor Tmo coverage is not changed by LTE.  It really is the achilles heel of Tmo.  Indoor coverage seems worse on Tmo than Sprint on equitable networks.  And when LTE 800 gets going, Tmo is really going to start being at a disadvantage.

 

However, another advatange of Tmo here in ABQ, is that they are deploying 10MHz channels here.  So even if you go indoors and get a really weak signal, with 10MHz, speeds stay pretty good.  I once got a 20Mbps download speed even with a -110dBm RSRP.  Not shabby at all.

 

As good as Tmo is, I'm still more bullish on Sprint for the mid and long term.  Especially when you consider SoftBank and Clearwire.  But over all, I want Tmo and Sprint both to be viable competitors to the duopoly.

 

Robert

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Same in Albuquerque.  Outdoor coverage is pretty good already.  On approximately 60% of their sites.  Average speeds are 15-20Mbps Download, and 10Mbps upload.  Peaks are approaching 50Mbps on some sites.  Speeds seem backhaul limited, not capacity limited.  On some sites I will get less than 10Mbps with full signal.  If I jump over to HSPA+, the speed is pretty similiar.  So I've concluded that all sites are likely running 50-60Mbps on the airlink, but is limited to what the backhaul at the site currently can handle.

 

However, walking indoors I lose the AWS LTE signal unless I'm within half mile of the site.  So typical crummy indoor Tmo coverage is not changed by LTE.  It really is the achilles heel of Tmo.  Indoor coverage seems worse on Tmo than Sprint on equitable networks.  And when LTE 800 gets going, Tmo is really going to start being at a disadvantage.

 

However, another advatange of Tmo here in ABQ, is that they are deploying 10MHz channels here.  So even if you go indoors and get a really weak signal, with 10MHz, speeds stay pretty good.  I once got a 20Mbps download speed even with a -110dBm RSRP.  Not shabby at all.

 

As good as Tmo is, I'm still more bullish on Sprint for the mid and long term.  Especially when you consider SoftBank and Clearwire.  But over all, I want Tmo and Sprint both to be viable competitors to the duopoly.

 

Robert

To add to your post, I used to see the same issue in NYC at first, a place where backhaul definitely isn't an issue (for T-Mo), but just recently discovered that T-Mobile's engineers seems to be running OCNS 24/7 essentially simulating cell load at site level in their testing not yet launched markets. They're also tweaking ICIC settings as wider channels propagate differently and you may notice lower signal levels on LTE vs HSPA+ initially.

When I first attached to T-Mo's LTE back in March, speeds were capped at about 18Mbps which is just about 50% capacity in a 5Mhz physical layer. That all changed recently as they're getting closer to launch.

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This.

If you're running consecutive speedtests for instance, one after another right away, latency stays amazingly low, LTE-like 30-40ms here in NYC. However if I take a test, then wait a few seconds before I fire up a second one, latency spikes to over 600ms.

 

It's a known issue on DC-HSPA+ networks easily solved by streaming radio in the background for instance :)

 

This explains so much!!!!!!! I was wondering WTH was going on with my latency on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network in my area, good speeds but just terrible latency. Thanks for the knowledge xD

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