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PC Mag: Fastest Mobile Networks 2013

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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.

 

Pretty sure Sprint sites may advertise LTE regardless if the backhaul is in place or if it has not yet been accepted by Sprint.  Also, someone can correct me if I am wrong but as more sites go are accepted, the general performance will increase.  At my house, I noticed my speeds increase from an approximate average of 5Mbps to 15+Mbps after all three sites surrounding me were LTE accepted by Sprint.

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Pretty sure Sprint sites may advertise LTE regardless if the backhaul is in place or if it has not yet been accepted by Sprint.  Also, someone can correct me if I am wrong but as more sites go are accepted, the general performance will increase.  At my house, I noticed my speeds increase from an approximate average of 5Mbps to 15+Mbps after all three sites surrounding me were LTE accepted by Sprint.

 

Usually the performance will increase slightly because there will be more/other towers that devices can connect to, which will lessen the burden on a particular site.

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After seeing the results from this article it is really collaborating what I've been seeing in real world usage.  I would love it if someone could explain why we are seeing the below with Sprint, but not with other carriers that are building out their network (example: T-mobile).

 

1. The first issue is on the low streaming success on Sprint and in general lower success on 4g than on 3g (for Sprint only).  I live in Orange County and before Network Vision, although speeds were slow, I could at least stream Newsy all the way to work.  Now my videos drop about 6 times in a matter of about a 20 minute trip.

 

2. The second issue is with the average time to first byte being slower than on other carriers.  I understand and am good with the slower 4g speeds since I care more about unlimited data and I understand that Sprint is working on this as part of their long range plan, but I do not understand how Sprints situation would lend themselves to have slower 'ms' and average time to first byte.  With all new fiber and equipment, shouldn't Sprint be equal to others?

 

Thanks in advance for the explanation!

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After seeing the results from this article it is really collaborating what I've been seeing in real world usage. I would love it if someone could explain why we are seeing the below with Sprint, but not with other carriers that are building out their network (example: T-mobile).

 

1. The first issue is on the low streaming success on Sprint and in general lower success on 4g than on 3g (for Sprint only). I live in Orange County and before Network Vision, although speeds were slow, I could at least stream Newsy all the way to work. Now my videos drop about 6 times in a matter of about a 20 minute trip.

 

2. The second issue is with the average time to first byte being slower than on other carriers. I understand and am good with the slower 4g speeds since I care more about unlimited data and I understand that Sprint is working on this as part of their long range plan, but I do not understand how Sprints situation would lend themselves to have slower 'ms' and average time to first byte. With all new fiber and equipment, shouldn't Sprint be equal to others?

 

Thanks in advance for the explanation!

 

1. You are likely going in and out of LTE coverage. Going to legacy 3G even for a second is going to be hell for streaming. I'm not impressed with eHRPD handoffs between 3G and LTE either. On Sprint nor Verizon.

 

2. There two big impacts to ping time...backhaul and air link congestion. I have found lots of 40-50ms pings on Sprint LTE. And I have had lots of 100-200ms pings on Verizon LTE. Your generalization that Sprint LTE pings are lower is not accurate. I have Sprint, Verizon and Tmo LTE, so I'm speaking first hand. Networks are dynamic and over a broad range of time and visiting several sites and several networks, you'd see there is a lot of variability in ping times on all LTE networks.

 

 

 

Robert from Note 2 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

 

 

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Pretty sure Sprint sites may advertise LTE regardless if the backhaul is in place or if it has not yet been accepted by Sprint.  Also, someone can correct me if I am wrong but as more sites go are accepted, the general performance will increase.  At my house, I noticed my speeds increase from an approximate average of 5Mbps to 15+Mbps after all three sites surrounding me were LTE accepted by Sprint.

Completely incorrect.  The LTE signal is not ever enabled until the high capacity backhaul is installed.  If you see an apparently high signal level, LTE, and bad speed,you need to check the actual LTE signal level because often LTE is from a different source site than that which is providing your CDMA connection.

 

It's actually really useful this way because of the way the "breathing" phenomenon affects CDMA far more than LTE.  With LTE, as utilization goes up, the only issue beyond link saturation is an increase in crosstalk and packet errors.  With CDMA, both a serious increase in the noise floor occurs and the base radio's effective power output decreases as a result of increasing complexity of modulation and in severe cases, of deliberate reduction in transmission power in order to decrease the service radius of the site to combat this issue and force subscribers onto adjacent cells.  It is therefore easily possible for a site to be overloaded with 1x (voice or 1x data) traffic but not with data traffic, either EVDO or LTE.  It's even possible on some devices (SVDO capable models) for EVDO and 1xRTT connections to be to different sites.  In an area with significant cell density and with moderate overlap, the benefit of this arrangement becomes even more apparent.

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Completely incorrect.  The LTE signal is not ever enabled until the high capacity backhaul is installed.  If you see an apparently high signal level, LTE, and bad speed,you need to check the actual LTE signal level because often LTE is from a different source site than that which is providing your CDMA connection.

 

It's actually really useful this way because of the way the "breathing" phenomenon affects CDMA far more than LTE.  With LTE, as utilization goes up, the only issue beyond link saturation is an increase in crosstalk and packet errors.  With CDMA, both a serious increase in the noise floor occurs and the base radio's effective power output decreases as a result of increasing complexity of modulation and in severe cases, of deliberate reduction in transmission power in order to decrease the service radius of the site to combat this issue and force subscribers onto adjacent cells.  It is therefore easily possible for a site to be overloaded with 1x (voice or 1x data) traffic but not with data traffic, either EVDO or LTE.  It's even possible on some devices (SVDO capable models) for EVDO and 1xRTT connections to be to different sites.  In an area with significant cell density and with moderate overlap, the benefit of this arrangement becomes even more apparent.

 

Interesting!  I frequent one spot where I get less than 1Mbps speeds on a LTE connection.  I always assumed the backhaul was not in place but maybe it is just low signal.  Thanks!

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Interesting!  I frequent one spot where I get less than 1Mbps speeds on a LTE connection.  I always assumed the backhaul was not in place but maybe it is just low signal.  Thanks!

Download signal check and look.  It was created by a member here.  Otherwise, you can just check your phone's debug screen.

 

Another possibility other than low signal exists as well.  If you are in a fairly dense area and only one or two sites have LTE service, then those sites could easily be seriously overloaded.  The easiest way to spot this is to run a speed test.  If your speed test shows the speed figures to be upside-down, as in with your transmission capacity significantly higher than your reception capacity, then your site is most likely substantially overloaded.  There are cases of sites over capacity that will not test like this, but it is uncommon.

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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

 

 

Very well articulated post - It's interesting to compare/contrast the two networks.

 

I would say since T-Mobile allowed customers to connect to LTE the build-out pace has been fast and furious.  A few coverage gaps that I had have seemed to disappear and only a few remain.  As far as sprint, it seems like they've been having issues getting backhaul to sites in Boston - not sure exactly.  The LTE sites that they do have up are at capacity, as LTE density downtown has essentially gone unchanged for almost a year now (which is troubling).  I am still frustrated that Sprint's marketing team "launched" Boston - which essentially green-lights review sites to compare various networks.  If it wasn't for S4GRU, I would have no idea that Sprint is really just spending a lot more time outside the city vs. inside.  PC Mag just makes it seem like Sprint's LTE stinks - which isn't the case - it's their marketing team that does.

 

T-Mobile seems to have a denser network in Boston than Sprint, which makes sense as an urban carrier.  I am noticing a lot of the same things, such as being limited by backhaul (DC-HSPA+ and LTE get similar download speeds) at some locations that are not high capacity sites.  Other locations, like downtown, the DC-HSPA+ carriers are at capacity but additional backhaul is providing good LTE performance (10mbit+).  Once Sprint fires up LTE on ESMR, it seems like T-Mobile will have a VERY tough time competing.  I really can't wait to see how coverage will change from a user's perspective.

 

I hope T-Mobile wins 600MHz auction and we'll have four national competitors all with solid sub 1-GHz spectrum to compete with.  I think this will help rural customers have some choice for wireless home broadband (and competition).

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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.

 

One other possibility to consider is that you are on T-Mobile prepaid.  T-Mobile is giving postpaid accounts with larger data allotments higher network priority.  So, in essence, there is some network management taking place based upon how much you pay for data access.

 

AJ

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One other possibility to consider is that you are on T-Mobile prepaid.  T-Mobile is giving postpaid accounts with larger data allotments higher network priority.  So, in essence, there is some network management taking place based upon how much you pay for data access.

 

AJ

I'm suspecting something along those lines as well. But I'm also questioning T-Mobile's backhaul provisioning in 2x10Mhz markets. They used to run 50Mbps fiber to their 42Mbps sites. But that's not necessarily gonna be adequate in their 2x10Mhz markets like Albuquerque. 

That 50Mbps backhaul is shared between 73Mbps capable LTE, HSPA+42, HSPA+21. Also, they're still prioritizing their HSPA+ data over LTE, as more users are on it. So if you're not seeing anything over 50Mbps, this is probably why.

 

Good thing is that most if not all of their sites already have 1Gbps fiber cards, so it's a matter of remote provisioning. Hopefully sooner rather than later...

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