If you compare the most current LTE coverage in the Seattle area (as of April 28th, 2013), you’ll see the following:
Sprint 4G LTE Coverage
So, the 4G LTE coverage for Sprint should be the orange colored regions on the map. Did you notice something? There is no orange colored regions! So, there is no LTE coverage in the Seattle area.
The map below shows the AT&T 4G LTE coverage in the same Seattle area:
AT&T 4G LTE Coverage
The dark blue regions have 4G LTE coverage, and as you can see that is almost the entire Seattle area! The light blue regions are 4G coverage, which is still pretty fast for data speeds. Quite a drastic comparison between Sprint and AT&T 4G LTE coverage in Seattle. So, does it make sense for me to keep paying for unlimited but very slow data speeds for the next year or more when I can have very fast data speeds (albeit 3 GB capped) for nearly the same monthly charges?
A note about data coverage for Sprint and AT&T:
With my HTC 4G EVO LTE Sprint phone, I could only get the very slow 1xRTT data connection, 3G, or 4G LTE connection. The “4G” data connection (called WiMAX) was not available to me since my Sprint phone didn’t have a radio that could connect with it. And rightly so, since WiMAX is now a defunct protocol in lieu of LTE. So the best I could do in the Seattle area was a 3G connection, with the 1xRTT as a fallback when the 3G wasn’t available.
With my AT&T, they have several levels of fallback for data connections. First is 4G LTE which is the fastest, and then if that wasn’t available it would fallback to 4G (which is also fast). 3G would be next, then there’s the slow 1xRTT equivalent. With AT&T’s 4G there’s actually two different levels of connections, so you have several different tiers you can fall back with and still have good speeds. With Sprint, it’s either 3G or the 1xRTT for the HTC EVO phone.
Now, maybe Sprint will have their LTE up and running in 2014-2015 and it could be great. But I would guess it might be until the end of 2015 before they work out all the kinks and have a good portion of Seattle adequately covered. Until then, I’ll stick with AT&T and enjoy the consistent faster speeds.