LTE Coverage in Seattle

April 28, 2013

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.


Switched from Sprint to AT&T

April 28, 2013

sprint-attI’ve been using Sprint as my cell phone provider for the last 2 years after establishing a 2nd line on my wife’s Sprint account. Previous to that time, my former employer had provided me with a cell phone (initially on Sprint, then on Verizon) for 12 years so I didn’t have my own “Personal” cell phone until getting this line with Sprint. During my 2 years with Sprint, I’ve been so frustrated with the weak cell connections and very slow data speeds in the Greater Seattle area. While other cell phone providers like Verizon and AT&T have been beefing up their Networks with faster LTE voice and data speeds, Sprint has just been lagging behind in Seattle. My latest Sprint phone is the HTC EVO 4G LTE (a great phone, by the way), however, I’ve never been able to use LTE because it doesn’t exist where I live and work! So I’ve been paying an extra $10/month to Sprint for the privilege of having a Smartphone on their network, but I can’t utilize the faster LTE connection speeds.

I recently changed positions within my company and I now work about 50 miles South of my previous job site, and I’m getting terrible cell connections and very slow data speeds with my HTC EVO LTE smartphone. In fact, one day during lunch I was reading news with the USA Today app on my HTC EVO, and noticed I was getting 1xRTT speeds (this is the slowest data connection possible)! That was the final straw in my book, as I had complained to Sprint last year about lack of LTE in Seattle and horrible signal strength. Back then they told me, “LTE should be working by the end of the year”, which is the same line they gave me again when I complained recently this year. Read the rest of this entry »