Dear Sprint: Seattle Is Not A Small Market

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Consider this our Dear John letter to Sprint and Softbank. It’s this time of year that we usually begin to publish our Best Value In Wireless Results, but frankly there are a few more services this year that we are testing. Of course, usually a few of those services are from Sprint’s native network, which is where this editorial is coming from. So, without further ado, here is our editorial letter to Sprint…

Dear Sprint,

As one that used to tout your network’s speed, quality and performance, I feel very pained in writing this to you today. Normally, I like to try and say kind things to the carriers that offer great values, but this is not going to be the case today. While your “Framily” deal is great, I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind that lives within 50 miles of me signing up for your service, which just leaves me a $130 a month bill for unlimited 3G cell service.

You see, I live in the Seattle area, one of the first areas where your first 4G WiMAX network rolled out. Unfortunately, we still have that great 4G WiMAX network, but no phones that work with it. To make matters worse, it seems you forgot to bring LTE here when you started replacing our WiMAX handsets with LTE ones in your stores.

Now, that said, I noticed on your new LTE Markets list from January 27, 2014 that LTE is now in Bremerton, Centralia, Longview, Olympia, Pullman, Spokane and Tacoma. That pretty well shoots a 50 mile hole around the densely populated areas in Washington State. Centralia is 100 miles from Seattle. Bremerton is just a ferry ride away, but it has quite a body of water between it and where people live. Tacoma starts to get populated, but it is still a good 20-30 miles away from Seattle. The question is, why do you leave the biggest market in Washington without any 4G coverage.

Why is life so bad for us in Seattle? Why did you take away our 4G network before you got us a new one? Is this part of the plan to get us Spark before the rest of the planet? There are so many questions left unanswered by this move, and until some of them get answered, you can bet you don’t have much in the way of Framily here…

Thanks,

A very concerned Seattlite!

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This just proves why someone like T-Mobile can run rampantly through the carriers and add so many subscribers so quickly, and why Sprint can’t keep the ones they have happy. I remember moving to Sprint when WiMAX launched, which we didn’t have in the Seattle area yet, but it was coming. I immediately got a new HTC Evo 4G and watched my downloads hit 11 Mbps. Life was great. Now, the HTC Evo 4G LTE that I tested last week was pulling 600 kbps in the same locations. At the same moment the HSPA+42 connection from my Spot Mobile powered Nokia Lumia 925 was pulling down 16 Mbps without blinking – and that wasn’t even on an active LTE line!

Sprint and Softbank don’t have the ability to suffer much longer. That’s why they are making the power play to buy T-Mobile USA from Duetch Telekom. Their $110 individual “My All In” plan is based off decade old pricing structures. Their “Unlimited, My Way” plans only become a value if you can find enough people to make it a deal. A typical 5 line plan on T-Mobile will run you $110 where as the Sprint plan will cost you $160. Even the single line “Unlimited, My Way” plan will set users back $70 against T-Mobile’s $50. Face it, the value carrier is now one of the more expensive ones. Your service is competing with T-Mobile on coverage and AT&T or Verizon on price. It’s a war you won’t win – unless you get that LTE conversion rolled out to the major markets that were burned by your last rollout.

So, before you go thinking that buying another network will help, please finish what you started. If Softbank didn’t want to bankroll the network rollout, they should have thought about that before they destroyed your network and the MVNO’s that use it. I can now go to Radio Shack and pick up a worthless LTE phone that gets me those 500kbps download speeds in most areas that I travel. Unfortunately, my $50 AT&T GoPhone gets me 10x faster downloads and still only runs me $60 a month. Just roll out that LTE and get with 2010.

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