Sprint says its customers are experiencing better service from the company thanks to those Magic Boxes it unveiled earlier this year and other technology advancements, including High Performance User Equipment (HPUE).
National download speeds are up 28% in 7 months, Sprint said, citing Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data. Ookla data also show Sprint now ranks No. 1 for the fastest average download speed in 15 cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
Sprint in May unveiled Magic Box, an LTE-Advanced User equipment (UE) Relay product produced by small cell manufacturer AirSpan and designed to improve coverage for Sprint customers. It’s not a simple repeater; it includes self-organizing network (SON) capabilities and operates on its own channel in Sprint’s spectrum, allowing it to decrease the noise level and increase the capacity of the overall system, which is the big difference from repeaters, according to Sprint.
Sprint said its Magic Box is now improving data speeds for thousands of its customers such as those in the City of Kansas City, North Boone School District and some residents at the Denver Housing Authority where Sprint Magic Box increased download speeds by more than 300% in that location. However, it’s not available to everyone just yet; a Sprint spokeswoman told FierceWirelessTech that Sprint Magic Box is rolling out to customers across the country and “demand has actually outpaced supply as we work to get them to our customers as quickly as we can.”
Sprint also said it continues to expand its portfolio of HPUE-capable devices, which includes the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 and HTC U11. HPUE can extend Sprint’s existing 2.5 GHz coverage by up to 30%, bringing faster data speeds to customers in more locations, including indoors. Sprint co-led the development of HPUE in the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), with companies like China Mobile, SoftBank, Qualcomm Technologies, Samsung, ZTE, Broadcom, MediaTek, Skyworks Solutions, Alcatel, Motorola, LG and Qorvo.
Sprint and T-Mobile US like to point out that data speeds are slowing down at Verizon and AT&T due to unlimited data plans, something the bigger carriers deny.
“We’ve been offering unlimited data for nearly 10 years and we have a long history managing customer demand which is why our speeds are improving while others have slowed,” said Sprint CTO John Saw in the news release. “Sprint also has far more spectrum capacity than any other U.S. carrier and our data performance and speeds continue to improve as we deploy more of our 2.5 GHz spectrum.”
Of course, Sprint is preparing for four-channel carrier aggregation, higher order and Massive MIMO, 256 QAM, and Gigabit Class LTE. Sprint demonstrated Gigabit LTE in New Orleans earlier this year and over the course of this year the company is working toward making it commercially available in major markets across the country.
All four of the major U.S. operators are getting behind Gigabit LTE, as well as operators around the world. Basically what Gigabit LTE technology means for operators is the ability to handle the increasing video traffic more efficiently. One thing consumers tend to do when they’re on unlimited plans is watch video, whether it’s HBO’s "Game of Thrones" or content on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or something else. Gigabit LTE is also seen as a major stepping stone to 5G.