Sprint 4G LTE test detected in Durham, North Carolina

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Much like an incident that occurred last fall in San Jose for another TalkAndroid writer, Ed Caggiani, I happened to be travelling in a part of Durham I don’t normally visit when I came across some Sprint 4G LTE coverage. After grabbing some grub in a convenience store, I went to check my email while in the parking lot when I noticed the 4G indicator was lit up on my Galaxy Note II. Hit the break to read more about what it was like to have 4G LTE for a few minutes.

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Life always seems to be about compromises and Sprint customers are well aware of that. They get nice unlimited data plans, but the Sprint 4G LTE network is definitely not on par with the other major carriers. At one time Sprint may have been ahead of the curve with their 4G WiMAX network only to find themselves on the wrong side of the fence as 4G technologies shook out and LTE emerged as the preferred platform. I can understand why having owned an HTC EVO 4G. When connected, the service was nice but tended to be hard to find and prone to dropping in and out if the signal was the least bit weak.

While Sprint plays catch-up in deploying a nationwide 4G LTE network, users eager for the service may find themselves searching for any little hint or sign that it is coming to their area soon. When I visited the Sprint store at the end of December to grab my new Note II, the sales guy mentioned to me that he thought 4G was coming to the area in February or March. I’m not one to think the sales associate in a local Sprint store has access to Sprint’s project timelines for 4G coverage, but I still couldn’t help thinking silently to myself, “Yes!” Through my other job, I also know Sprint is overhauling the infrastructure in the area, including getting rid of the Nextel assets, as we have been dealing with problems from that project.

This latest incident is another example that keeps me hopeful that it will not be too long before I have 4G LTE service available and can really take advantage of my smartphone hardware. According to Sprint’s web site, the central area of North Carolina isn’t even an available option in their dropdown list to check for when coverage may be coming, which I always thought odd given all the tech companies in the Raleigh-Durham area. Sprint has also posted on their community pages this disclaimer:

We’re working on expanding the LTE coverage, but during the build out stages customers may pick up LTE signals, but it may not be reliable at times because it is still under the beta testing stages. However; customers are welcome to use it during this time.”

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Clearly Sprint is working on upgrades in the area and I happened to find a spot with some access. After noting the 4G icon, I quickly launched the SpeedTest.net app to check out the speed. As you can see in the results, about 8.5 Mb/s down and 1.5 Mb/s up is not going to win any speed competitions from what I have seen. Nevertheless, it is still way superior to the 3G coverage I normally deal with in the area. I then fired up some apps like Google+, Facebook and Tweetings to see what the experience was like. My impression was one of being on a WiFi network. Everything loaded so fast. Part of that is likely due to the much decreased latency. When I’ve tested my 3G connection, I find latency to be in the 800+ ms range. On 4G, latency was sub-100 ms. I also felt like it was faster than the old WiMAX 4G service, though part of that difference could be the capabilities of the devices as well.

Having drunk a sip from the well, my thirst for 4G LTE is even more intense. For those readers waiting for 4G LTE coverage, whether on Sprint or some other carrier, I think you will be pleased when you finally get it.

If you have spotted some 4G LTE coverage where it is not officially available yet, let us know and share your story.

» See more articles by Jeff Causey


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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=733107695 Jason Mann

    I wish Sprint would realize that there are states WEST of the Rocky Mountains that don’t start with a “C”!

    • Derail Doax

      No kidding. Seattle is sitting up here slow as can be. Everyone I know who wanted faster speeds seem to have jumped to Verizon already…

  • Marvin Ferrell

    We’ve had 4G here in Durham for almost two months now. Had no idea it was news.

    • Jeff Causey

      It may be where you are specifically located. In the downtown area where I work and the north west side on my commute, I’ve never seen the new 4G LTE signal. This particular day I was over near I-40. I happened to pass through the next day and was able to detect some small pockets popping in and out over about a 5 mile stretch.

  • cesar

    Nine months pretty much praying for LTE from Sprint in Jersey City NJ but when I took a little drive to Bayonne NJ which is only like a seven minute drive I noticed the 4G icon on my EVO LTE. NYC is getting LTE little by little and it is across the river but nice to see that they’re finally working in my area. Speeds were not so impressive though, reminded me of Wimax when I had the first EVO. Hopefully it’s just that they’re testing it and so the speeds are just a little taste. Keeping my hopes up!

  • SollyBiz

    I am sick of sprint and their promise of 4G. I have been waiting since 2009 to get 4G. Oh yeah, unlimited data!!! Fantastic…….bull shit! 3G sprint speed is absolute crap!

  • Ben Berkenpas

    Byron Center MI. Just south of grand rapids. I have had 4g on my evo 4g LTE for about a month. Very fast. Doesn’t show up on any of Sprint’s maps but is here. A co worker has the GalaxyIII and he has it also.

  • losa1

    I live in Keizer OR. I have an iPhone 5. And also I notice that in some areas in Keizer, Salem and Milwaukie Oregon Sprint LTE is working.

  • Danny W

    The 4G also has come on in the Youngsville to Wake Forest area of N.C. on My GS3.

    • Jeff Causey

      Cool, I pass through there every now and then, usually during the summer. I’ll keep a watch on things this year to look for that signal!

    • Fuzz535

      I’ve noticed it in Wake Forest at the new Pep Boys where I work but its gone now. I live in Youngsville and still have terrible service at home.

  • http://twitter.com/BBest83 Bryan Best

    I’ve noticed some areas in Tampa, FL that have 4G LTE.

  • Stevesteve64

    You guys will continue to be upset with sprint like I was, until I left! My phone is actually usable now when I disconnect from wifi. I’m loving my Tmobile service! And get this… My regular 4G is better then you guys Sprint’s 4G lte!!!! I get 18megs down! ON MY GS2! And Tmobile doesn’t even have 4G lte yet.. Smh..

    • David

      Wifi ain’t the service problem. Wifi problem comes from phone.

  • Rex

    4g lte in port orchard Washington around qfc on mile hill