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Sprint says Spark can exceed 120Mbps with carrier aggregation

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Sprint says Spark can exceed 120Mbps with carrier aggregation
According to Sprint's Chief  Network Officer, John Saw, the nation;s third largest carrier plans on employing carrier aggregation across part of the Sprint Spark network by the end of the year. This will raise the theoretical speed of the network to 120Mbps. By the end of next year, Sprint will add another carrier to its 2.5 GHz LTE network which will raise the theoretical speed even higher, to 180Mbps.

Sprint is hoping that its Spark service helps it take business away from the other major carriers. Spark is a tri-band LTE network. Circuitry on specially equipped phones figures out which of the three bands is best suited for a particular task. This helps Sprint offer faster data speeds, and better signal penetration. Spark is currently in 14 markets and will cover 100 million people by the end of this year. By 2016, Sprint Spark will be in 100 markets.

"Those are incredibly fast speeds. With smart antenna capabilities that we are putting in our systems we are able to leverage even higher speeds than those. We're talking about multilayer MIMO, and all that is being developed in our labs."-John Saw, Chief Network Officer, Sprint

To access the faster speeds, Sprint Spark customers today will have to buy new devices. Saw notes that the phones compatible with Sprint Spark today, won't be able to access two-channel and three-channel 2.5 GHz configurations.

source: FierceWireless via Phonescoop

51 Comments
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posted on 25 Mar 2014, 16:48 4

1. papss (unregistered)


Sprint who?

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:57 1

34. Doakie (Posts: 1321; Member since: 06 May 2009)


They're that horrible network that is hemorrhaging customers because their network is so slow you can't even check your emails.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 16:49 5

2. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


congrads? Fix your falling apart network first then worry about wowing people.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:49 5

21. TheRequiem (Posts: 161; Member since: 23 Mar 2012)


Another guy out of the loop, they don't need to "fix" anything... They are rebuilding their entire network, why do guys like you troll sprint threads for trap years and still not know the deal? They will be completed with network vision by June, so they aren't taking their time. You can't just roll out trillions of fiiner optics in a year... It takes awhile. And Spark will be the fastest network I. He country, it has already reached speeds of 2.6gbps.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 22:40 2

28. tuminatr (Posts: 693; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)


some of the reasons they had sprint in the past and had a bad experience, Americans jump on the insult bandwagon and sprint does have a bad rep, sites like this are full of trolls that have nothing better to do, they have realized there current carrier is expensive and need to justify the cost. I will say this I have had all the carriers in my state they all have issues sprint is middle of the pack in my area but they don’t deserve most of the criticism they get. They have been a little slow I think network vision was origonally set to be compleated yast year. Can someone give me a comparison between how long it too verizon vs sprint for 4g roll out?

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:06

48. lsutigers (Posts: 765; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


@ tuminatr

Agreed. This reminds me of the early iPhone days when the AT&T network was crumbling down with crap speeds and dropped calls due to capacity issues. The same happened to Sprint with the iPhone and the explosion of smartphones in general and they are now rebuilding their entire network from the ground up to support added capacity and future proof.

I definitely think some criticism is deserved but most of the bashing today is not. Many people that bash Sprint had Sprint years ago or have never used them but repeat what they hear because it's easy to jump on the bandwagon. The Sprint network today is not what it was a few years ago and it will get much better. I use Verizon and Sprint and see very little difference in LTE speeds, coverage is definitely larger on VZW but expanding rapidly with Sprint. People should be happy with their carrier and forget about trying to justify their choice by bashing the competition.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:49 2

32. Doakie (Posts: 1321; Member since: 06 May 2009)


Not to be dismissive of your hopes, but coming from a 12 year Sprint customer who just left this last October to go to AT&T you have to understand that Sprint might never really improve. I was promised a great network for 12 years and never really saw it. The best time I'd ever had on Sprint was when their WiMAX network was competitive. I was so excited for Sprint once it started it's LTE roll out two years ago but those hopes were met with nothing but empty promises and let downs.

To give some background; here in Seattle Sprint always seemed to have a pretty strong network. Two years ago their EVDO network would return approximately a 700 Kbps download consistently, and their WiMAX network would return 7-8 Mbps download speeds all day long. Then they decided to stop selling WiMAX phones and went all LTE in April of 2012. They started out their Network Vision project and EVDO speeds jumped up to approx 1.2 Mbps just south of Downtown Seattle. But since then their 3G network has become overloaded because they aren't building out their LTE fast enough. My most recent experience on my Sprint HTC One I would only get around 200 Kbps 3G on the best days, rarely would I find LTE towers and when I would they'd only have around a 2.0 Mbps connection when I could find a tower. In the last year I traveled to Disneyland and Waikiki with my wife and kids and in both locations Sprints 3G network couldn't even complete a Speedtest, I couldn't have a Google Hangouts conversation because it would sit there for 10 minutes before my messages would send. In the last two homes we've lived in Sprint claimed to have excellent voice coverage however voice calls persisted to drop daily, you'd have to stand outside to make a call. I kept making excuses and holding out hope that the Nextel network shut down would breathe new life into their LTE rollout with its 800 Mhz Spectrum but honestly Spectrum has never been Sprints problem. They consistently back the wrong technology. Back when the G1 was released I had one as a work phone and my wife had a brand new Palm Pre on our Sprint family plan. My G1 would get 5-6 Mbps download speeds and her Pre would return 700 Kbps. I didn't realize EVDO had such low transfer rates till then. Move forward to last year and I had a 42 Mbps HSPA+ phone on T Mobile and my wife had her Sprint Note 2 LTE. My T Mobile phone would download at 15-20 Mbps and her LTE Note 2 was still returning 500 Kbps downloads because LTE isn't fully rolled out here. To go back to EVDO only from WiMAX speeds was sad, especially in a day when Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have the 20-30 Mbps LTE speeds they do. Maybe someday I'll go back to Sprint. But I got really tired of paying for service I wasn't receiving. Horrible data speeds, voice calls that always drop; I'd rather pay more per month and be on AT&T.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 08:47 1

36. tuminatr (Posts: 693; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)


so you are option 1 someone who had a bad experience, we will see what Softbank does to the company. The experience you have with the network I have seen with all the carriers. I worked for a reseller and would see where this company would have an issue but that company would not. I can only speak for the market I live in because that’s what I am familiar with and have used but here they are Fairley equal. The city I live in West Saint Paul you can’t go in any of the local business with a Verizon phone and even make a phone call, so like any service you need to get what works for you and in your area. I will agree that sprint does have its issues I was in Orlando last week and most of the network was good but in Universal I could not get a data connection in part of the park so your right it does happen, but I could point out areas here in Minneapolis/st Paul where T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, At&T all have crappy spots no one is perfect

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 15:14

42. Landmarkcm (Posts: 464; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)


One of the best posts I've seen here. So well said I wish Sprint well but Like I put. It is sad that here in Vegas they are the only carrier without even useable 3g! & dropped calls galore. I have given them several trys throughout the years. I got sick of dealing with airraves not to have dropped calls etc. Same case here when I was in Disneyland, family that had Sprint at the time had NO working service whereas Tmobile was fine also like you said in Hawaii was awful also (although Tmobile wasn't much better). Right now I'm on AIO, running on AT&T to save a few more $$. I prefer GSM in general for easier switching of devices. Hopefully Sprint will get it together again. It's like someone is asleep at the switch over there because they are all over the map..

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 16:58 3

3. bestmvno (Posts: 175; Member since: 07 Mar 2014)


Sprint, the network that continues to lack focus. Too many projects going on at once. Commit to one and go with it and get it into all the markets asap. Remember when WiMax was Sprint's thing?

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 02:55 1

33. Doakie (Posts: 1321; Member since: 06 May 2009)


Hey don't make fun of WiMAX. Those were the good days with Sprint. Their LTE network is worse than their WiMAX network ever was. Those were the days where I could actually use 40 GB of data per month. Once I switched to an LTE phone the most I could use in a month was 3 GB because the best connections I'd find were 200 Kbps EVDO connections. I miss the days of WiMAX.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 08:06 1

35. wumberpeb (Posts: 445; Member since: 14 Mar 2011)


The hay day of Sprint was most definitely NOT Wimax. Just because you had it in Seattle and then bought a new phone where LTE hadn't launched yet, doesn't make it a worse network. Data speeds are more than twice as high and uploads aren't locked to 1.5 Mbps, besides the fact that it covers twice as many people, penetrates buildings better (1900mhz), etc. Take a look at Seattle on Sensorly.com, 90% is covered in purple with LTE

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 15:28

43. Landmarkcm (Posts: 464; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)


Wimax used to be decent here in Vegas too. When there was a good signal. I think it's one of the first places they rolled it out. Funny that in certain areas where Sprint has there LTE up & running HSPA+ is just as fast.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:20 1

4. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Let me get this straight... So the few phones that can work with Spark now, won't be able to work with Spark when they upgrade the network later, forcing Sprint customers who want the fastest speeds to purchase yet another device? Way to go Sprint. *Sarcasm*

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:35 1

7. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


You mean how other carriers didn't have CA available on their phones yet either? It only recently became available...that is kind of how technology works, things advance. Is my laptop from 2007 expected to be able to use the ac standard for wi-fi even though it didn't exist as a standard at the time, let alone having the technology available to use it.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:46

10. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


My point is, which was quite obvious by the way, is that Sprint customers already had to purchase a new phone just to get Spark to begin with. Now they're going to have to purchase yet another device to take advantage of yet another upgrade.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:02 4

13. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


I understood your point just fine. My point is that this happens with technology, and it isn't only Sprint that does it. Just like people had to get the spark capable phones in order to get access to the 2.5 GHz TDD-LTE or the 800 MHz FDD-LTE, since the only phone to have those bands before the new Spark phones was the 5S and 5C, and they only had the 800 MHz.

The other carriers do the same thing, T-Mobile customers will have to when they roll out service on the 700 MHz spectrum. A lot VZW customers will need to get new phones in order to use the new LTE network in VZW's AWS spectrum. I'm pretty sure none of the other networks are selling phones that do CA yet either, but they will all move in that direction.

It isn't like the Spark devices are going to stop working for any amount of time in the medium term, and they will still get great speed on the 1 carrier they use in the 2.5 GHz spectrum. People are pulling up to 80 mbps on it,https://www.dropbox.com/s/5w7ygfe7xnxbswo/Screenshot_2014-03-18-09-47-07.png

I can't think of any reason you would need to have more speed than that on a phone or tablet. You dont even need that much.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:35 5

17. chebner (Posts: 147; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


You make it sound as if people never upgrade their phones.

So here's how it is. The people who bought current Sprint Spark capable phones will be limited to whatever the the current max Sprint Spark is capable of today. In order to take advantage of future network upgrades they'll have to buy a new phone. They can either wait until they're eligible for another upgrade, or they can upgrade through what ever Sprint's early upgrade plan with monthly payments is called.

Sprint isn't taking away the current Sprint Spark. They are just going to make it better in the future.
Were you not forced to buy a new phone to get LTE connectivity? This is no different.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 08:57

38. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Never said anything about people not upgrading. And believe it or not, some people never do upgrade. I know people still using legacy Blackberry's and the Palm Pre on Sprints network.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:27 4

16. chebner (Posts: 147; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


"So the few phones that can work with Spark now, won't be able to work with Spark when they upgrade the network later?"

No, the last paragraph was poorly written; that's not what he meant. What it means is that Sprint Spark capable devices available today will only ever be capable of the Sprint Spark speeds available today. However you will have to get a new phone in order to take advantage of the faster Sprint Spark speeds that will be available after future upgrades.

Hmmmm, you'll need a new phone to take advantage of network upgrades that are happening in the future. SHOCKING!!! *Sarcasm*

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 08:59

39. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


See d×ck comment.
See d×ck get sarcastic.
Don't be a d×ck.

My main point is it all seems like a gimmick to me just to get new handset sales. T-Mobile upgraded its network and I never had to buy a new phone. One day my HTC One was on hspa+, next day it was full on blazing LTE. No purchase of a new handset required.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 18:52 1

46. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


that's because the phone had the capability built in.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:35

49. lsutigers (Posts: 765; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


The new HTC One (M8 / 2014 edition) or whatever you want to call it is the first Sprint LTE-A phone with carrier aggregation support.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:22 2

5. Technobri (Posts: 78; Member since: 10 Dec 2012)


I think the popular thing to do right now is bash sprint... My 4glte is fine here in nyc and I would think it would get even better when I upgrade to a spark phone

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:38

8. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


The progress is just really slow with this. I understood with Network Vision why that was so slow (and still in progress in some areas), they had to upgrade infrastructure. Are they having to do this yet again for Spark? Or is Softbank just taking its time?

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:08

14. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


Spark itself is rolling out quickly it seems, 16 cities already. As long as it has the backhaul it should be quicker than Network Vision. I think what Sprint means when they say Spark will be built out in the top 100 markets by 2016 is that the entire network will be densified by adding more cell sites and by doing the carrier aggregation as well. But I would imagine most of those markets would have a substantial Spark presence by the end of this year looking at the rate they're going and with the Network Vision build-out finishing nationwide halfway through this year.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 17:48

12. TheGoat (Posts: 18; Member since: 03 Mar 2014)


seems like a stupid gimmick to get people to purchase a new compatible phone. Then once they get that, they will have to get a new phone again in 2015 to access the new new sprint spark LOLOL. Meanwhile on T-mobile, you can already get ridiculously fast LTE speeds. There's a reason people bash sprint so much.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:16 3

15. freakinsweetdude (Posts: 6; Member since: 01 Sep 2011)


The point of such high speeds extends beyond cell phones. Realistically would anyone ever need 40+ mbs out of a cell phone? Probably not, at least not in the near future. But those kind of speeds might really benefit from a B2B standpoint like medical equipment, mobile surveillance etc. People complaining about the fact that their phone won't work with it are missing the point that Sprint positioning themselves to eventually compete with Broadband providers like Comcast.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 18:57

47. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


they will need to improve their coverage and building penetration before they even dream about that.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 18:38

18. DnB925Art (Posts: 415; Member since: 23 May 2013)


TBH I am actually with Sprint in general where I live. I've had very decent LTE speeds where I live (San Ramon Valley in the East Bay) averaging 10-25 Mbps, which if I can stream YouTube at 720p on my Note 2 without stuttering, I'm happy with that. But nothing is all honky dory with Sprint. There are areas where it is abysmal, like downtown Pleasanton where speeds drop to 2G speeds, but luckily I only go there for 1/2 hour once a week.

In general, I am happy with my service and they have actually been good to me on a customer service aspect when I've had to call or deal with them, but I welcome the better speeds with Spark when I upgrade to my Note 3, which hopefully will be compatible to the new Spark standards of 2 and 3 channel 2.5Ghz aggregation.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:31 1

20. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


Note 3 doesn't have the bands for spark, it only has Band 25 - 1900 LTE. The Note 4 will probably have CA I would bet, and it will definitely have all the right bands.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:04

19. zig8100 (Posts: 143; Member since: 13 Dec 2012)


They Rollin out Spark because they have to use the spectrum they have or lose it. That's is why they have multiple projects going on at the same time.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 19:55 1

23. technitude (Posts: 29; Member since: 19 Dec 2013)


It is actually in a lot more than 14 markets, When I drove from Colorado Springs to Houston, That Spark logo was spinning on my phone in Colorado Springs, Dalhart, Amarillo, Childress, etc. None of those cities are on their map, but I was able to get a Spark signal and Spark speeds.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:40

50. lsutigers (Posts: 765; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


The wheel spins anytime you are connected to LTE because Spark is a combination of all 3 bands but the really high speeds live in the 2.5ghz band which is officially in 18 markets.

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 20:00

24. Landmarkcm (Posts: 464; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)


I'll say it again. It's pretty sad that in major areas like here in Vegas Sprint is still in dead last without even useable 3g service! & this is what there spending there time & money on. I prefer GSM in general anyway & right now pretty happy on AIO. Im sure one day Sprint will get it together. But most are tired of there excuses & moving on..

posted on 25 Mar 2014, 20:31

25. mike2959 (Posts: 279; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)


Look, who cares about how the technology, the name on the antenna. I want coverage, and it want speed.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 10:15

40. kabukijoe (Posts: 67; Member since: 06 Mar 2010)


In my experience the difference between Sprint coverage and the "better" carriers (Verizon in particular) is not even close to being worth the difference in cost. My girlfriend has Verizon, she pays the Verizon price every month, and Youtube videos have to buffer every 5 seconds in our apartment. My parents house she will drop the call almost every time and has to use the landline. And her parents house is even worse. And the best part is that Verizon's coverage map claims to have full service at all of those places. I'm sorry but if you want me to pay more to have "great service" then I expect to get just that, and it better work everywhere just like the coverage map claims.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 15:32

44. Landmarkcm (Posts: 464; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)


AT&T prepaid like AIO (soon to be the "New" Cricket) or Gophone is the best all around. I think as of right now. At least for individual lines.. You get a solid network, lower plan prices, and the flexibility of GSM devices.

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 13:59 1

41. ronn_eh (Posts: 4; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)


hmm I have a spark device in south texas and it's fast! click and go! ...i personally dont have any issues, and I rarely have. Can't expect technology to be perfect...

posted on 26 Mar 2014, 15:36

45. Landmarkcm (Posts: 464; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)


That's great but your one of the few. I'm sure eventually they will roll it out everywhere. Just seems like service shouldn't be this bad 2 years plus or more into there "network vision" roll out.

posted on 27 Mar 2014, 09:43

51. lsutigers (Posts: 765; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


Where is the service that bad? Yes, some areas are already over capacity but that is true for every carrier and they are all scrambling to add capacity but it takes time. I have Verizon and Sprint and there are areas where Verizon LTE speeds crawl under 1mbps due to capacity issues. What's your point?

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