Sprint Spark devices can't handle calls and data at the same time

Sprint Spark devices can't handle calls and data at the same time
While Sprint Spark has been touted by the carrier for current data speeds as fast as 60Mbps and for possible future speeds of 120Mbps using carrier aggregation, the tri-band LTE service does take a step backward when it comes to multitasking. According to Consumer Reports, Sprint customers using Sprint Spark will not be able to talk on the phone and browse the web at the same time.

Sprint's current LTE service allows customers to use data and voice simultaneously. Before the days of LTE service, mobile subscribers using a CDMA carrier like Sprint, could not use data and talk at the same time. On the other hand, this was a feature that those using a GSM carrier are accustomed to having. Now, those connected to an LTE pipeline have the ability to talk and check their email, or browse the web, at the same time.

Sprint has made a statement admitting that Sprint Spark does not allow for simultaneous use of voice and data. But the carrier adds that the tri-band LTE service does offer improved coverage, a higher quality of voice and data service, and improved battery performance.


Will the inability of Sprint Spark to handle voice and data at the same time, limit its ability to attract new subscribers to Sprint? Would it be enough of an issue as to lead to an exodus of current Sprint subscribers? We won't know the answers to those questions until the service starts rolling out in earnest. By the end of this year, Sprint Spark will cover 100 million Americans. By 2016, the service will be in 100 markets.



source: ConsumerReport via PocketNow via MobileBurn

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62 Comments

58. thadjudda

Posts: 25; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

I'm with Sprint and I used to be able to talk and surf at the same time with my GS! but I understand the GS3 had two radios that allows that. so my question is why don't Sprint demand all high end phone's have two radios?

55. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

So while the old WiMax phones can surf and talk, along with the old LTE phones such as my wifes Galaxy S4 My so called ADVANCE LTE Spark LG G2 can NOT surf and talk at the same time? Just proves Sprint is a failed garbage company who can never deliver on their word.

48. kg4icg

Posts: 83; Member since: May 18, 2008

You know something funny. You guys are reporting this as news today when it has been known since last year. Oh boy talking about being late to the game.

47. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

I don't get why they don't make it so that when a call is made that call uses that specific band & "Spark" switches to one of the other bands for LTE.

62. jwalker55

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

That's because this has absolutely nothing to do with "Spark". It is a device limitation due to having only a single radio. Try tuning a single FM radio to 2 stations at once and let me know how it works for you. The only solution to this problem is for Sprint and OEM's to design their phones with 2 or more radios. Some of the first generation Sprint LTE devices supported voice and LTE simultaneously because they had a separate radio for LTE.

36. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Actually, I see the handsets for spark will not offer the proper internal capabilities. John B.

34. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

It's odd to me that something seems missing from this article. Sprint claims Spark can't do both Data and Voice calls at the same time. However, LTE and CDMA can. With Sprint's future handsets offering Spark, they will also have LTE and CDMA radios. Mythought process is that Spark is designed for data only anyways. If someone wants to cconnect to both data and voice, spark is not needed. LTE should provide the same directive that many are not taking into consideration. Sprint will still offer simutaneous voice and data. Just not through Spark. This is good because those that want lightning fast data "or" great voice calls will use spark. This frees up the spectrum for those that want to do "both" at the same time thus leading to not loading down the network. I maybe wrong. But, if I am correct on this, Sprint customers will have a huge advantage over the other carriers through Sprint's carrier aggregation network. John B.

19. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

This has got the be the biggest fail of fails for Sprint.

15. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

GM had the same problem with the iPhone3G I believe. Technically Sprint could do this before LTE on WiMax. I am surprised that a new system wouldn’t offer this, I'm sure that was a tradeoff for something they felt offered more.

38. reckless562

Posts: 1153; Member since: Sep 09, 2013

lol and i DID do it!!!! all the time on my Sprint EVO 4G!!!! (with kickstand!) thats y i didnt get an Iphone!!!!

42. tuminatr

Posts: 1193; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

it actually work on sprints non spark markets flawlessly voice and data simultaneously so it sounds like a limitation to the chipsets, VoLTE would make this a non issue

14. DinoSquad

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 18, 2013

A lot of people will use Google Maps, and while driving, will take phone calls over the speaker. Using voice and data at the same time is Android 101. Someone at Sprint should be fired for pouring millions of dollars into a network that cant do such a basic task.

24. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Someone should do the same to whoever decided that on Verizon too, since they use the same tech.

37. Mrmark

Posts: 430; Member since: Jan 26, 2013

Not the same technology!

51. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Both Sprint and Verizon suffer from this issue:http://cnet.co/1jh860D

53. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Thats specific to the phone. I had no problems with my RAZR and RAZR Maxx. Slammer posted about it below...its the hardware in the iPhone thats the issue...not LTE. It even mentions it in that link. That said...its a limitation of CDMA LTE right now. Extra antenna is needed to take advantage of it. Another plus for GSM networks.

54. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Extra antenna for extra band. Where Sprint splits the 1900MHz band between CDMA and LTE, any phone can only do either. BTW, this sharing of the band for both technologies is why Sprint LTE can be painfully slow where Sprint hasn't rolled out LTE in the 2500MHz band.

12. Philarge

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 10, 2012

For those speaking on CDMA verizon uses CDMA and there are plenty of Verizon fan boys on this site

11. kzat82

Posts: 27; Member since: Dec 26, 2013

People make calls on their phones? what But seriously, I have never needed to be on my phone and using data at the same time. I don't think that's an excessively necessary feature.

6. kevv2288 unregistered

Anyone know why att phones wont let you use lte while on a phone call? I had the s4 and now the note 3 and both will switch to regular 4g whenever I make a call. Yes I know you can't make calls over lte yet but when I had Verizon I could make phone calls and still be connected to lte so obviously is possible to do?

13. WillieFDiaz

Posts: 127; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

For GSM, the call throws the phone back to HSPA/HSPA+ and off LTE. This is how their work around is done until VoLTE takes place. In contrast, it is keeping the exact same performance levels and familiarity as 3G has, voice and data at the same time, using the same channels. For CDMA, there was no simultaneous voice and data unless the device and network both supported SVDO which was only supported by a handful of devices on Verizon and Sprint (Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC Thunderbolt are the only two I know of) that allowed this. 3G voice calls and 3G data. When it came to 4G, the first batch of devices Sprint had, had two antennas, one for CDMA/EVDO one for LTE, so both were on at the same time. The problem was poor battery life, and connections always flipping from LTE to EVDO and back. With Spark, to integrate all spectrum frequencies and carrier aggregation, they had to have only one radio, then use software to merge the calls and data into one channel, CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall Back) which is only enabled in Spark areas, and worse, if you have a Spark device and do not live in a Spark area, even if LTE is launched, if CSFB has not been upgraded (hint, it is not upgraded in over 70% of the network) then your device will NEVER connect to LTE in that area, and will only connect to EVDO. The phone is still a phone, and your calls are more important, so it wants to keep that ability over using the single radio for data. When you are on LTE, CSFB will send a signal to the phone, move back to EVDO to take the call, or text, and then it will, when the call is done, it will flip back to LTE. Sprint claiming this is better for battery life, is not false, however Sprint claiming this makes better calls and improvements IS false. It actually makes customers more frustrated as even in Network Vision upgraded areas, 3G EVDO is still performing as horribly as ever, leaving customers like me, with a 4G phone that doesnt work, rarely can speed on 3G and phone calls that do not sound better, in fact, drop left and right.

33. TheRequiem

Posts: 245; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

They know this.... their network is being rebuilt from the ground up and is undergoing major calibration. I know this because I am contracted by Alcatel Lucent to calibrate the new network on the west coast. After they rebuild a single tower, it can take me 2 - 4 weeks to calibrate the systems and antenna's. I have to drive around a certain radius and measure everything and Speed. In the area's that are completed, Sprint currently has the lowest drop rate of all 3 major carriers. Most new sites have less then a 1% drop rate, but the problem is, the company has over 8 thousand sites being calibrated right now. When they are done with the transition dropped calls and slow data speeds will be a thing of the past. They just installed 400gbps fiber lines across the country (the fastest backhaul of any carrier) and we are currently working to get them connected to the site feed's. Speed will be significantly improved once we get these hooked up to the ethernet ports on the site. The new technology is light years ahead of all the other carriers and in a few years time Sprint will be in a dominating position network wise.

52. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

This all sounds good and I hope its true or translates to real world results. I had to leave Verizon recently...and I dont plan on going back. But for overall coverage...its a reason Verizon is considered the best.

16. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

EVDO uses the same CDMA channel (850 or 1900MHz) as voice, whereas LTE has its own data channel and thus leaves the CDMA channel available for voice, like UMTS, which has its own data channels independent of the GSM voice channels.

4. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Who talks and browses the Internet on their phone anyways?

7. tigermcm

Posts: 861; Member since: Sep 02, 2009

I've never used it never had a reason to use it, it's a gimmick

23. tuminatr

Posts: 1193; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

I use it ocasionally but you are right not very often, at any rate when voice moves to LTE this will not be a problem anymore

8. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

How about sending an email while on a conference call? On Sprint, nope, can't do that.

45. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

well you can actually, just not on spark

9. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

That happens all the time, you might be talking and need to check something mentioned by someone. Or maybe they're all like, "DAAAMMMN did you see that shot" on that live stream you're watching on the go. I can't imagine not having the ability to do both, half the time I have to go through patient details with someone on the phone while on my way to and from work to get a head start.

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