Sprint Tweaks Network Amid iPhone 4S Speed Issues

Sprint Tweaks Network Amid iPhone 4S Speed Issues

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If Sprint’s new “network enhancements” were designed to quiet complaints by iPhone 4S users, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier may need to return to the drawing board. Following tweaks for peppier 3G downloads, many Sprint customers still complain of turtle-like connections while lusting after Verizon’s faster network.

The unknown enhancements follow an avalanche of complaints by owners of the iPhone 4S who subscribe to Sprint, the latest carrier to sell Apple’s smartphone. The speed issue arose in October, when the iPhone 4S was introduced. Since then, Sprint’s customer service online message area has attracted 376,000 readers posting more than 1,700 comments. Although the network enhancements began rolling out over the past few weeks, many carrier customers remain unsatisfied, according to CNET.

One Chicago iPhone 4S owner reported 500kbps 3G downloads with downloads at night slowing to 200kps. “I become so frustrated when my friends on Verizon opened Web pages in less than a quarter of the amount of time it takes me,” musician Gabriel Mayhugh told the site. What about downloading apps? Fuhgeddaboudit, the iPhone 4S owner said.

Although the publication could not replicate the speed issue, CNET suggested the complaints may be due to Sprint users who previously owned 4G phones which employed the faster Clearwire network. The iPhone 4S can use only Sprint’s slower 3G connection. Lack of 4G was the second-most cited dislike of iPhone 4S owners polled by ChangeWave Research. The research firm found nearly all iPhone 4S users were satisfied with the device, a higher consumer satisfaction that the iPhone 4.

The problems experienced by Sprint, coupled with the survey results, only increase the need for Apple’s upcoming iPhone to include 4G support. Although much of the blame is falling on the carrier, it is only a question of time before the speed issue is used as a marketing weapon against the iPhone itself.

  • djrobsd

    That’s pretty sad, but can’t say I’m surprised.  You usually do get what you pay for… Sorry Sprint users, but should have gotten Verizon… But I guess if you want to fix the problem you can always buy a droid on their 4G network, works like a charm and lightning fast.  

  • Elranzer

    Anyone see Sprint’s lispy-voiced TV ad where they say “the best unlimited plan wins”? Directing to the part where it says Verizon/AT&T charge extra after 2GB (unless you’re grandfathered to unlimited) and that T-Mobile slows you down after 2GB…

    Sprint’s speeds are already slower than T-Mobiles post-2GB speeds, and you couldn’t download 2GB on Sprint’s 3G in a month anyway.

  • Nick Pope

    Okay, I don’t know what the deal is but it seems everyone but myself are having issues with their 4S batteries and 3G speeds on Sprint. I for one experience excellent battery life, and in the last few days I have noticed a tweak or SOMETHING Sprint did to enhance their 3G speeds. 

    Before this week my speeds averaged about 300-500kbps. This week, all week my speeds have yet to dip under 1mbps and have even peaked over 2mbps. 

    So I agree with Sprint’s claim of having the BEST data plan now that they fixed the speed issue. Loving my unlimited data and everyone I know that is with Verizon and AT&T hate me for it! 

  • laurav66

    I replaced an HTC Evo on Sprint with the iPhone 4s. I rarely had 4G activated on the Evo because the signal strength was weak in my area. But in my anecdotal comparison on Sprint’s 3G network (I’m assuming the iPhone and Evo use the same network), I’ve found the iPhone to be much slower downloading data. Curiously, it seems better able to keep a phone-call connection.

  • Greg Johnson

    Wow, why complain over such fast speeds? I’m serious. 200k is satellite speeds which is much faster than dial-up which is what AT&T forces us to use by not extending DSL a few miles and providing more than 2 cell bars. By the way, Sprint network isn’t really that good around here. Wonder why they’re more expensive to have.

  • Greg Smith

    just did mine Ping – 31 ms; download 2.60; upload 4.33.  That’s on at&t.  curious to see what everyone else is

  • Greg Smith

    well that was on my wifi.  3G is ping – 98ms; download 2.66mbps; and upload 2.15mbps.  All using that same app

  • Ilse Singer

    I am so SO incredibly disapointed in my sprint iphone 4s ..its so slow I want to throw it through a window! I dont even bother trying to watch videos, it hangs and hangs and …hangs when trying to send texts, I can walk for 3 entire blocks before I go from “no service” to any at all visual voice mail never works, audio text, hangs and rarely works, phone wont recognize my macbook pro for bluetooth pairing  ..AND, what I didnt know, is that each carrier only unlocks SOME of the iphone features, so I can be sitting next to a friend with a verizon or att and t phone, ..and they cave completely different options than I do!!
    I might as well have an old flip phone, as this iphone on the snail slow sprint network is basically a POS

  • ApplePr0n

    I had a customer yesterday who ran a Speedtest on Sprint. He pulled 226 ping, .10 mb down and .05 up

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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