What are “Bands”
All phone carriers operate on specific FCC approved radio bands. Without these, wireless technology would not exist for any of us, including FM radio, WiFi, etc. Each carrier out of the Big four uses specific frequencies for all of their data and voice calls. This is done to prevent cross communication between carriers and towers. Every carrier has a different set of bands or frequencies they operate from. These bands have some effect on how far the signal goes, and how fast it can transfer data. A lower frequency such as 700Mhz can travel further than 2500Mhz (or 2.5Ghz) cellular sprint bands but it transmit data slower.
Sprint owns various parts of spectrum for distributing their data across the network. Each of these cellular sprint bands are used for different purposes, some are for Voice and texting, 3G data, and 4G data. In the earlier years they even had something called WiMax which was put to rest by newer LTE technology. This technology was expensive to deploy and had a rather slow roll out, even when LTE finally arrived WiMax was only in large cities. This led to WiMax being dismissed by sprint and LTE taking over. This was for the best, LTE was cheaper to deploy and widely adopted by everyone in the cellular industry, unlike WiMax.
|2G Frequencies||3G Frequencies||4G Frequencies|
|800Mhz||1900Mhz Band 1||850 Band 26|
|1900Mhz||1900 Band 25|
|2500 Band 41|
Where Are They Now?
Since the early days of the first generation LTE, sprint has continued to upgrade it’s network for speed, reliability, and coverage area. This seems kind of obvious, but sprint has done more than just deploy more towers. They have continued to try and develop ways to penetrate building walls, an issue with their 2500 Mhz band, also know as band 41 for LTE. Other carriers such has T-Mobile have had similar issues, the easiest way is to buy radio waves in a lower frequency, such as the newer 700 Mhz air waves. These use to be used as old TV channels, but have been recycled and sold by the FCC to cell providers in order to expand speed and coverage. Sadly sprint owns very little or no spectrum at these frequencies. Their closest one is 800 Mhz which is not terrible but not quite as good.
Recently though they have made some rather impressive gains in their technological coverage area. I say technological because they are doing this purely with technologically advanced phones and towers. They haven’t needed to add towers for this particular boost in coverage. They’re calling it their LTE Plus network, and it offers better building penetration using the 2500 Mhz bands. It also can combine multiple bands to increase data rates. This is called carrier aggregation when multiple frequencies are funneled into a single device. Most carriers have already accomplished this, during or before the sprint roll out of the technology. They’re claiming up to a 20% gain in overall coverage on their higher frequency’s which is substantial.
How do I get on this “new” Network?
The good news is, it shouldn’t cost you anything extra, and you don’t need to “activate it” manually. The bad news is, as with all newer technology you must purchase a compatible phone. These phones should be out soon, if not already and will come in a variety of devices including your favorites! So sprint users can start getting increased signal without doing anything on their part, minus buying a new phone. It’s important to note that this new network is backwards compatible with the older version. This is because everything is technically the same, but the antenna designs have changed, you’re still using the same old radio waves as before.
Does this make them The Best Carrier?
This could be highly debated and it mainly depends on the area you’re in and what you plan to use it for. Sprints overall coverage is certainly lacking, and these new features won’t make them surpass the other big three carriers. However is you’re in their coverage area, and need higher data speeds than you can achieve with the other three they may work for you. This coupled with the plan options you can compare each one to decide if it’s right for you. It’s truly a per person decision, the biggest carrier offers some amazing coverage at a typical users required speeds in most places. However if you need a specific use, this may be the best for you if you compare purpose vs cost.
Why do Cellular Sprint Bands go from 4G LTE, to 3G, then voice in low signal areas?
This question many people never think about, they just take it as a fact of life that it happens. The explanation is really quite simple, and it’s solely based on the technology and frequencies being used. When using 4G LTE you have a slightly higher frequency often times, and you have a lot of checks and balances going on to ensure the data gets to you properly at high speed. When we use older technologies like 3G there is less data being transferred and therefore a far less chance of it being lost. It’s also often times located on a lower frequency allowing it to travel further and penetrate building walls. Voice and text, the oldest of all technologies really lacks is the newer sophisticated communication protocols. However they do a very good job at transmitting small amounts of data over longer distances, and they do it using a single band. The newer LTE plus network we talked about above, it uses up to three different bands at once, and combines them all together.
As you can imagine trying to keep all three frequencies tuned in at the same time can be interesting. Other carriers have the same issues, Verizon for example has their XLTE and normal LTE networks, the odds of losing an XLTE signal are pretty high while in doors. So you may have blazing speeds outside, but lose half of it when you walk into your home. This is where a Sprint Signal Booster can come in handy. It amplifies, and rebroadcasts cellular signals in your home, car, or any other object. Allowing you to get increased speeds in your home, without having to run to the nearest open door or window.
The future for sprint could be very interesting, with hot words like Five G becoming a normal thing and promises of massive speed increases. However a big issue for all carriers is trying to get the new bands to make it far enough to use. This will require a lot of smaller mini cell sites in cities, rural areas, and everywhere else you could imagine. The planned date for general adoption of this technology is sometime in 2020 but other carriers are already hot on the trails of bringing it out as soon as possible due to network congestion.