bluescreenoftom (bluescreenoftom) wrote,

Why I ditched Sprint

Back in the carefree days of 2010 I did what I had previously thought unthinkable: I switched from Verizon to Sprint. I was angry at Verizon. They had promised me an HTC Nexus One, and after numerous delays and lack of communication, the Nexus One was canceled and the HTC Incredible was released instead. I didn't find that the Incredible lived up to it's name, and before the Incredible was announced, Sprint had already come out strong with their 4G WiMAX announcement and unveiled the EVO. "Screw Verizon," I thought, "I can pay about the same, get 4G, unlimited text messages, and some other perks by switching to Sprint." So switch I did.

Of course, leafing back through my blog it doesn't seem all the long ago, mostly because I never update. Initially my decision to switch to Sprint was a good one, and is still one that I stand by. But somewhere around the Spring of 2011, things started to take a turn for the worst.

I had already adjusted to the poor battery life of the EVO, sometimes opting for the enormous 3500mah battery pack that turned it into a brick, other times using the standard battery and turning off 4G, Bluetooth, and just about anything else I could think of that might drain it quickly. That I could deal with. I had also finally come to terms with unfortunate deal-breaker that was Sprint's 4G WiMAX service: the service area was limited, you could almost never use it indoors, and (the worst part) if you were lucky enough to catch a decent signal, you had to stay stationary to use it. You couldn't really use it in your car, or even walking through the mall. If you wanted to use it, you had to stay put where you were, or else the signal would eventually drop, you would lose your service for half a minute, then end up back on 3G which you were trying to avoid in the first place. Okay, that sucked, but I could live with that.

The ultimate deal-breaker, the thing that pushed me back into the arms of Verizon, was the horrible, terrible 3G data speeds. Had I been able to maintain a consistent 4G connection, this might have been forgivable, but given that 4G was only a viable option in a few small, specific scenarios, 3G was where I typically found myself. Now, when I first switched over to Sprint, this wasn't all that bad. My 3G speeds were typically somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.5-1.0 Mbps... not great, but good enough. Sometime in Spring 2011, I'm not sure what happened, but these numbers started to plummet. By the end of the summer, I found using my phone to be a struggle. Google Navigation would take forever to find directions. The simplest webpages would not load, rather I'd watch the loading icon spin and spin. Apps would fail to update because downloads would time out.

At first I thought Sprint had just given up on maintaining their 3G network, but then we took a day trip out of the Baltimore/DC Metro area and, upon arrival, I noticed that my data speeds were back to normal. 3G was once again survivable... not a rocket by any means, but things actually loaded. Upon returning home, speeds once again plummeted. It was clear to me that the Sprint network in my home area was simply over-saturated. I knew that there was not a fix coming for this.

So I thought to myself, why am I paying almost $100 for a service that I can't use? By this point, Verizon had 4G LTE deployed to nearly the entire area, and unlike the 2500MHz WiMAX band, Verizon had opted to use the 700MHz band, making LTE usable indoors. That, combined with the superior coverage and much greater speeds, seemed to be what I was looking for. I waited for the handsets to mature a bit, and finally settled on a Galaxy Nexus and made the switch.

So am I glad I did it? Yes, I've never looked back. The only thing I'm missing, other than the slow data speeds and dropped calls, are a bunch of features I rarely, if ever, used. Unlimited texts? Don't need 'em, 1000 is enough. Nights and Weekends starting at 7? That 2 hour block between 7 and 9 is rarely an issue for my calls. Unlimited M2M to all cell phones? Almost everyone I know uses Verizon anyway. And the best part is, I'm paying less now.

Sorry Sprint. The 4G wave that you were at the top of was nice while it lasted, but a network of clogged tubes will be your downfall. I wanted to help the little guy and stick around, but I just can't justify tossing my money down the drain so you can pay Apple for an iPhone contract instead of maintaining the network I'm paying you to use. Verizon might be evil, but at least I can't complain about the service.
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