Sprint's poor WiMax coverage cost it customers early on  (Source: Sprint)
Sprint admits WiMAX customer losses due to poor coverage

Sprint is now offering WiMAX in many different areas around the United States. WiMAX brings speeds that are promised to be significantly faster than existing 3G networks for surfing the web and downloading files.

The only firms backing WiMAX in the US are Clearwire and customer/part owner Sprint. Clearwire and Sprint have made it clear in the past that they will also look to support LTE as well as WiMAX so the network it runs can support all 4G devices. Clearwire has made no notes on when it might offer LTE service, but the company is testing LTE networks right now.

Clearwire has announced that a test of its LTE test network in Phoenix that was conducted by Clearwire engineers has shown to be good for 90Mbit/sec speeds. That is ten times faster than the speed that the WiMAX network Clearwire operates is capable of.

The tests showed an average speed for real world applications on the LTE network were in the 20 to 70 Mbit/sec range. The speed varies depending on many factors like how many people are on the service, how far the user is from the tower, and others. Clearwire expects that LTE will allow for speeds of 50Mbit/sec on average.

The 90Mbit/sec speed hit in tests in Arizona were achieved using a special test using 2xLTE where to parallel channels of 20MHz each over a 2.5GHz band were used at one time. They upload tests using the 2xLTE test were over 30Mbit/sec. the tests were conducted using client radios made by Samsung.

While Clearwire brags on its LTE network tests, Sprint has admitted that patchy service lost it customers in early WiMAX areas like Baltimore. 4G president at Sprint, Matt Carter said, "We lost some customers in early deployments." Carter did note that in recent months 4G coverage in cities have reached the acceptable range.

Carter also noted that some of the poor coverage was due to the fact that Sprint is working with Clearwire as a customer and owns part of the venture. He does state that collaboration and coordination has become better between Sprint and Clearwire in the last few months. Sprint rival Verizon is testing LTE networks in five cities already.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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