Sprint’s WiMAX Service
Sprint customers who elect to purchase a 4G-capable phone must pay an additional $10/month premium data fee. Whatever the reason for this fee — Sprint claims that it isn’t literally for 4G service, and they charge the fee nationwide whether 4G is available in your area or not — it is hard to justify in the absence of a significant performance improvement.
Update: Since that paragraph was penned, Sprint announced that all Smartphone users will pay the extra $10 starting with contracts signed January 30, 2011.
Sprint, through its majority-owned subsidiary ClearWire, offers 4G service throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. But around my office, and during part of my commute, there is a hole in the coverage. This unfortunately means that at least for now, 4G is not a viable alternate during those times when our network has problems.
At home, my EVO Shift 4G usually indicates zero to one “bar” of 4G signal, and speed test results vary widely:
Subjectively, it does not feel much faster than 3G. Perhaps that doesn’t really matter, inasmuch as Sprint TV offers little of interest and YouTube vidoes load fairly quickly. But I would not view it as a good substitute for wi-fi.
Simultaneous Voice and Data
One of the principal advantages of HSPA networks is their ability to offer access to data during voice calls. Neither Sprint’s nor Verizon’s CDMA network could offer this, a point AT&T has referenced in its advertising. Now, with the addition of 4G, it finally is possible. If you do not already have a 4G connection, you can fire up the radio and get to a web site in 30-45 seconds. Nice.