I'm not sure why Salem, Ohio (or most of the new markets) is important. I see plenty of tourist destinations, so maybe the Sprint executives are making certain that they have adequate service where they travel. At this point, I suspect adequate is all they'll get.
While trying to use 3G anywhere near the local shopping centers, all I got was the digital equivalent of static. What was normally lousy data service was reduced to a lack of service. For all the data capacity upgrades they've implemented in the past 1.5 years, they still need to increase capacity (probably) 4 times to handle a heavy load.
When LTE is available, and customers find that LTE is faster, they'll buy devices to match, and use the extra speed to capacity, and we'll be back at merely adequate service again, but this time on LTE. Maybe, it will return 3G performance to something reasonable--or maybe, it will exceed LTE's performance, given that a lot of the abusers will not be using 3G/EVDO. I could swear when I've been at several businesses, we had procedures for capacity planning. Why Sprint is unable to do this well is beyond me. Surely, using income from data plans and data options (US$10 smart phone fee, anyone? That should have gone directly to capacity upgrades.) would help fund maintenance and upgrades. For all the concern about hiring talent at the top levels, the U.S.A. doesn't seem to be concerned about properly operating a business, but only concerned about extracting the most money.
Of course, Sprint could increase the price of their plans but that would likely push so many customers away that they'd be out of the postpaid business in short time.
Regardless, I'm happy to see that they're making progress, filling that map, although Verizon will surely use the same (green?) map from the first half of 2013 to accentuate their differences. Verizon know that the other three have made quite a bit of progress in the second half of 2013, but that doesn't encourage customers to switch.
Update 2014.01.03: I am continually impressed with the company's progress in this area. They have apparently spread LTE to all sorts of tiny (30-100 people) towns such as Fort Recovery, OH and Arcanum, OH while completely missing the boat with small cities. I even noticed that they have data speed upgrades (read LTE, from my experience in other such marked areas, although in Indiana it seems to be that they're putting in old equipment to move the area from 1xRTT to EVDO, probably Rev. 0) in open areas without an associated town of any kind. I certainly hope that they're working on this town because service was unusable during holiday shopping and it hasn't recovered much, as though most of the capacity is gone. It's too bad that the technician isn't forced to use the service. If he was, the work might be a bit more thoughtful toward the customers' needs. (I'm currently trying to save this blog entry--after 7 tries, it's still not able to be saved.)
Update 2014.01.21: I got a text message from Sprint today:
|The creep of LTE starts to engulf small towns|
Of course, the text message I received says to me that out of 4 towers in town--there should be at least 5 but they've ignored a large area south of town--should be equipped but I'm not exactly convinced. I was expecting everything from the noted area on the coverage map east to the Ohio state line to be covered, but that may be more hope than reality.