Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sprint is still amusing me instead of amazing me

Since I moved to a rural area of California along I-5 and SR 99, I haven't seen more success in a great network experience than I had at the last place.

In fact, Sprint doesn't even have a store here, though they have 3 kiosks in malls (two of them in the same mall) about 15 miles from here.  The Sprint reseller in this town is next to SR 99 and is on the edge of LTE and a large roaming area.  The fact that I'm on another edge of those area is frustrating.  My bedroom has LTE near the street and 3G toward the back of the apartment complex and the phone searches for service in the middle.

Truth be told, Verizon is not really great here, so I'm not getting any real satisfaction on the computer or tablet.  It's just less worse.

Occasionally, I'll send a tweet to @sprintcare.  Recently, I asked @sprintcare why their reseller didn't get good coverage (there is a roaming hole near the shopping area), and I was told that the majority of the 95336 area was in the Fair rating.  It is, but that is Sprint's rating for "Virtually unusable".  Using Yelp to Check-in often results in a time-out after 3-4 minutes.

He completely ignored the large roaming area in town and told me to go check their AIRAVE device.  The last time I looked, it was not a portable device that I could take with me.  It also required a wired internet connection, which they were unwilling to provide the last time they pushed me toward the option.

Tell me why it is my responsibility to fix their network problems by paying more to use a device to work around their shortcomings.  I'd really like to know.

That said, I can see the LTE signal becoming stronger.  In recent days, it's working in the living room.  LTE works fine in the San Francisco Bay Area (around 50-75 miles away) in most places.  I have hope.  They're just not working as quickly as I expected.  It's already September and many places are not working with LTE as they should be.

I need more patience but this is something that is stretched far too thin since say, 2008, when I moved out of a strong area, before the death grip of Nextel took hold.

Update 2014.10.29: They have increased their LTE reach into my apartment, although it too often changes to 3G when I try to use it.  Service is slowly, incrementally improving.  I still receive too many timeouts at stores.  Sometimes, even in stronger areas.  I see too many times when the service switches between LTE and 3G and it's basically unusable unless I force it to ignore LTE.

Update 2014.11.18: The hole in Sprint's coverage is now gone from the map.  They've filled it with non-existent LTE.  My apartment is covered, also, with the strongest LTE possible--none of that Fair business.

Best LTE, yet frequent time-outs

Perfectly covered, yet 1xRTT often
Obviously, all of this time I'm spending on 1xRTT is in my imagination.  The multiple time-outs are also imagined, apparently.  It couldn't be the work of simple easily flowing orange on a map, because no company would ever cheat.

The only thing making sure I don't go to T-Mobile is that their service here isn't very good, either, and they're still working over a rather insecure GSM.  When VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) becomes available, I'd be glad to jump ship, although I don't talk much, but it only takes one call to give away information that someone else can use to empty your accounts and CDMA may not be great, it's secure.

Going to Verizon would be expensive and going to AT&T would be stupid, since it's likely they will still overcharge, plus as many people here complain about them as love them.  Verizon's service for my mobile hotspot is good but not incredible.

Update 2014.12.09: I had a little chat with @sprintcare recently and they said that the roaming area is still visible to them.  When I finally Tweeted the maps I saw (like those above), they didn't reply at all.

I went to talk to someone at a Verizon store and they played a little game on the price of service, at $40 more than I had found on their web site.  I was uncomfortable giving that person a commission for withholding the best deal from me.

I went to the local Sprint reseller and said "Give me a reason to stay with Sprint." and he did but there is a still a lot of hope for the future.  However, I saw something on CNBC's app today where they finished the Stockton area and the service is much better.  That city had horrible service.  10x from 0.30 Mbps is a good improvement for 3G service.

The only real problem with the report is that they jumped over the city where I live, choosing to modify the map.  They may do more--they should do more because the Sprint reseller is also on the edge of the roaming zone.

Now that I have a three band LTE phone, it seems as though the service is somewhat better.  They weren't planning to turn on Spark (three band LTE) over here, but if they have 800 MHz and 1900 MHz, that would be good.  If the 2500 MHz band they got with Clear isn't supported here, that's okay.  If it's only 1900 MHz and 2500 MHz, that would be so-so.

2015.02.14: After a roughly 450 mile trip to San Diego and then, to Disneyland, and back, I think that Sprint still has much more to do across the state.  However, it's good to know that they're taking care of the area around their headquarters continually, since the people working for the company aren't paying as much as the other customers are.  At least, they're not blaming their customers as AT&T always do.

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