Sprint has apparently had massive changes in their contracts with other carriers over the past few months, changes that are not at all good for Sprint's customers.
Here is an earlier Sprint USA coverage map:
Here is the current Sprint coverage map:
As is plainly visible, Sprint no longer has contracts in many areas with other providers to allow use of their networks and towers as if they belonged to Sprint.
What does this mean in a simple, easy-to-understand explanation? Let me zoom in a bit to an area I travel in frequently...
This is the coverage last December:
And this is the coverage now:
For simple voice calls this means that the state of Montana is now 100% roaming, rather than being seamlessly integrated into the Sprint network via contracts with the carriers who actually have towers in that state. I don't like that, but I can live with that, I guess.
The real problem, however, is that when traveling I often use Sprint Navigation since I am unfamiliar with the area. Here is the current data (2G and 3G) coverage available in Montana:
Notice especially that there is now no ability to use Sprint Navigation AT ALL in the state of Montana.
Oddly enough I do not see a corresponding reduction in the cost of the service.
Seriously, though, we need some answers on this vast reduction in services from some fairly high level folks at Sprint.
When a provider I have used for over a decade suddenly reduces the normal coverage area by roughly 70% nationwide, I feel that the customers not only need an explanation, but deserve an explanation.
If nothing else, this sort of massive reduction in coverage for services we are paying for, and expect to work, should be able to trigger the ability to leave Sprint with no ETF since the services no longer work in vast areas of the country where they are needed and expected to work, and worked quite well in the past.
That is pretty SAD. U.S. Cellular is a regional carrier and has more SOLID COVERAGE then that. I only have 12 months on my contract left and if their network vision upgrade does not improve coverage I am leaving them. Voice coverage is very important to me. It's like they just put towers here and there through out the USA and call themselves a NATIONAL carrier. It's funny b/c they have the most towers across the USA out of any carrier and they have a weak network.
Question - since you can still get Roaming Data service there, can you use Google Maps in that area?
I'd have to ask someone who works for Sprint that question... (Can we get someone in here to answer some of these questions, Will?)
According to the last screen clip I posted above it states that "Location Based Services" will not work in that area and lists Family Locator, Sprint Navigation, and Telenav as examples.
It also shows that whatever "Data Roaming" one has remaining in that area is 1xRTT instead of the fully integrated EVDO we used to get in the area.
(Since the quipment and towers have NOT changed yet, and the new owners are maintaining the services available pre-sale until the middle of 2013 (apparently by federal mandate), this is due to Sprint choosing not to allow 3G roaming to it's customers, most likely due to cost.)
I just checked the Verizon Coverage Maps, and current Verizon Coverage in the Sprint "Deadzone" is even better than Sprint's coverage ever was in the same areas. (I'll put up comparison maps in the next post.)
Tell me again why a person who has stuck with Sprint through thick and thin for a decade should continue to do so when Sprint isn't even willing to meet us half way and continue to provide service ("It would cost us too much!") - especially now that the difference in price for normal accounts between Sprint and Big Red is minimal?
The changes in that map are shocking. It also explains why on recent trips to eastern Arizona, my phone's GPS would not work at all when it had worked fine in the same place the year before.
I didn't realize how widespread the changes were, but it makes me feel even better about my recent switch to AT&T than I felt before. Best of all, my bill is actually $20 less each month now that I am not forced to pay for data and SMS on llines that don't need those features.
Some basic comparisons of current coverage areas between Sprint and Verizon:
BASIC VOICE SERVICE
For data coverage comparison note that Sprint Data Roaming no longer allows 3G roaming, Location Services (GPS), or unique Sprint data services (Music, etc.).
If one is using an older device or one's plan does not include roaming, this is the basic Sprint coverage for all services:
This is not the footprint of a true nationwide carrier...
This is not the coverage we used to have with Sprint.
Currently, to the best of my knowledge, there are four nationwide postpaid wireless carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.
Of these, using current coverage maps, even T-Mobile has better nationwide coverage than Sprint. (At least they cover major highways.)
Sprint has several entire states with essentially zero coverage for services such as navigation - including tourist destination areas like Nevada.
This is NOT the way it used to be. When I started my current contract period, Sprint had coverage, nationwide, for the services I needed. Often this was by contract with other carriers, but regardless, the coverage was there.
Now, most of my way through my current contract period, more of the United States is NOT covered by Sprint than is covered.
This is a massive step backwards, a lessening of available service the likes of which I have never before seen (and I've been using cell phones since 1984).
At a time when customers are lead by advertising to expect ever improving coverage and service, this sort of reduction in coverage and services is totally unexpected and unacceptable - especially with Sprint's concurrent increases in cost to the customer.
As a customer I don't really want to hear excuses from my carrier, I simply want my smartphone to work reliably, as it used to, wherever I am. After all, this is a mobile device, something I can be expected to primarily use when I'm, uh, "mobile."
Admins and other Sprint folks here on BAW: I implore you to try to get some of the folks nearer the top of the food chain at Sprint to explain these coverage and service reductions, and what plans are in place to correct this problem before the next wave of customers streams out the doors because they are paying more for less.
We need (and deserve) answers right here, right now.
Sprint plans are now much closer in price to Verizon's, and Sprint needs to reassure their customers that this is only a temporary glitch, and not something we will face long term.
For myself, I will be driving to, through, and in the newly created Under Sprint 2: Dark Territory* again in July. I need navigation services there. Sprint used to provide them seamlessly. Sprint needs to step up and again provide the services we continue to pay for.
* Apologies to Steven Segal and his movie Under Siege 2: Dark Territory...
this is outrageous. if i dont hear something back from sprint soon that this is gonna be fixed, i'm not gonna upgrade to the Evo 3D that i was looking forward to and will definitely have to look at other carrier options.
Personally i've noticed a reduction of service quality with much more frequent call drops and service problems.
also, this is coming from a 10+ year sprint customer. i'm really disappointed, sprint.
It seems like Sprint decided to fix their public image at the expense of maintaining a decent network footprint.
Sprint already lost my 4 lines of business this month. I wish I had seen these maps before, as this could have been one more reason I stated for leaving. I hadn't been with them as long as you guys (only since 2005), but they still eroded my goodwill with service issues (such as those mentioned by Frank828) and a total lack of customer service.
WOW!!! thank you so much for bringing this to our (current Sprint customers) attention. sprint probably hoped no one noticed the change (i didn't until now). Sprint needs to respond otherwise they will lose this customer soon. the reason why i chose to remain with sprint was because they had great coverage for the price. doesn't look like that is true anymore. i am going to have to reevaluate, and also direct as many people to this thread as possible. Sprint, please have a good explanation soon.
Thanks Tom for bringing this matter to light. Perhaps it is time to bring this some national exposure with a quick note to WSJ's All Things Digital. A response from Sprint is necessary and maybe that is the only way we will hear anything. My summer traveling is just around the corner and the lack of data and navigation services in these areas makes my smartphone pretty dumb.
I have been looking at options since the Premier change (I was elevated to Gold but the way the change was made really made be question Sprint's ethics). Now I guess it is time to get serious. I want nationwide coverage.
Thanks TOMAS for bringing this up. I did notice that over time the map was having less coverage but I did not notice it was this bad. I think Sprint should not only say something about this butalso commit that in the network vision upgrade they will expand coverage like they had.
Well, the nice reply I just prepared in response to a comment just blew up with this complaint from the Sprint server:
...and of course the information I researched and entered was "vanished" by the error.
I'll sit down and rebuild the post as best I can when I quite muttering to myself.
*mutter* *mutter* *mutter* *mutter*
This may explain the problems I have been having. How did you get the charts? You must be printing them all the time to see the change. This maybe the nail in the coffin for me staying with Sprint. I will take my 7 lines with me.
I have copies of various coverage maps, Sprint TOS versions, Plan descriptions, product introductions, and such simply because I've been discussing things related to them for a number of years in this and other fora.
When I discuss something I often grab a copy as an example, then put it on one of my servers so I can use it in a post. I don't delete the old as I get new because the old posts still depend on those copies to make sense.
I have several terrabytes of storage available on my servers, so there is no need to delete old files - I even have some of my emails from as far back s 1983 still stored.
Occasionally those "Old Files" are especially handy to illustrate subtle, insideous change over time.
This is one such case.
Check out a fun infographic that teaches you how to increase storage, enhance security, improve battery life and clean your device.