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I’m Over the Overdrive…

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Last week I visited a Sprint store and upgraded from a 3G MiFi to an Overdrive. I was very excited to try out WiMax in my hometown of San Francisco and in Las Vegas during CES 2011. Unfortunately, my excitement for Sprint’s 4G service has fizzled.

On Sunday I tried running Speedtests all over downtown San Francisco using my iPhone, connected to the Overdrive via WiFi. I saw both upload and download speeds under 1Mbps consistently. I did get one download test to spike up to 3Mbps, but I couldn’t repeat the act.  I tried running Speedtest several times using AT&T’s 3G network and saw much faster download and upload speeds. In fact, AT&T’s 3G network was consistently two or three times faster than Sprint’s 4G network.

Last year I saw several people using the Overdrive in Las Vegas during CES 2010 and 3Mbps to 7Mbps seemed to be the norm. Perhaps Sprint’s going to roll in some COWs for the official kickoff of CES on Thursday, but so far I haven’t been able to get anything over 1Mbps.

I’m going to give the Overdrive and Sprint another shot when I get home next week. If I’m not able see markedly better download/upload performance I’m going to explore other options, including Verizon’s LTE service. While 1Mbps or so might be good enough to check email or browse the web, it’s not what I’ve been waiting all these years for.

Last week I mentioned that Sprint should make it easier to upgrade from a 3G MiFi to a 4G Overdrive, but now I’ve changed my mind. Sprint needs to whip its network into shape before it disappoints more users. I’m sure there are satisfied customers in other locations, but I’m very disappointed in my purchase and new 4G contract. Unless some COWs roll in, I won’t be able to use the Overdrive for uploading videos from the CES 2011 show floor.

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

7 Comments

  1. Christopher Carter

    01/04/2011 at 10:20 pm

    Xavier you may have a bad unit. I have the Clear version of the Overdrive which is the exact same device running on the exact same networks and I consistently get 2-3Mbps connections every time i’m on 4G. 3G admittedly isn’t as good, mostly in the 1.5Mbps range, but my 4G experience is always stellar. Now I live in GA outside Atlanta and that probably has some to do with it, but I would make sure you’re on the latest FW (which i’m sure you did) and if that doesn’t help get the device replaced before you call it quits. Good luck and let us know how it works out.

  2. Xavier Lanier

    01/04/2011 at 10:55 pm

    Chuong has another Overdrive here at CES and I’m going to give it a shot later today. You’ll have a completely different experience in GA than here. I may have a completely different experience just a couple of miles away from my current location. We’ll see.

  3. GoodThings2Life

    01/05/2011 at 12:36 am

    That’s definitely gotta be an issue in the San Francisco area, because my Sprint 3G in Youngstown, Ohio is consistently better than AT&T 3G, nevermind Sprint 4G.

  4. Steve Beller

    01/05/2011 at 5:27 am

    I second the bad unit suggestion. I struggled with similar slow speeds and even maintaining wifi connectivity that made me question the network (and my purchase) until I was finally able to get a replacement unit. I am much more satisfied now but do keep my iPhone ready to tether for quicker startup availability.

    Steve

  5. Uncle Mikey

    01/05/2011 at 5:21 pm

    Strictly speaking, Sprint can’t really do anything about the 4G network. It isn’t theirs — it’s CLEAR’s.

    However, I agree with the basic statement. I’ve had an Overdrive for sometimes. When it works, it works pretty well, but there are places where I would expect to have a pretty solid signal — 3G (which IS Sprint, of course) OR 4G — here in Minneapolis where it just isn’t all that good.

    I keep meaning to see if I can get a swap of my Overdrive, since I’ve heard a LOT of anecdotal evidence of iffy units, but not getting around to it.

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