A Sprint Hotspot Customer No Longer…

For the first time in five years I’m without a wireless modem, which means I can’t get online with one of my notebooks when I’m out of range of a fixed WiFi hotspot. I just returned my Sierra Wireless Overdrive to a Sprint store and am not on the hunt for alternatives.

I first picked up a USB modem from Spint five years ago, adding another line of service on top of my voice line. At the time I had a Palm Treo 650, which was in many ways ahead of its time. That Treo’s phone number is the same one I had with various Nextel phones, way back before Sprint acquired the company. Wireless modems have come a long way since then and I moved onto the Novatel MiFi a couple of years ago. The Sierra Wirlesss Overdrive was my latest and least favorite device.

I’d used wireless modems and hotspots for the past five years so I could work from anywhere. I used Sprint’s service so I could work from anywhere after leaving office life behind. While I usually work from my home office and studio, Sprint’s service has let me roam the San Francisco Bay area and the entire country. I was grandfathered into a truly unwanted plan when Sprint moved to 3G and put a 5GB cap on new customers.

Here’s a brief list of places I’ve used the service to work and play online:

  • A resort on a beach in Kauai
  • My brother’s then new house in Atlanta, before they had an ISP
  • A wedding reception in Chicago so I could stream a Giant’s playoff game. The wife was not pleased…
  • Five trips to Vegas for CES.
  • A trip up to Redmond to visit Microsoft for the first time
  • Two trips to visit AMD in Austin Texas
  • A road trip to San Diego to visit family for the holidays. Netflix served as streamed entertainment during the long drive.
  • To get online from a NASCAR race track in North Carolina
  • To work from an IndyCar race in Sonoma
  • From our family’s cabin in the country, which doesn’t have a phone line or ISP.
  • From countless airports and hotel rooms in order to avoid WiFi hotspot fees.

So why did I leave Sprint? As I’ve written before, I was dissatisfied with the Overdrive’s performance. After seeing very slow speeds in Las Vegas in January and not being able to stay online reliably. Verizon’s 4G was a champ at CES, with speeds that exceeded those of our hotel’s WiFi network. I had 4G envy.

A couple of weeks after CES 2011 I returned my Sprint Overdrive to Sprint and asked to have my 3G MiFi reactivated so I could have a slower, but moe reliable experience. Unfortunately, my MiFi wouldn’t work on Sprint’s network. The lights came up green on the MiFi, but it wouldn’t get me online. The Sprint store manager insisted my MiFi was broken and that I’d have to get a replacement. I was working remotely in Palo Alto for the day and really needed wireless Internet, so I re-bought the Overdrive.

That fiasco was 30 days ago and I decided that I’d had enough Overdrive. I would’ve given sprint another shot, but the 4G version of the MiFi has been delayed until March 27, back from a promised end of February launch.

I dutifully paid my $35 return fee for a second time and walked away from the Sprint store without being a customer for the first time in almost a decade. Sprint treated me pretty well over the years and I’ll likely return as a customer at some point in the future.

21 Comments

  1. Rpankhania3

    03/06/2011 at 12:35 am

    Seems like you are a natural James Bond, seems more like an article about you bragging then giving more information about the product.

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      03/06/2011 at 2:30 am

      Ouch! & LOL
      but give the poor guy a break.This is the Facebook Age. Everyone is expected to place-drop, in order to demonstrate how much fun they’re having.

      Reply

    • GoodThings2Life

      03/06/2011 at 3:41 am

      Seems to me like he’s making it clear that his mobile needs require connectivity and the Sprint Overdrive wasn’t capable of delivering. I thought that point was articulated quite well. He even included the fact he was happy with Sprint overall, but their solution couldn’t meet his need, so he found the product on the carrier that does.

      Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/06/2011 at 5:33 am

      That’s not the point at all. The point is that I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Sprint’s service and it’s allowed me to go mobile like no other service/product I’ve ever had. Connectivity is one of the biggest challenges when traveling or working remotely. Sprint’s generally solved that issue for me for the past few years. Unfortunately, at this point Sprint doesn’t sell a product that I deem acceptable for my usage scenario at this time.

      Thx for GT2L. To be honest, if I were to ‘place-drop’ I would’ve dropped a lot more exotic/fun locales I’ve visited in the past few years than what I’ve listed above. Trade shows and media events are very tiring work- just ask any of our team members who’ve been brave enough to attend them :-)

      Reply

      • Me

        03/07/2011 at 2:08 pm

        I travel all over the country with my overdrive; great performance and I don’t see drops. I use it over hotel wifi because of the consistent performance. I’m curious how people can judge Verizon as superior when they have minimal coverage area? Isn’t that like saying when I’m in my home, on my wifi, with a high speed cable connection I have superior capabilities? It sounds like you may have been not treated the best by some folks at Sprint or possibly you were looking for a rationalization to leave.

        Reply

        • Xavier Lanier

          03/07/2011 at 5:08 pm

          Not looking for rationalization to leave at all. Sprint has been generally great over the years in terms of both wireless service and customer service. Unfortunately, after two Overdrives and two months I became very frustrated. I bet if I’d just stuck with my MiFi and held out for the 4G version I’d still be a Sprint customer. The speeds provided by LTE (Verizon) are night and day compared to Sprint’s 4G- at least everywhere I’ve been where modems for both services have been present.
          For me, it doesn’t matter what % of the country is covered in 4G, but if I can actually get online when/where I need to. With the Overdrive, I’d continuously get dropped connections where it mattered to me – downtown Palo Alto, downtown San Francisco, Mountain View, Las Vegas, etc.

          Reply

  2. opinionsarelike

    03/07/2011 at 1:51 pm

    How much did Verizon pay you to write this? I am extremely satisfied with my 3g and 4g services from Sprint.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/07/2011 at 9:28 pm

      Seriously? You Sprint employees are really being childish today…Please see my note below about disclosing who you work for. The better question is – how much does Sprint pay you per hour/annum?

      Glad to have an open dialogue about my Overdrive experience, but please at least use your real name or disclose that you’re a Sprint employee.

      Reply

  3. jboy75

    03/07/2011 at 2:45 pm

    Sprint’s on the cusp of launching third generation mobile hotspots in the next several weeks whereas its competition has a USB card in the case of Big Red or faux-G in the case of AT&T or T-Mobile. The mobile hotspots let you use 4G service with true unlimited data whereas its competition’s plans are to hit you for overages for the privilege of using their new network.

    Having used the Overdrive as a replacement for home broadband and also using it extensively while traveling, I can say you’re getting a lot for your money at Sprint and it performs better than Wi-Fi in much of their 4G markets based on my personal experience. Is it perfect? No, no technology is but I think Sprint’s trying to give its customers a solid experience for a very competitive price.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/07/2011 at 5:11 pm

      Perhaps I was spoiled with near perfect experience with the 3G MiFi for the past couple of years. The Overdrive was simply awful.

      Reply

  4. 4G truth

    03/07/2011 at 2:52 pm

    Hmmm, Verizon faster at CES, ok, how many people do you think had Verizon 4G data cards at CES, then how many had Sprint which has been out for over a year? If you are one of a few on the network you’ll get great speeds, but when both are loaded networks check again. If I had a four lane highway to myself or just a few people it would be much easier to drive, then sharing the same highway with thousands of others.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/07/2011 at 5:33 pm

      Not about being faster/fastest at CES. Couldn’t even stay online reliably w/Overdrive.

      Reply

  5. Xavier Lanier

    03/07/2011 at 5:23 pm

    All- we really enjoy open discussion here at GBM, but if you’re employed by Sprint or work for an agency, PLEASE have the courtesy to leave your real name and note that you’re working for Sprint in your comments. You’re more than welcome to participate here at GBM, but we will delete astro-turf comments or call you out w/ server logs if you keep it up. Seriously- it’s bad form and we can easily see what’s happening through our reporting tools.

    And yes- I’m talking to all you folks visiting from and commenting from a Sprint office

    Reply

  6. jboy75

    03/07/2011 at 7:21 pm

    I’ll happily admit to being a Sprint employee and everything I wrote in my post was true based on my personal experience. No offense but if the rest of your commenting readers don’t have to leave their full name, I don’t see why I have to. There I’m outed. If you see me around, “jboy75” is a Sprint employee. I’m pretty sure I still get to have an opinion though.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/07/2011 at 9:25 pm

      I’d strongly suggest checking out your company’s social media policies.

      You’re certainly allowed to express your opinions here at GBM, but it’s pretty crappy to put down your competitors without being upfront about who you work for. Generally people use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about a company they work for rather than referring to it as a third party.
      It’s disingenuous and just plain shady to comment on blogs/sites posing as a ‘regular guy’ when you’re an employee of the company/subject in question.
      If you weren’t so concerned about this issue, why didn’t you use your @sprint email address or link to your employers Web site when you posted your original comment?

      Reply

  7. Lynnmclarty

    03/07/2011 at 9:48 pm

    Too bad. I am very pleased with my Overdrive. I use it one week a month when I drill and share the connection with four other individuals. None of us have any complaints with the performance.

    Reply

  8. jboy75

    03/08/2011 at 2:30 pm

    @Xavier – I’ve had enough times where I’ve posted as a Sprint employee and got hit up for all kinds of information that my corporate inbox doesn’t need the extra load so I’ll just leave it at that. Looks like you have enough people on here advocating for the Overdrive. I’ll make you a deal, I’ll never forget to include that I work for Sprint going forward. Your part of the deal can be simply asking anyone who works for any wireless providers to please mention that in their posts versus calling threatening language like we will “call you out w/ server logs”. One final note, at no time did I make an inaccurate statement about Sprint or “our” competition. I’m done here.

    Reply

  9. jboy75

    03/08/2011 at 2:50 pm

    Excerpt from my company’s social media policy – You write it, you own it. You are personally responsible for your commentary, as it is not an authorized corporate communication. If you discuss your employment or identify yourself as a company employee, make it clear the views are your own and do not reflect Sprint’s positions, strategies or opinions.

    The following is an appropriate disclaimer to add to the end of your blog post:

    “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of Sprint.”

    Please understand that all of my previous postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the postions, strategies or opinions of Sprint.

    Thank you and have a nice day.

    Reply

  10. VuLN

    03/12/2011 at 3:19 am

    We hope that you find this information useful and look forward to assisting you in the future. Thank for this support.

    Reply

  11. swag

    02/16/2012 at 10:06 pm

    This dude is a huge d-bag.

    Reply

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