Connect with us


Sprint 4G vs. Verizon LTE Speedtest in San Francisco



Yesterday I attended the Dell Means Business event in San Francisco along with a few other dozen geeks. I sat next to Engadget’s Sean Hollister, who was sporting an LG LV600 modem plugged into his laptop. I had my Sprint Overdrive and I challenged him to a 4G duel. Myriam (@tnkgrl) poked a little fun at how Sean refers to the LV600 as “The Dongle” before we hit go on the test.

As you can see in the above video, the results for my poor Overdrive weren’t pretty. The Verizon LTE modem clocked in speeds of 7.40 Mbps down and 1.40 Mbps up. My Sprint Overdrive came in at 1.76 Mbps down and 0.40 Mbps up. Obviously that’s a pretty big difference and the reason I’m going to pick up a Verizon LTE MiFi as soon as its unleashed.

As I mentioned before, I’m over the Overdrive. I returned my original Overdrive late last month and attempted to switch back to my 3G MiFi. In doing so I lost my Sprint unlimited plan and would’ve had to stick to 5GB of 3G data per month. But when I went to fire up my 3G MiFi it wouldn’t connect. I brought it into a Sprint store and they told me I’d have to use my wireless insurance plan and pay $50 to order a new one. I needed a wireless hotspot that day though and had to bite the bullet and buy another Overdrive and sign a two year agreement.

I was really, really excited to use WiMax here in San Francisco and while traveling, especially after seeing a demo at IDF 2010 that showed 20 Mbps speeds, but I’m obviously getting nothing close to that.

So why do I need speed on the go? Primarily for uploading content and watching video clips. Unfortunately,in order to do that I’ll have to ditch Sprint after five years and seek greener pastures.



  1. Chuong Nguyen

    02/10/2011 at 7:24 am

    I wonder what happened on Sprint’s end. I know in Las Vegas at CTIA when the HTC EVO 4G was announced, the speeds on Sprints 4G WiMax network were really good. Now, not so much.

    • Domnin+gottabemobile

      02/12/2011 at 5:26 pm

      Looks like Overdrive was in 3G mode for this test.

  2. steve

    02/10/2011 at 1:47 pm

    Let us not forget capacity/usage and it’s impact on the pipeline. I was using a Sprint 4G modem prior to the official Los Angeles launch and was getting 7 Mbps at that point. Nobody is on the Verizon LTE network….just wait!

    • Wazupwiturface

      02/10/2011 at 3:50 pm

      Exactly wait til verizon has 18 different 4g options….but verizons speeds on 4g are supposed to be up to 12mbps vs sprints 7mbps…

      Another thing is clear, sprints 4g partner is running into trouble hopefully it doesn’t mess up sprints service and prices…sprint dumped too much money into clear for them to fail…running your own 4g is probably an advantage than posting another company to run it for you

  3. Audrey

    02/10/2011 at 2:30 pm

    There have been a few updates to the Overdrive. If you do not update the unit speed suffers. I use an Overdrive every day all day long and get 7 Mbps and sometimes nearly 8. The WiMax is not at capacity but coverage is spotty. Be sure you update the unit.

    • Wazupwiturface

      02/10/2011 at 3:54 pm

      Its all about distance to the tower and people on that tower…i assume hes smart enough to check updates…atleast I hope as I take a lot of his info as fact and see him as knowledge lol

    • Xavier

      02/10/2011 at 4:22 pm

      The Overdrive is up to date- it updated itself the minute I took it out of the box.

  4. Jboy75

    02/10/2011 at 4:20 pm

    Wow, could this test be any less scientific?

    In your “4G test”, Sprint didn’t perform as well in one place at one specific point in time so kick ’em to the curb, go with Big Red, upload your video and write your article bashing the company’s product. Classy. Did you even bother to check coverage for the two carriers before challenging the guy from Engadget to a 4G competition at some random point on the map?

    Sidenote: I was in SF over the holidays and Sprint 4G beat out hotel WiFi. Sorry, I don’t have a speedtest to show you but it was like having a cable modem in the room.

    Following with the non-scientific theme, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that there are places in SF and beyond where Sprint 4G coverage is strong and Verizon 4G coverage is weak or non-existent. Chances are your buddy’s dongle would fail to perform (innuendo intended) in those locations/markets but you didn’t duel there. You picked one place, one time and went with it.

    Truly you are a technology “enthusiast”. At least include something at the beginning of your article about this being a completely non-scientific assessment or something.

    And yes, once the VZ network becomes more heavily loaded, you’ll see differences then, too. The good news for VZ users will be that once your performance is impeded, you won’t have sticker shock on your bill because you may not be going over as often from downloading a few extra gigabytes of content. With Sprint, I get unlimited usage on 4G and know exactly what to expect in terms of a bill and I’m pretty sure that’s still important to some people.

    • Xavier

      02/10/2011 at 4:30 pm

      Did you bother to read the article and click through to the links?
      I’ve tried the Overdrive in multiple locations over the past year. I gave it some slack last year when I went to Seattle and could barely get online at all (was told by a Sprint agency rep that they sent us a bad unit ).
      In Las Vegas things were spotty last month at best. And yes, I’ve tried the Overdrive all over the SF Bay Area.
      Ultimately, speed isn’t the most critical factor when I’m mobile. It’s connectivity. For whatever reason, it’s much more difficult for me to stay on Sprint’s network with the Overdrive than with the 3G MiFi. I would not be surprised at all if the hardware was the core of the problem. We’ll have a Sprint Novatel 4G MiFi in for review late this month.

    • Matt

      02/20/2011 at 2:08 am

      I live in the SF Bay Area. I tried Sprint 4G in all kinds of places. It’s not worth it. In my house, which is shown on Sprint’s coverage map as having 4G inside buildings I just now got 500kbps. Consistently, after several tries. Sometimes it’s up to 1.1Mbps. Sometimes it just doesn’t work at all. It was okay in December when they first announced it. At this point, I don’t try it anymore. 3G works better by far no Sprint’s network. It is actually faster. Listening to internet radio on 4G while traveling in a car is atrocious. Every couple of minutes your connection drops and it takes a minute plus to reconnect. Waste of time and money.

  5. alex3384

    02/12/2011 at 2:34 pm

    I have Clear as my ISP, which is the same network as Sprint 4G WiMax, and I get an average of 7-9Mbps with peaks at 10Mbps. And I’m at the edge of my coverage zone with only 3-4 out of 5 bars on my modem. So it all depends on the area you live in Speeds in San Francisco might top out at 1.5Mbps, but not in Atlanta.

    • Jhenson10

      02/13/2011 at 5:29 pm

      I have Sprints Evo. I live over in Maryland and have gotten speeds of 10megs down, sadly up is limited at least as far as the phone is considered and I can’t get over 1 meg

  6. Sammy

    03/19/2011 at 6:56 pm

    Here is my own personal comparison between Wimax 4G and LTE 4G in Dallas, Texas.

  7. David Barless

    11/29/2011 at 10:19 am

    I live in cincinnati and routinely get speeds in excess of 8meg down and 2megs up…must be the location

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.