Recent tests show that Sprint is an average performer among mobile broadband providers. Its 4G network -- which it shares with Clearwire Clear Mobile Broadband (*Est. $20 to $55 per month) -- isn't nearly as fast as Verizon Mobile Broadband's (*Est. $20 to $80 per month). Sprint's slower 3G network doesn't cover as many places as Verizon's, and Sprint's customer service ratings range from middling to bad. Reviews do note that Sprint mobile broadband is feature-rich, offering plenty of 4G devices. Unlike Verizon, Sprint offers unlimited 4G (*Est. $50 per month), although if you want to be able to fall back on 3G coverage when you travel out of the 4G area, you'll pay more -- up to $90 per month for 10 GB of 3G and unlimited 4G.
We found a number of objective tests of Sprint mobile broadband. The best reviews come from PC World, which conducts extensive 13-city tests of all of the major carriers' 3G and 4G networks. Mobile-Broadband-Reviews.com and Laptop Magazine also test and compare the major 4G networks. ConsumerReports.org compares all of the major carriers, based on thousands of reader responses about their voice, data and customer service quality. J.D. Power and Associates and MSN.com also publish helpful customer service ratings, based on large surveys. DSLReports.com bases its ratings on user-submitted reviews.
1. PC World
"Sprint needs more 4G," PC World reviewer Mark Sullivan concludes after this exhaustive 13-city 4G test comparing the big four mobile broadband providers. Sprint's download speeds hover around 3 Mbps with laptops and 2 Mbps with smartphones in cities where 4G is available (not nearly as fast as the winner, Verizon). In cities without 4G, though, speeds drop dramatically.
Review: 4G Wireless Speed Tests: Which Is Really the Fastest?, Mark Sullivan, March 13, 2011
2. PC World
This 13-city test is similar to PC World's 4G test (above), but it tackles 3G. Mark Sullivan describes Sprint as "dependable," thanks to its excellent signal reliability. However, it has the slowest download speed of the four mobile broadband providers tested.
Review: AT&T Roars Back in PCWorld's Second 3G Wireless Performance Test, Mark Sullivan, Feb. 22, 2010
This comprehensive infographic compares the major 4G carriers -- including Sprint -- in terms of speed, coverage, plans and devices. Sprint isn't as fast as Verizon, but it does offer unlimited plans and a good selection of 4G devices. A link leads to an up-to-date, in-depth review of Sprint.
Review: 4G Comparison [Infographic] 2011 Review, Marc Aarons, April 28, 2011
4. Laptop Magazine
Sprint gets a grade of B here for its 4G network. It's not as fast as Verizon 4G, but Mark Spoonauer says Sprint does meet its speed claims in Laptop's tests, and it offers a good variety of 4G devices.
Review: 4G Report Card: Who's Winning, Who's Failing, Mark Spoonauer, March 18, 2011
ConsumerReports.org compares Sprint cell phone service with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Each provider is rated for voice, data and customer support.
Review: Cell Phones and Services, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Jan. 2011
Sprint mobile broadband doesn't get any awards here, even though its overall score (based on customer reviews) places it just behind first-place T-Mobile. Sprint gets an average overall grade for tech support and above-average grades for connection reliability, services, value and more. A link leads to the user reviews themselves.
Review: Charts -- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Contributors to DSLReports.com
7. J.D. Power and Associates
Sprint ties with AT&T for the worst ratings in J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study. This survey rates overall satisfaction with wireless carriers.
Review: 2011 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, March 2011
Sprint makes MSN.com's customer service hall of shame for the fourth year. About one-third of respondents in this nationwide survey say Sprint's customer service is "poor."
Review: 10 Companies We Love To Hate, Karen Aho, May 18, 2010