Sprint rounds out our top three mobile broadband service providers with our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Helpful Links for Sprint. note, these links take you to the official Sprint website.
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The very fact that Sprint ranks third is quite a testimonial to the overall quality of the top providers. In several individual areas of the competition, this service rates number one or two, though by the smallest of margins. In aggregate, however, we that found their long time and continuing customer service shortfalls prevent awarding the company a higher rating.
Sprint is also a major provider of cellular voice services. For in depth, objective information about the provider, check out our Cell Phone Providers Services Review.
For purposes of this review, the term Laptop Computer refers to a number of portable computer. For details of these devices, check out our reviews of Laptops, Gaming Laptops and Netbooks.
Sprint’s Mobile Broadband Connection plan costs $59.99 per month for 5GB of data transfer. That puts its price right in line with the competition. In a couple of ways, this mobile broadband service offers pricing advantages over both AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The first is if you bundle your data plan with the heavily advertised Simply Everything plan at $99.99 monthly. When added to that plan, the cost of the data plan is reduced by $10 to $49.99 which is to say that you can get unlimited voice, texting and internet for you phone plus 5GB of data for your computer for $149.99. Their other pricing advantage regards data usage over the 5GB limit. Please refer to the Over 5GB Warning, below.
5GB of data is adequate for most users. Here are some representative examples of how much data transfer is involved in typical Mobile Broadband activities. As a reference, 1024KB equal 1MB and 1024MB equal 1GB.
• A page of email without attachments 3KB
• Five pages of text in Word format 70KB
• Access a web page with moderate graphics content 150KB
• Sending a 20 page PowerPoint presentation with text but minimal graphics 500KB
• Downloading a 3-minute song 4 – 8MB
Sprint charges a $36 service activation fee but will waive it under some circumstances. It can’t hurt to ask. PC Cards, AirCards, or Wireless Modems from Sprint range from completely free to $119.99 with a 2-year contract. The fee for early termination of a contract is $200 for the first five months of the contract but then decreases $10 a month until a $50 minimum applies to remainder of the term.
Over 5GB Warning
This mobile broadband service charges $0.05 per MB of data over the 5GB limit. That doesn’t seem like much. What’s a nickel, after all? But at that rate the 1GB of extra data would run $51.20. You read that correctly. The first 5GB cost $59.99 and the sixth costs $51.20 all by itself. We noted above that that price is less than the competition and it is by a lot. The same additional GB on Verizon Wireless costs $256 and on AT&T, an incredible $503.31.
The use of smartphones for mobile data is expanding at an every accelerating rate. Like the other leading providers, a data plan for a smartphone is $30 per month in addition to the price of your chosen voice plan. The 5GB limit that applies to data cards doesn’t apply to smartphone data plans unless you use it as a tethered modem for your computer. Using your smartphone as a tethered modem runs an additional $15 monthly on this mobile broadband service and has the same 5GB restrictions that are associated with a data card.
Wi-Fi connectivity is included with Sprint data plans. When connected with Wi-Fi, you can expect data transfer to be 2-5 times the speed attained on the cellular network. Additionally, when using Wi-Fi you’re not eating into the 5GB data limit so it can prevent big financial consequences. Wi-Fi is increasingly available through home and business wireless networks and at a wide array of public Wi-Fi hotspots.
There are four numbers that are regularly published regarding Mobile Broadband speeds. Two are the maximum download and upload speeds. Those are the speeds that the network is capable of attaining under ideal circumstance. Ideal circumstances can’t be achieved in the real world so we’ll ignore those figures. Average, or typical, download and upload speeds are the ones that matter, with download speed being the more important of the two. Published typical speeds show AT&T to be fastest and Sprint and Verizon Wireless to be virtually identical. Numerous real world tests have been conducted recently with all three of the top carriers winning at least one of them. The reality is that any one of the top three services may prove to be fastest in any given place at a given time. In general, however, Sprint ranked slightly slower than AT&T and a bit faster than Verizon Wireless.
While Sprint excels in U.S. coverage, for all intents and purposes, it’s non-existent outside the U.S. There is no international data plan; nonetheless, in some locations you may be able to make a connection. Check with Sprint’s Data Coverage and Rates page for details. But beware of the price if you choose this option. In most locations the cost is $0.016/KB which equals $16.38/MB and an astounding $16,777.21/GB.
Data Network Reliability:
Only Verizon Wireless surpasses Sprint for network reliability. And that’s by a pretty narrow margin. In short, you can count on Sprint’s data network to work with very few exceptions.
There’s been a lot of good news in this review of Sprint’s Mobile Broadband service. The going gets a little tougher here. We’re not saying that their customer service is bad, but it clearly comes up short compared to the other providers. T-Mobile has the inside track on quality customer service with Verizon Wireless making strong showings. Sprint consistently brings up the rear with overall customer scores consistently well below industry averages in surveys by both J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports. Our own anecdotal tests were no exception.
Sprint has one of the best Mobile Broadband services available; however, in a highly competitive industry, there’s simply no excuse for not providing great customer service. They still have some work ahead of them in this area.
This link below will take you to the official Sprint.com website where you can ask person to person questions about getting a sprint phone