Sprint's Spark Program Promises 50-60 Mbps Mobile Broadband Speeds

When 3G speeds became widely available, it changed everything about mobile. No longer was mobile Internet access a (very slow) novelty; instead, it enabled users to accomplish serious tasks while out and about and enjoy all manners of entertainment, from watching videos to social networking. It even became possible to use mobile 3G hotspots to keep laptops and other mobile devices connected even when away from a WiFi network.

As 4G LTE rolls out, the game is changing yet again, as it offers speeds several times that of 3G. However, even as the 4G revolution persists, Sprint is looking to push mobile Internet performance further.

Thank you to Sprint Faster for sponsoring this article. Get inspired by innovation and see what’s next at Sprint.com/faster.

Sprint is launching the Sprint Spark™ enhanced LTE capability, which promises blistering peak speeds of 50-60 Megabits per second (Mbps). It is expected to  launch in 100 U.S. cities over the course of the next three years, with the first five cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa, and Miami. By the end of 2014, Sprint expects to have the super-high-speed service available to some 100 million users.


Sprint Spark uses tri-band technology to accomplish its speeds, combining three bands of LTE (800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz spectrum) with TDD-LTE 2.5GHz technology and 2.5GHz-band carrier aggregation and dynamically pivoting from one band to another depending on factors such as location and application.

One catch is that most current mobile devices don’t have the necessary technology to tap into these tri-band capabilities, so part of Sprint’s push is upgrading mobile hotspots and popular handsets with Sprint Spark technology. The first smartphones capable of tri-band are already arriving, though; the HTC One Max is the first, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and Samsung Galaxy Mega will be receiving over-the-air (OTA) updates soon.
A handful of hotspots including the Netgear Zing, Netgear 341U USB Modem, and Novatel MiFi 500 LTE already boast Sprint Spark compatibility.

The most compelling part of Sprint Spark isn’t just the 50-60Mbps peak speeds, though; Sprint believes that it can technically offer upwards of 2Gbps over-the-air with potential future updates, given the capabilities of the spectrum and technology assets it’s using already. The company has already demonstrated mobile 1.3Gbps in a lab demonstration, which is itself mind-blowing.

To put it in perspective, wired 1Gbps connections aren’t even available in most places in the country. Gigabit Internet capabilities are coming along slowly, and cities are digging deeply into their pockets in hopes of securing those services. When gigabit Internet becomes widespread, it will dramatically change everything from entertainment to healthcare to communication to business paradigms--and so much more so when the same Internet performance comes to mobile devices.

Thank you to Sprint Faster and Technorati Media for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.