I have a Galaxy S3. Do you know when Sprint will have 4G LTE in the Cottonwood Heights/Sandy area? I call and I can't get a straight-forward answer. Jen Pryor
If you're a Sprint user in Utah then you're probably experiencing the same frustration that Jen is. Sprint is the only carrier that currently doesn't have the high-speed next-generation data network known as 4G LTE deployed in Utah. But relief should be coming soon.
Sprint spokesman Dave Mellin told me the carrier is expected to launch its 4G LTE network "in Salt Lake City and other locations throughout Utah in late fourth quarter of 2013."
That means Sprint users will finally be able to download songs, stream movies and browse the Internet on their smartphones and tablets much faster than they have before.
In the meantime, Sprint customers will be stuck with their older and slower "3.5G" network known as WiMAX, which is run by another company called Clearwire. That wireless data network runs much slower than true 4G LTE networks.
4G LTE, which stands for "long-term evolution," is much faster than the older 3G data networks, achieving real-world download speeds up to 20 to 50 megabits per second. In order to take advantage of those speeds, however, you must have a 4G LTE compatible phone such as the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One. The download speeds on older 3G networks was something between 750 kilobits per second up to a couple of megabits per second download.
At last count, Sprint has launched its 4G LTE network in 110 U.S. markets and recently turned it on in 22 cities, including the likes of Centralia, Wash., and Kingsport, Tenn., though sadly not in Salt Lake City (even though Salt Lake City was named 11th "techiest" city in the country according to Travel and Leisure magazine and last year was ranked the fourth-best city in the nation for technology jobs).
T-Mobile users in Utah recently got their speeds bumped up to 4G LTE when that carrier's network finally launched in Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden earlier this month. Currently, T-Mobile has 4G LTE coverage in 116 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and is expected to have nationwide coverage by the end of the year.
So far, the carrier with the most 4G coverage across the country and in Utah is Verizon, followed by AT&T. Verizon recently announced that it has completed building its network in Utah, which now covers Salt Lake City/Salt Lake County area, Provo/Orem, Ogden, Logan, Cedar City, St. George, Park City/Summit Park, as well as smaller pockets throughout the state.
AT&T has its network launched in Salt Lake City/Salt Lake County area, Provo/Orem, Ogden and Heber City.
And just as the major carriers are getting to the end of building out their 4G LTE networks, they'll be moving on to the next latest-and-greatest wireless mobile network. The next step is a new standard called LTE-Advanced, which supposedly can reach theoretical download and upload speeds of around 300 megabits per second.
But don't worry, so far, there are no carriers or handset manufacturers that are producing chipsets that utilize this new technology, and it likely will be at least a few years before we hear any developments on the new standard.
If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at email@example.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.