Sprint is reviewing reports of slow iPhone 4S data speeds but finding complaints hard to evaluate, as the carrier tries to root out the issue and put the matter to rest as quickly as possible.
Reports of slow service on the device aren’t dissipating but aren’t skyrocketing either, putting the carrier in a tough spot. The iPhone was released on the carrier three weeks ago.
Sprint initially responded to complaints about slowness, saying the iPhone performance on its network was consistent with expectations and in line with the rest of its high-end portfolio. The Overland Park, Kan.-based company said it benchmarked Sprint’s iPhone against competitors’ iPhones and found little to no performance difference.
But now, persistent complaints are triggering a slightly different response.
“We’re taking the reports of problems from a small number of customers seriously. There’s nothing of significance to report yet,” said Fared Adib, head of product development for Sprint, to CNET.
Sprint doesn’t seem to be alone in its inability to replicate the device’s allegedly slower speeds. Several tech magazine teams tried several Sprint iPhone 4S models and none of them exhibited a problem. They were all consistently close to Verizon’s speed, although since the iPhone 4S doesn’t support WiMax or LTE, Apple’s handset had to make do with slower 3G CDMA speeds.
These positive reports may support the notion that Sprint’s unlimited, unthrottled data plans will continue in the near term, even as the carrier searches for a solution to the persistent problem.
AT&T and Verizon extended some of their original users’ unlimited data plans, but new subscribers are subjected to limits and throttling past a certain percentile of usage. T-Mobile, on the other hand, advertises unlimited data to all subscribers, but also throttles its service.
The iPhone has given Sprint a significant boost in business, but if users begin experiencing or even believing there are problems with the service, the company may lose thousands of potential customers.
The challenge for Sprint will be to respond to the single-digit percentage of iPhone users complaining about the problem so the issue doesn’t reflect poorly on the carrier, which made a considerable investment to launch Apple’s coveted smartphone.