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Sprint points out its LTE network is, in fact, trash

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The maps don’t look good

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

It’s not exactly a secret that Sprint’s LTE network, well, just isn’t very good compared to other carriers like AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile.

But it’s surprising for a company like Sprint to just up and admit that its LTE network is dramatically worse than all of its competitors, like Sprint just did in a recent filing, via analyst Walt Piecyk.

Sprint has been trailing the other carriers in overall speed and coverage for years. It’s not impossible to figure out why — Sprint has never been the largest of carriers, and a costly misfire by betting on WiMAX first for 4G instead of LTE like everyone else meant that Sprint was years behind other networks’ buildouts.

For comparison, Sprint’s usual coverage map
Sprint

But what’s interesting is that instead of trying to minimize its poor coverage — like Sprint does on its usual coverage maps, which includes non-LTE service to make that filled in yellow area look bigger — Sprint is trying to make its network look bad by shining a giant spotlight on it.

And the reason is simple: Sprint is in the long process of trying to convince regulators that the pending merger with T-Mobile is a good thing for the industry, instead of a harmful contraction of an extremely limited market that has badly needed competition. And by making its network look weak and unthreatening in the overall telecommunications landscape, the company is clearly hoping that regulators will be more likely to let the deal go through.

But even compared to other carriers, it’s important to remember that Sprint isn’t a tiny company — as Fierce Wireless notes, it has over 53 million subscribers, and even if its LTE coverage isn’t great, it’s still a massive part of the industry, no matter how small it wishes to pass itself off as.