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Is Sprint Misleading Customers or the FCC?

Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking to merge. As part of that process, they have to convince the FCC that the merger will not harm competition and would be good for customers.

To this end, Sprint submitted a filing to the FCC on September 25 claiming that its LTE data network was inferior to the other major carriers and they needed a partner to compete better.

Sprint Network Click Chart to Enlarge

Sprint’s coverage is depicted in yellow. You can see, for example, on the map of the U.S. on the right, that Sprint has a much more limited network than Verizon (in red). In fact, the company tells the FCC that its network covers “a much smaller geography” than the other carriers and therefore it needs to merge.

However, if you compare the coverage map from the Sprint website below directed toward customers with the ones above, Sprint makes it appear that its network coverage is very robust and broad.

Sprint network


Only in the tiniest fine print footnote does Sprint disclose that the above map includes roaming coverage, meaning areas where other companies have coverage and share it with Sprint customers. The map also includes non-LTE data coverage that they cleverly omitted from the FCC map.


In addition, the company tells the FCC it has problems with its network:

“Poor network experience is a leading cause of Sprint’s subscriber churn.”

“…consistency challenges impact both network performance and customer perception”

“Sprint has not been able to invest sufficient capital to achieve network performance necessary to attract and retain enough subscribers to improve its scale.”

Funny thing, Sprint has advertised for years on television that there is only a 1% difference in its network reliability compared to the competition.

2016 Commercial

2018 Commercial

Noting these contradictions, we asked the PR folks at Sprint some very pointed questions:

(1) Which is more accurate — what Sprint presented to the FCC or what they advertise to customers?

(2) If the FCC coverage map is more accurate, how does Sprint respond to customers who feel the company exaggerated its coverage area?

(3) Which is correct — Sprint’s network performance is lacking or it’s 99% that of competitors?

A Sprint spokesperson tersely responded:

“Thanks for reaching out. I don’t have anything to add to the filings. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”

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8 thoughts on “Is Sprint Misleading Customers or the FCC?”

  1. Nice catch! Maybe they should merge; then they can stop lying to their customers about how robust their network is.

  2. If you remember Shawn or what every his name is was working for Verizon’s Advertising and was hired away from Verizon. I expect they knew what shape they were in. And hired the fellow to “polish” their image. I don’t take too much stock in advertising anyway.

  3. @Alan,
    In this case the lack of network availability is actually a pretty compelling reason to consolidate. This will actually result in *more* competition with Verizon and AT&T.

  4. I’m just curious how this merger will impact Sprint’s no-contract companies, like BoostMobile. I don’t see those addressed in the filing, but I didn’t look very hard, either.

  5. maybe the FTC should look into this.

    they are either lying to the the customer or the govt.

    sad part here is if it is the customer and they get caught the govt will fine them millions.

    thats great for the govt who,will get all the money but lousy for the actual customer who paid all the money for lousy service.
    just remember all the money the corporations who,get caught pay for lying and cheating comes directly from the people they lied and xheated so in the end the govt is getting more money feom the actual victim and the cictim hets screwed again.

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