12-20-09 09:04 AM
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  1. TwinsX2Dad's Avatar
    Remember those commercials, where a uniformed employee from each of the bigger carriers were brought together - for lunch, a night of cards or whatever? I occasionally get to be a part of something rather similar. Most recently, I broke bread with four friends - one works for VZW, another Sprint & two AT&T. The Sprint manager has seen time at both AT&T and VZW, and has been with Sprint for a little over a year. To round things out, we also had a friend from Ericsson Services, the company behind the Sprint voice network & a division of Sony-Ericsson & another friend who is a competitor of mine in construction.

    Lots of food, some drink & good old-fashioned fun, coupled with some competitive ribbing - just what you'd expect from a bunch of imbibing telco guys.

    Before any questions come up, yes - I got stuck with the tab. Telco people are such cheap SOBs.

    Much of what was discussed, I already knew. Some of what was discussed, isn't so well known - at least not common knowledge on sites like this. Some of the best came in the form of the actual difference between VZW & Sprint and that is what I will share with you here.

    Disclaimer: I am not an employee of any telco carrier - in the spirit of full disclosure, I spent many years in the service of the former Bell System: AT&T (pre-divestiture), AT&T (post-divestiture), then USWest (now Qwest) & have been retired from those companies longer than many of you have had cell phones. I am not here to grind an axe, nor to get anyone's goat. I present this only as an educational tool - a reality check, in this day & age of an uncertain economy & folks' desire to get the most for their hard-earned money.


    We hear all the time that VZW's network is superior, and it is. The actual VZW network is vastly larger than Sprint's & VZW has more towers per customer than does Sprint - or any other major carrier (There's A Map For That). But what does that mean to the average cell phone customer? Not a whole lot, after recent agreements were signed. To be completed by the end of 2009 is a full roaming arrangement where Sprint customers can roam on 100% of VZW's network, minus the areas where the two carriers both have facilities. So if you're looking for a pro-VZW item in coverage, it is now effectively gone.

    Advantage: Sprint (because of rate plans - below)

    The downside to this is that when a Sprint customer roams on the VZW network, Sprint effectively pays VZW for time on their network. Sprint has buried deep in their policies & customer agreements that if too many of your minutes are in roaming areas, they may revisit your service & either limit you or cut you off. This should not be an issue if you maintain and use service in a Sprint area. It might be a problem if you don't live in a Sprint home area, but try to get service anyway. So pay attention to home areas if you want Sprint. Don't add Sonny (or Cher) to your family account, then send them off to college in a town that is not a Sprint home area.

    Advantage: VZW

    Speed is comparable & the agreement allows for VZW 3G coverage to be fully available to Sprint customers.In some areas, Sprint is slightly faster, in others, not so much.

    So far, for the vast majority of customers, no real difference between the two.

    Advantage: Draw

    But, you say, VZW is bringing LTE to the table, while Sprint is going WiMAX. Well, as it turns out, neither carrier is running to push 4G out very soon on smartphones, as the smartphone manufacturers are having hardware issues with the advanced speed. Some OS platforms can't handle it, either. No 4G capabilities on BlackBerry, Symbian, or Android. Palm, WM, Linux & Apple have no such software issues & are capable of higher speeds right now. The estimates are 4G prevalence in about 4 years, with the majority of devices using 4G sooner will be netbooks, laptops & other devices. So no real advantage there, either.

    Now, there are some bandwidth differences between the two home networks - but Sprint's network is underutilized, so this is rarely an issue.

    The network differences are such that very few people would notice a difference.

    Pricing is a well-known difference between the two carriers, with Sprint blowing VZW into the weeds with their lower rates. You can look them up at the respective sites (Verizon Wireless & Sprint), but let's take a quick look at some of the differences - to keep it simple, I will maintain comparisons with unlimited texting & if data is included, it will be smartphone/BlackBerry.

    Individual 450 Minute Plan

    VZW: $39.99
    Sprint: $39.99

    No difference there, but Sprint starts their night & weekend minutes at 7P, compared with VZW @ 9P. Also, Sprint offers nights & weekends starting at 6P for $5 more. No data means bandwidth shouldn't be an issue.

    Advantage: Sprint

    Individual 450 Minute Plan with Unlimited Text

    VZW: $59.99
    Sprint: $49.99

    Same night & weekend start time as the non-text plan.

    Advantage: Sprint

    Individual 450 Minute Plan with Unlimited Text & Data

    VZW: $89.99
    Sprint: $69.99

    Same nights & weekend advantages as before, but along with the $20 savings, you get unlimited calls to any mobile on Sprint, while VZW limits you to only other VZW customers. Sprint also gives you GPS Navigation, Music Premier, TV Premier, NFL Mobile Live, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile & it is all included in the price.

    Advantage: Sprint

    Individual Minutes Plan with Unlimited Text & Data

    VZW: $149.99
    Sprint: $99.99

    Again, the same details as the 450 minute plans, but Sprint is again giving you all the extras (GPS Navigation, Music Premier, TV Premier, NFL Mobile Live, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile)

    Advantage: Sprint

    Some of those added features are available on VZW. Add $10 for GPS Navigation, $15 for TV (only some phones), so if you're interested in those two items, add $25 to the VZW prices above, while they are included on the Sprint Everything plans (the prices I quoted).

    A Sprint bill is simpler, since they don't have a bunch of ala-carte extras. No, don't say VZW nickles & dimes you to death - they charge what the market will bear and, for smartphones, it is almost all ala-carte. Still, there are very few surprises on Sprint - just pick up your phone & go with it.

    But gee, you say - what about the vaunted stories about VZW service & reports of bad customer service from Sprint? Well, this is where the tides turn a bit - but much of the difference is old news; past history. Dan Hesse has made huge strides in improving Sprint's customer service - you now get treated very well on the phone & their store personnel, overall, are much better than VZW's. In this regard, your mileage & experience may vary, depending on your circumstances, needs, time of day, location & the extent of your unreasonable demands. That being said, I walk into a Sprint store & have always been treated well - they are not always as knowledgeable as the reps at VZW or even AT&T, but they are pretty good at admitting when they don't know & will try to find the answer for you. Walk into a VZW store & you will often find personnel who are uptight, seem exhausted, don't care, are overworked, or seems to look down on you.

    Part of the discrepancy in store performance may be that Sprint has more stores in more places - they don't seem to be as busy, so you can spend more time with the staff. It is usually a much more personal experience and if generally much faster. Sprint stores don't make you sign in, so you don't have to wait an hour to buy a battery.

    So, based on past track records...

    Phone Customer Service/Sales - Advantage: VZW

    Store Service - Advantage: Sprint

    Overall, a wash. But as I said before, your mileage may vary.

    So why are Sprint's prices lower? Take a closer look & you will find some differences - and this part was a full consensus among my meal-time friends (including the Sprint & Ericsson guys) - that VZW customer service is why VZW has 88 million lines, while Sprint has 49 million...

    VZW is much faster at giving you warranty service, while Sprint will tend to make certain it actually is a warranty issue. VZW spends over twice as much on hardware per customer than does Sprint. The flip side to this is Sprint's actual valid warranty claims are far better than VZW's. To make it easier to understand, a certain percentage of product warranty returns are customer error & not warranty issues - this is often determined by the manufacturer, well after the exchange. Invalid VZW warranty exchanges exceed 50%, while Sprint's is less than 10%. This means that Sprint doesn't have to fork out as much on bad warranty exchanges, but it also means some customers are going to be upset & mark down Sprint in the customer service surveys.

    "That blankety-blank Sprint wouldn't replace my POS phone!" But if you delve into reality here, the truth of the matter is that often the phone was out of memory, left in the hot car too long or the customer simply wanted a new phone. Sprint is much more adept at catching the dummies & the cheats than is VZW - and the dummies & cheats aren't likely to take kindly to not getting what they demand.

    Hose your smartphone OS & you're going to have an easier time BSing a VZW rep into sending you another phone. With Sprint, you're probably going to have to accept their offer of assisting you with a wipe/reload.

    Advantage: Depends on if you're a stand-up, intelligent soul or a ticked off dummy and/or cheat.

    Another difference is in phone subsidies. Take the HTC Touch Pro2, for example (online pricing). The Sprint version is $349, while the VZW version is $199. The BlackBerry Tour is a bit different in pricing strategy. Sprint is $149 for one (after mail-in rebate), while VZW goes with their BOGO pricing, at two Tours for $149 (automatic rebate). HTC Hero is $179 (after mail-in rebate), while the Droid Eris is $99 (automatic rebate).

    We see that VZW is $80-$150 less than Sprint on the phones, which makes up for some of the difference in plan rates.

    Advantage: VZW

    There are loyalty programs at VZW that Sprint generally doesn't match - but both give allowances for new customers signing new contracts, VZW gives you these a little sooner, but less allowance. On the flip side, VZW is very strict with discounts, while Sprint is much easier - they will give a 10% plan discount to nearly anyone with a good payment history, just for the asking.

    Advantage: Depends on your needs & expectations.

    Now, throughout this little comparison, I have peppered a liberal helping of Advantage choices. I am not going to give you an overall Advantage for either carrier, because I don't know what your needs or expectations are. It all depends on what you're willing to spend & what you're willing to put up with. Sprint has cheaper rates, while VZW has cheaper phones. VZW has better customer service when things go wrong & will tend to suck it up, even when you're in the wrong, while Sprint is a bit more protective of their assets. VZW gives you New Every Two in 20 months, along with early upgrades for many customers, but Sprint charges a lot less for actual service.

    When all is said & done, are the higher prices worth it to you to be on VZW? If your answer is yes, great - I have lines of service on both carriers, along with AT&T. My motives aren't cost driven, nor do I sign contracts with any carrier. Sprint is cheaper not because they offer you less network or even less service - they charge more for the phones & are a bit more difficult to deal with on warrantly claims. If you want/need lower prices, you might want to take a look - it doesn't hurt to look, does it? Because in the end, even if Sprint only offers you 90% of what VZW offers you, is it worth as much as 80% more to go with VZW? That customer service may or may not be what you expected, regardless of carrier, but again, your mileage may vary.

    Only you can answer that for yourself - I can't answer it for you.
    11-09-09 02:59 AM
  2. R.O.C.'s Avatar
    Thats a lot to read...

    Will comment later...
    11-09-09 03:03 AM
  3. BerryBone's Avatar
    That's a very good breakdown Twins. Good post
    11-09-09 03:19 AM
  4. R.O.C.'s Avatar
    Good read, though, personally, I can truly say I was aware of most of the info here, but its nice to see it wrapped up in a single post...

    One thing that I didn't see you address is the rate at which Sprint is losing postpaid customers; and how some analysts have seen Sprint's price drops to be more of a reflex to the red numbers, and how it may in fact hurt them in the long run...
    11-09-09 03:20 AM
  5. BerryBone's Avatar
    Another advantage with Sprint is that they have the AnyMobile, Anytime Promo going on. That's one of the main reasons I continue to stay with Sprint.
    11-09-09 03:25 AM
  6. SoCaliTrojan's Avatar
    Well-written article. 2 things you might have missed is that Sprint stores have in-house techs at all locations to look at and fix phones (VZW just gives phone replacements to take care of issues) and although VZW gives bigger phone subsidies, that savings is lost when you pay 2-year contracts (especially when you got 2 phones for the Buy One Get One free deal). In fact, Sprint will sometimes cut you a deal and work with you if you point at VZW's phone prices and threaten to leave for them (which is what I did to avoid paying retail).

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    11-09-09 06:22 AM
  7. ekyle125's Avatar
    I know it is just where I usually visit and where I live, but Sprint was never very reliable for me. And service is the biggest decision factor
    11-09-09 06:51 AM
  8. sorlipm's Avatar
    Thanks Twin. I finally got some good info out here, instead of the flame fest that goes on here....ty
    11-09-09 06:53 AM
  9. gsoscott's Avatar
    Without question the best Sprint vs Verizon thread I have read to date. Maybe as both networks deploy 4g they will start to chase down the wireline cable and sat tv companies instead of each other. Give me a solid 3g phone and a 4g aircard, or netbook, without a data cap and I say goodbye Time Warner cable.
    11-09-09 07:24 AM
  10. JoeyMoose's Avatar
    Twin= Fountain of Truth...
    11-09-09 07:31 AM
  11. Hydrogenman's Avatar
    1 important area you forget though


    Verizon has a much bigger selection of smartphones than Sprint.


    I guess they do at least have the 8900
    11-09-09 07:36 AM
  12. IDsweetcheeks's Avatar
    My eyes are actually bleeding I think... BUT it was an excellent post.
    Its a shame there arent more unbiased opinions about carriers.
    Honestly someone posts that they want a comparison in one particular forum or both carrier forums they will get biased answers from either.
    I have my reasons for being with Big Red. I will most likely never leave enless something MAJORLY drastic happens ( zombie apocolypse ) I dont think I could stick around to see the "Can you hear me Now" guy get dismembered.
    11-09-09 07:38 AM
  13. petaf's Avatar
    @ Hydrogenman: Verizon has the 8900???!!! I don't think so...
    11-09-09 07:46 AM
  14. dawnierae's Avatar
    Well-written article. 2 things you might have missed is that Sprint stores have in-house techs at all locations to look at and fix phones (VZW just gives phone replacements to take care of issues)

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    Perhaps this is true in your area, however, many of the VZW stores in my area do have in-house techs and perform repairs on-site. This would obviously not be true at the mall kiosks, and may very well not be available in ALL stores, but I do know for certain it is available in many of the larger locations.
    11-09-09 07:58 AM
  15. BergerKing's Avatar
    I had a trackball wear out a couple of months back and went to a Sprint associate store that had an Authorized Repair Center. It was closed that day with the techs out for a training session.

    The store reps quickly gave me directions to a corporate store that was 5 miles distant, but in full operation. I walked in, showed the problem, my Curve was taken into the ARC and back in my hands in about 4 minutes.
    I walk into Sprint stores at random when I'm killing time. In every case, I've been greeted, asked if I needed help, and been treated with respect.

    In all of my contacts with customer service, I have had CSRs be helpful, refer me to the proper center or service to troubleshoot an issue.

    I am a customer that when I receive good service, I make notes and send e-mails or make calls to the appropriate senior personnel. Bad service will guarantee something warm and brown but not chocolate in your Christmas stocking.

    The only issue, however trivial, that I've dealt with without complete resolution, is my middle initial is wrong on my bill.

    And as far as loyalty goes, with the economy being what it has been, and having lost a full 3rd of our family income, Sprint has always worked with me if I have to pay later than the due date.

    And with the way my plan is set up, having the ability to upgrade annually with SP, that's just fine with me.

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    11-09-09 08:40 AM
  16. numus's Avatar
    1 important area you forget though


    Verizon has a much bigger selection of smartphones than Sprint.


    I guess they do at least have the 8900
    This isn't exactly a true statement... Sprint gets a lot more HTC and palm phones then verizon does, while verizon gets a lot more exclusives then sprint.. Just looking at smart phones on the websites (sprint vs verizon only)
    Verizon:
    Droid, Storm II, HTC Droid Eris, BB Tour, Omnia, Ozone, Imagio, Touch Pro2, Saga, touch Diamond - 10 phones roughly

    Sprint: (idk if the instinct s30 counts)
    Treo 755p, Palm Pre, Samsung Intrepid, Treo Pro, BB Tour, Samsung Moment, HTC Hero, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Touch Pro2 - 10 phones roughly + instinct s30 if it counts

    Not really that much of a difference in the number of smart phones.. Plus you can throw in the BB 8330 for both carriers, 8830 for both carriers and the 8350i for sprint but i am not really counting those in their anymore (my poor curve feels left out)
    11-09-09 09:46 AM
  17. Hydrogenman's Avatar
    This isn't exactly a true statement... Sprint gets a lot more HTC and palm phones then verizon does, while verizon gets a lot more exclusives then sprint.. Just looking at smart phones on the websites (sprint vs verizon only)
    Verizon:
    Droid, Storm II, HTC Droid Eris, BB Tour, Omnia, Ozone, Imagio, Touch Pro2, Saga, touch Diamond - 10 phones roughly

    Sprint: (idk if the instinct s30 counts)
    Treo 755p, Palm Pre, Samsung Intrepid, Treo Pro, BB Tour, Samsung Moment, HTC Hero, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Touch Pro2 - 10 phones roughly + instinct s30 if it counts

    Not really that much of a difference in the number of smart phones.. Plus you can throw in the BB 8330 for both carriers, 8830 for both carriers and the 8350i for sprint but i am not really counting those in their anymore (my poor curve feels left out)
    Verizon carries a lot better phones
    11-09-09 10:12 AM
  18. Hydrogenman's Avatar
    @ Hydrogenman: Verizon has the 8900???!!! I don't think so...
    Sprint has the 8900

    just not very well phrased on my part


    I was trying to simply say, Verizon has a superior selection of smart phones
    11-09-09 10:13 AM
  19. cenloe's Avatar
    Very interesting write-up Twins. The Sprint roaming portion was very interesting. Thanks for taking the time.
    11-09-09 10:56 AM
  20. arcadence's Avatar
    Sprint has the 8900

    just not very well phrased on my part


    I was trying to simply say, Verizon has a superior selection of smart phones
    The 8900 is a GSM phone. It's not a part of Sprint's lineup. Both Sprint and Verizon will be getting the 8530 though.

    Nice write up. A lot of the information was known to many of us who live on the forums, but it's nice to have it all written down in one place as objective as possible.
    11-09-09 11:00 AM
  21. Super_Mario's Avatar
    I think it would be easy for any carrier to charge less for a calling plan, like Sprint, Boost, Cricket to name a few, when they do not have maintain a wireless network just roam off an established network. And if Sprint doesn't subsidize phones the way VZW does, thats less money they spend as well. So yeah, they can afford to be cheaper. But not better IMO, as a former Sprint user, I hated the service, both wireless and customer service. I have no idea if it has got better, but I wouldn't want to find out. But nice info. Thanks
    11-09-09 11:33 AM
  22. numus's Avatar
    I think it would be easy for any carrier to charge less for a calling plan, like Sprint, Boost, Cricket to name a few, when they do not have maintain a wireless network just roam off an established network. And if Sprint doesn't subsidize phones the way VZW does, thats less money they spend as well. So yeah, they can afford to be cheaper. But not better IMO, as a former Sprint user, I hated the service, both wireless and customer service. I have no idea if it has got better, but I wouldn't want to find out. But nice info. Thanks
    Sprint isn't even close to boost or cricket.. Sprint maintains their own network in high population dense areas... Only places that really need the extra bandwidth.. Otherwise it isn't that they don't have to maintain the network, basically sprint is the reason verizon CAN maintain the majority of their network.. Without augmented funds from sprint, verizon would need to charge a lot more for network maintain in rural areas that have excessive bandwidth vs customers.. If verizon was forced to maintain their network alone, they would have to cut the network in areas that population density can not support the amount of towers they installed, leading to less rural coverage... Why blanket the area with sprint and verizon (both CDMA) where 1/6th of avalible bandwidth would be utilized, instead of verizon blanketing the area so 1/3 avalible bandwidth is utilized and have sprint augment the costs.. so verizon is paying 1/2 for 1/6th the used bandwidth and sprint is paying 1/2 for 1/6th the use bandwidth... This is why sprint doesn't establish their own networks in rural areas and why verizon grants such broad roaming contracts to sprint.. Boost does not maintain their own network AT ALL (and now boost is owned by sprint)
    Verizon carries a lot better phones
    Like what? They carry the most hyped up phones (that usually end up being giant flops... see BB Storm)... but i have yet to see a phone that verizon gets that destroys the equivalent Sprint phone... Meanwhile, Verizon was scared by the very sucess of the Palm Pre on sprint, that they had to make false claims (a couple days after the release of the pre on sprint) that palm was in the works to bring it to verizon within 6 month. which then palm had to come out and say was not true at that time.... I have yet to see these "superior" phone lineup that you claim...
    The droid is a primary example... it is way overhyped.. yes the resolution adn screen size on the droid is better then the equivalent (moment) on sprint... But the moment has an AMOLED screen that blows the droid out of the water in terms of brightness and color... Plus the moment has a better rated keyboard and has physical buttons (which are a big turn off with teh droid.. have been playing with my friends for the past few days and the lack of dedicated end/call buttons is a big draw back).. Plus the moment has an optical trackpad... It is a toss up between which is better then the other but i wouldn't say it is a lot better of a phone or that it is even a better phone.. they are equivalents...

    Furthermore, i posted this in the sprint forum where Twin linked this thread: (p.s. i have never really seen eye2eye with twinx2dad until this post)

    As for the 4g argument.. I never really saw this as an issue with mobile phones (yes faster speeds are great, but the physical limitations of size of a phone makes increased speed and bandwidth a joke).. Sprint's Wimax platform is really trying to go into the home bandwidth situation

    Imagine a day when you just plug a PCMIA/USB device into a router and bam, wireless network/wired network in your house.. Go out of town, unplug the dongle and bam same broadband on the go... How could comcast/Cox/any cable company match this? What i am interested in is how WiMAX and LTE will get along (rumour of devices that can utilize both have reached my ears)...
    Last edited by numus; 11-09-09 at 01:14 PM.
    11-09-09 01:02 PM
  23. 06kingranch's Avatar
    Yeah, but does Sprint have the Storm 2?!?! I'm a Sprint user and am very satisfied with the reception in my area. ****, even their crappy customer support has vastly improved in the last year. Anytime, Any Mobile rocks, and I didn't have to do a thing to get it. Sprint support let me know that they were upgrading my plan the next billing cycle (this was about two months ago). The rep even suggested that I downgrade my minutes plan due to the gains from any mobile.

    But where's the Storm 2! C'mon RIM cut the exclusivity crap on your only touch-screen device. I may actually have to move to Verizon and pay more because of this. Score one for Verizon.
    11-09-09 01:39 PM
  24. Jim from NW Pa's Avatar
    This isn't exactly a true statement... Sprint gets a lot more HTC and palm phones then verizon does, while verizon gets a lot more exclusives then sprint.. Just looking at smart phones on the websites (sprint vs verizon only)
    Verizon:
    Droid, Storm II, HTC Droid Eris, BB Tour, Omnia, Ozone, Imagio, Touch Pro2, Saga, touch Diamond - 10 phones roughly

    Sprint: (idk if the instinct s30 counts)
    Treo 755p, Palm Pre, Samsung Intrepid, Treo Pro, BB Tour, Samsung Moment, HTC Hero, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Touch Pro2 - 10 phones roughly + instinct s30 if it counts

    Not really that much of a difference in the number of smart phones.. Plus you can throw in the BB 8330 for both carriers, 8830 for both carriers and the 8350i for sprint but i am not really counting those in their anymore (my poor curve feels left out)
    Two problems. I don't know wbout sprint but I counted 10 smartphones on VZW without berries.

    Also, why does sprint get credit for both the Touch Pro and Touch Pro2, but Verizon doesn't have Storm and Storm 2 in their list? Don't skew data to make it look like it supports your argument

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    11-09-09 01:54 PM
  25. numus's Avatar
    Two problems. I don't know wbout sprint but I counted 10 smartphones on VZW without berries.

    Also, why does sprint get credit for both the Touch Pro and Touch Pro2, but Verizon doesn't have Storm and Storm 2 in their list? Don't skew data to make it look like it supports your argument

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    Only reason i counted Touch Pro and Touch Pro 2 different phones is because they are completely different phones.. Which the storm and storm 2 appear to be almost the same construction...

    For someone telling me not to skew data to support my argument you didn't even take the effort to actually go to sprints website and look at the phones they offer as per your statement "I don't know wbout sprint but I counted 10 smartphones on VZW without berries." What do you count as a smart phone? If you go by sprints smartphone/pda they have way more then 11... or if you go by verizon's a blackberry isnt a smart phone...
    But if you want to swing the data that way.. Add the instinct s30 and the instinct HD and remove the 1 BB that i listed and remove teh touch pro and you have.. well 10 again... so 10 Sprint smart phones vs 10 Verizon smart phones...
    Add in the tour for both, the curve for both... and now give verizon the Storm II and sprint the 8350i and you have.. well still the same numbers....

    Edit:
    Wait i forgot about the HTC Snap, Samsung Ace and the upcoming Palm Pixi for sprint...
    Also you could count the Palm Centro...

    Somehow i am still missing where verizon clearily carries more smart phones and better phone as per my original comment...
    Last edited by numus; 11-09-09 at 02:22 PM.
    11-09-09 02:11 PM
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