updated 03:50 pm EDT, Tue September 21, 2010
Sprint 4G in live tests in San Francisco
A check today discovered that Sprint has quietly started active, publicly usable tests of its WiMAX-based 4G network in San Francisco. Those with devices like the HTC Evo 4G or Samsung Epic 4G have found that some parts of the city will flip over to the faster access. Quick testing by PCWorld saw the incomplete network reaching speeds of almost 3Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream.
It's unknown when Sprint will label the service as ready. The carrier promised 4G in San Francisco only before the end of the year, but with a publicly reachable network at this stage, a launch in October or November is considered an option.
WiMAX in San Francisco has been considered an important milestone for Sprint and its partner Clear, both of whom have been racing to complete their networks ahead of the wider LTE 4G rollouts that just began today. The standard usually provides about 3Mbps to 6Mbps downloads in real situations and will both help the standing of Sprint's 4G smartphones in the city as well as give locals much faster mobile access through hotspots such as the Overdrive pocket router.