One of the more annoying marketing gimmicks among wireless carriers, but also true among WiFi hardware makers as well, is that as soon as a new standard is announced, the urge to jump in and declare “we have that,” often trumps actually waiting for standards to be finalized, and far too often before the company can even deliver the real goods.
Case in point is the 4G service being touted by the nation’s wireless carriers. In case they weren’t aware, the term ‘4G’ actually means something. In 2008, the ITU-R organization specified the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G standards, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 Mbps for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 Gbps for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).
With that said, which of the carriers are truly delivering data speeds truly approaching the 4G standard? Seattle-based Analyst Root Metrics set out to determine exactly that. In a test comparing AT&T’s HSPA+, Sprint’s WiMAX, T-Mobile’s HSPA+21 and Verizon’s LTE networks in the Seattle area, the company used 4G-capable smartphones to get a clearer picture of what the consumer experience looks like on the ground. Down here in reality.
What they found will interest you.
Root Metrics determined that Verizon’s LTE 4G network consistently blows away the competition in terms of average data speeds. But what about consistently achieving high data rates? The company found that again, Verizon’s LTE network hit a 100% data success rate, hitting average download speeds of 10Mbps nearly 90% of the time. Quite impressive!
The report goes on to show that Verizon’s 4G network achieved average download speeds nearly four times faster than the next fastest network. With Verizon, average download speeds were 17,160 kbps, T-Mobile clocked in with the second best download speed of 4,424 kbps, Sprint in third with 4,400 kbps and AT&T’s HSPA+ clocking in dead last at 1,182 kbps.
Average maximum download speeds are even more impressive on Verizon. Maximum burst speeds achieved during the tests revealed that Verizon’s LTE delivering somewhere between 3x – 9.6x faster than the competition at 22.2 Mbps. On virtually every single measurement, Root Metrics found the Verizon network far ahead of its major competitors.
Take a peek at the full report here if you’d like to geek out over some of the additional data, charts and background on how the tests were performed. Keep in mind too, the Seattle market isn’t necessarily indicative of other areas of the country, and certainly there’s a big question mark on how Verizon’s LTE network will perform once it starts gaining a larger number of subscribers. So to some degree, your mileage may vary. Still, the difference between 4G networks at the moment is simply astonishing.
Now, the only thing left to do is get myself a new Verizon Thunderbolt so I can test this for myself. Are you using Verizon LTE? Either as a wifi hotspot or via the new Thunderbolt? Be sure to sound off on your experiences in the comments section!