As soon as you turn on your TV nowadays, chances are you are going to get blasted with tons of 4G or LTE commercials from all of the best wireless providers. Therefore, you are probably wondering which provider has the best 4G “LTE” network. First, we think it would be nice to define the terms “4G” and “LTE”:
4G: is the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to the 3G and 2G families of standards.
LTE: This is also known as “3GPP Long Term Evolution”. Because LTE does not comply with the 4G standards, it is considered a pre-4G technology. However, the peak download speeds are quite incredible:
Peak Download 100 Mbit/s
Peak Upload 50 Mbit/s
Currently, Verizon claims to be covering 186 million US customers. Furthermore, they state that they will be covering 2/3 of the US population by 2012. Finally, they estimate that they will have LTE coverage in all of the areas that are currently covered by 3G by year 2013. For a coverage map and full list of current and upcoming locations, click here.
Metro PCS has recently been making a lot of noise about their LTE network. Despite not being extremely detailed about their overall coverage, they show that they have LTE coverage in the following cities:
Although Sprint has not released an LTE network yet, they previously released their WiMAX network with Clearwire.
WiMAX:(Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a communication technology for wirelessly delivering high-speed Internet service to large geographical areas. Peak bit rates are 40Mbit/s.
Sprint does not have a full map of their coverage, and they seem to be a bit behind in the 4G race. However, they have paid Clearwire almost $1 billion to ensure access to WiMAX through 2015. Finally, rumor has it that Sprint will be paying Clearwire around $350 million to gain access to their LTE network. Although it is not official, Sprint should be rolling out 4G LTE around June of 2013.
On their website, AT&T boasts of having coverage for over 200 million Americans on their 4G network. However, directly after that statement, they say that they only have 15 cities covered under 4G LTE and will have 70 million Americans covered with LTE by the end of 2011.
For clarification, when AT&T states that they are covering over 200 million Americans, they are referring to their HSPA+ network. HSPA+ is another standard for 4G and offers 84 Mbit/s (download) and 22 Mbit/s (upload) theoretical peak speeds. CLearly, LTE is a better technology (HSPA+ is 4x faster than 3G and LTE is 10x faster), but, HSPA+ is nice to have while waiting on LTE to roll out.
T-Mobile and AT&T’s 4G networks are almost identical. T-Mobile also claims to cover over 200 million Americans, and their network is just HSPA+ for the time being. Furthermore, not much is known about whether or not T-Mobile will go for an LTE network.
Although LTE looks like an incredible upgrade from 3G, there is already something new to look forward to– Long Term Evolution Advanced, or just LTE Advanced. Download speeds peak out at:
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In a rural part of Oklahoma, I get 45Mbps downstream and 6Mbps upstream with the Verizon LTE USB modem I got via work.. Pretty cool considering my AT&T Uverse is only 18/1. =)
That’s crazy fast! Good stuff…
Ran another test today with my Verizon Galaxy Nexus and got 46Mbps down and 16Mbps up. Gotta love Verizon.. Sometimes. ;)
this artical is completely wrong on sprint. I work for sprint, not to say I’m bias twords them, but I’ve seen reviews and schem. showing wimax going peek speeds of 150 mb/s, that being said the BEST I’ve ever read LTE can go is closer to 90 mb/s
also sprint is releasing an LTE network as well and decomisioning there wimax network in 2015. there’s a ton more, but i dont have time to write it all.
Sprint in Hawai’i is the worst thing ever. WiMax completely sucks and the speeds are ridiculous. Even on the mainland in WA and CA where I’ve seen WiMax speeds there. It’s like a 56k modem on steroids, which in today’s world is stupid slow. Sprint has no future and will fade away in the race by the Big 3.