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
|MetroPCS||September 2010||AWS (1.7/2.1 GHz)|
|Verizon Wireless||December 5, 2010||700 MHz|
|Operator/Network||Potential Opening / Status|
|AT&T Mobility||Trials 2010/ Launch 2011|
|CenturyLink||In Deployment / Fixed Line 2010|
|Cox Communications||Testing / Potential Launch Q4 2010|
|CommNet Wireless||Trial Q2 2010 / Launch 2011|
|T-Mobile USA||Commitment announced|
|US Cellular||Q4 2013|
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:
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:
|Peak Download||1 Gbit/s|
|Peak Upload||500 Mbit/s|