Verizon's LTE launch

Verizon's LTE launch
During a dedicated news conference yesterday, Verizon's CTO Tony Melone announced that Sunday, December 5th, is the day when the carrier will launch its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service in 38 markets and 60 airports, covering 110 million people, well on schedule. Mr Melone dedicated a lot of time to the fact that the download speeds on the LTE network will be between 5Mbps and 12Mbps, while the uploads we'll see are between 2Mbps and 5Mbps.

He compared the speeds not to the competing "4G" networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, but rather to Verizon's existing 3G service - LTE is more than ten times faster, and has half the latency of 3G. Latency is very important, as it makes browsing and other activities way more responsive and zippy. Had Tony Melone compared Verizon's LTE speed and coverage to the existing "4G" networks in the US, it would be clear that it is actually a run-of-the-mill upgrade to the network.

In reality, the Sprint/Clearwire WiMAX network might be covering a bit more people than Verizon by the end of this year, and its peak speeds are only slightly slower than LTE's on paper. T-Mobile, on the other hand, will have rolled its HSPA+ coverage to more than 200 million people by year-end, almost twice Verizon's blanket, and the theoretical speeds of that network are faster than the LTE service. Real life speeds with HSPA+ can vary widely, though, and that's what Verizon usually points out when comparing its LTE with the others.

We'd rarely see the peak speeds, once the network is saturated with users, so in reality the difference in averages will probably not be very significant. Clearwire says its average speed is in the 3-6Mbps range, and HSPA+ gets a slightly higher claimed average range of 5-8Mbps. In the end, it will all boil down to price, coverage and who comes up with the snazziest "4G" gear and marketing campaigns.

In that train of thought, Verizon's LTE pricing scheme is pretty conservative. It simply offers two plans - 5GB and 10GB, at $50 and $80 per month, respectively. The overage charge is the rather unpleasant $10 per GB, and users will be notified when they hit 50%, 75% and 90% of their alloted data package. The 5GB LTE plan, though, is cheaper than the current 5GB 3G plan, which is $60. Verizon is clearly trying to get users move on to the more efficient LTE network, for which they will have to buy the LG VL600 "4G" dongle that is available right now for $99.99 on a two-year contract. Another, swiveling Pantech UML290 USB key, will be on its way shortly.

In comparison, Clearwire's WiMAX service, which Sprint is reselling as its "4G" network, costs $45 for unlimited usage, and the company also has prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans available. Sprint's high-speed data service is bundled with its 3G coverage, and costs $60 for unlimited data. There is 5GB 3G allotment should you go out of WiMAX coverage area. Sprint also has two very successful smartphones that take advantage of it, the HTC EVO 4G and the Samsung Epic 4G, and a third should be on its way.

T-Mobile charges $39.99 for its 5GB data plan monthly. It will be upgrading the HSPA+ network to reach 42Mbps theoretical peak in 2011, from the current 21, which can only be taken advantage of with one USB modem device for now. Otherwise it also has a good selection of smartphones to use the speedy data, with the T-Mobile G2 and T-Mobile myTouch 4G handsets. Verizon has zilch, and is likely to stay this way until the Spring at the earliest. Here is a nice breakdown of the speeds, people covered, and prices, in a table format:

To recap - Verizon advertises its new LTE network as the "fastest 4G network in America". We know that Big Red has a pretty stable award-winning network already, and have no reason to believe otherwise about its LTE service. Therefore its averages could indeed be faster than the rest of the "4G" offerings, at least in the beginning, especially when you have just two dongles that can take advantage of those speeds.

Verizon's Tony Melone said at the conference yesterday that the goal is to ensure a stable network, and they will focus on covering all the current 3G areas with LTE, which will take until 2013, instead of moving on to a faster technology. It might turn out quite the smart approach, considering all the trouble AT&T got itself into as the exclusive carrier for a data-hogging device, such as the iPhone, without having the capacity to handle it. And, frankly, those 12Mbps peak speeds are already what home broadband can offer, so it's unlikely you will need much more in reality.

Is it worth then buying Verizon's LTE dongle, and locking yourself in a two-year contract right now? If you have ample coverage from other "4G" services where you live or travel, it might be wiser to wait and see until at least the Spring, when Verizon should have announced its LTE smartphones, AT&T will have cleared up its HSPA+ upgrade and pricing details, and, who knows, there might even be a nice little price war between the competing "4G" services, which we can all benefit from.

Have a look at an unboxing video of LG's VL600 LTE modem for Verizon below, and the peak speeds achieved with it in Arizona above. It's nice to have an untouched network, isn't it?

source: Verizon, PCMag & SlashGear



17. therygy

Posts: 94; Member since: May 24, 2010

IM STILL WAITING FOR 3G!!!!! gosh verizon seriouslt everyone i know hates verizon!!! AT&T is better.

13. bigguy unregistered

oh ya and its unlimited and cheaper than other carriers

14. smpdx

Posts: 127; Member since: Nov 02, 2010


12. bigguy unregistered

i have a sprint 4g phone the epic and have used it on 4g and the speed is amazing... faster than you can imagine

9. russian unregistered

you have to be really stupid to buy that shit NOW and lock yourself with 2 year contract with dummies 5 or 10gb traffic. WHO really need that shit? if you can just go ahead and buy MiFi at VirginMobile on Sprint Network for $40/Mo. UNLIMITED without any contract. I personally think that internet must be unlimited, otherwise you always think about oh, should I turn off my xm-radio because of the traffic, or shouldn't I watch that movie on the netflix. Geez, hate verizon marketing, will never switch to any traffic lock shit!!!!

10. uofmrules

Posts: 48; Member since: Oct 11, 2010

lol yes because Virginmobile is soooooo awesome. You may not have to worry about turning the Xm radio off, but you do have to worry about if it will work or keep buffering. lol I love people who think cheap means better and hate on companies that actually work.

7. slsman unregistered

as a salesman who sells VZW, Sprint, ATT, & Tmbl it drives me nuts at times with all the advertising giving customers wrong information. The 4g debacle all started when att announced the iphone4 and all the att customers thought they would be getting 4g coverage when att is just now getting things straight with their 3g. Now with Tmbl's campaign stating they are a "4g" network makes things even worse. Gotta theoretical thinking right. Right now the only carrier that has real 4G handsets is Sprint, but with the Clearwire issue who knows how long it will take for that network to grow substantially enought to cover at least 1/2 of Sprints customers. Vzw took the smart approach is making sure the network is going to work correctly then release it to the masses. I'm actually quite excited to see what 4G handsets they are going to come out with here in february.

4. Deathkiller unregistered

Verizon's 3G data plan IS $50 for 5GB, same as their new LTE plan. Get your facts straight, PhoneArena.

5. grags unregistered

actually, not with data cards. only with tablets, netbooks and wifi hotspots. Get your facts straight, Deathkiller. Fag

6. Foos unregistered

Yeah Deathkiller, don't be telling PhoneArena "get your facts straight" when they are actually right and you are the idiot.... Classy

3. Russki

Posts: 45; Member since: Dec 26, 2009

Haha could this article be anymore against Verizon? This is starting to sound like Fox News with Verizon playing the role of Democrats. Look phonearena, T-Mobile's "theoretical HSPA+ peaks" are 50Mbps... so what? LTE's PROVEN (not theoretical) Peaks are 100Mbps and its being adopted wolrdwide unlike HSPA+. This system already exsits and is ONLINE in Europe. It will be Verizon's speeds within the next 2-3 years. Im not even tallking about Clearwire. Sprint and At&t got screwed at the LTE spectrum auction.. both have expressed a desire to go LTE. Is it worth a 2 year contract? Maybe not. But that doesnt mean you gotta go bashing Big Red.

2. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

i can't wait to use verizon's 4G on a 4G phone. my next phone will eithe rbe the LG tegra 2 or the HTC incredible HD.

1. testman22

Posts: 339; Member since: Nov 03, 2009

you can't just look at speed when judging and comparing the new "4G" networks. verizon invested more than any of the other companies with the best bandwidth spectrucm across the entire country. This will lead to higher coverage areas per tower and better service deeper inside buildings. Plus you get uniformity- meaning no matter what area youre in (as long as you have coverage obviously) you'll be getting the same experience. Whereas the other carriers will have varying bandwidths across different states- meaning you'll have inconsistent service and speeds

11. smpdx

Posts: 127; Member since: Nov 02, 2010

More money has been invested in Wimax. Sprint has more spectrum for future build out and upgrade of Wimax. Wimax was first to market and has a huge lead on other technology. The World has begun accepting WiMax because it has more long term potential and is seen as more affordable. Clear/Sprint have focused on inner-city development and making sure tier 1 population areas are the best covered. In the end, like you said, it comes down to spectrum. One thing you seem to forget is that Sprint has almost 4 times the spectrum of all the other carriers combined. And most importantly, Sprint has Dan Hesse. Point and case!

15. bob unregistered

Wimax is not backwards compatible

16. WD40

Posts: 18; Member since: Oct 21, 2009

"The world has begun accepting WiMax" Geeze, work for Sprint do ya? Maybe you should get your information from more credible sources than what your store manager tells you. Did you know that China Mobile is the largest cell phone company in the world? They are using LTE. Did you know that Vodaphone is the second largest cell phone provider in the world. They are using LTE. Each of these cell phone providers have more customers than all cell phone companies combined the USA. Oh, and Sprint doesn't have more spectrum for future build out. Hate to burst your bubble. Actually, no I am glad to burst your bubble.

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