Sprint is releasing their first 4G handset this summer, but Verizon just announced they are waiting till 2011 (when their LTE network will be more built out). Verizon recently completed LTE trials in Boston and Seattle and expects to roll out 4G speeds to 25-30 markets by year’s end.
In their 4G LTE tests, Verizon reported 40-50 Mbps downstream and 20-25 Mbps up. Those are the fastest mobile speeds we have seen from any U.S. carrier, but real world performance is going to be less than that. Verizon maintains that their LTE network will be able to produce average download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps.
It looks like most carriers’ 4G networks will provide speeds around the same ballpark so coverage area is going to be key.
By the end of 2010, we expect the 4G coverage to look like this:
- AT&T 4G (LTE): LTE trials in late 2010, deployment in 2011
- Sprint 4G (WiMax): 120 million
- T-Mobile “4G” (HSPA+): 206 million (Note: T-Mobile has not confirmed they will call their HSPA+ network 4G)
- Verizon 4G (LTE): 100 million (will double in 2011)
Unfortunately, it looks like Verizon will be moving to tiered data pricing by the time LTE is available. Verizon’s CTO Anthony Melone hinted at this when he told the Wall Street journal, “as much data as you can consume is the big issue that has to change.”
T-Mobile will have the largest “4G” coverage this year, so we expect they will have a HSPA+ handset to take advantage of it. They will offer their first HSPA+ device, the webConnect Rocket USB modem, starting this Sunday.
If you had to pick a new carrier today and were basing your decision only on getting a 4G handset, which one would you choose?