Verizon Wireless said in March that its 4G LTE network was showing higher speeds than expected in real-world tests near Boston. On Tuesday, it did what a lot of people do these days to prove it: posted a YouTube video.
The Long-Term Evolution fourth-generation mobile network, scheduled for commercial availability in 25 to 30 markets later this year, proved to deliver between 5M bps (bits per second) and 12M bps downstream, and between 2M bps and 5M bps upstream, Verizon said earlier this year after conducting tests in Boston and Seattle.
The video posted Tuesday shows what appears to be a real speed test on a laptop in a pizza restaurant in Newton Center, Massachusetts, near Boston University. The result displayed is 8.55M bps downstream and 2.80M bps upstream, going over the Internet to Los Angeles. Next to that laptop is another one using 3G, which shows speeds of 2.21M bps downstream and 866K bps upstream.
Those speeds are more typical of wired broadband than wireless, as some users in the video, apparently customers at the pizzeria, point out as they rave about the service. LTE is designed as a fully mobile technology, though at first it will be limited to laptops and netbooks, with the first LTE handsets expected next year.
LTE will also be the next-generation mobile network for AT&T, beginning next year, and for many other carriers around the world. Much of the battle over 4G, between LTE and Clearwire's WiMax network, revolves around speed. Clearwire says its network offers an average of 3M bps to 6M bps downstream, with bursts of 10M bps or more, and up to 1M bps upstream. Informal tests on Clearwire's commercial network in Las Vegas during the CTIA Wireless trade show in March generally proved those estimates, at least in one area of the city.
But availability is another factor, and here Clearwire has a significant head start on Verizon. Between that company itself and partners Sprint Nextel, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, WiMax is already available in 32 markets around the U.S., reaching 41 million potential customers, according to the carrier. WiMax will be available in 19 more markets before the end of summer, Clearwire said last week.
Nevertheless, Clearwire has hinted it may eventually adopt LTE itself. The two systems are based on the same basic technology.