The LTE trials being run by Verizon Wireless are apparently going pretty well. The company says it is still on schedule to make LTE available to 100 million Americans by the end 2010, and the real-world broadband speeds that engineers are seeing on the nascent 4G network are way beyond what customers get on the current 3G networks (including Verizon's).
Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone said, "We are on track to deliver an outstanding wireless data experience to customers in 25 to 30 markets covering roughly 100 million people by year's end. As device makers, manufacturers and others around the world begin to introduce newer and faster products to take advantage of these incredible new speeds, Verizon Wireless will be positioned to offer our customers new and exciting [services]."
Verizon has been testing LTE in Boston and Seattle since 2009. Some of the applications they're been testing on the new 4G network include:
- Standard Web browsing
- Video streaming
- VoIP calls
- File downloads and uploads
The engineers doing the testing report that they have experienced average download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps (with peak speeds of up to 50 Mbps down and 25 Mbps up). You can compare that to average 3G speeds of about 1.5 Mbps and 500 Kbps.
In fact, if Verizon pulls off LTE/4G at the speeds that it's reporting, it would exceed the average U.S. broadband speed (mostly to homes), which is 3.9 Mbps down.
Of course, the 4G rival of LTE is WiMAX, which has already been rolled out to multiple U.S. markets. I was at the U.S. launch of WiMAX in Baltimore in October 2008. In my speed tests throughout Baltimore, I got an average of about 5 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up.
Verizon reports that it is in the process of installing LTE equipment at existing cell sites throughout the U.S. as part of this massive upgrade to its current data network. Beyond Seattle and Boston, the company has not said which other cities will be the first to get LTE.