Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

Summary: The first year for Verizon's LTE network was a bit of a buzzkill for me, but year two should be more promising.

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Verizon Wireless' Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network hit its first birthday and the carrier is singing Happy Birthday, touting new devices such as two Droid Xyboard tablets and bringing new cities online.

I'm a bit mixed on Verizon LTE's first birthday. LTE is great---when it works and when it doesn't kill your battery. But the first year for Verizon's LTE network was a bit of a buzzkill for me. In fact, going into September I would have rated LTE as my biggest disappointment of 2011.

Why? Part of my issue with Verizon's LTE network was expectations. I expected seamless handoffs between 3G and 4G. I expected more coverage. And I incorrectly had it in my head that I would enjoy most of the train ride into New York City to be covered with LTE.

The reality is that my LTE Mi-Fi struggles in a moving train. LTE is reliable on maybe one fifth of the ride into New York and the downshift to 3G often requires a disconnect-reconnect sequence. More often than not I tether my smartphone and rely on 3G. Short bursts of LTE utopia are less productive than being seamlessly connected for an hour.

But here's the good news: Verizon is filling out its LTE coverage. On the train, I'm noticing more green lights on the Mi-Fi that indicate 4G coverage. Perhaps expecting a 4G network that can handle the Northeast Corridor was a bit much to ask at first, but that's my ROI case for the service.

Overall, I'm glad the LTE network got its first year over with. Year two should be more promising. There will be more devices, better battery life and more coverage.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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8 comments
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  • RE: Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

    You hit the nail on the head with your title: you're an early adopter. Pretty much everything is clunky and has problems when it's first released. Even the iPhone was a hunk of junk in its first incarnation. You can go cutting edge or reliable, but very rarely both.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

      @Aerowind My formula is adopt (if at all) at least a year after the latest and greatest comes out.
      billk11
    • RE: Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

      @Aerowind I'm an early adopter, and I love it! I don't travel large distances on a regular basis, however. I'm actually impressed that in my small corner of the nation, I have pretty darn good LTE coverage with my regular places, and I have noticed there is a lot of LTE coverage when traveling to a ski resort, which is down right shocking.

      I don't regularly see the speeds I have seen reported by some (one guy claimed online speeds of up to 40Mb), but I'd be in hell if you sent me back to 3G.

      Just like when smartphones first came out, there was a sacrifice in battery, and the name of the game once again is "extended batteries."
      thoiness
  • Never an early adopter be...

    You pay more for the privilege of being a Beta tester. Even a Verizon tech confessed to me she wasn't buying a 4G phone for at least another year, when the technology is more perfected and coverage improved.
    How's that $500 Blu-ray player you bought when it first came out? :D
    NotMSUser
  • RE: Verizon's LTE network hits its first birthday: Disappointment of an early adopter

    I purchased an LTE modem and pay for the service capped at 5GB to expand my access. Well, while CLEAR had some availability voids, it was unlimmited throughput and certainly faster.
    Frankly, I can't say I've ever had an LTE connection.
    EPIKService
    • Did you return the device?

      @EPIKService Did you check to see if LTE was available in your area before purchasing? Likewise, I upgraded my modem and got double the data cap so now I am up to 10GB for the same price.
      otaddy
  • And you are in the best coverage area.

    It is why 4G/LTE is still 100% marketing buzz on devices and of little practical value to 95% of people.

    LTE will start to get wings in the second half of 2012 or the first half or 2013.
    Bruizer
    • LTE has worked surprisingly well for me

      @Bruizer Those MIFI devices have lots of software issues. Likewise the early firmware for the USB modems had problems moving from 4G to 3G.

      But now, my devices work really well. Likewise, I have coverage nearly everywhere I go in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
      otaddy