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

The first year for Verizon's LTE network was a bit of a buzzkill for me, but year two should be more promising.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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.

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