Print 29 comment(s) - last by Stories84.. on Sep 27 at 10:34 AM

Tests show AT&T's Momentum 4G LTE modem consistently beating Verizon's LTE offerings in data speeds, in Texas at least.

Of course, AT&T has "home court" advantage in the "Lone Star State".  (Source: Federal Highway Administration)

Verizon's LTE coverage (bottom, yellow dots) is much broader geographically than AT&T's 4G coverage (orange dots, top), which is only available in five cities.  (Source: AT&T, Verizon)
However, there's a major catch when it comes to AT&T's win

PCWorld took AT&T Inc.'s (T) new LTE network out for a spin.  They decided to take the company's LTE network for a spin in Houston, Texas to test it speeds.  Comparing the AT&T 4G to Verizon Communications Inc.'s (VZ) own 4G offerings, they found that AT&T handily won.

AT&T's 3G network already has showed itself to be the nation's fastest data network, being nearly three times faster than Verizon in some tests.

The AT&T 4G network is similarly impressive.  It hit peak download speed of 42.85 Mbps (on the Momentum 4G modem) and an average download speed of 24.65 Mbps, while the Verizon network only mustered a peak of 23.81 Mbps (with the UML290 modem) and an average of 16.70 Mbps.  Uploads showed an even broader gap, with 11.44 Mbps for the AT&T modem versus 4.01 Mbps for the Verizon modem.

In short, AT&T was about 50 percent faster in downloads, and almost three times as fast in uploads.

But there's a catch and it's a rather big one -- AT&T's LTE coverage is reportedly the strongest in Texas, as it is home to Southwestern Bell (headquartered in Dallas), the core company that grew into AT&T via two decades of acquisitions and mergers.   So consider these results the best case scenario of sorts.

Following the trend from Texas, coverage in Atlanta, Georgia, home of BellSouth -- another Baby Bell -- is reportedly quite strong.  Other headquarters of former Baby Bells turned AT&T acquisitions aren't faring quite so well.  Chicago's coverage is reportedly significantly slower than Texas's.  AT&T blames this on lack of available spectrum.  It says that in Chicago it's using paired 5 MHz blocks of spectrum, versus Verizon, which is using paired 10 MHz blocks of spectrum.

Another general issue with AT&T's network is general lack of coverage.  AT&T's 4G covers 70 million people, while Verizon's covers 160 million -- approximately half of the nation.  Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) currently covers 120 million Americans with 4G, but its WiMax network is reportedly much slower than Verizon's LTE.  T-Mobile covers 200 million Americans with its HSPA+ 4.2 network which is reportedly slightly speedier than Sprint, but still slower than LTE.

AT&T cites these problems as justifications for its proposed merger with Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA, which is currently being blocked by a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit.

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Wait, what?
By bug77 on 9/20/2011 10:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
It averaged a peak download speed

How come?

RE: Wait, what?
By icemansims on 9/20/2011 10:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
No, that makes sense.

Average of multiple tests using the peak as the data point from each run.

It's not really good statistics, but it'll work for phone company math.

RE: Wait, what?
By kleinma on 9/20/2011 10:37:21 AM , Rating: 2
So the moral of the story is AT&T is faster in places where AT&T is faster, and Verizon is faster in places where Verizon is faster.... Good stuff to know...

RE: Wait, what?
By Shadowself on 9/20/2011 11:38:09 AM , Rating: 3
Of course, except when it's not.

RE: Wait, what?
By ertomas on 9/20/2011 12:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
Otherwise it would not be like that...

RE: Wait, what?
By room200 on 9/20/2011 1:36:55 PM , Rating: 2
Except when it is.

RE: Wait, what?
By lolmuly on 9/20/2011 2:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
Are you sure?

RE: Wait, what?
By nafhan on 9/20/2011 5:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say the moral of the story is that Verizon is faster in places where about 90 million people can't get ATT's 4G service. Whether or not you can get LTE is probably more important than minor speed differences...

RE: Wait, what?
By Targon on 9/21/2011 7:01:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's not a minor speed difference really. In places where Verizon offers 3G service, AT&T beats Verizon for the most part, in some cases significantly. The only places where Verizon is faster is in 4G areas, or in the number of places where AT&T has not added more fiber, which IS a good percentage of the network.

Now, we all know the maps are garbage when it comes to areas that they CLAIM have service but you get 0-1 bar, meaning you really get no service there, but the AT&T map DOES show that there are many areas without Verizon service that AT&T does provide service.

RE: Wait, what?
By retrospooty on 9/20/2011 6:32:38 PM , Rating: 2
"but it'll work for phone company math. "

LOL - that quote would fot alot of places in this bisuness. =)

RE: Wait, what?
By aurareturn on 9/20/2011 3:09:07 PM , Rating: 3
Just a thought: maybe Verizon is slower because the network has been out for much longer and has more users per area?

AT&T's LTE just started and probably has no users around.

VZW had similar speeds at launch
By Labotomizer on 9/20/2011 10:48:57 AM , Rating: 3
When they were simply demo'ing 4G aircards. Now that VZW has had products out for quite some time there are a fair number of phones and aircards out there. The 4G cards are fairly common around Houston at this point. So a loaded VZW network is slower than an empty ATT network. Considing ATT always seems to wait until they have problems before increasing coverage and bandwidth, as opposed to Verizon who proactively expands network capacity before issues arise, I think it woudl be wise to go with VZW in this case. Unless you want fast speeds now only to regret it half way through your two year contract.

RE: VZW had similar speeds at launch
By RjBass on 9/20/2011 10:59:08 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T's HSPA+ network has been up in Kansas City for some time now. I normally get download speeds around 15mbps with peaks at 20mbps and during heavy use hours it hovers around 10mbps. I know it's not 4g, and 4g would be nicer to have, but I really can't complain. It's not sucking.

RE: VZW had similar speeds at launch
By Shig on 9/20/2011 11:25:41 AM , Rating: 2
I'd look into Google's 1Gbit fiber if I lived in Kansas City :)

RE: VZW had similar speeds at launch
By RU482 on 9/20/2011 12:24:01 PM , Rating: 4
I'd look into moving if I lived in Kansas City

RE: VZW had similar speeds at launch
By RjBass on 9/20/2011 2:29:15 PM , Rating: 2
I would look into it as well if it were available. Just because it has been announced doesn't mean the infrastructure pops up over night.

By Labotomizer on 9/20/2011 2:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
Latency is the biggest difference between HSPA+ and LTE. Well, LTE is technically capable of faster speeds as well. The speeds of 15-20mbps on HSPA+ is the peak speed you'll ever see with that technology. LTE is capable of much faster. But I've seen 10-15ms latency over LTE, compared to 100ms on a good day with HSPA+. WiMAX will get down to the 70-80ms range.

Many don't realize just how important latency is when it comes to even browsing speed. When you browse on an LTE connection it is identical to being on a home cable connection. The only thing that might be better is direct fiber, but not a whole lot of place have that.

Verizon in Paris, TX
By AmishElvis on 9/20/2011 11:59:37 AM , Rating: 1
I just spent 8 days in Paris, TX. My Verizon/Samsung Droid Charge was basically useless as an internet device. Every couple of days it would randomly manage to connect to the internet long enough to pull down a couple of e-mails, but that's it. Voice coverage was fine. The really annoying thing is that I pay extra to use the phone as a mobile hotspot. I was planning to use the phone to connect to the internet and get some work done on my laptop. What a waste of money.

After a couple of days I re-subscribed to my iPad's AT&T $25 per month 3G data plan. The iPad was able to connect no matter where it was. Even on highway 82 between Paris and Dallas (in the absolute middle of nowhere) it was able to download map data and show me where I was.

Even where I live in Washington, DC I am often unable to connect to the internet using my Samsung Charge phone with Verizon. I very rarely had that problem with my AT&T iPhone. It was slow sometimes, but it almost always worked.

RE: Verizon in Paris, TX
By JazzMang on 9/20/2011 12:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
Both issues kind of sound like issues relating to your phone and not the network its attached to...

RE: Verizon in Paris, TX
By mcnabney on 9/20/2011 2:04:42 PM , Rating: 5
That's funny because I have family in DC and Paris, TX and they all have nothing but good things to say about their Verizon service. Maybe you should get back to work. AT&T doesn't pay you to surf the net.

RE: Verizon in Paris, TX
By Labotomizer on 9/20/2011 2:31:17 PM , Rating: 2
You likely were connected to EDGE. Does the Droid Charge not support 2G on Verizon? If so that would explain a lot, although in Paris, TX itself I've had no issues with Verizon. This was two years ago, but I was doing a lot of traveling all over the state of TX and Verizon was rock solid.

Hurricane Ike killed my desire to ever give AT&T another shot. My phone was worthless in Galveston County for over a month after the hurricane, and even after that it wasn't much better. Dropped calls, numerous attempts to get a call through in the first place, horrible voice quality, and abysmal data service. Considering at the time Ike hit I was spending a lot of time supporting network infrastructure for police, EMS, fire and schools it was a major issue. Not just an inconvenience.

RE: Verizon in Paris, TX
By Stories84 on 9/27/2011 10:34:30 AM , Rating: 2
Umm... what? I live in DC and have unbelievable speeds and connection strength on my Droid Bionic (LTE or EVDO). In fact, I routinely get 15mbps+ down on my phone and always have very good strength. Hell, I even get EVDO (3G) data speeds underground on the subway in most locations! I have not missed serviced at all on my phone (or even with my original Droid 1 which was EVDO-only).

Something is definitely wrong with your phone (or the radio on the phone).

Uhh.. the actual major caveat
By dagamer34 on 9/20/2011 10:37:56 AM , Rating: 5
There's no one on the network.

RE: Uhh.. the actual major caveat
By DJ Brandon on 9/20/2011 11:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
lol glad someone said that!

RE: Uhh.. the actual major caveat
By idiot77 on 9/20/2011 6:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
That was my first thought, and yet not mentioned until here.

Incorrect numbers
By adiposity on 9/20/2011 12:09:06 PM , Rating: 4
Another general issue with AT&T's network is general lack of coverage. AT&T's 4G covers 70 million people, while Verizon's covers 160 million -- approximately half of the nation.

If you read the following article, you can see that AT&T is launched in 5 markets, with 15 to be added by the end of the year. Only then will it cover "70 million" Americans (and that is just a goal, not a guarantee). Right now, I'm guessing it's a lot less than that, despite the extra large orange dots from their map.

The wireless carrier intends to launch new networks based on LTE, or long-term evolution, in an additional 15 markets by the end of the year, at which time the new technology is expected to be available to 70 million Americans. However, Verizon Wireless already has a significant lead over AT&T when it comes to LTE network deployments. AT&T's rival introduced its first LTE network last December and already covers an area encompassing more than 160 million Americans. What's more, Verizon expects to have 185 million Americans within the carrier's LTE coverage zones by the end of this year.

By pvanhorn on 9/20/2011 2:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
This is a rather pathetic analysis. The simple fact is that one tower can support a fixed bandwidth spread across all the devices connected to it. How can you honestly report then that AT&T's 4G speed is 50% faster? How many LTE phones does AT&T sell? The fact that no one is using it does not mean the technology is faster. It means nobody is using it.

AT&T is a terribly foolish company. Their planning for the era of 4G consisted nearly entirely of doing nothing at all except changing the name of their 3G network. LTE is the only thing remotely close to 4G in use today in the US, and AT&T is about a half decade too late to jump on that bandwagon.

For the time being, and the foreseeable future, AT&T's "4G" network is a joke. They dont have LTE in enough places to actually sell LTE phones, so the massive investment required to expand LTE coverage will be an unmitigated disaster. Unless, of course, they actually succeed in taking over tmobile.

Verizon LTE
By johndiii on 9/20/2011 3:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
I was in Phoenix last week and averaged about 25Mb down tethering through my Droid Bionic. In Mountain View, CA this week, averaging about 7. Best speed I've gotten so far was 32 at Detroit Metro Airport. Again, this isn't using a "card" this is using the wifi tether feature of my Droid Bionic. I'm pretty happy with those numbers all the way around after upgrading from Verizon's 3G network.

By Reclaimer77 on 9/20/11, Rating: 0
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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