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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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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.


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