AT&T has a lot of work to do before its emerging 4G LTE network provides coverage that even approaches Verizon Wireless’s year-old LTE network. Verizon LTE covers more than 200 million people across 190 U.S. cities as of December 15th — though the network suffered a major network outage early Wednesday morning — and the carrier is committed to continuing its rapid expansion in 2012. While AT&T’s 4G LTE service is only live in a handful of cities right now, a recent study conducted by wireless device testing firm Metrico Wireless shows that AT&T’s LTE network is no slouch when it comes to throughput. Read on for more.
Metrico conducted a series of controlled tests on both networks, and the results were somewhat surprising. Using the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket on AT&T’s network and the HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung DROID Charge and Motorola DROID BIONIC on Verizon’s, the firm determined that the mean download speed on Verizon’s network was 10,153Kbps while AT&T’s network was 30% faster at 13,775Kbps.
“Data performance of the AT&T and Verizon networks, as measured by stationary HTTP download and upload speeds, was comparable,” Metrico stated in its report. “All devices under test achieved a mean stationary data download speed exceeding 10 Mbps, and maximum download speeds above 30 Mbps were observed on both carrier’s networks. Although AT&T’s results are higher than those of Verizon, the longer time in market of Verizon’s offering likely means its network is also more loaded with subscribers.”
AT&T’s LTE network launched just recently and traffic at this point certainly pales in comparison to traffic across Verizon’s LTE network, which has been marketed heavily for over a year. As we’ve seen, however, increased traffic on Verizon’s 4G network has yet to result in any significant slowdown. By design, LTE is much better equipped to handle heavy traffic loads, so the continuous impressive speeds exhibited by Verizon’s network shouldn’t be surprising. In this context, AT&T’s 30% edge in download speed could represent a continued advantage; AT&T’s wireless data speeds have been significantly faster that Verizon’s for years, but it was thought that LTE adoption by both carriers would level the playing field.
AT&T’s 4G strategy was hit with a major setback earlier this week when the carrier was forced to abandon its plans to acquire T-Mobile USA. As a result, the company will have to explore new options to prepare itself for the imminent rush of LTE-hungry subscribers that will adopt 4G phones as the AT&T’s portfolio expands. LTE is theoretically better-equipped to accommodate the growing population of wireless data users than earlier technologies, however, and as evidenced by Metrico’s recent tests, AT&T is off to a solid start.