Never a Dull Moment for Verizon, AT&T

Carl Weinschenk
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The transition to the world of commercialized Long-Term Evolution (LTE) - 4G - essentially is accelerating. More areas are getting the higher-speed network on an almost daily basis.


And quite a fast network it is. Late last week, two sites featured assessments of 4G performance. PCMag.com said that Verizon's network delivered data downstream at 18.6 Mbps and upstream at 5.7 Mbps. GigaOM reported that AT&T's network offered download speeds of 28.87 Megabits per second and uploads of 10.4 Mbps.
The bottom line: Both networks are fast.

More is happening than measures of speed for Verizon Wireless. Last week, the carrier said that it had added service in nine areas and expanded coverage in four major cities (Chicago, Denver, New Orleans and Philadelphia). LTE now covers 55 metropolitan areas. All the cities the carrier covers are listed in the press release.

The company also said that it would use Wi-Fi as a way to offload traffic from its LTE and 3G networks. The plan, mentioned by CTO Tony Melone at a TIA 2011 conference keynote, is described well in a Rethink Wireless post. The story says that Verizon is ahead of AT&T in terms of LTE rollouts, but that AT&T leads in use of Wi-Fi. The story suggests that details were sketchy.


AT&T also is working hard on LTE. One of the big moves of the past few months - though it may be obscured a bit by the Skype/Microsoft deal - is the merger of T-Mobile and AT&T. Earlier this month, executives of the two companies ventured to Capitol Hill to push the deal. The rationale, according to this Fierce Broadband Wireless story, is that it makes LTE available to more people. Lynnette Luna sums it up nicely in her lead paragraph:

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reiterated one of the company's key justifications for the acquisition: That it would allow AT&T to deliver LTE service to 97 percent of Americans, covering an additional 55 million more Americans than AT&T's current LTE plans. That message, of course, was echoed by T-Mobile USA CEO Phillipp Humm.

If so, then it could enable the newly combined company to catch up to Verizon. Two prime areas - both in terms of image and real revenues - are New York City and Los Angeles. IntoMobile said earlier this month that it has "received information from a trusted source" that AT&T will launch in the Big Apple on June 30 and the City of the Angels on July 24.

There is lots of noise, always, about 4G and its LTE and WiMax - and now HSPA+ - variants. The difference between now and past times is that the words are being matched by real carrier action and competition.



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