If you’re not excited about Verizon’s 4G network rollout, you should be. The largest U.S. carrier said its test markets using Long-Term Evolution technology were able to have peak download speeds of 40 to 50 Mbps with 20 to 25 upload speeds. Peak speeds and theoretical limits are one thing, but Big Red said its real-world speeds could be 5 to 12 Mbps download, with 2 to 5 Mbps upstream.
“Our LTE rollout plan positions Verizon Wireless to be a global leader in 4G LTE deployment,” said Tony Melone, senior VP and CTO at Verizon Wireless, in a prepared statement. “We are on track to deliver an outstanding wireless data experience to customers in 25 to 30 markets covering roughly 100 million people by year’s end.”
To be fair, these speeds were derived from trial markets in Boston and Seattle, and these were probably under ideal conditions. Still, it points to the not-too-distant future where mobile broadband will be fast enough to remove limitations on services and what we can do on the go. The easy features to look at are VoIP calling, video calling, and HD video anywhere. The exciting part is that once we have this type of speed on our smartphone, application developers will be free to come up with innovative products without having to worry about bandwidth constraints. SlingBox, for example, won’t have to strip out the best part of its app because of network concerns.
Verizon’s not the only one looking toward the next generation of mobile broadband. Sprint’s WiMax network delivers 3 to 6 Mbps right now and it will cover 120 million people by the end of the year. AT&T is waiting until 2011 to deploy LTE and T-Mobile is upgrading its network to HSPA+, which will deliver 21 Mbps to users on the go. This is all cool stuff but I’m going to throw a little cold water in your face by bringing up some potential snags. Even with Verizon’s aggressive deployment schedule, it’s going to take many, many years for a nationwide deployment – we still don’t have 100% 3G coverage. Additionally, Verizon’s 4G devices will have to be dual-mode to have fall-back coverage, so don’t expect interoperable 4G networks any time soon.