On Sunday AT&T officially launched their 4G LTE network, nearly 1 year after Verizon Wireless launched theirs. AT&T’s network only works in 5 cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio), but they promise that by the end of the year they’ll cover 70 million Americans in 15 different markets. Verizon, as of today, covers over 160 million Americans in 143 markets. By the end of the year they hope to bump that up to 185 million Americans in 175 markets. Ignoring coverage for a moment, and we know that’s a blasphemous thing to say, but most folks don’t travel farther than a 50 mile radius from their homes, how does AT&T’s network stack up to Verizon’s in terms of speed?
Earlier this year the folks at PC Mag performed a speed test in 21 major cities to see who has the fastest network. Verizon’s 4G LTE pulled in an average of 9.46 megabits per second down (with peaks hitting over 35 megabits per second!) and 1.35 megabits per second up. Now remember, their network has been up and running for half a year at that point. AT&T’s 4G LTE network has been up for less than a week, so there aren’t that many people using it. Research firm Signals Research gobbled up nearly 90 GB of data over three days in Houston, Texas using a Sierra Wireless USBConnect Momentum 4G modem. Here’s what they had to say:
“The average downlink Physical Layer throughput was 23.6 Mbps with a peak data rate of 61.1 Mbps. Both results meaningfully exceeded our expectations. The data rate also exceeded 40 Mbps for 8.6 percent of the time and 21 Mbps–the theoretical peak data rate of the operator’s HSPA+ network–for 38.2 percent of the time. Most importantly, the data rate was greater than 5 Mbps for 95 percent of the time.”
The folks at PC Mag also did some quick testing in Housten, Texas, and they said:
“The AT&T network averaged out with about 24 Mbps downloads and peaked at 42.85 Mbps, the fastest cellular connection we’ve ever seen.”
So it’s fast as all hell, right now. The real test will be to see how fast it’ll be in 6 to 12 months.