Feature Article

December 10, 2013

Passing on the Left! Verizon Wireless Ups Speeds, Capacity of 4G LTE

It was only three years ago that Verizon Wireless was launching 4G LTE to its subscribers in 39 U.S. markets.

Now, U.S. subscribers to 4G LTE service are benefiting from upgrades by Verizon and other major carriers. Verizon has reportedly tripled its 4G capacity in several major cities, using 40 MHz of spectrum, and offering what is believed to be the quickest 4G network in the United States, which more importantly has the most capacity, the company said.

Meanwhile, Verizon’s rival, AT&T, is reassigning spectrum for LTE, but it appears its capacity is not as fast as what is being offered by Verizon. Also, T-Mobile USA doubled its LTE capacity in major cities and will soon deploy 40 MHz spectrum. In addition, Sprint has launched a Spark service via 20 MHz of spectrum.

Verizon’s tripled 4G capacity is being found in such cities as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The company also has increases of 150 percent in Los Angeles and San Francisco – where it uses networks which are hosted on 30 MHz of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum.

Top speeds are as high as 80 Mbps, according to GigaOM, but can be lower at times.

Overall, Verizon now serves more than 500 markets covering more than 303 million people in all 50 states, which the company says is 95 percent of the U.S. population. Currently, more than 66 percent of Verizon’s data traffic uses 4G LTE. 

Looking ahead to 2014, Verizon announced in a recent statement how its customers will be able to use Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which provides HD Voice and video chat. 4G LTE roaming will be seen in some foreign nations, too.

Back to the current upgrade, Verizon says it needed to boost speeds because of the increasing number of subscribers signing up for 4G service, especially in populated U.S. cities.

Verizon Wireless Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer predicts data demand will increase six or seven times over the next few years; thus, the need for the upgraded capacity in order to compete with AT&T and other firms. Palmer also announced that by the end of this month, Verizon will have some 5,000 AWS sites online. Another 5,000 sites are being worked on and will likely be online soon. The results for consumers in big US cities are that if they have AWS-compatible telephones, they will be able to get quicker speeds.

Some of phones which can use the new Verizon network are the iPhone 5s and 5c, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Motorola Droid Maxx, Mini and Ultra, and several LTE modems, with the Galaxy Note 3 and other Android operating system devices soon to follow, GigaOM reported. Palmer said some 20 percent of Verizon smartphones should be able to use the new network by the end of this month.

Verizon may not market its 80 Mbps potential just yet, because speeds could vary based on demand for a connection and location of the caller.

“You could see 80 Mbps today and 20 Mbps tomorrow and then 10 Mbps the next day,” Palmer said in a statement to GigaOM.

Smartphone users can be sure that AT&T will not just sit still as Verizon makes the capacity and speed upgrades. AT&T “doesn’t have the contiguous airwaves in most markets to launch a 40 MHz monster, but it is scouring its old 2G and 3G networks for spectrum to use for LTE. We’re already seeing new LTE networks in the PCS airwaves in NYC, but AT&T is working in other bands as well,” GigaOM said. Smaller companies are sure to follow in the competition.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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