by Karl Bode 02:30PM Tuesday May 07 2013 Tipped by FFH5
As promised, AT&T has seriously expedited their deployment of LTE service, and with launches this week now says they offer LTE in more than 200 markets (LTE arrived this week in Manhattan, Kansas, Sedalia and Warrensburg, Missouri, and Jacksonville and Palestine, Texas). That's still a far cry from the roughly 500 markets where Verizon currently offers LTE, though AT&T should be able to close that gap rather quickly. AT&T also seems to be winning the speed race, with early studies suggesting that AT&T's LTE implementation offers the best speeds. The company says they intend to cover 250 million potential customers with LTE by the end of this year, with 77 markets slated for summer launch.
Speed comparisons are only good by specific markets. Even the same carrier can have widely divergent speeds between different markets (cities).
One carrier might be faster in New York and another carrier is faster than that carrier in Texas. So for a comparison to be useful for a consumer to make a decision whom to purchase service from, he needs to consider who is fastest in the market(s) he will be using the service from. And that can only be done if the comparison breaks it down by market.
A national average comparison is borderline useless.
Another issue is how much load each network is taking. Since Verizon began its buildout sooner and started selling LTE phones sooner, I expect that there are more LTE devices on its network. I'd be more interested to see how both networks perform when they're fully loaded.
The 77 market list isn't a spot on list either. Union City, and Martin TN, have recently been upgraded to LTE too. I think they are implementing more markets than what they are listing, which is good if you are on AT&T.
I don't really trust those maps as much. It shows At&t as still being 2G only in many places around Texas where they have had at least 3G for at least a year or two now. I-45 between Houston and Dallas as a prime example.
I highly doubt Sprint has more coverage in most markets they cover vs At&t. I tried Sprint LTE a while back and the LTE coverge was almost non existant in the areas around Houston and Dallas, and where they did have LTE or Wimax it was much slower. Sprint EVDO & 1x was also a heck of a lot slower and had less coverage than Verizon EVDO & 1x and At&t HSDPA & EDGE.
AT&T is installing LTE onto our cell tower as I type this
I see the boom trucks out there working on it. They slid over the GSM panels and installed small square LTE panels. Will be interesting to see how long it takes for them to turn it on. "Faux-G" speeds are respectable here, so I'm not foaming at the mouth for it like I was for Verizon. -- AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011 Rethink Billable.
Re: AT&T is installing LTE onto our cell tower as I type this
The small square devices are probably remote radio heads, which contain the RF circuitry. A lot of carriers are switching to these as they upgrade cell sites. Placing them on top of the cell sites can improve coverage, since the traditional setup of carrying the RF signal over coax involves a noticeable amount of attenuation.
The antennas themselves are still long and rectangular, but sizes do vary depending on the frequency the antenna is designed for.
Another advancement is antennas integrate the radio circuitry all into one unit, such as Ericsson's Antenna Integrated Radio. So far, T-Mobile is the only carrier I am aware of that is using them in the US, but I would expect that to change soon.