Verizon Wireless today disclosed that wireless data speeds in LTE (Long Term Evolution) field trials have been faster than expected, prompting a spokesman to boast that the company will beat AT&T Inc. into the LTE business by 12 to 18 months.
Verizon's LTE field trials in Boston and Seattle have shown average downlink rates of 5Mbit/sec. to 12Mbit/sec. and average uplink speeds of 2Mbit/sec. to 5Mbit/sec., which would give mobile customers browsing speeds comparable to what users would expect from a typical wired home Internet connection, the company said.
In January, Verizon had said it expected that LTE, also known as 4G, would offer user speeds that were 10 times faster than those of existing 3G networks, and up to 6Mbit/sec. on the downlink.
The LTE field trial speeds are "faster than we've ever suggested. Our network team is shocked," said Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon spokesman, in a telephone interview.
Verizon launched field trials in Boston and Seattle in August.
The company said today that it is on track to deliver LTE capabilities to 25 to 30 markets and roughly 100 million people by year's end. Verizon has not named any other trial markets.
The tests are valuable to LTE application developers and device makers, said Nelson, and they should be valuable to end users as well. "Early adopters are looking at our leadership here -- developers but also end users and enterprises that understand the value of this speed," he said.
In January, Verizon demonstrated live videoconferencing over LTE using portable units from Creative Labs, and it streamed a movie in 1080p over LTE at 4Mbit/sec. to a small handheld tablet from Motorola running an Nvidia second-generation Tegra processor. Nelson said both applications are still in the testing and development stage.
LTE applications for business use are also under development at LM Ericsson Telephone Co.
Enterprises will embrace LTE because it will enable them to push multiple applications at once wirelessly, said Nelson, noting that they will also appreciate its strong performance with video and its ability to transmit wireless data traffic through buildings that block 3G signals.
"LTE at these speeds doesn't just capture the imagination; it also captures wallets," Nelson said.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .