AT&T, Verizon LTE nets offer similar data download, Web browsing speeds

Study finds biggest differences are in video and battery performance, mostly due to device

Data downloads and Web browsing on new LTE-ready smartphones were slightly faster on AT&T's new 4G LTE network than on the far more widely spread 4G LTE network of rival Verizon, according to a study released Tuesday by by Metrico Wireless.

Still, the study found that average LTE download speeds topped 10 Mbps on each network, while the speed of data downloads and Web browsing performance were five times faster on 4G LTE than on the 3G networks of the respective carriers, Metrico said.

Metrico conducted more than 24,000 tests in three cities using two new LTE smartphones on AT&T's network and three LTE smartphones on Verizon's, said Amit Malhotra, Metrico vice president of marketing, in an email.

The AT&T LTE network currently serves 15 cities, while Verizon's LTE network is now in 179 U.S. cities.

Video and battery performance varied the most. Metrico found that the individual smartphone, rather than the carrier, was most responsible for those differences.

Metrico, which measures device performance for wireless carriers, said that the study found that both carriers were "comparable" on data download speeds -- the average performance on all five tested devices exceeded 10 Mbps.

The HTC Vivid on AT&T's LTE network had the top download speed --39.5 Mbps -- while the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket on AT&T got the highest average download speed -- 14Mbps -- over repeated tests.

The fastest single download on the Verizon LTE was 33.5 Mbps on the HTC ThunderBolt, while the fastest average download speed was 11.3 Mbps on the Motorola Droid Bionic. Samsung Droid Charge had an average download speed of 10.8 Mbps over Verizon's LTE, Metrico said.

Web page load times were also "comparable" for all five smartphones tested across the two networks, according to the stody.

On the AT&T network, Web page downloads using an HTC Vivid device took an average of 1.10 seconds while the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket took an average of 0.92 seconds to load a standard Web page. Meanwhile, Metrico said the HTC ThunderBolt took 1.42 seconds to load a Web page, the Samsung Droid Charge took 1.58 seconds and the Motorola Droid Bionic took 1.14 seconds on the Verizon LTE network.

While the LTE network was a factor in data download and Web browsing speeds, the significant differences in video performance could be traced mostly to the device, Metrico said.

The Samsung Droid Charge on Verizon showed the highest frame delivery rate, while the Motorola Droid Bionic on the same network showed the lowest frame delivery rate of the five models tested, Metrico noted. "Onboard device attributes--including video processor and rendering software--play a key role in the [smartphone] subscriber's video experience," Metrico said in the report.

Carrier Chart
Metrico's look at page load times on LTE networks.
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