4G shootout: Verizon LTE vs. Sprint WiMax

We compare 4G network availability, plans, prices and speeds — especially speeds

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Speed tests

When I tested Sprint's WiMax network in 10 locations in and around New York City, I was mighty impressed. I recorded a peak download speed of 11.2Mbit/sec., with an average of 4.1Mbit/sec. — about seven times faster than Sprint's 3G service in the same areas.

But the results I got in those same locations with Verizon's LTE network blew WiMax away. I recorded an astoundingly fast peak download speed of 26.1Mbit/sec., with an average of 13.3Mbit/sec. — more than three times faster than Sprint WiMax. That's much better than you're likely to get from a public Wi-Fi network at a hotel or Internet café, or even wired networks in many private homes or small offices.

4G download speeds chart

Even more remarkable was the difference in upload speeds: Sprint's WiMax network poked along at an average 41Kbit/sec., while Verizon's LTE network was more than a hundred times faster in my tests, uploading an average of 5.5Mbit/sec. Such speeds are invaluable for those who upload lots of data, such as for creating and editing Web sites or transferring video files.

4G upload speeds chart

Verizon's 4G LTE network also had lower latency in my tests than Sprint's 4G service, which translates into smooth streaming videos. A measure of how long it takes the network to respond to a request, the 4G LTE network had a latency of 70 milliseconds, 37% better than the 112ms latency for Sprint WiMax.

4G latency chart

A word of caution: I can only report the results I got at several specific locations in my area. If you're in a different part of the country (or even at a different location in the same general area), your results might be different. But based on my own tests and those I've seen from other testers around the country, I think it's safe to say that Verizon LTE is blazing fast.

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