4G shootout: Verizon LTE vs. Sprint WiMax

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

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Plans and pricing

The final piece of the 4G puzzle is cost. Sprint offers the Sierra Wireless AirCard 250U modem for free with a two-year contract, and the company has two monthly 4G mobile broadband plans:

  • The $50/mo. 4G Mobile Broadband Connection Plan offers unlimited data use, but only on Sprint's WiMax network.
  • The $60 4G/3G Mobile Broadband Connection Plan offers unlimited 4G network use plus 5GB of data per month on Sprint's 3G network, which is more practical for anyone who travels widely.

There's also an option to pay $10 for 24 hours of unlimited 4G service, a boon for infrequent travelers.

Verizon's LG VL600 modem is $100 with a two-year contract, and the company has two 4G service plans. Fifty dollars a month gets you 5GB of data (regardless of whether you're using the 3G or 4G network), while $80 a month buys 10GB of data; each additional gigabyte costs $10 with both plans.

Verizon doesn't offer a 24-hour plan, as Sprint does, and its monthly 4G plans are much more expensive than Sprint's all-you-can-download plans.

The price of speed: 4G service plans

Monthly plans Overage fees Single-day access
Sprint 4G WiMax

$60 for unlimited 4G use

+ 5GB data over 3G;

$50 for unlimited 4G use

only (no 3G access)

$5 per GB (3G);

not applicable for 4G

$10 for unlimited

4G use over

24-hour period
Verizon 4G LTE

$80 for 10GB of data;

$50 for 5GB of data
$10 per GB Not available
Source: Sprint and Verizon Web sites

Bottom line

If you travel for a living, there's no better way to bring the office with you than by using a 4G network. From videoconferencing to downloading large presentations, you'll find your productivity soars with the speedy wireless access 4G brings.

My pick is Verizon's LTE service — if you can get it. It's not available in many places and is more expensive than Sprint's 4G WiMax service, but it's the fastest way I've found to connect on the road.

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer based near New York and is the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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