LTE speeds faster than expected in Verizon trials

Prompts Verizon boast that it will beat AT&T into 4G business by 12-18 months

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 into the LTE business by 12 to 18 months.

Verizon's LTE field trials in Boston and Seattle have shown downlink average rates of 5 to 12 Mbit/sec and of 2 to 5 Mbit/sec, which will give mobile customers browsing speeds comparable to a typical wired home Internet experience, the company said.

In January, Verizon had said it expected that LTE, also known as 4G, would increase user speeds over existing 3G networks by 10 times, and up to 6 Mbit/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 of the other trial markets.

Nelson said the tests are valuable to LTE application and device makers, and should be valuable to end users a well. "Early adopters are looking at our leadership here -- developers but also end users and enterprises that understand the value of this speed," Nelson said.

In January, Verizon demonstrated applications such as live videoconferencing over LTE using portable units from Creative Labs, as well as video streaming of a movie in 1080p over LTE at 4 Mbit/sec to a small handheld tablet from Motorola r unning an Nvidia second-generation Tegra processor. Nelson said both applications are still under testing and development.

LTE applications for industry are also under development at Ericsson.

Enterprises will use LTE for its ability to push many applications at once wirelessly, for video transmissions and for its ability to bring data wirelessly through buildings that now block 3G signals, Nelson said.

"LTE at these speeds doesn't just capture the imagination, but 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 or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Knowledge Center.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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