Can You Hear Me Now? Wireless 4G Competition Heats Up

December 8, 2010

3:07 pm

I remember about fifteen years ago being excited about going from a 14.4K modem to a 28.8K, then from a 56K modem to DSL. Each time I switched it was a major leap in performance. Well, it’s time for you and the rest of America to make another leap. This time the leap is from traditional 3G wireless Internet services to 4G.

On December 5th Verizon introduced what the company calls the world’s largest 4G wireless network across 38 major metropolitan cities (including right here in Chicago), as well as more than 60 commercial airports. This new 4G network will challenge other existing carriers like Sprint with high speed mobile wireless Internet, which is expected to provide about a 10X increase in performance over the existing 3G services. Note that Sprint has had 4G in Chicago and other cities for a while and even sponsored the last Tech Cocktail Chicago, NYC, Austin and DC events to make sure the tech-audience got the message. Yes, the 4G competition is fierce.

But with regard to Verizon’s new claims, does it live up to all the hype?

This week I am conducting field trials here in Chicago to see firsthand whether or not the new Verizon 4G system lives up to the much anticipated hype. Well…it does so far, and the results have been very impressive. Using a LG VL600 4G USB modem, in various locations throughout Chicago I received download speeds of about 5 to 20Mbps on the downlink and about 2 to 15Mbps on the uplink. To my surprise, I was even able to get downlink speeds of up to 20Mbps from locations in the far north suburbs not typically covered by other carriers at these speeds.

Pictured: Verizon 4G USB Modem VL600 by LG

verizon4g-modem

Verizon 4G Modem

According to Dan Mead, President and CEO of Verizon,

“Verizon Wireless is making the best network even better. Our initial 4G LTE launch gives customers access to the fastest and most advanced mobile network in America and immediately reaches more than one-third of all Americans, right where they live.”

Verizon 4G LTE Test Results in North Chicago Suburb (Using: Speakeasy.net/speedtest)
speakeasy

For consumers, the launch of Verizon 4G (based on LTE) is a major leap forward in functionality. It provides consumers with the ability to support high definition video conferencing, streaming video, as well as support for numerous other high bandwidth applications. And since this is new technology, it’s only a matter of time before entrepreneurs leverage the technology to provide capabilities for consumers that have never existed before.

For companies, this technology represents a major leap in capabilities for use with remote workers, or even a potential replacement for costly wire line office technologies like T1 frame relay and MPLS. The technology is new, but considering Verizon and other carriers plan on making additional investments in the future, it is conceivable the coverage and performance will only continue to get better over time.

What do you think about this new technology? Are you ready to take the leap?  Let us know in the comments below.

Guest writer Glenn Allison is a technology professional in the Midwest with over 15 years experience building and managing global communications infrastructure. He is currently an MBA student at the University of Chicago, and occasionally writes about technology and business in the Midwest. You can learn more by following his blog at: glennallison.org or follow him on Twitter: @MidwestTechie.

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