As AT&T launched LTE services in the US, Signals Research took the new network out for a spin

Michelle Donegan

September 19, 2011

2 Min Read
AT&T LTE Test-Drive Results Revealed

As AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) officially launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) in five cities on Sunday, the first performance results of the newest U.S. LTE network have been revealed and the downloads are fast.

Signals Research Group conducted a test-drive of AT&T's LTE network in Houston. For the test, the firm transferred 88.8 Gbytes of data over a three-day period, using the Sierra Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: SWIR; Toronto: SW) USBConnect Momentum 4G dongle, and covered 205.6 miles of the Houston area.

The key findings are as follows:

  • The average downlink speed was 23.6 Mbit/s and the peak data rate was 61.1 Mbit/s, which "meaningfully exceeded" the expectations of Signals Research. The data rate was higher than 5 Mbit/s for 95 percent of the time.

  • The average uplink speed was 15.2 Mbit/s with a peak rate of 23.6 Mbit/s, which was "much higher than we anticipated," according to Signals Research. The uplink data rate exceeded 5 Mbit/s 98.2 percent of the time. [Ed note: As a shared medium, wireless networks typically slow down as they get loaded up with customers, so it will be worth checking these speeds again in a year.]

  • The average latency was 49 milliseconds with a minimum value of 40 milliseconds. According the Signals Research, this was "higher [worse] than we were expecting based on the capabilities of LTE and our experiences with testing networks in Europe."

  • For the handover between LTE and HSPA+, it took 2.4 seconds for the device to drop the LTE connection and establish a connection on the HSPA+ network, which Signals described as "relatively seamless for a data connection."

AT&T has launched LTE networks in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The operator plans to offer LTE in at least 15 markets, covering 70 million people, by the end of the year.

Why this matters
These are the first insights into the performance of AT&T's new LTE network in the U.S. and provide an early benchmark for user expectations. As for the worse-than-expected latency results, Signals explained that the findings were on a par with other LTE networks in North America.

For more
For more on Ma Bell's LTE, please see these stories.

  • AT&T LTE Launch Set for Sunday

  • AT&T/T-Mobile: Nationwide LTE Within 6 Years

  • AT&T's First LTE Tab Is for Big Spenders

  • AT&T Offers $700 HTC LTE Tablet

  • LiTE Bites: LightSquared's 12 & AT&T in Chicago

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.  

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