Between 4G, 5G, Sprint Spark, and Verizon's new XLTE campaign, consumers will likely never understand what LTE really is, but does that matter?

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

May 19, 2014

2 Min Read
More 4G Muddling: Verizon Brands AWS XLTE

Calling non-LTE networks 4G used to be marketers' biggest blunder, but now, new flavors of 4G are emerging to mystify and confuse consumers.

First came Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Spark network, and now Verizon Wireless 's XLTE, the moniker it will use to brand the Advanced Wireless Service spectrum it is deploying across the US. Verizon says this is a "consumer-friendly way of describing the added capacity that is being delivered to Verizon Wireless customers by activating our 4G LTE service on our AWS spectrum."

Figure 1:

Verizon wants its customers to know that its AWS is a big deal for its network; not just your run-of-the-mill 4G. That's all well and good, but I worry it's just muddying the waters yet again. All consumers care about is the fact that the network works as advertised; not what brand of LTE it is. Considering that "XLTE" is only available in half of its LTE markets, I wonder if it will further confuse its customers that don’t have access to it or phones that support it... or if they'll even notice. (See Verizon Leads With Double-Wide 4G.)

Interestingly, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is taking a somewhat different approach by trying to educate its customers on the things it is doing to improve its network, actually mentioning the phrase "small cells" in its commercials. (See AT&T Talks Small Cells, DAS in New Ads.)

I'm not really sure which approach is the better strategy, but the 4G LTE brand twisting is enough to make you dizzy. It will only get worse with 5G too. Check out Verizon's new commercial as part of its XLTE campaign, and let us know your thoughts on how to market mobile in the comments section below. (See Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G and EE Makes the Case for 5G .)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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