Top 10 Apps LTE Will Super-Charge

LTE will make everything faster and with lower latency, but there are certain apps it'll really amp up. Data caps beware

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

December 6, 2010

4 Min Read
Top 10 Apps LTE Will Super-Charge

Long Term Evolution (LTE) has officially arrived in the US with both MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) and Verizon Wireless turning on their first networks. Verizon's zippier network promises 5-to-12Mbit/s average download speeds with latency of 30 milliseconds or less. (See Verizon's LTE Debut: Keep It Simple, Stupid and Verizon to Launch LTE on Dec. 5.)

So what can you do with the blazing fast speeds Verizon, and LTE in general, are promising? Well anything you could on 3G. But, there are a few apps that will benefit the most from the super-charged speed. Of course, with data plans capped at 5 or 10GB, taking advantage of these apps will put you over the top fairly quickly. (See Verizon's LTE: What You'll Get.)

1) BitTorrent
Verizon's counting on business users and "road warriors" to be the first to take up the service, says George Zastrow, Verizon engineer, data sales. These are the types of users that do a lot of file sharing over BitTorrent, often for huge files like PowerPoints. Zastrow says this is one use case that LTE will make a lot less painful.

2) Netflix and Hulu
With their long-form content, the shot in the arm for Hulu LLC and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) will be even greater for users. It's good news for the viewing experience, but bad for the bill. In a PC Mag test, watching Netflix in standard def with a 1,500Kbit/s stream burnt through the monthly 5GB allotment in less than 7.5 hours. A 720p movie at 3800Kbit/s took under three hours. That's a hefty bill for a little mobile movie magic.

3) Music videos
Any TV or video service will suck up bandwidth as more people watch content on their laptops, but music videos are a YouTube Inc. favorite. Not having to watch the pinwheel of buffering death is the real benefit of LTE here. This was one of the most obvious benefits of the network I observed while taking a ride in Verizon's LTE limo through Chicago.

4) User-generated content
Uploading your own content, video or otherwise, will be a lot less cumbersome on LTE. It could shave a lot of time off uploading those 120-photo big albums to Flickr , and make sharing videos on Facebook much quicker too.

5) Web browsing
At a basic level, Web browsing and searches just got a whole lot faster. Verizon says users can search the Web 10 times faster than they could on the 3G CDMA network.

6) Hosting in the Cloud
Moving forward, mobile apps will increasingly run from the cloud. The low-latency nature of LTE means it's well suited for accessing cloud services, a route NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is taking. Juniper Research Ltd. predicts there will be a totally cloud-based mobile operating system made available next year. (See Docomo Links LTE to the Cloud.)

7) Multiple sessions
The ability to run multiple sessions is the feature that Verizon's Zastrow was the most bullish about in the Chicago ride along, demoing the capability with YouTube videos, Web browsing, and downloads happening in harmony. It worked as promised, but it's also important to note that the more data-intensive the apps, the quicker that cap will creep up -- potentially in 30 minutes if you're subscribing to the 5GB option.

8) Video calling
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) restricts FaceTime to WiFi, but that will be less necessary when AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has LTE (or when Verizon nabs the iPhone as oft-rumored). Unlike streaming video, two-way video chat like Qik Inc. 's app strains both the uplink and downlink connection, something LTE is better suited to handle. And it's a good thing LTE is being deployed given the growth projections for video chat. (See Video Chat: Meet the New Data Hog and Qik Touts Video Chat Explosion on Sprint's EVO.)

9) World of Warcraft
Your 16 year-old brother is grateful for this one. Online gaming gets a lot more exciting on LTE; especially for multi-player games were real-time movements determine the winner. Of course, if your opponent is on 3G, the differences in latency will ensure you're always the winner.

10) M2M apps
Machine-to-machine apps are another promise of the extra bandwidth afforded by LTE. In-vehicle apps, the smart grid, and eHealth are often cited as potentially lucrative markets, and Zastrow says jute boxes, digital signage, and kiosks are other areas developers are working on for Verizon. Some people don't appreciate the notion of, say, an M2M-equipped fridge talking to you, but others of us want would welcome an enforcer on seconds.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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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