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LTE vs. Advanced 3G

2:45 PM -- Verizon Wireless is currently busy talking up the performance offered by its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which seems impressive, on paper at least. Nonetheless, advances in 3G technology make me -- as a consumer -- and perhaps some in the industry, too, wonder what is the best short-term pick for mobile broadband going forward.

T-Mobile US Inc. and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) are both deploying 7.2-Mbit/s upgrades to their 3G networks. This will deliver up to 3-Mbit/s downstream on average when you're stationary, whereas Verizon's network is promising 5 to 12 Mbit/s on the downlink. This is all while you stand still of course, performance tends to drop way down when you're moving at speed between base stations.

I tend to think that for the everyday smartphone user 3G will still be the obvious choice for at least the next couple of years. Download speeds are acceptable and getting better, and you'll have much wider choice of devices than on LTE. The network should be good enough for most laptop users as well, so long as you're not trying to stream movies over the air or something ambitious like that.

For people who want to do some really heavy-duty data bashing, it will be worth watching where Verizon launches its LTE markets. Like Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) before it, where Verizon puts its initial limited footprint will be crucial for users choosing LTE. It might not matter if you can't get access in Boise, Idaho, right away on the network if the technology is deployed in, say, New York, Boston, Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, and Las Vegas quickly.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading

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