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Fall Into 4G: LTE State-of-Play in the USA

Dan Jones

The road to LTE-Advanced, 4G voice, and denser wireless data coverage is going to be a hotter topic in the US as we move into fall with 4G.

Here's where the major US carriers stand with live LTE markets now:

Table 1: 4G LTE Markets in the U.S.

Operator 4G technology Number of markets Average download speeds
AT&T LTE (Also markets HSPA+ as “4G”) 383 Average of 18.6 Mbit/s downloads
Cricket (Leap Wireless) LTE 11 3-to-15 times faster than Leap's 3G
C-Spire LTE 40 markets up; 3 more coming soon Data speeds up to 10 times faster
MetroPCS LTE 30 markets 2 Mbit/s-15 Mbit/s (Depending on market)
Sprint LTE & WiMax 151 LTE; 71 WiMax Average of 10.3 Mbit/s download
T-Mobile LTE (Also markets HSPA+ as “4G”) 116 markets                                           Average of 25 Mbit/s downloads (on unloaded network)
U.S. Cellular LTE 30+ markets Up to 10 times faster than 3G
Verizon Wireless LTE 500 markets 14.3 Mbit/s average download
Sources: Light Reading, carrier data, OpenSignal, RootMetrics

Verizon Wireless has now covered its 3G footprint with 4G LTE technology. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), meanwhile, has just launched 13 new markets, bringing it to 383 markets live and 225 potential subscribers covered.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. are snapping at the big dogs' heels with 151 markets and 116 markets respectively.

What's coming?
The arrival of more widespread voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and the first networks with LTE-Advanced features are going to be among the key tech topics in the last three months of this year. (See: Verizon Promises Voice-Over-LTE in 2014.)

If VoLTE is to work properly, operators are also going to have to look at deeper density for LTE coverage. Many, many of the LTE markets now live do not have 100 percent coverage -- or even close to it. (See: When is a 4G LTE Market Really Covered, Anyway?)

For more

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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9/4/2013 | 8:59:49 AM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
Good question KAOP. Doesn't seem like a lot of thought has gone into that yet. Verizon's Home Fusion offers 10 GB for $60:




But Share Everything provides 2 GB of usage for that same $60?




That Home Fusion offer is seen as a quite a deal for users who are used to the incredibly high prices and very low caps of satellite broadband.
9/3/2013 | 8:55:54 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
Not sure how they are going to differentiate beteween the value of fixed LTE broadband and get away charging a premium for mobile use.
9/3/2013 | 3:59:20 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
If ever, Carol, if ever.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
9/3/2013 | 3:39:53 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
Yeah, that is the irony, here. LTE could compete effectively in areas where fiber isn't close to customers and it won't be in many sparsely populated rural areas for some time. 
9/3/2013 | 3:27:52 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
Of course, the best place to offer fixed LTE is probably in really rural areas and the coverage isn't there yet (will it ever be?) 
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
9/3/2013 | 3:18:52 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
It will definitely be interesting to see where LTE is used as a fixed broadband offering - it's something smaller wireless operators are looking at as well. 
9/3/2013 | 3:14:11 PM
Re: What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
My thought is that Verizon especially will push LTE home service for copper replacement through 2013-2015.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
9/3/2013 | 2:25:55 PM
What will coverage really mean to apps and services?
Are we going to start seeing new LTE-only apps and services soon, now that the coverage is so widespread?
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