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Verizon Leads With Double-Wide 4G

Dan Jones
10/29/2013
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Verizon is leading the race to double-sized 4G pipes in the US, and it could stay in the lead for some time, early indications show.

The 2x20MHz channels from Verizon Wireless have already started to be spotted in New York City. Verizon is using AWS (band 4) LTE spectrum for its fatter channels. It initially deplyed 2x10MHz channels in the 700MHz C-Block. (See Verizon Deploying Fatter 4G Pipes in NYC.)

Resident spectrum 'n' speeds spotter milan03 has seen 2x20MHz Verizon test sites pop up around Times Square, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, 57th and 7th Ave, Central Park West between 59th and 67th Street, and 3rd Avenue between 50th and 60th Street.

Verizon has said that it is bolstering its network in major urban markets such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. On the company's recent earnings call CFO Fran Shammo stressed that the carrier is updating for "a consistent, reliable experience," not just extra speed. (See Verizon Beefs Up LTE Network, Nears VoLTE.)

Faster uploads and downloads will, however, be one of the effects of the LTE updates. But Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics , expects speeds to go down again as the network gets loaded up. He writes in an email to Light Reading:

    Based on current category-3 devices, the theoretical maximum for a 20 x 20 configuration is 100 Mbps, so seeing a 75-80 Mbps throughput isn't surprising for an initial launch. Keep in mind, though, that these speeds will decrease as load increases. Over time, speeds will most likely come back inline with the speeds we've typically seen from Verizon (approximately 14 Mbps for download and 8 Mbps for upload). In that sense, Verizon's AWS rollout is more about increasing capacity than increasing peak speed. Of course, this is based on what we've seen in the past. We won't know for sure until we're able to measure performance under real-world conditions. We'll let you know what we find.

So what are the other major carriers in the US doing with 2x20MHz channels?

Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile US Inc. , told us recently that 2x15MHz and 2x20MHz channels are a "2014-2015 story" for the operator. (See T-Mobile Eyes Fatter Pipes for 4G LTE .)

A spokeswoman for Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) said the carrier hasn't "announced any timeline" for carrier aggregation or wider channels yet.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) hasn't answered questions on wider channels yet. We'll update you when it does.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/8/2013 | 9:48:24 PM
Re: Verizon is pushing ahead with double-wide
Please do because I'm guessing their backhaul is pooled and I believe they provisioned it at 150Mbps per cell site, dedicating ~70Mbps for Band 13 (10Mhz FDD channel) and only ~80Mbps for Band 4 (20Mhz FDD channel). Band 13 seems to be consistently loaded and the sheer amount of connected devices is bringing that LTE layer to halt.

I've tested out two devices at the same time, very late at night, both connected to Band 4 and in active data session, each getting ~40Mbps and combining the throughput at ~80Mbps. That pretty much confirms my assumption that the AWS link only has 80Mbps pooled.

It would be amazing if you could directly ask them about this, and see what's their strategy on provisioning their backhaul service for more bandwidth. I doubt that they'll talk, but it's worth a shot...
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
12/7/2013 | 3:56:02 PM
Re: Verizon is pushing ahead with double-wide
I'll ask them why next week I think. Seems like a decent follow-up.
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/6/2013 | 8:05:53 PM
Re: Verizon is pushing ahead with double-wide
Yeah I know, I actually pointed out live Verizon AWS in NYC to GigaOm's Kevin back in October, hence Verizon talking. But it's very interesting, I've been seeing artificial ~80Mbps rate limit on their 20Mhz FDD AWS network, not even close to 150Mbps which should be the peak throughput in a 20Mhz FDD unloaded LTE downlink channel. Not sure if this is due to backhaul, but 80Mbps seems to be what Nicola Palmer is mentioning as well...
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
12/6/2013 | 5:11:59 PM
Verizon is pushing ahead with double-wide
Now in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and Washington DC & parts of San Francisco:

http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/verizon-triples-lte-capacity-4g-war-against-t-2D11703498

Its using AWS for this extra capacity, less talk about increased speeds yet:

http://gigaom.com/2013/12/05/verizon-quietly-unleashes-its-lte-monster-tripling-4g-capacity-in-major-cities/
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/31/2013 | 12:34:16 PM
Re: The Last Laugh
Oh that's very interesting! Is there a news article covering T-Mobile's 20Mhz test in Dallas?

That is one market where T-mobile has enough greenfield AWS spectrum for 20Mhz channels as of right now. No repurposing needed.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
10/30/2013 | 10:58:41 AM
Re: The Last Laugh
Also, got any more details on the T-Mobile test?
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
10/30/2013 | 10:55:15 AM
Re: The Last Laugh
Yeah, its probably a pretty fluid situation between Verzion and T-Mobile in 2014. Dependent on where each has available spectrum. T-Mobile is planning 2x20MHz and 2x15MHz channel deployents starting in 2014 through 2015. Verizon will likely have the early advantage though.
iansltx
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iansltx,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/30/2013 | 12:36:03 AM
Re: The Last Laugh
Apparently T-Mobile had a 20x20 LTE demo in Dallas earlier today. They hit 148M down. With a lot fewer customers than VZW, they'll probably keep on winning the speed game. At least once they get 10x10 everywhere; Austin for example is inexplicably 5x5.
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/29/2013 | 12:14:50 PM
East side
Verizon's AWS is live in even more NYC areas. The entire 42nd to 60th street stretch between 5th ave and 2nd ave seems to be covered. But 80Mbps peak limit seems to be artificially implemented. Either backhaul provisioning, or rate limiting. Cat 3 UE peaks at 102Mbps and cell is capable of 150Mbps so 20% loss seems very unnatural.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 9:55:54 AM
Re: The Last Laugh
AT&T has a lot of spectrum but its not all in nearby bands. We do know that AT&T has previously said it will be testing carrier aggregation (bonding different radio channels) in 2013.

Some of them are so separate from what AT&T currently runs -- the new 2.3GHz WCS spectrum it has for instance -- it'll be interesting to see how alll the aggregation hand-off and roaming issues would be addressed.
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