Comparing Internet Providers 4G Networks: LTE, WiMax, HSPA+

in HSPA+, internet providers, 4G, LTE, WiMAX

The United States is migrating towards the 4G network to offer faster speeds to its mobile consumers. It is estimated that 97% of the population will have 4G coverage within only a few years. Major mobile internet providers are investing billions into the infrastructure to improve the delivery of applications and websites on the mobile web. The top four companies have provided their own solutions for the 4G network, though they differ in many ways. Some of the benefits and features of each network are outlined here.

Cellular and Mobile Internet Providers

Currently, the LTEi, WiMax and HSPA+ networks are the major 4G channels. Both AT&T and T-Mobile operate on the HSPA+ network. Sprint uses the WiMax network, and Verizon is supported by the lightning fast LTE technology. By many accounts, Verizon is the main contender. They offer speeds that are heads and shoulders above the competition. Many people attribute their success to either a lack of subscribers or first-mover coverage. Studies show quite the contrary. As more subscribers join Verizon, the speeds remain faster than the competition.


Verizon emerges as the clear winner in terms of speed. Their incredible quickness is made possible with LTE technology. Upload speeds average over six Mbps. In most major cities, Verizon manages to download applications and documents two to three times faster than their competitors at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

In the first quarter of 2011, Verizon managed to land 260,000 activations in part due to the incredible speeds that the network provided. The Samsung Droid Charge is one of the more popular phones sold in conjunction with the Verizon Wireless 4G network.

By contrast, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint with HSPA+ and WiMax manage to achieve average download speeds between 2.15 Mbps and 2.83Mbps depending on location. The upload speeds typically fall between .61 and 1 Mbps. This is not slow by any means, but it cannot come close to competing to Verizon’s LTE 4G network. Consumers that are concerned about speed will certainly be more likely to migrate to Verizon over the other mobile providers. It should be noted that AT&T is rolling out LTE as their 4G channel and shares in the plans to cover most Americans by 2018.


Each of the four companies has tried to remain consistent in terms of pricing of their cellular and mobile internet plans. The average price of the unlimited plans is $110 per month. A customer that only requires 5 GB of data usage may obtain a plan for as low as $50. These are the baseline prices required of consumers that desire access to the 4G network. With the introduction of these new applications, a fast network is required to reap the benefits of working remotely from a mobile smartphone.


To accompany the billions being invested in rolling out nationwide 4G coverage, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is standardizing the specifications and phrases associated with the technology and infrastructure. Designers are working to deliver consistent 100 Mbps speeds in a moving vehicle. Currently, none of the providers can achieve these numbers, but the infrastructure has the potential to reach these speeds. Even so, the 4G network has dramatically improved from the 3G numbers.


The fast speeds delivered by network providers are location-dependent. If the user is not in the provider’s network, he or she may not achieve the speeds that the mobile providers claim to offer. Consumers must check both the WiFi hotspots and the 4G network area of coverage before making an assessment about the capability of the network.

Ultra-fast speeds are often found at the mobile hotspots that are located around the country. AT&T leads the pack with roughly 30,000 hotspots nationwide. T-Mobile has the most comprehensive 4G coverage, with services offered in over 100 cities.

Collectively, by the end of 2011, the major internet providers are expected to be fully operational in as many as 300 to 400 cities. Verizon hopes to have full nationwide 4G coverage by 2013. If Verizon continues to expand and offer the fastest 4G speeds, they are expected to emerge as the leader with LTE in the 4G industry.

Blake Sanders writes tech at broadband comparison site Broadband Expert and specializes in high speed internet, LTE, and the latest news on internet providers.

Note: Photo courtesy of wwworks via FlickR Creative Commons.

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