Clearwire, AT&T take jabs at Verizon's LTE speeds, pricing

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Hours after Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) took the wraps off its LTE network, providing details on pricing and devices, the carrier's top rivals began taking digs at the effort.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) noted the gap between Verizon's EVDO network and its LTE network. "The one thing you have to avoid is for customers on a six to seven [Mbps LTE] experience to fall back to something sub-meg," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told Global Telecoms Business.

Verizon said its LTE network will deliver real-world downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps and uplink speeds of 2-5 Mbps, which it said is 10 times faster than its 3G network. AT&T, which plans to deploy LTE by mid-2011, is currently upgrading its 3G network to 21 Mbps HSPA+, and has argued that its HSPA+ network will give it a distinct advantage over Verizon.

Indeed, AT&T hammered the point home in a blog post. "Customers of carriers who chose not to upgrade their current networks will move in and out of LTE coverage areas as well," AT&T CTO John Donovan wrote. "But as they do, they'll experience a jarring speed degradation. If they're online and on the phone when they move to sites that don't support simultaneous voice and data connections, they'll drop one of those connections. And if they're watching video, it's not going to be pretty."

Not to be outdone, Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) too took issue with Verizon's LTE launch. "Because our network has so much spectrum (which translates into capacity) we can offer unlimited usage at a good price," wrote Mike Sievert, Clearwire's chief commercial officer. "For example, take a Clear customer using 20 GB a month for $45. With Verizon and its usage caps on the 10 GB plan, the same person could be paying $180 a month. Our advice to Verizon customers? Watch the clock every minute and count every megabyte. Our unlimited plans are our most popular plans, because no one wants to feel like they are on the clock."

Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network covers 68 markets and 103 million POPs and delivers average downlink speeds of 3-6 Mbps.

T-Mobile USA also offered a bit of competitive rhetoric aimed at Verizon. In a response to questions on Verizon's launch, the carrier said "welcome to the wonderful world of 4G! T-Mobile customers across the country have been enjoying America's largest 4G network for a while now and love it." T-Mobile has been promoting its HSPA+ network as 4G, and noted it is on pace to cover 200 million POPs by the end of this year. The carrier plans to upgrade the network to faster speeds next year.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which resells Clearwire's service under its Sprint 4G brand, also took its turn to boast about its 4G offering. Sprint charges $60 per month for its 3G/4G mobile broadband plan, which has a 5 GB cap on 3G service and unlimited 4G service.

"There is no comparison," Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh told FierceWireless. "Sprint is by far the 4G leader. We welcome Verizon to the 4G party. And we've set the benchmark for 4G, including speed. And we certainly have set the benchmark for devices. And we're not spending a lot of time taking comparisons of our real-world proven speeds that our customers have been enjoying for a long time to theoretical speeds."

Verizon plans to launch its LTE network Sunday in 38 markets, covering 110 million POPs. The carrier will offer two laptop dongles and will charge $50 per month for 5 GB of LTE data and $80 for 10 GB of data; both plans will have a $10 per GB overage fee.

For more:
- see this Global Telecoms Business article
- see this AT&T blog post
- see this Clearwire blog post
- see this AllThingsD article

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