Verizon accuses T-Mobile of making up information on LTE-A deployments

Verizon sign from MWCA
Verizon says it has fully deployed carrier aggregation across its network in close to 2,000 markets.

Always one to pride itself on its technological achievements, Verizon isn’t taking any smack from T-Mobile, saying the operator made up claims about Verizon's technical achievements, many of them related to LTE Advanced.

"They were very clearly misrepresenting Verizon's deployment and the leadership that we have taken in this new technology innovation and rollout," said Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz.

To be sure, T-Mobile stands by its remarks. The “uncarrier” announced on Thursday that it has expanded LTE-Advanced to more than 920 markets, “eclipsing every other national wireless company,” with a powerful combination of three speed-boosting technologies—a "trifecta" of carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM—now live in 430 of those markets.

Verizon actually has almost 2,000 markets that have some LTE Advanced technology deployed in them and more than 560 markets where all three of the “trifecta” technologies are deployed: 256 QAM, 4X4 MIMO and carrier aggregation, Schulz told FierceWirelessTech.

But a T-Mobile spokesperson said the “uncarrier” is “definitely not misrepresenting” the numbers and pointed to this website where the information was found; it says Verizon’s LTE Advanced is available in more than 450 cities.

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Verizon also pointed to a recent ruling by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau that was in favor of Verizon when it comes to certain network claims. The NAD urged T-Mobile to stop making claims that it has the fastest LTE network and discontinue claims its LTE network is “newer” than Verizon’s and that Verizon’s LTE network is “older.”

“Verizon was first to 3G, we were first to 4G, first to 4G LTE Advanced technologies and while doing all of that, we continue to be the most reliable network by a variety of third-party measurements,” Schulz said. “The facts are the facts and Verizon is simply ahead.”

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Indeed, as the industry heads into 5G, the number of “firsts” being claimed by operators and vendors around technological advancements appears to be hitting an all-time high, and as always, the devil is in the details—a lot of details.

Schulz said Verizon was first to reach 953 Mbps in a real-world environment using LAA, first to break the gigabit speed barrier and first to launch FDD Massive MIMO. Plus, its LTE network is 700,000 square miles larger than T-Mobile’s, a gap that T-Mobile has said it intends on closing soon. 

There are plenty of other claims to go around. T-Mobile said it’s been rolling out LTE Advanced technologies since 2014 and was first globally with 4X4 MIMO and first in the U.S. with 256 QAM. Earlier this year, T-Mobile claimed it was the first to launch LTE-U, the precursor to LAA, in select locations.

In April, AT&T announced its 5G Evolution network was live in Austin , which includes LTE Advanced technologies such as 256 QAM and 4x4 MIMO, and said it planned to bring the technologies to 20 markets by the end of the year. It also announced these technologies were live in Indianapolis, with more markets forthcoming.

On the LTE-LAA front, AT&T conducted an outdoor field test of LTE-LAA in San Francisco over the summer where they observed 979 Mbps—nearly 1 Gbps. In September, AT&T demoed the technology at Mobile World Congress Americas with Qualcomm and Ericsson

RELATED: Sprint, Ericsson tout field tests for 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO

Sprint has spent much of this year talking about Gigabit class LTE speeds, noting that it doesn’t need to tap into unlicensed spectrum in order to get the job done. In March, Sprint and partners Qualcomm Technologies and Motorola Mobility showed off what they believed to be the first U.S. deployment of Gigabit Class LTE on a live commercial network. The demo occurred during an NBA game at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

And let’s not forget Massive MIMO. At Mobile World Congress Americas, Sprint and Ericsson unveiled results of the first U.S. 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO field tests conducted in Seattle and Plano, Texas, using Sprint’s spectrum and Ericsson’s 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) radios. The two companies are preparing for commercial deployment next year, with Massive MIMO radios capable of increasing Sprint’s network capacity up to 10 times.