Verizon challenges other carriers' network speeds in '4G throw down'

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) threw down the gauntlet against its largest competitors in a new video marketing its LTE network, arguing that its LTE network is by far faster than other "4G" networks from AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA.

Click here to watch Verizon's "4G throw down" video

In a video posted on its website, dubbed the "Ultimate 4G Throw Down," Verizon goes across the country and compares smartphones using its LTE network to those of other carriers using next-generation networks. The video shows Verizon devices consistently beating other carriers' devices in speed tests, and customers from other carriers ruing the fact that they don't have Verizon's LTE network.

"The video was made by our marketing team to showcase Verizon Wireless LTE against our competitor's and while we don't name a specific one, it is all those who say they have 4G," Verizon spokesman Brenda Raney told FierceWireless. "The purpose was to differentiate Verizon Wireless 4G LTE and to show real customers discovering that there was a difference in 4G LTE from Verizon Wireless and others who make claims to 4G."

Although competition among the carriers on network quality is nothing new, Verizon is pressing what sees as its advantages with its LTE network, which now covers more than 200 million POPs. Verizon has said its LTE network delivers average downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps and uplink speeds of 2-4 Mbps. AT&T has said its LTE network, which covers around 74 million POPs, also delivers those kinds of speeds.

"This is not exactly a rigorous speed test," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told FierceWireless. "It is worth noting that when Verizon customers go outside an LTE coverage area, they fall back to 3G and experience a jarring drop in data speeds. With AT&T, when you leave a 4G LTE coverage area, you go onto 4G HSPA+. HSPA+ delivers speeds up to four times faster than 3G, which means our customers will have a much better experience on the nation's largest 4G network."

Sprint also had a response to the video. "We look forward to seeing the next ad where the spokeswoman gets her bill with all the overage charges for downloading too much data during her 'network tests,'" Sprint spokeswoman Kelly Schlageter told FierceWireless. "With Sprint's unlimited data plans that wouldn't be an issue."

Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said at an investor conference last week that Sprint's LTE network, which will be launched by mid-year, will be about as fast as the LTE networks of Verizon and AT&T, even though Sprint does not have the same amount of spectrum. Sprint announced last year that it will launch LTE by mid-year using the G-Block of its 1900 MHz spectrum, where it has a 5x5 MHz block of spectrum. Verizon and AT&T both are launching LTE in 700 MHz spectrum with mostly 10x10 MHz blocks. Euteneuer explained that Sprint's LTE speeds will be comparable to those of Verizon and AT&T because Sprint counts fewer customers than its two larger rivals, which will result in less traffic on its network.

Sprint's current 4G network is delivered via Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, which covers 130 million POPs and delivers average downlink speeds of 3-6 Mbps, with bursts up to 10 Mbps. 

T-Mobile has said its HSPA+ network, particularly its faster HSPA+ 42 network, which covers 184 million POPs, delivers LTE-like speeds. T-Mobile plans to deploy LTE next year.

"T-Mobile's 4G HSPA+ network delivers a competitive 4G experience vs. current LTE networks at a much more affordable price. They should have compared their 4G data bills!" T-Mobile said in a statement. "In testing, our HSPA+ 42 smartphones, the HTC Amaze 4G and Samsung Galaxy S II, have shown average download speeds approaching 8 Mbps with peak speeds around 20 Mbps. T-Mobile has seen average download speeds approaching 10 Mbps with peak speeds of 27 Mbps on the T-Mobile Rocket 3.0 laptop stick--the company's first HSPA+ 42 device."

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Article updated April 5 with more information from Verizon and comment from T-Mobile.