Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is striking back at a Super Bowl wireless data traffic study that ranked AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) No. 1 among wireless carriers. Verizon is arguing that--according to Verizon's own traffic studies--Verizon provided average wireless data speeds that were fully four times faster than AT&T, Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).
"We shattered the competition," boasted Mike Haberman, Verizon's vice president of network operations.
Haberman said that Verizon employed a team of engineers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., during Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. Haberman said Verizon conducted over 500 different tests throughout the game all across the stadium, using "recent" phones sold by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Haberman declined to say exactly which phones Verizon used during its tests. He said Verizon used speed test services from Ookla and RootMetrics.
Haberman said Verizon's tests showed the carrier provided average download speeds of around 24 Mbps and average upload speeds of around 11 Mbps. He said AT&T provided average speeds of around 6 Mbps on downlink and 1 Mbps on uplink. He said Sprint and T-Mobile provided slower speeds than AT&T, though he declined to say exactly what speeds the two carriers provided. (For their part, AT&T and Sprint reported that their respective networks performed well during the game. T-Mobile, specifically, reported that was able to provide "peak" download speeds of over 60 Mbps during the busiest hour of the event.)
Importantly, Haberman said Verizon's tests relied on phones that could access the carrier's AWS spectrum. He said Verizon offers a 20x20 MHz AWS LTE channel at the stadium, and that fully 47 percent of the 1.9 terabytes generated by Verizon customers during the game were handled by the carrier's AWS LTE spectrum. Around 20 percent of Verizon's smartphone base can access AWS spectrum for LTE today but nearly all new devices going forward will have the capability.
"It's not a small thing you can overlook in a study," Haberman said. Verizon said began preparing for Sunday's game over 18 months ago, the carrier said, and it deployed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) inside MetLife Stadium to quadruple 4G LTE data capacity as part of $400 million it invested throughout the New York Metro region in 2013. Haberman said the carrier is now working to upgrade the site of next year's Super Bowl, in Glendale, Ariz.
Haberman provided Verizon's findings as a counter to a Super Bowl traffic study released this week by Nexgen Wireless, an independent, third-party telecommunications software and engineering services vendor. Nexgen tested the 3G and LTE services of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in six locations in the stadium throughout the game. Nexgen's tests found that AT&T's network was the clear leader in data downlink and uplink throughput as well as latency. On all three metrics, AT&T outclassed Verizon Wireless.
However, Nexgen conducted its tests of Verizon service with the Samsung Galaxy S III, which does not support Verizon's AWS spectrum. Haberman said it was "not appropriate" to ignore Verizon's AWS spectrum. A Nexgen representative declined to comment on Verizon's findings.
It's no surprise that Verizon, the official wireless provider of the National Football League, would take issue with Nexgen's findings. Indeed, much of Verizon's marketing message is centered around the quality of its wireless network. Further, virtually all wireless carriers have at various stages claimed that their networks are the nation's fastest and most reliable.
And although third parties like RootMetrics and others continue to conduct tests of network speeds and capabilities, those studies often result in wildly differing findings. Indeed, wireless traffic speeds can change dramatically depending on the load on the network, a user's proximity to a tower, the time of day and many other factors.
Nonetheless, that Verizon is taking direct aim at Nexgen's survey indicates the carrier is keen on maintaining its network-focused marketing message.
- see this Verizon release
Super Bowl XLVIII: How did Tier 1 wireless carriers' networks hold up?
Verizon talking to TV manufacturers about supporting LTE Multicast programming
Verizon adds 1.7M subs in Q4, powered by LTE
T-Mobile buys Verizon's 700 MHz A Block spectrum for $2.4B