Long Term Evolution: 5 Things Everyone Should Know

  1. What is LTE?
  2. How Fast is LTE?
  3. Who provides it?
  4. Competing Technologies?
  5. Where to get it?


What is Long Term Evolution?

Services like home phones, cell phones, television, and the internet were once separate. We are now approaching a supercharged tipping point:

  • Cell phones that were analog became digital

  • Home phones are becoming increasingly digital through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

  • Television is rapidly moving to fully digital programming with the rise of HD broadcasts

With these services becoming digital, it became possible for internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Time Warner to compete with traditional phone companies. Cellular companies like T-Mobile have already begun to supplement their regular service with mobile VoIP. Long Term Evolution will blow the gasket off the convergence engine.

How will that happen?

Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a wireless broadband 4G technology. With a maximum theoretical download speed of 326 Mbps, it’s built for mobility and capacity.

Because its a high capacity wireless broadband network, the fixed line restrictions are gone. HDTV, voice communication and the internet will now come to you wherever you are. Imagine plugging your iPhone into a TV to stream HD content from iTunes. That’s what were talking about here.


How Fast is LTE?

"Users desire services like voice, music, broadband internet, picture and video sharing, live video sharing and social networking, anytime and anywhere, with a similar experience regardless of location. Mobile broadband is in the center of convergence"

– Qualcomm, 3G and 4G equipment developer

If we’re going to get pretty much everything, everywhere, we’ll need some really big internet pipes.

Enter LTE.

Field tests have shown download speeds of 277 Mbps and upload speeds of 75 Mbps. HDTV streaming is possible with as low as 30 Mbps. With that kind of speed, all services digital services we currently use can be funneled through one pipe. Imagine having a flat cell phone bill because it’s all VoIP.

Think of what a flat $30 or $40 bill for unlimited mobile calling would be like. It’s happened for fixed lines. Mobile lines are next.

On top of that, it’s a mobile connection that can replace current fixed ones with better results. Here’s what a comparison of current and emerging technologies looks like against LTE:

Connection Type

Average Download Speed

Maximum Download Speed

Average Upload Speed

Maximum Upload Speed


40-50 kbps

1 Mbps*




600 – 1400 kbps

3.1 Mbps

500 – 800 kbps

1.8 Mbps


2.971 Mbps

10 Mbps

512 kbps

896 kbps


2 – 4.8 Mbps

16 Mbps

3 Mbps

1 Mbps

WiFi Hotspots

1 – 3 Mbps

20 Mbps




6 – 15 Mbps

70 Mbps

3 Mbps

70 Mbps


16 – 25 Mbps***

277 Mbps**

3 Mbps***

75 Mbps**

*1 Mbps dialup speed achieved by compression by Internet Service Provider servers.
**Highest field test results for LTE.
***10 MHz deployment

To see how your current speed matches up, use this speed test tool below:

Who provides it?


LTE launched on Verizon’s network in December 2010 in multiple markets across the United States. Expect mass adoption in 2012.

AT&T Verizon

AT&T, admittedly slower than Verizon is also in the process of making LTE their next generation network infrastructure. It would only make sense for roaming partnerships to appear.

T-Mobile has not committed just yet as it tests both LTE and WiMAX 4G technologies. In the meantime, they advertise having a 4G network although it’s really really fast 3G that can actually compete with existing 4G speeds.


Competing Technologies?

The biggest competitor to LTE in the United States right now is WiMAX with Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) falling a distant second. UMB has the potential to be a stark contender, however, without any adopting carriers, it’s on the back burner.

There are 3 major reason why WiMAX can hold its own in a LTE vs. WiMAX boxing match:


While LTE has a higher download speed, the real benchmark is what people will experience day to day. Depending on how much money investors throw at it, WiMAX and LTE have similar average download speeds and upload speeds.


LTE has 2 major carriers  already backing it as a standard. WiMAX, however, also has some serious financial backing. Between Sprint, Google, Intel, Comcast and Time Warner (just to name a few), that’s a lot of cash.



Long Term Evolution launched in December 2010 many months after Sprint launched it’s 4G WiMAX network.


Where to get it?

Verizon for now and AT&T later providing you’re in the right market.

When more information does become available (i.e. pricing, retailers), it’ll be posted here. Subscribe to the RSS feed just under the navigation bar to the left to get the word when it happens.


Related Reading:

Sprint WiMAX – 5 Things You Should Know

Wireless Broadband Service Comparison



  1. anthony aloh says:

    interesting, we are also implementing LTE in our next phase of telco-infra works.

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