4G LTE Smackdown: AT&T vs. Verizon

“We’ve tested AT&T vs. Verizon’s LTE in NYC and our guy on the ground in San Francisco was able to test LTE at Yerba Buena today,” Seth Weintraub reports for 9to5Mac.

“AT&T smoked Verizon in a bunch of areas around the ‘new iPad’ event,” Weintraub reports. “Those are similar to the results in NYC and we hear the same thing happens in Irvine, CA, for instance.”

“One major reason is that Verizon’s network is already pretty full of Androids running 4G while AT&T has only released a handful of devices with LTE. (this might also be why Apple used AT&T LTE at the event today) The story might change when the flood of iPads come crashing in (for both companies),” Weintraub reports. “Also, AT&T’s step down is to HSPA+ which is a lot faster than Verizon’s EVDO so perhaps AT&T has some faster legacy backhaul in place.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

40 Comments

    1. So it will be for everyone.

      Did anyone else notice in the Apple Online Store on the purchase page that there are direct links to both carriers’ Data Coverage pages? No need to go spelunking thru their websites!

    2. Same here in SE Michigan – no AT&T LTE.

      My Company bought me a Verizon 4G LTE Mobile Hot Spot to use while on the road. A friend has a similar AT&T flavored device. While sitting in a non-WiFied Coffee Shop one afternoon we did some “racing” with the two devices. My Verizon was many times faster. I’ll take what I know is available here and now, instead of hoping that AT&T gets around to upgrading “soon”.

    3. But, AT&T has very limited LTE availability

      The whole WORLD has very little actual ‘4G’ availability. ZERO in fact!

      The tech is the tech. 4G is a target spec that is NOT yet available to the public. That’s the fact. That’s my rant.

  1. Sweet. Let’s hope so in Tampa also. I was gonna get the Verizon one cuz AT&T are a bunch of goons. (I’m a grandfathered in “unlimited data” customer who has been with them for 8 years) but I stuck with em. I’m sure theres something that’ll piss people off at all companys.
    Just happens to be throttling unlimited data at AT&T. And crappy customer service. Oh and “call failed”. Crap. Shoulda got Verizon.

    1. Yeah, you’ll see a difference all right. Verizon’s message will be “Call was lost”. I got so many of those when I was on Verizon that they offered to let me out of my contract with no termination fee.

      1. Not to mention Verizon “customer service” is so terrible you will wish the DMV or the IRS or even the TSA would take over the company and improve it.

  2. My mother-in-law is living with me now, and hogging my wife’s iPad. She’ll be going back home to Russia in the summer, so the question is which cellular iPad do I get her to take back to Russia? The AT&T model? So disappointed Apple didn’t make a world model.

    1. Since both the Verizon and AT&T models are identical apart from LTE, it doesn’t really matter. Unless LTE in Russia 1)Exists and 2) uses the same bands as AT&T or Verizon, it doesn’t matter. Both models are “world models” in that they support all the 3G and 4G (non-LTE) standards all over the world. The only difference is LTE.

      That said, since I’m positive the AT&T one uses a SIM and I’m not sure about the verizon one, the AT&T one could be easier to roam with. If, and only if, the Verizon model has no SIM. I stress that I don’t know one way or the other on Verizons model, but I’m sure AT&T does.

      1. Just checked, both models have micro SIMs, so both are equally adept at world travel, or any use on non-LTE networks for that matter.

        Here in the states, Verizon has better coverage of LTE, but AT&T has WAY faster 3G when you are out of LTE range. I hear AT&T LTE is typically faster if you are in an area that is served by both companies, though that can always change.

        1. Actually, the facts are:
          1. AT&T has the largest and fastest 4G network in the USA.
          2. AT&T has much bettter data service than Verizon
          3. Verizon has the largest voice network.
          4. Only AT&T has a seamless fall-back 4G network off LTE
          5. AT&T has the fastest 3G fall-back network too.

          The choice is obvious… Im getting the 64GB AT&T iPad Gen 3

          1. Actually, your facts are proven wrong, and AT&T was forced to pull several of their claims due to invalidity in advertisement.
            AT&T is now becoming true 4g LTE (still wayyyyy behind Verizon who has been doing it the longest and most effectively some 305+ towers vs AT&T’s up and coming 20 something?) AT&T’s 4g before was the company merely increasing their GSM towers allowed bandwidth by 1 megabit (give or take) and due to not having FCC regulations at the time on their advertised claims, they along with T-Mobile and several other companies said it was 4g because it was faster. Believe it or not, Verizon’s CDMA towers (which have lowest drop calls due to smarter tower format (signal ranges of 12 miles vs GSM’s 3-5mile range and CCTS (continuous call transition software)) are well equipped to handle the LTE coverage. Verizon is so ahead of the game, they have LTE coverage in over 305+ areas across the country while AT&T, etc, make their claims based on 5-10+ areas they are located in. Verizon went straight to LTE (not wasting time with charging you for 1 gb more influx) and has the more efficient tower service. Additionally, something Verizon does that competitors don’t- cell on wheels. For big events (sporting concerts, etc.) they have designated vehicles producing signal at the events to amplify service for verizon customers. Don’t bother arguing price, because as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and in cell coverage, there is absolutely no competition. Oh, and your arguments 4 and 5 merely enhance my first commitment about the “false” 4g, time and time again nationally Verizon has ranked higher than AT&T’s 4g speeds with 3g. I’m sure a lot of consumers appreciate your concise and logical arguments though.

    2. the new iPads ARE world versions. No matter which carrier you choose the iPad falls back to 3G GSM operation where 4G is not available. There is not yet a world standard for so-called 4G. Apple has given the iPad as much flexibility as is possible/practical.

  3. No mention of distance to towers? Or better yet, an actual measurement of signal strength. Testing two iPhones, one on ATT communicating with a tower over HERE, and another on Verizon communicating with a different tower over THERE, isn’t a very scientific test.

      1. Distance to towers actually makes a big deal. GSM vs CDMA is a big difference. GSM has several towers in a 3-5 mile radius while CDMA has a strong tower with overlaps to another CDMA tower. If you are between two AT&T towers, you’re bound to have a shit show of call drops due to your connection bouncing between GSM towers. CDMA however is going to have a smoother transition. The rest of the world just has not converted to CDMA yet due to costs, hence GSM being a “selling point” by certain companies. I moved to a neighborhood with Verizon Fios due to the obscene speeds you get Also, we’re close to a newer tower. I just pinged my LTE service at 56mb/second on my Verizon phone…I’m also NOT in a city, but a semi rural suburban area and I still get killer coverage. So cell towers make a shit ton of difference.

  4. Lucky you in the US! Not a good move that the German and other European LTE standards seems not to be supported. All the papers and news websites are full of this missing feature and value it as big as the Retina display on the other side. In the end they say: Apple does not care for Europe. An impression Apple should avoid since the European market in total is about the same size like the US market.

    1. That sucks! But the iPad has so many antennas that it would require a separate iPad I suspect. Why not demand all carriers use the same LTE worldwide so consumers don’t have to suffer over this mess?

      Perhaps the iPad not supporting a separate European LTE will push us in that direction? Sort of like how Apple single handedly murdered off Flash?

      1. Europe has only one LTE standard, but US has two. If Apple can make a Verizon and a AT&T version separately, why not a third one for Europe? I think the European market is big enough for a separate version. I have Vodafone LTE for internet access at home, it works extremely well. But my brand new LTE iPad won’t have LTE – why, Apple?

        1. Little, this is why the new iPad is only being released in North America, initially. I am sure there will be one with a European :TE standard issued shortly.

    2. Whoops! I owe you an apology. It looks like while it does list that it uses 4G LTE in the aforementioned bands, I did some looking and most of europe uses entirely different bands for their LTE, so it will, in fact, be of little use there.

      My apologies for posting before I did the rest of the research.

      In watching the keynote, it seems like LTE is still rare in Europe so Apple seemed to not bother with a model that would utilize it.

      Sorry again.

  5. AT&T is not real LTE. If you’re looking for best future return on your investment, go with Verizon, because they have true LTE, capable of the theoretical 74Mbps further down the road. Future proof your iPad and the fast download experience can last you for at least the next 5 years.

    1. Not according to that article. I don’t care what “standard” my iPad is, just as long as its fast. I also don’t care about 5 years down the road, because everything will be different then (including my new scroll-style iPad).

    2. Well the “not real” LTE is quite fast, as I own both and use both at a variety of locations.

      The way to future proof your iPad is a hotspot- not an all in one. The 4G that has been serving my iPad2 will serve my new iPad next Friday and I don;t have to pay extra to tether.

    3. Actually, it is. You are confusing “4G” with LTE.

      Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T all hijacked the term “4G.” In the telecom standards community, it initially only included LTE, but the marketing folks at T-Mobile and AT&T wanted to differentiate their faster 3G upgrades from regular 3G. So they named them “4G.” They call what is technically “4G” LTE. In the case of Sprint, their orphaned WiMAX “4G-ish” technology ended up being a bad choice. Got them more speed before their rivals, but now they stand alone, pondering how to move to LTE without going bankrupt.

      Both AT&T and Verizon but use the LTE standard. Verizon was first to market with it, and has it more widely deployed than AT&T does at this point. AT&T’s LTE has been reported to be faster in real-world use than Verizon’s, but that can change with system upgrades on the carrier side. AT&T probably had the advantage of getting newer equipment and software since they started the LTE build-out later than Verizon.

  6. I’ll stick with wifi only. Don’t like taking my iPad out in public. Coffee shops are fine and they have wifi.

    Only place I can see using 4g is for directions. But the iPhone is fine for that.

  7. AT&T has much less LTE coverage at the moment, but they have extensive HSPA+ fallback, which is still really impressive speeds.

    For VZ, they fall back to EVDO RevA, which is waaaay slower than HSPA+.

    And for the medium volume user, the $30 option at AT&T gives you 50% more data quota.

  8. Look… it doesn’t matter how fast their network is if the traffic is so congested that you can’t place and receive telephone calls…. or text messages… or email… or surf the web.

    If all of these carriers want to move us to wireless, they better look like stepping big time and build more, better, and faster infrastructure and very soon.

    I’m not willing to pay $100.00 a month for service I can’t use.

    1. Essentially what you are saying is build more towers. What you are not considering is there are many regulatory, legal, and public relations hurdles to clear in order to do so.

      Some places it can take years to build a single tower. At the very least it typically takes several months. Even if there was no restrictions on building out towers, how much capacity is there in available wireless bands? This is a non trivial problem we will be struggling with for a long time.

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