Now that Verizon Wireless’ 4G data network has a launch date of Dec. 5 and pricing attached, let’s take a look at how it stacks up to the competition. Verizon Wireless joins Sprint and T-Mobile, who are also touting high-performance 4G networks.


Now that the Verizon Wireless 4G network has a launch date of Dec. 5 and pricing attached, let’s take a look at how it stacks up to the competition. The term 4G, mind you, is a bit muddled as no service currently offers true 4G speeds.

Ss Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone said, this is a “generational” bump up in performance: 10x compared to the Verizon’s existing 3G network. But Verizon is still trailing Sprint’s rollout of WiMAX, which has come on strong lately with deployments in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has rebranded its HSPA+ network as a 4G network, because it can deliver competitive speeds, and we haven’t even talked about AT&T, which is also rolling out HSPA+, and has plans to roll out LTE in 2011, which it reminded us about today.

So what should you consider in a “4G” network? Here’s a look at three of the largest carriers touting high-performance 4G networks today:

4G Service Providers Verizon Wireless (LTE) Sprint/Clearwire (WiMAX) T-Mobile (HSPA+ 21)
Speed – download 5-12 Mbps 3-6 Mbps 5-8 Mbps
Speed – upload 2-5 Mbps 1 Mbps 2.4 Mbps in tests
Coverage by end of 2010 110 million people 120 million people 200 million
Prices (modem) $50 for 5 GB/month 

$80 for 10 GB/month

$60 for unlimited data on 4G + 

5 GB on 3G

$25 for 200 MB/month 

$40 for 5GB/month

Devices Two USB modems Two handsets, portable hotspots, modems. Two phones and modems

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  1. Clear and T-Mobile have good rates ($40-$45/month) without requiring a 2-year contract (which many people, including myself, don’t like). What is the contract term for Verizon’s pricing?

    T-Mobile’s 5G/month is, IIRC, still a soft cap; after 5G you can get throttled, but won’t get charged more.

    Clear has cheaper mobile plans ($45 and up) and combo plans (e.g. 2 mobile or home+mobile for $60/month).

    Also, you can get down to ~$40/month (2 year contract) on Sprint if you get an EVO 4G on the SRDO plans and tether; on a T-Mobile HSPA+ phone it’d be $45 month ($30 for data, $15 for tethering).

    Verizon’s low caps mean I wouldn’t even consider it for DSL/cable replacement.

  2. That chart shows Sprint’s speeds as 3-6Mbps down, but whenever I’ve been on 4G in Columbus I’ve seen at a minimum 7, and as high as 13Mbps.

  3. What about frequency? That’s another important factor to consider, lower frequencies penetrate solids better, allowing for much better indoor reception than higher frequencies.

    1. Which is the real key here. Verizon is using 700Mhz, which is going to provide better coverage/penetration than Clearwire’s 2.5Ghz.

      1. A 2.5GHz antenna will outperform a 700 MHz antenna of the same physical size. It will be interesting to see who wins given the better antenna efficiency/gain available to a 2.5GHz handset.

      2. @Steve your statement is not correct. A 2.5Ghz antenna will have more gain than a 700Mhz antenna of the same size. However, gain does not equal performance as performance is more attributed to signal-to-noise ratio and higher gain increases both signal AND noise. Simply put, 700Mhz is going to have significantly less signal loss than 2.5Ghz over a given path.

  4. Rebecca Woodcock Thursday, December 2, 2010

    All carriers will be moving to a tiered data plan pricing structure in the near future. The all-you-can-eat unlimited plans have proven to be unsustainable as a business model. Some will cap you at your limit, while other will charge more for additional usage. We may see more tethering add-on plans as a result. What the carriers will need to do is a better job at educating consumers as to how 200 MB vs 5 GB vs 10 GB translates to what they are actually doing. Most can’t tell the difference between what those numbers mean, let alone what they think they actually use.

  5. No US carrier offers 4G. So let’s stop pretending like it is. If you wish to understand what exactly 4G is, refer to its definition by the International Telecommunication Union.

    It is a shame that the carriers have misused the term 4G in its marketing efforts in order to attract new users.

    1. 4G is not an official measurement nor a certified specification (with anyone outside of the ITU). 4G simply means 4th Generation. If the ITU can say that “EDGE” is 3G, I certainly don’t see how LTE can be put in the same category. I see no problem with carriers calling it 4G. As far as I’m concerned, it is 4G.

  6. You numbers are dead wrong. I pay 45.00 for no cap download and l meg upload, unlimited. You should double check your data on http://www.clear.com s website.

  7. I’m guessing the T-Mobile coverage by end of 2010 is supposed to be 20 million not 200?

    1. nope, it’s actually 200 million.

      1. Sooooo…. T-Mobile will serve 65% of the US population and will actually be the largest wireless provider by the end of the month? :)

        “In total, T-Mobile said it had about 33.81 million wireless subscribers on its network at the end of the third quarter.” http://www.wirelessindustrynews.org/news-nov-2010/2210-111410-win-news.html

    2. 200 million is the number of people that its ‘4G’ signal can reach… not its customer base.

  8. Why did they include T-Mobile’s HSPA+ in the comparison but not AT&T’s HSPA+ network (which covers 80% of their subscribers). I guess they only include them if they “call” it 4G.

  9. 4G Network Numbers « Daniel's Rants & Raves Thursday, December 2, 2010

    [...] First it was Sprint spamming the world that they are moving or partial a 4G network, now Verizon and T Mobile join the whirl with each carrier now touting their 4G networks, But what exactly is a 4G network, why should you care about being on it, and who has the best 4G network as of today, well I cant answer any of these questions per say, but this article might lead you on your way to making the right choice for your needs, check the article out HERE. [...]

  10. The Real 4G Wireless Networks Will Arrive in 2013 : Broadband News and Analysis « Friday, February 25, 2011

    [...] the International Telecommunications Union is apparently fine with calling the current crop of LTE, WiMAX and HSPA+ technologies 4G (which is good, because marketers were already doing so), but for those diehards who believe real [...]

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