This wasn't commented at all in the article, using 4G and LTE interchangeably which I find troubling.
 100Mbit/s for high-speed transit areas and 1GBit/s for low-speed transit areas, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G#Technical_understanding
Like Keith says, more important than whether you have 3G, 4G, or LTE is:
""How much spectrum has the carrier licensed in my city, and how much is allocated to this kind of modulation?
How many other people am I sharing the local tower with? In other words, how big is my cell, and how many towers has the carrier built or contracted with?
How much throughput are my cellmates trying to consume?
How much throughput has the carrier built in its back-end network connecting to the tower?
You might notice that all of these meat-and-potatoes factors involve the carrier spending money, and they all involve gradual improvement in behind-the-scenes infrastructure that's hard to get customers excited. Persuading you to buy a new cell phone with a sophisticated modem and sign up for a two-year contract is a different story. So they don't sell you something measurable where they could be held accountable; they sell how sweet it feels to be using a sophisticated radio modem protocol to talk to them.
If the carrier sold you "384 kbps Internet access anywhere in the coverage area, outdoors," that would be something you could hold them accountable for. The carrier might even have to put a brake on signing up new customers until it could build new towers or license more spectrum for everybody to share, if it made that guarantee.""
In 2014, as measured by the Ookla app on an iPhone 6, I was routinely 50/17 and 60/20 speedtest to various servers in the region during business hours at home and work. I know this because I took a screenshot in disbelief.
Today, service varies from 1.5/1 to 10/3 during the day, and 10-15/3 at 5AM. I don't buy that usage has increased that much.
In the case of the NYC market, AT&T had the worst spectrum planning of any major carrier. They are suffering because they chose to rely on low-band spectrum rather than densifying their network, and are now trying to band-aid the solution by using carrier aggregation of oddball downlink bands. It doesn't change the core problem of having too many people on each sector.
The reason they have to stake 2G dead this early is because they are spectrum starved and already only running it in HSPA guard bands. They need every resource they can get since they haven't been spending money at throwing towers in every possible place in the city for years. They've been using it to buy a satellite company, a Mexican carrier, and WCS spectrum that's worthless without densification. Priorities.
They've been having a hard time since the late 1990's when they introduced the "one rate" plans and basically oversold their coverage area in NYC.
I distinctly remembering long articles talking about how the networks were so saturated, dealers were still activating phones on their network knowing the customers wouldn't get a signal and would have zero reception in NYC, even after being told by several courts to stop signing up customers.
Here is the text of the class action lawsuit that made it all the way the NYC Supreme Court: http://www.whafh.com/modules/case/docs/2556_cid_3_AT&T%20Cel...
EDIT: some of the articles I alluded to are listed in the class action starting on page 9.
In New York, the "Supreme Court" is the trial-level court. Above that is the "Supreme Court, Appellate Division" and above that is the "Court of Appeals".
You might find this article helpful: http://www.cell-tower-leases.com/Cell-Tower-Lease-Rates.html
But that logic does not work in an urban market. Which is where the speed complaints are coming from. The other carriers are all beating the drums on densification and focusing on building out DAS systems, what's AT&T doing?
AT&T backed off their densification commitment after their Leap purchase by arguing having more macro cells and spectrum works. The complaints and speedtests speak for themselves.
See this article: http://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/at-t-drops-goal-deplo...
I can say with 100% of confidence, they oversell like crazy and are limited on both wireless spectrum as their pipes capabilities.
Even if they have much better coverage than Tmobile where i live and work, i will still endure it and not give them my service anymore.
 remember they charged extra if you had an iphone? ha! always used android and nokia. Also of note, they managed to overcharge my all-unlimited account for $800 above the contract for two consecutive months.
Seems reasonable to me. 2 years is a long time to be comparing against. Your carrier should be upgrading their infrastructure, but if they are not these numbers seem ok.
Who cares about the price, as a customer I want to at least be able to know what I'm buying before committing 6, 12 months. There can be no competition or progress when we continue allowing ISPs to promise theoretical bandwidths that they don't come close to, ever.
ISPs, instead of expanding network capacity when they lose their side of the "elastic demand" bet, throttle companies like Netflix or extort them into financing their lacking capacity.
And you can't just throw up hardware wherever you want. The bureaucracy involved (from the FAA to the FCC to local planning boards to code inspections to historical societies to nimby obstruction) in getting a single site up is staggering. Those sites are going up, but it takes time.
I think in Europe HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA+ were more consistently called 3.5G, 3.75G and perhaps 3.9G, so 4G and LTE can be synonyms.
In America, operators are marketing HSPA+ as 4G, so then there is a need to specify when 4G is LTE and when not.
1G = NMT
2G = GSM
3G = UMTS
4G = LTE
It follows the colloquial usage though.
....set by Marketers working for Cell phone companies who are very happy to trick you into thinking you have a faster service than you do.
Source: Worked for a cell phone company that was ecstatic to roll out new towers and tout "4G for all". They were LTE towers, with a back haul incapable of 3G speeds.
LTE is a name for a specific connectivity technology, it's a parallel to UMTS in the previous generation, not to 4G or 3G. It was going to be launched independent of whether it met the 4G minimum criteria. Standards-wise, LTE predates 4G. It initially looked like WiMAX might reach the 4G criteria first, but it tanked and then we were left with waiting for LTE-Advanced.
That is to say, subscriber ARPU does not increase with network investment, so why invest in the network until it becomes a drag on subscriber growth?
Source: I was a manager at ATT when the network in San Francisco basically died with the introduction of the iPhone 3G. It stayed that way until ATT added new towers and upgraded the software on the towers for better spectrum utilization.
EDIT: Out of curiosity, I just checked again, first on LTE and then on WiFi:
LTE: 30ms ping 64mbit/s down 23mbit/s up
WiFi: 24ms ping 6mbit/s down 2mbit/s up
Actually there should be three isolated types:
Clean flows (water in, gas, telecom/data)
Outflows . . .
I think ATT is trying to go out of business here.
Once a year or so, it seems they hire some kids to come through the neighborhood selling service door to door. Every time I ask them, do you still have caps? Usually they stare at me blankly, but I then politely tell them I'm not even going to consider their service as long as I'm going to have to worry about a internet bill that could be larger in a single month than what I pay all year for my cable subscription (which literally got 10x better within a couple months of google announcing they were going to target my city).
(Building here has fiber though so I might switch if it turns out to be an issue)
No thank you. My Verizon plan is expensive, but it works pretty damn well, unlike most of the public services here. My wife and I took Amtrak every day between Wilmington-Baltimore and Baltimore-DC for about two years. It was regularly late (often very late). Trains broke down in-between Wilmington and Baltimore regularly, and my wife would be stuck in the train for hours waiting for a replacement engine to arrive. Many of the tunnels along the route are decades past their design life.
Before that, I lived in Chicago, where ancient lead water pipes poison kids. Before that I lived in Atlanta, where ancient sewer systems dump untreated sewage into the river whenever it rains. I also lived in Wilmington, DE, where bus drivers would just randomly decide to end their route 15-30 minutes early. Now I live in D.C., and even though I'm within 0.3 miles of a metro station both at work and at home, I take Uber because Metro trains keep breaking down and/or catching on fire.
I'm not a libertarian nutjob, but I don't want the government running my cell service. Our roads are awful (I just came back from Munich), our transit is awful, etc. There are a tiny handful of competent public infrastructure organizations in the country (e.g. New York's water system, Metro North), but most are a disaster. Verizon may be evil, but unlike say WMATA it doesn't have to regularly shut down major sections of its network because it spent decades neglecting its infrastructure.
It will be prohibitive for the government too, so lets just stick to wires.
The problem is that the capital expenses are high in this industry, so the players naturally want to recoup their costs and focus on profits. Eventually technology will shift, demand will rise, and one of the telcos will take the plunge in an attempt to gain marketshare. Their competitors will react, and for a while it'll be golden for the users. Then the cycle will repeat.
> Wireless infrastructure is immature and [the government can't spend].
The exact same thing could be said for the computer industry in the 40s and 50s, which was almost entirely funded by the government, precisely because only it could spend enough money for big risk long term stuff. Ditto the internet itself. Ditto the airplane. Therefore there is ample evidence that the government can spend, and spend big, on strategic stuff, and there is ample evidence that, over decades, it pays off bigtime.
> capital expenses are high, recoup etc
That's why you want the government in, because it has a much longer investment recoup horizon, and the government, unlike private networks, benefits from the general indirect economic growth advantages of good mobile infrastructure. That's precisely why it is the government that builds roads, often at a project-specific NPV loss, but at a huge NPV positive for the economy, which it taxes. In other words, only the government is able to capture the collateral positives of good infrastructure, giving it a higher incentive to spend more than private companies.
> competitive cycle rinse repeat etc
Quarterly targets are a strong disincentive to long term capital intensive projects. Most such projects undertaken by the private sector have, at a minimum, government concessions to allow restriction of competition, pricing guarantees, or outright government financial support. Notice the whole thing where municipalities cannot expand their internet service? There you go.
In general the whole dogma that the government is always useless at everything, is very pre-2008, ie. dangerously incorrect.
<In general the whole dogma that the government is always useless at everything, is very pre-2008, ie. dangerously incorrect.>
You set up a good strawman. And the implication that since 2008 (what exactly happened there?) we're somehow more capable of having well run, long term, government projects in the US is not supported by much evidence.
Yes, government can have a longer recoup horizon; but it also has an extremely short political horizon. If something doesn't succeed on the first attempt, it becomes fodder for whichever party is in power and supported it.
And while government has had successes in the past, as the investment folks remind us, is no guarantee of future successes, especially in something as complicated as creating a continent-wide wireless infrastructure. Imagine the cost, the rent-seeking, the cronyism, the NIMBYism that will infect such a project.
Government is not an agency like DARPA that is free to investigate and develop technologies without concern for budgets and satisfying constituents. Look at how politicized the FCC is. Imagine handing it perhaps the largest communication system in the world, and expecting it to manage it. Keep it upgraded. Understand which technologies are worth something, and ones which are dead ends. Oh, and make sure Grandma in Broken Bow, Nebraska has as good a connection as someone in Berkeley or San Diego.
And back to your strawman; show me large Federally run government programs implemented since 2008 that are on budget, meeting original goals, and not having huge unintended side effects.
You don't need to try to artificially restrict spectrum use, just make intentional obstruction illegal just like blocking a road is. Then if state technology calls too far behind due to budget cuts people move back to private solutions until the state can get its act together again.
Of course, the problems with US infrastructure run a lot deeper than that. I imagine in a more democratic country you would see the maintenance and upkeep of such infrastructure much easier to maintain.
"There is no doubt that the US will need to set up the infrastructure to keep pace with the rapid changes in usage and content expected in the future. Like any instance of supply and demand, we will continue to see a give and take in this market. As operators catch up to the current demand and LTE becomes faster, users will opt to use it over others – thus creating greater demand, supply scarcity, and decreased performance. At which point the cycle will begin again."
TL;DR Expect more network management in the future due to heavy demand of a constrained resource.
I feel like we've been here before. It's almost like it's 1996 again with the Telecommunications Act. Our infrastructure is bullshit and it's making the US economy fall behind its peers. No worries! Instead of actually directly fixing the problem, let's give away all the power to corporations to fix as long as they super-pinky-swear to meet infrastructure goals.
Of course we all know how this ends - they didn't meet those goals, service stagnated even more, there was never any recourse, and we've axed the option to directly fix the problem. How convenient for ISP stakeholders in 1996.
Actually one more contract-violating rate increase and I'll probably be forced to give it up. The only way I still justify it is everyone is paying an arm and a leg to Verizonopoly in my area.
People are unable to make their voting decisions outside of the TV commercials and news articles they read, so I don't have any real hope for this tactic.
If this worked the way free-market idolizers like to pretend there'd be competitors driving prices down and features/capabilities up. But none of that is happening.
Of course streaming services (I'm thinking more of Twitch than Netflix) for live content production are 'rather difficult to cache' in their prime viewing time.
If you removed the advertising from the web, caching gets really easy except for something like Twitch.
There's definitely a material difference between providers. I'm on Verizon now, but T-Mobile and AT&T were both much better when I had them (and I'll be switching back as soon as I can).
Sadly, I've also been very disappointed with FiOS speeds lately.
Don't trust Verizon. They're a sham company.
With the carrier aggregation now turned on I can get as much as 100 DL / 5 UL. They own the most LTE spectrum.
Verizon does have the best network NYC.
Have you tested signal quality in large buildings in Manhattan?
I can say I get signals in these buildings when iPhone owners using say, AT&T get no signal.
I suspect that much of the difference you see might have something to do with your handset.
This report demonstrates that Verizon has the best network.
T-Mobile already had that equipment deployed for over a year in some markets. They also are the only ones running 256QAM DL 64QAM across their entire LTE footprint (though you'd need a phone supporting it) increasing the spectral efficiency 15-20%.
If you can tolerate the boasting typical of a press release this is the CTO of T-Mobile discussing what they have already rolled out: https://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news-and-blogs/lte-advanced.ht...
The nature of mobile networks is being a shared resource, as opposed to traditional DSL or Fiber which have a generally more dedicated bandwith.
This obviously implies quite a challenge for telcos, as expanding the network comes at a massive cost.
Oh god why would anyone want to watch 4K on a cellphone. Go for 60fps instead, you'll get some value out of that on your 5" screen.
I think streaming VR content is what is going to contribute to a much larger data usage.
I know people love to hate on cell companies but it must be hell to try and keep up with demand that changes so rapidly.
We are going to see AT&T / Verizon / etc go the way of Comcast soon. The cost to improve service will be high enough and the overhead of trying to get more spectrum when they hit physical limits annoying enough and their revenues large enough and the demand insane enough they are going to constantly try to buy each other out than actually invest anything until we have one big corrupt mess like Comcast is for physical wire service.
It seems like the inevitable outcome of having infrastructure services that should be public utilities instead be provided by private companies competing over who can exploit the state to get more unfair advantage, be it land access rights for wire carriers or FCC bribing for spectrum.
At least it's relatively easier to set up a cell tower as a new competitor than it is to wire the same number of homes; this is a big factor in why we've seen the explosion of wireless in the developing world (often in places where even basic electric service is unreliable).
And hey, the feds DID block T-Mobile and AT&T from merging, so there's hope yet that they won't just roll over to every request.
And there you see the problem with data caps (common among mobile carriers but swiftly coming to cable). We have plenty of bandwidth today and are squeezed for more money in a few years.
Like, if I'm doing push notifications or IRC, I'd tell the phone that I only need 2G speeds, and the phone only connects to something faster than 2G if I open the web browser.
Right now, my phone books into LTE as soon as it's in coverage mode - and it stays there, eating power like nothing else, instead of dropping into the relatively quiet and strong-signal 2G/3G/HSxPA cells and saving power.
GSM will win most in battery efficiency due to it being a TDMA based standard that pulses the radio off and on. But LTE has improved a long way since the early days.
To summarize pre-2012 HSPA:
- Basically, HSPA phones until around 2011 or so stayed in a higher power state much longer than they should have.
- People got pissy about having crap battery life.
- Manufacturers responded by doing proprietary hacks to send modem into lower power state.
- Cell networks essentially got DDOS'd as phones sent nonstop signaling to negotiate different power states.
- Phones now not only got poor battery life, but also barely operated on the now congested network.. remember the at&t iphone monopoly days before 2012 in major cities, it was a bad time.
3GPP Rel8 came about to fix the issue for good by moving power state control to the towers. Here's an article explaining the technicals of it: http://blog.3g4g.co.uk/2010/10/fast-dormancy-in-release-8.ht...
Easier read: http://www.3glteinfo.com/fast-dormancy-in-3gpp/
Would agree though that process size and baseband optimization is helping the LTE situation. Differences are very small and Apple actually quotes better LTE life on the SE than 3G. LTE really came into its own in just the past 2 years.
I'm especially thinking about car/truck theft systems. That's going to be expensive to retrofit these...
With the bandwidth available to LTE connections already I think for the time being we're pretty much topped out on the bandwidth an individual terminal needs, just need to service more of them with less hardware.
2G is also far less power efficient per byte.
The most efficient phone using today's technology would be a category 10 or higher LTE modem /w no 2/3G modems at all. Radio is on for a very short time, then switches back off.
Results: 69.39 down, 20.70 up, 36 ms ping (to Norwood). The test used about 170 megabytes of my 3-gigabyte monthly quota.
Outrage of course, ensues.
Not that this excuses the big drop in speeds, but it makes the comparative piece a bit less relevant/accurate.
It might be economically unfeasible to service remote areas, but covering a given area is much harder as population density increases, not less hard.
Yet other countries can do while charging the consumer less.
To the extent that high-speed wired internet is part of the infrastructure needed for high-speed cellular networks, the cost benefit would similarly favor dense populations.
Tower density would have to be higher, of course, and interference could be an issue, but I've not seen anything indicating that these challenges outweigh the cost savings from having a dense population. I'd be interested in seeing an analysis!
Here's hoping they do invest in some more cells for my dense metro bretheren, because I enjoy 60Mbps at least day-to-day here in Boise :/
Anyway, why do you need unlimited data if you don't use a lot of data?
What is dead may never die.
Quite good, almost as fast as my home connection.
So why are the companies in San Francisco not getting sued for false advertising?
higher than in Germany, great!