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Old Sep 28, 2012, 11:57 PM   #1
smdewart
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LTE in Chicago -- AT&T vs Verizon ?

Hi All: Wondering if anyone can opine on ATT vs. Verizon LTE access and speed in Chicago? I currently have AT&T and am considering a move to Verizon. AT&T in Chicago is typically not great, but wondering if LTE is any better than 3G.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 12:13 AM   #2
milan03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smdewart View Post
Hi All: Wondering if anyone can opine on ATT vs. Verizon LTE access and speed in Chicago? I currently have AT&T and am considering a move to Verizon. AT&T in Chicago is typically not great, but wondering if LTE is any better than 3G.
AT&T LTE in Chicago is one of the most problematic AT&T markets because they only have half the amount of deployed LTE spectrum of what Verizon has.
AT&T LTE in Chicago is 5x5Mhz which allows peak download rates of 37mbps while Verizon LTE is 10x10Mhz nationwide with peak speeds of 73.6mbps.

Peak spee are not even as important as the capacity issues that AT&T is gonna have to deal until they deploy another 10Mhz of AWS spectrum. Nobody knows when is that gonna happen.

So right now LTE in Chicago on AT&T averages under 10mbps, and during congested peak hours half of that. By holiday season were looking more than half of that, easily.

Verizon is still around 20mbps on average.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 01:13 AM   #3
sdfu93
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I *really* wanted to love Verizon LTE, but am finding it lacking in coverage.

I have an iPad on AT&T LTE, an AT&T 4S and have been testing a 5 on Verizon. When I'm able to get Verizon LTE, it's usually about twice as fast as AT&T, but sporadically is on par during heavy congestion times like ~ 4 - 5 pm. In the distant north burbs (Lake Forest) I'm getting better speeds on AT&T.

My huge issue has been Verizon's claim of LTE coverage -- it's like they put LTE on the minimum number of towers possible. My phone is constantly reverting back to 3G and 2G because of a stronger signal. I had not seen the 2G circle indicator since the original iPhone!

Walking around River North/the loop, Verizon will constantly bounce between 2G - 3G and occasionally stick with LTE. I find myself turning LTE on/off in the iPhone's settings to get it back on the LTE network. During peak times, LTE signal will drop dramatically -- 2 bars during work hours, but then 4 - 5 late at night.

In normal AT&T dead spots, like elevators, basements and other tough areas my 4S is problematic as expected, AT&T LTE is pulling in a usable 1 - 2 bars, and Verizon is on 1 bar of 2G, but not actually able to pull any data. In the suburbs, I had the same situation in various big box retailers (I actually had to walk outside of the store on Verizon so that I could download a shopping list!).

Voice:
AT&T has been much better on the 4S. I keep finding myself reverting back to the AT&T 4S for conference calls because I can't stand the heavily compressed sound of Verizon. Verizon has made statements that they will not support voice over LTE (VoLTE) until mid-2013 because they know the coverage is lacking, and will not implement the costly feature of seamless switching of voice between 3G and LTE bands (so if you're making a VoLTE call, lose the LTE signal, your call will drop rather than revert to 3G).

Data:
Having the option to revert back to HSPA+ is a huge win for AT&T and they seem to have LTE on many more towers. Disadvantage is that depending on congestion, HSPA+ can be faster than LTE. AT&T will never hit the highs of Verizon's LTE because of spectrum issues.

Proxying:
Verizon will recompress web pages and transcode videos/audio. You'll find that JPEGs contain a lot more artifacts/look poorer and YouTube videos have less resolution. I also found that when streaming MP3 radio stations on Verizon, the bit rate seems to get reduced.

Overall:
- For me, Verizon costs $30-40 more a month because of the shared data plan. - Verizon has extremes of ultra lows and highs, but for web pages and other activities you're not going to notice a huge difference.
- Verizon might have great numbers now, but they're only advertising averages of ~ 10 mbps. There goal is to buy spectrum rather than put up extra towers.
- Be prepared for some 2007 iPhone 1 speeds with Verizon.

I've reserved an AT&T iPhone 5 for pickup tomorrow. I was willing to lose my unlimited AT&T plan and pay extra for great coverage, but Verizon doesn't make the cut. If they add more LTE towers by the time a 5S is released, I'll consider trying them again, but I'm not optimistic.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 11:08 AM   #4
smdewart
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Thanks much for the reply! I'm actually from Lake Bluff / Lake Forest so I know the area well, and ATT's 3G has always seemed fine up there. I live in East Lakeview and work in River North/West, and ATT is hit or miss it seems.

My wife has a Verizon LTE iPad and I've noticed that its speeds are much more modest since the iPhone 5 was made available.

But I'm also thinking about how the HSPA+ is a good fallback. My brother has the 4S and "4G" is pretty fast as-is, so if LTE doesn't work and "4G" is the runner-up, followed by 3G... then it's almost a good insurance mechanism.

All that said, VZW also unlocks the SIM card slot, which would be great for international travel I think? Then again, my wife is definitely getting the VZW iPhone 5, so even if I got the ATT 5, we'd still have some coverage.

Any other Chicagoans have comments?
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 11:17 AM   #5
misterjay
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I live in the suburbs of Chicago, (Orland Park..ect..)

AT&T LTE is GOD AWFUL. I'm pretty much getting Straight Talk Prepaid 3G Speeds.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 02:22 PM   #6
ninethirty
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Anyone else have any opinions? I'm torn at the moment. I have an unlocked GSM phone on it's way from Canada, but I also realized that I'm no longer on contract with AT&T, so I could switch over to Verizon if I wanted to, and sell the unlocked GSM phone BNIB when it gets here.

For what it's worth, AT&T on the 4S has been a nightmare. I'll have full bars in most places and get no data whatsoever. Calls will go through fine, but I rarely make calls anymore. All I care about is data, and the speed of that data.

Cheers!
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 02:37 PM   #7
mpossoff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milan03 View Post
AT&T LTE in Chicago is one of the most problematic AT&T markets because they only have half the amount of deployed LTE spectrum of what Verizon has.
AT&T LTE in Chicago is 5x5Mhz which allows peak download rates of 37mbps while Verizon LTE is 10x10Mhz nationwide with peak speeds of 73.6mbps.

Peak spee are not even as important as the capacity issues that AT&T is gonna have to deal until they deploy another 10Mhz of AWS spectrum. Nobody knows when is that gonna happen.

So right now LTE in Chicago on AT&T averages under 10mbps, and during congested peak hours half of that. By holiday season were looking more than half of that, easily.

Verizon is still around 20mbps on average.
Is there a way for AT&T to get more than 5X5?
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 04:15 PM   #8
thaghost
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I have a att work phone on lte and i just switched to verizon for my personal. I've noticed similar speeds out in the suburbs (bolingbrook up to mt prospect). But in the city, my verizon phone was much faster. it was pulling speeds of 22-28 whereas my att was at 8-10.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 04:26 PM   #9
MultiMediaWill
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Originally Posted by thaghost View Post
I have a att work phone on lte and i just switched to verizon for my personal. I've noticed similar speeds out in the suburbs (bolingbrook up to mt prospect). But in the city, my verizon phone was much faster. it was pulling speeds of 22-28 whereas my att was at 8-10.
What speeds did you get in Bolingbrook on ATT?
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 04:38 PM   #10
Ohbomb
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I work in the Citigroup building (500 w Madison) and live in the south loop. I have had AT&T with the 3GS, 4, and 4S. AT&T was always bad in terms of dropped calls and data rates but got especially bad with data about a year ago. My phone was unusable during rush hour as I took the train home from work.

I now switched my wife and I to Verizon with iPhone 5s and so far couldn't be happier. Data speeds are good and I actually get service no matter what time of day. (even during white sox and Notre dame games I've been to recently)

Obviously I haven't been on Verizon long but so far it's night and day from the kind of service I had with AT&T. I will miss data and voice at the same time but it's well worth it to have a phone that works 100% of the time.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 04:53 PM   #11
thaghost
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Originally Posted by MultiMediaWill View Post
What speeds did you get in Bolingbrook on ATT?
15-20 down 13-17 up
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