Carrier AT&T LTE Network...very congested?

BlockEight88

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2013
217
32
Has anyone noticed that as of lately, AT&T's LTE network on band 17 (700mhz) seems to be very congested? When LTE first hit my area over two years ago, I was hitting 50mbps during the day. Now I find it challenging to hit 10mpbs. There is nothing wrong with 10mbps, but I am shocked the network is this congested. I have also noticed that LTE signal strength is not what it use to be. Sometimes the LTE doesn't even work. HSPA+ seems much better in many circumstances. That's funny, as it's last generation wireless networks.

Anyone know what our favorite GSM carrier is doing about all of this? I have read they don't have the spectrum to compete with Verizon or T-Mobile. How are they remaining competitive in mid 2014? I am somewhat envious that Verizon folks get 20+20 LTE. Especially those with unlimited data.
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,764
14,920
Jacksonville, Florida
I think there must be something going on in your area as I get 40-50 mbps from AT&T in my area. This could just be a local thing, mayb e a tower down for maint.

AT&T is GOLD for me!
 

BlockEight88

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2013
217
32
This is in Chicago btw. The network isn't always bad, but it seems more often than not.
 

larrylaffer

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2009
548
530
Los Angeles
This is in Chicago btw. The network isn't always bad, but it seems more often than not.
I live in Los Angeles, and I actually get the best speeds in downtown, where I would expect higher congestion. On a good day I can usually get around 12 in each direction on my iPhone 5.

Where I live however, on the outskirts of the county, I'm lucky to get 4 or 5.
 

BlockEight88

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2013
217
32
It is happening with Verizon too, that is why I chose Sprint. 3 different bands of LTE (800/1900/2500) so this kind of thing won't happen.
I'm confused? You chose the nation's worst rated wireless provider? T-Mobile probably would have been a better choice.

I have noticed poor ATT LTE performance in many areas now, not just mine.
 

ValerieDurden

macrumors 6502a
Feb 3, 2010
593
0
Philadelphia, PA, USA
I'm confused? You chose the nation's worst rated wireless provider? T-Mobile probably would have been a better choice.

I have noticed poor ATT LTE performance in many areas now, not just mine.
T-Mobile is a joke, and I chose Sprint because the price is right and it's my best alternative to Verizon or AT&T who's service is not exactly amazing around here. We have a few Verizon phones in my house and it's usually 1x with 1 bar or so, yet here I am on LTE with 3 bars on Sprint. AT&T or T-Mobile is straight up No Service here.
 

aneftp

macrumors 601
Jul 28, 2007
4,247
463
ATT can become congested just like Verizon depending on area and location.

I have both services so know both can become congested especially Verizon's LTE service. That's why Verizon had to launch "double LTE" or LTE XL whatever it's called for more capacity.

Haven't had any issues with ATT LTE until recently. Was in Atlanta (obviously a ATT strong hold). Was at Lego convention for my 4 year old kid. LTE speeds was horrendously slow at lego convention in the Galleria in Cobb County, GA around 10AM Saturday time.
 

MattMJB0188

macrumors 68000
Dec 28, 2009
1,919
340
T-Mobile is a joke, and I chose Sprint because the price is right and it's my best alternative to Verizon or AT&T who's service is not exactly amazing around here. We have a few Verizon phones in my house and it's usually 1x with 1 bar or so, yet here I am on LTE with 3 bars on Sprint. AT&T or T-Mobile is straight up No Service here.
A "joke" who is a HUGE threat to your beloved carrier, Sprint.
 

JoshGlzBrk

macrumors 6502a
Aug 27, 2009
757
14
I haven't had a chance to test out Verizon's 20+20mhz AWS (band 4) spectrum here in Seattle, but their 700mhz network is severely overloaded to the point where I can have full bars but nothing data related works.

Once I get a iPhone 6 I'm hoping the AWS network will at least be usable.

As far as I know, AT&T does not have any major continuous spectrum now to stop their network from slowing down significantly in the next couple of years.
 

ineel

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2010
212
11
I see what you mean by at&t doesn't have spectrum to compete. Verizon is deploying band 4 LTE using unused AWS, T-Mobile is deploying band 4 on their unused/refarmed AWS, and spring on their refarmed PCS/unused BRS. All these carriers are using spectrum they previously didn't use in their 3G networks. at&t did use their 10x10 holdings in the 700Mhz for their original LTE deployment. But now that network is getting full of users and speeds are dropping. at&t doesn't have new spectrum to deploy additional LTE spectrum, so they must refarm their existing 3G spectrum. I don't know if you know this, but at&t has the most PCS spectrum holdings of any carrier. PCS refarming has been going on with at&t since late 2013 and you may have noticed places with band 2 LTE present. at&t is currently utilizing a 5x5Mhz network on band 2 in most places. This means there has been a 50% capacity increase in your area if band 2 has been deployed. Note that the max. speed on a 5x5 network is about 36mbps and 72mbps on a 10x10 network. At&t can theoretically convert the 5x5 PCS LTE network to 10x10 in the future as demand increases. I believe at&t already has a 10x10 PCS LTE in Dallas, TX due to their huge PCS holdings in the texas market.

At&t does also own a lot of 700mhz lower D and some lower E block spectrum. FCC mandates this spectrum can only be used on the downlink and not on the uplink. That means at&t can't use this spectrum until LTE advanced arrives. This would allow a 15x10 or even a 20x10 LTE network. In addition at&t does own most of the country's WCS spectrum, but it is highly unlikely that it will be used for LTE as at&t has announced their own in flight wifi and may use this spectrum for ground to air backhaul.

at&t:
10x10 700Mhz band 17 (main band)
5x5 or 10x10 1900Mhz PCS band 2 (deployed in congested areas)
10x10 2100/1700Mhz AWS band 4 (deployed where they do have spectrum licenses)
5x5 850Mhz Cellular band 5 (deployed in areas lacking 700Mhz licenses)
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,027
1,798
Manhattan
AT&T in the NYC metro area fluctuates by me. A month ago I'd be lucky to get 3G speeds on LTE and now it's up to around 10mbps/5mbps which is decent. However, anytime I'm close to large groups of people my iPhone is unusable.

It's getting to the point where I'm not sure AT&T can position itself as a "premium" carrier anymore.
 

MattMJB0188

macrumors 68000
Dec 28, 2009
1,919
340
Hardly a threat but keep dreaming.
Considering they are stealing the majority of Sprint customers, I'd say Sprint is the most threatened by T-Mobile. That, and the fact that the majority of their network sucks. Sprint has what? 1 million more customers than T-Mobile? I am sure they'll place in no 3 sometime this year. Kiss Sprint goodbye and their atrocious network.

Just stop already with the Sprint crap. They are horrible and the WORST carrier. That is a FACT. T-Mobile's EDGE runs circles around their 3G and maybe even LTE.


I see what you mean by at&t doesn't have spectrum to compete. Verizon is deploying band 4 LTE using unused AWS, T-Mobile is deploying band 4 on their unused/refarmed AWS, and spring on their refarmed PCS/unused BRS. All these carriers are using spectrum they previously didn't use in their 3G networks. at&t did use their 10x10 holdings in the 700Mhz for their original LTE deployment. But now that network is getting full of users and speeds are dropping. at&t doesn't have new spectrum to deploy additional LTE spectrum, so they must refarm their existing 3G spectrum. I don't know if you know this, but at&t has the most PCS spectrum holdings of any carrier. PCS refarming has been going on with at&t since late 2013 and you may have noticed places with band 2 LTE present. at&t is currently utilizing a 5x5Mhz network on band 2 in most places. This means there has been a 50% capacity increase in your area if band 2 has been deployed. Note that the max. speed on a 5x5 network is about 36mbps and 72mbps on a 10x10 network. At&t can theoretically convert the 5x5 PCS LTE network to 10x10 in the future as demand increases. I believe at&t already has a 10x10 PCS LTE in Dallas, TX due to their huge PCS holdings in the texas market.

At&t does also own a lot of 700mhz lower D and some lower E block spectrum. FCC mandates this spectrum can only be used on the downlink and not on the uplink. That means at&t can't use this spectrum until LTE advanced arrives. This would allow a 15x10 or even a 20x10 LTE network. In addition at&t does own most of the country's WCS spectrum, but it is highly unlikely that it will be used for LTE as at&t has announced their own in flight wifi and may use this spectrum for ground to air backhaul.

at&t:
10x10 700Mhz band 17 (main band)
5x5 or 10x10 1900Mhz PCS band 2 (deployed in congested areas)
10x10 2100/1700Mhz AWS band 4 (deployed where they do have spectrum licenses)
5x5 850Mhz Cellular band 5 (deployed in areas lacking 700Mhz licenses)
This is informative. Thank you. If AT&T plans on deploying PCS (1900) LTE, then wouldn't signal strength suffer as those higher frequencies don't travel as far?
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,245
1,313
I haven't had a chance to test out Verizon's 20+20mhz AWS (band 4) spectrum here in Seattle, but their 700mhz network is severely overloaded to the point where I can have full bars but nothing data related works.
Same experience in my market with the 700mhz network being overloaded.

Frequently had full bars of LTE, but had to manually switch my phone 3G (EVDO, 250-500kbps max down here, slow as hell) to get working data, especially near crowded venues (like shopping malls, or major intersections during rush hour).

Verizon flipped on their XLTE coverage here a few months ago. Areas with shody LTE coverage got an extra 1-2 bars. However, there was no speed increase anywhere I used the phone. 10mpbs was OMG fast, 2-4mpbs was normal, and it wasn't unheard of to get below 2mpbs.

Maybe they were doing it in phases (turning on the extra band first, then coming back and adding additional backhaul capacity at the sites later), but I didn't stick around long enough to find out.
 

rui no onna

macrumors 604
Oct 25, 2013
6,799
3,089
Has anyone noticed that as of lately, AT&T's LTE network on band 17 (700mhz) seems to be very congested? When LTE first hit my area over two years ago, I was hitting 50mbps during the day. Now I find it challenging to hit 10mpbs. There is nothing wrong with 10mbps, but I am shocked the network is this congested. I have also noticed that LTE signal strength is not what it use to be. Sometimes the LTE doesn't even work. HSPA+ seems much better in many circumstances. That's funny, as it's last generation wireless networks.
In fairness, I think the LTE slowdown is pretty much across the board. Back when very few people had LTE devices (which, in my area pretty much coincides with before Apple released the iPhone 5), LTE speeds were great. I'd typically get around 20Mbps minimum. Nowadays, I'm down to 8-10Mbps with occasional slowdowns to 2-5Mbps. Worst speed I've seen on LTE was with Verizon last week at Anime Expo 2014 - ~0.65Mbps down/0.03Mbps up but that's an unusual scenario. :rolleyes:

One good thing about AT&T, their HSPA+ network tends to be much faster than Verizon's 3G so it's a pretty good fallback. :)
 

ineel

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2010
212
11
Considering they are stealing the majority of Sprint customers, I'd say Sprint is the most threatened by T-Mobile. That, and the fact that the majority of their network sucks. Sprint has what? 1 million more customers than T-Mobile? I am sure they'll place in no 3 sometime this year. Kiss Sprint goodbye and their atrocious network.

Just stop already with the Sprint crap. They are horrible and the WORST carrier. That is a FACT. T-Mobile's EDGE runs circles around their 3G and maybe even LTE.




This is informative. Thank you. If AT&T plans on deploying PCS (1900) LTE, then wouldn't signal strength suffer as those higher frequencies don't travel as far?
True, PCS spectrum attenuates more easily than 700Mhz spectrum. In urban/suburban markets, at&t towers are spaced with PCS in mind while rural towers are spaced for 850Mhz. PCS LTE should work great in urban/suburban areas when you are outside. Indoors, PCS has less signal propagation and the 700Mhz signal will be stronger. Your phone doesn't really just pick which LTE band is giving a better signal, the carrier files determine what LTE bands your phone is allowed on and which band to prioritize for connection. As network load changes throughout the day, your phone may switch over to PCS LTE if 700Mhz LTE is too saturated even if the signal gain is worse. At night your phone may switch back to 700Mhz LTE for the higher signal gain (less battery usage).
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,764
14,920
Jacksonville, Florida
T-Mobile is a joke, and I chose Sprint because the price is right and it's my best alternative to Verizon or AT&T who's service is not exactly amazing around here. We have a few Verizon phones in my house and it's usually 1x with 1 bar or so, yet here I am on LTE with 3 bars on Sprint. AT&T or T-Mobile is straight up No Service here.
Sprint is not the cheapest for nothing. It is fighting for its life as a carrier. Poor speeds and lack of coverage.
 

JoJoCal19

macrumors 65816
Jun 25, 2007
1,077
54
Jacksonville, FL
I too have noticed this in Tampa, FL. Here at work I would consistently pull down 4 bars (I didn't bother to check the db rating at the time to compare to now) and a solid 8-10Mbps consistently, around my work campus (outside the building). Now I'm usually at 2 bars and 2-3Mbps. Not an insignificant difference. This is running a VZW iPhone 5 on HSPA+.

Likewise I have a AT&T Note 3 that struggles to pull down 6-7Mbps in the same area. I've also noticed in other areas in the Tampa metro service has gotten a lot slower than it used to be.
 

madsci954

macrumors 68030
Oct 14, 2011
2,664
499
Ohio
I'm on Cricket Wireless (AT&T MVNO) and I've noticed some network issues the last week or so. I'm getting 4G more than LTE and last night, I was Best Buy and my cellular signal dropped completely. I still had 4 bars, but my data connection vanished, no 4G or anything, not even Edge. I just figured things were getting congested from Fourth of July holiday, but I'm wondering if there's something else.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,556
6,520
Florida, USA
It happens. Sometimes when I'm in Miami Beach and there's a big event going on, LTE barely works at all. I could have five bars and barely be able to load a simple page.

Turn off LTE to hop on HSPA+ and suddenly it works perfectly and fast.

That's the nice thing about having two data networks available. :) I remember being able to do the same thing when I had an iPhone 4, switching to EDGE when 3G coverage didn't work. Only it was a lot less usable because EDGE is so horrifyingly slow. HSPA+ and LTE are both fast and very usable.
 

MattMJB0188

macrumors 68000
Dec 28, 2009
1,919
340
It happens. Sometimes when I'm in Miami Beach and there's a big event going on, LTE barely works at all. I could have five bars and barely be able to load a simple page.

Turn off LTE to hop on HSPA+ and suddenly it works perfectly and fast.

That's the nice thing about having two data networks available. :) I remember being able to do the same thing when I had an iPhone 4, switching to EDGE when 3G coverage didn't work. Only it was a lot less usable because EDGE is so horrifyingly slow. HSPA+ and LTE are both fast and very usable.
Hopefully the next iPhone supports carrier aggregation.