How LTE changes the VZ vs. ATT battle

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by orangebluedevil, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. orangebluedevil macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2010
    #1
    I currently have an iPhone 4S on ATT (5 in my family plan to be exact), but I'm considering switching to Verizon for the next iPhone with LTE. I know you've all heard this story a million times before, but my take on it may be a little different, so bear with me.

    The most common cities I am in are Houston, Austin, San Francisco, and NYC. In that order. Using rootmetrics.com, I looked at these 4 cities. What I take away from their "Rootscore Reports" (that are found in the right column after clicking a city), is that Verizon is typically slower but more reliable. This mimics my real world impressions.

    For actual numbers, in those 4 cities, Verizon is roughly 10 Mbps down while ATT is roughly 15 Mbps down. However, Verizon has a data failure rate half as often as ATT.

    My thinking, is that LTE changes the game. With 3G, a difference of 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps was noticable. But how noticable is a difference between 10 and 15 Mbps? You don't download large files onto a phone, in fact the largest bandwidth usage I can think of would be streaming a video. For this case, 10 Mbps is plenty. So I'd prefer less failures, instead of having an extra 5 Mbps.

    My point is that since LTE speeds themselves are so high, we don't necessary need even higher speeds anymore, but instead prefer more reliable speeds. I'm open to critiques.

    (Yes, I know about FaceTime over 3G and Hotspot controversies.)
     
  2. Frankied22 macrumors 68000

    Frankied22

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    #2
    I couldn't agree more. This is what I have been telling people I know. Cellular speeds are soon becoming a marketing gimmick, like those meaningless specs you see on an HDTV. When you break past 7-8Mbps on a phone, there really is no difference in the things people use their phone for. You will be able to download things quickly, you will be able to stream Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu, etc. without stopping and stuttering for buffering. Now I know people will respond with something like "Why improve on anything then? It's good enough right now, right?", but when it comes to cellular speeds right now, yes, it is good enough. Until there is a break in the system and the way cellular companies operate, we will always have capped data, and outrageous prices. It is amazing to think very soon we will have cellular data that is faster than home broadband, but it does't mean squat when we have capped data and very high prices. So, just examining where we are at right now, and with the new iPhone, I think people are making way too big of a deal out of LTE. I actually prefer AT&T's slow and steady method of their LTE rollout. They at least have HSPA+ you can fall back to if there is not LTE in your area. Even their GSM 3G is a lot faster than Verizon's CDMA 3G. When you don't have LTE with Verizon, you're looking at .5 - 1.5Mbps.
     
  3. Cougarcat macrumors 604

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    Sep 19, 2003
    #3
    I think this has already happened, to some extent, with the 4S. Can people really tell the difference even between HSPA+ and LTE?

    In 20 years it'll matter again, when we all want to download 4K movies on our 32 TB iPhones with picoprojectors, but for now, I agree.
     
  4. physicsguy13 macrumors 6502

    physicsguy13

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    Oct 5, 2010
    Location:
    Huntiingon Beach, CA
    #4
    Yes you can tell the difference with some video streaming. I have LTE from Verizon on my iPad and HSPA+ on my 4S from AT&T and the iPhone has had more issues with buffering. Of course, that could be more of a statement about AT&T than HSPA+.
     
  5. Photogdave macrumors regular

    Photogdave

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    #5
    For numbers you are correct. I have a 4s on Verizon and I work with two people with 4s' on AT&T. In same area both with full signal, the AT&T phones murder mine in speed test.
    They run 5mbps down and I get 1.8. Should translate right.....
    But in actual use next to each other I murder them in use.
    Meaning, yes their speeds are faster when tested, but when we're trying to pull up same sites etc, my Verizon phone loads like the speeds are reversed.
    Even when I was only pulling .80mbps, Id smoke them on loading. We haven't figured out why, but it is what it is. Its almost like those numbers mean nothing.
    So you cant judge Carrier just on download spec.

    To throw another note in.
    I work with two others who have 4G Android devices.
    One Galaxy SIII, and a Motorola Razor.
    I murder both of them too.
    The Moto guy was trying to show me pics on FB from Italy trip.
    The thumbs wouldn't even populate, while hes trying to get them to show, I open FB on the 4s, go to his page, open the album, thumbs load instantly, and I'm actually swiping full images before his thumbs finished loading.
    And he checked his speed, 45mbps, mine was 1.2. Go figure
    Same thing on Galaxy SIII, just not near as as severe.
    But hes getting 23mbps, should smoke my phone no question.....but it doesn't.

    So it also has to do with device. Im hoping the iPhone 5 on LTE will be real improvement as opposed to what Ive seen on Android LTE experience. It doesn't seem to make a difference in use.

    I think Apple will be able to make use of the speed. And give users a real improvement on experience and feel.
    I know I saw a major difference in WiFi speed comparing Fascinate to my 4s.....real use speed.

    Apple's been criticized for waiting on rolling out LTE, but I think its a better move for first impression for customer experience.
    LTE has just now started being stable.....at least around here. My friend with the Razor had the Samsung Charge when LTE was first rolling out and it was ALWAYS down. Now not so much.

    Now to agree.....WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO WITH THE PRICES!!!
    Im actually gonna save money on my circumstance , but most(75%) are not.
    Its ridiculous
     
  6. orangebluedevil thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2010
    #6
    Thanks everyone for the great input. This is a great thread so far.

    Photogdave - I agree with your real world tests. I was just testing a 4S on Verizon vs 4S on ATT and found the same results as you. I was getting 3Mbps on Verizon vs 5Mbps on ATT, but the same Instagram photos were loading faster on the Verizon phone. Roughly 25% faster if I had to guess.

    All signs are pointing towards Verizon at this point.

    (It's like the market is becoming tiered. Tier 1 is better service with Verizon for slightly more money. Tier 2 is slightly worse service with ATT for the same or cheaper. Tier 3 & 4 are T-Mobile and Sprint for significant savings and significantly worse service.)
     
  7. Orange Crane macrumors 6502

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    Jul 17, 2012
    #7
    My verizon lte has been crap all week. Presently using their also crap 3G because the iPad won't connect to lte. Located about in the center of the amazon.com hq complex in downtown Seattle. Not very impressive.
     
  8. CrAkD macrumors 68040

    CrAkD

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    Feb 15, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #8
    Problem is if no LTE is available you fall back to 1-2mbps instead of 4-8mbps. I did this same thing for my iPad 3 got the Verizon version and now I regret it. I'm sticking with AT&T for iPhone and will get an iPad 4 on AT&T as well. By then I'll prob be forced into a share plan anyway.
     
  9. PharmDoc macrumors 6502

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    Oct 10, 2010
    #9
    I think a lot of us with AT&T are debating the switch. My dilemma is giving up unlimited data and Ive heard the arguments that faster speeds won't make you use more data but I disagree with that. I think the shared plans are ok which makes me not want to switch (especially with the way the FAN discounts will be applied) and I bought a LTE Verizon iPad and the speeds on that thing are amazing which makes the decision harder as you know what Verizon offers and with LTE you do get simultaneous talk/data so that eliminates one AT&T advantage. Also, here in SoCal, Verizon has great LTE in LA, the OC and IE whereas AT&T has yet to expand in the IE, which is where I work. I am also getting tired of the dropped calls from AT&T. I havent decided yet and probably won't until at least October or november.
     
  10. mnsportsgeek macrumors 65816

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    Feb 24, 2009
    #10
    Sorry, LTE is a big deal. Yes, you can get perfectly good HSPA+ speeds when you are in the PERFECT spot. However, LTE allows us to get 8-10 mbps with poor signal strength. That's what LTE is all about. Perfectly usable internet ANYWHERE.
     
  11. orangebluedevil thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2010
    #11
    That's interesting. You are saying signal strength doesn't affect speeds on LTE. Do you have somewhere I could read more about that.
     
  12. alent1234 macrumors 603

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    Jun 19, 2009
    #12
    i could care less about LTE. my data is OK at the 2mbps mark.

    at home i max out at 10mbps because that's all i need to stream video on my TV
     
  13. bogatyr macrumors 65816

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    Mar 13, 2012
    #13
    If you have unlimited data on ATT, I wouldn't switch - even though I think Verizon offers better service. The reason why I say this is that when LTE comes into play, speed matters less (10 vs 15 isn't important), data limits however are extremely important. When you're using data up to 5 times as fast (2Mb 3G to 10Mb LTE), you drain your cap much faster and you don't realize it.

    My usage on Verizon's 3G network was under 2GB/mo. My usage on their 4G LTE network is 10+GB/mo.
     
  14. citivolus macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 19, 2008
    #14
    Unfortunately this just isn't the case in the real world. My AT&T iPad works great when I have a strong LTE signal (15+ Mbps), but it regularly falls back to HSPA+ when the signal is weak.
     
  15. mnsportsgeek macrumors 65816

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    Feb 24, 2009
    #15
    No, not the case. I'm saying, with a great LTE signal you'll get 20mbps+... with a poor one you are likely to see 6-8mbps. What i'm saying is that that 6-8 is still perfectly usable at poor signal strength.
     
  16. jredecop macrumors 6502a

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    #16

    I think this is because Verizon has much quicker pings.
     
  17. lavrishevo macrumors 68000

    lavrishevo

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    Location:
    NJ
    #17
    AT&T now throttles you after 3 GB for those who still have unlimited, like myself.
     
  18. aneftp macrumors 68040

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    Jul 28, 2007
    #18
    Incorrect. ATT's ping times are often less than 70ms. That's a very low ping time (for me). I have both ATT and Verizon LTE service and am in Orlando.

    We have extremely strong ATT LTE service in Orlando area even though Verizon had a 7-8 month head start. Verizon launched LTE in Orlando in Jan/Feb 2011. And ATT launched in Orlando I believe around August/September 2011. Verizon's LTE service is excellent also but I feel ATT's LTE service is stronger.

    As for how the battle changes. It doesn't. Most people won't switch just for LTE. If you already have good Verizon service, you won't switch. If you already have good ATT service, you won't switch either.

    With data caps (throttled), LTE isn't going to be a make/break decision with the vast majority of consumers.

    What matters most to consumers (and this excludes most of us macrumors techie users) are in the following priority

    1. Cell service quality (actually being able to make a phone call)
    2. Price
    3. price
    4. price
    5.price
    6.price
    7.price

    Than data speeds

    There is a reason Sprint still has 50-60 million customers and T-Mobile still has 35 million customers (give or take). It all comes down to cell phone coverage and pricing. Sprint and T-mobile are "cheaper" than Verizon and ATT.
     
  19. orangebluedevil thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2010
    #19
    I appreciate your input but clearly this thread is not talking about most people. Or about price. Most people don't analyze data speeds like I am, instead most people care about price alone - exactly like you said. This thread is clearly not worrying about price and instead hypothesizing that the increased speeds over 10 Mbps are not as useful to me (a power user) as the reliability gained by switching to Verizon. Do you have any input on that?
     
  20. citivolus macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 19, 2008
    #20
    again, this is a huge generality that is just not relevant for everyone. I first bought a Verizon iPad 3 and had a decent LTE signal but was getting speeds of 2Mbit with a 140ms ping time. I swapped it for an AT&T version and am getting 15+Mbit with 48ms ping time.

    ----------

    Relax.

    I think the question comes down to how you plan to use the LTE service. If you plan to use it as a hotspot, then the faster download speeds will be a major factor. If you plan to use the connectivity more on the iPhone itself as in interactive apps (Facetime, Skype, remote desktop), then ping time will be more of a factor. I regularly use Splashtop remote desktop software on my iPad to manage my servers and can clearly see the difference between the two carriers based on the reduced ping times with AT&T even when their download speed was slower than Verizon.

    Also, when out of LTE coverage area, the 3G service on Verizon was much, much slower than AT&T. "Reliability" doesn't mean much in this category.
     
  21. linkgx1 macrumors 65816

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    Oct 12, 2011
    #21
    Great,now carrier fanboys.:rolleyes:

    The issue is, though, that ATT has a stronger 'backup' system that may prove to be worthwhile if you travel a lot across the US.
     
  22. CoriG macrumors 6502

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    Jun 7, 2011
    #22
    4G in Los Angeles?

    Is anyone familiar with the Verizon 4G coverage in Southern California? I am currently on At&t and am thinking of just paying the ETF and moving over to Verizon because believe it or not, it is cheaper. But dont want to do it if I am going to get bad 4g (already know that the cell service is much better).

    Thanks!
     
  23. takeshi74 macrumors 601

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    Feb 9, 2011
    #23
    "Now"? They're nothing new.
     
  24. BiggAW macrumors 68020

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    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #24
    While Verizon looked like they were way ahead in terms of LTE spectrum, AT&T has been working some magic to keep pace. I think in the long term, AT&T is fine.

    Also, it seems that a lot of people don't even care about LTE which is shocking.
     
  25. orangebluedevil thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jun 28, 2010
    #25
    I don't really trust AT&T's magic they've been working lately. If I was them, I would make sure that by iPhone launch day I just had a high number of LTE cities. Even if its not tested and ready. Just so that I don't get crushed in the news. Verizon has about 350, AT&T needs to at least hit 100+ to not look foolish.

    I'm positing that data connection reliability is more important and its not about speed so much anyone. Which they are half as reliable at doing. Will be interesting to hear feedback after the initial "omg it's fast" days.
     

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