Rivals Hit Verizon LTE

As Verizon Wireless prepares to activate its high-speed Long Term Evolution Network on Sunday for mobile computer users, its biggest rival opened fire Thursday, warning Verizon customers about “jarring speed degradation.” At the same time, Clearwire boasted that its network can handle more capacity.

Without mentioning the carrier by name, AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan in a blog post hit Verizon for not investing in its current 3G network while it rolls out LTE, which it calls 4G. AT&T is taking its time going to a faster network, while still working to improve its existing 3G infrastructure.

Fallback Option

“Our HSPA+ network and upgraded backhaul is expected to deliver speed performance similar to initial LTE deployments,” Donovan wrote. “That matters, because when we begin commercial deployment of LTE in mid-2011, customers on our LTE network will be able to fall back to HSPA+.” AT&T says it will upgrade its current HSPA+ network to 21 megabits per second.

Donovan’s counterpart at Verizon, Tony Melone, on Wednesday boasted in a media conference call that the new LTE network will operate at 10 times the speed of its 3G system, five to 12 Mbps for downloads and two to five Mbps for uplink. He said that’s fast enough to upload 20 pictures in a minute, the digital equivalent of traveling from New York to Tokyo in 80 minutes.

If Verizon’s 3G is markedly slower than LTE, Donovan wrote, when users move outside the 38 markets covered by the initial LTE rollout, “they’ll experience a jarring speed degradation. If they’re online and on the phone when they move to sites that don’t support simultaneous voice and data connections, they’ll drop one of those connections. And if they’re watching video, it’s not going to be pretty.”

We sent a request for comment to Verizon on Thursday afternoon, but the company…

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