Sprint, Verizon 4G faster than expected?

Users are reporting faster than advertised 4G connections using both Sprint's WiMax and Verizon's LTE service. What's going on and what's your experience?

In the lead up to Verizon's LTE launch this weekend, I posted last week about the differences between Sprint and Verizon when it came to 4G billing for their WiMax and LTE services noting that Sprint is continuing its unlimited data philosophy for 4G users while Verizon is sticking with price per gigabyte plans.

In that post, I mentioned some of the predicted theoretical performance for both WiMax and LTE. Over the weekend a handful of readers have posted their real-world WiMax experiences in the comments, noting that they've seen performance better than what I included in the post.

One anonymous reader is seeing average daily download speeds of 9 – 11 mbps and performance as high as 13mbps. The same reader offered a speed test result of Sprint performance in Kansas City, MO.

Another anonymous reader offered the following observation based on usage in a variety of locations: Under 3mbps is an extreme fringe area(usually just barely registering 4g), 3-5 is a low signal, 5-8 is medium and 8-12 is medium and better. Though I have had 12 with less than a medium signal. I have never reached 15.

Reader Michael Edwards reports that in the Washing D.C. area 5 – 7.5mbps while near a Sprint WiMax tower since the service went live in the D.C. metro area.

You can view the full set of these reports in my earlier post's comments.

As far as Verizon's LTE performance, my friend and colleague Avram Piltch of Laptop Magazine recently reported the following experience in New York City via Twitter:

The way it is performing for me, Verizon LTE should be called 5G. Tonight, 25 Mbps down / 5.5 up! My cable is 18 / .9.

These reports certainly exceed what companies are setting as the average expectations for users. Higher than "expected" performance may simply be due to limited devices using the technologies in given areas at this point (particularly on Verizon, which is such a new service with limited LTE devices available for purchase). It could also mean that both carriers may want to avoid getting themselves into a situation where performance is less than advertised after the blow AT&T's reputation has taken over the past few couple of years.

Not living in an area served by either Sprint's WiMax or Verizon's LTE, I'm asking any of my readers who do live in those areas to share their experiences with either carrier or technology. Let us know in the comments if you are using either service and about your average performance. As more experience come in, I'll compile the results in future posts.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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