Not All 4G Are Created Equal: HSPA+ VS LTE

Not All 4G Are Created Equal: HSPA+ VS LTE

Eric Chen
Oct 12, 2011

Mobile Carriers have been touting the coming of 4G as the next standard of mobile internet. Now all the carrier are claiming they have the fastest network, and adding on to seemingly random letters, like HSPA+ or LTE, to market their network. Still don't know what network is the fastest? Let us clear the air for you right here...

What carriers claim as "4G" can really be separated into three different categories or three different wireless technology:

HSPA+: This is one of the earliest "4G" technology and it's adopted by US carriers such as, T-mobile and AT&T. Although it was marketed as "4G" by these carriers, it's really an improved version of their existing HSPA 3G network. At 84Mbit/s download and 22Mbits/s upload, this technology is theoretically slowest amongst the "4G" networks. Strictly speaking this shouldn't even be called 4G by many recognized standards. But for those who are eyeing the recently announced iPhone 4S, this is the fastest standards it will support. Since AT&T is the only carrier to offer the standard, theoretically the AT&T iPhone 4S will be the fastest amongst the three carriers.

WiMax: A standard offered by Sprint in partnership with Clearwire here in the US, this is really the first 4G network deployed. Sprint's HTC Evo 4G is the first mobile phone to adopt this standard, making it the first 4G phone in the US. At the top theoretical speed of 128 Mbit/s download and 56 Mbit/s upload, making it faster than HSPA+. However, Sprint has recently announced the transition over to the LTE standard. From what we see, it seems that WiMax might be a dying standard here in the US.

LTE: This is the big three letter words in mobile technology. Verizon recently started their test run for this standard with AT&T following suit, even Sprint recently announced its transition to LTE. This as it appears would be the next standard of mobile network. The theoretical speed with the anticipated update, clocks in at 1 Gbits/s download and 100 Mbits/s upload, this is the fastest standard available stateside. However, since it is a relatively new standard, it still hasn't been widely deployed yet, so your experience may be more unstable.

Now that you know all 4G are not created equal, you'll be able to make a more informed decision when choosing your wireless carrier. Let us know what you think in the comments below! Check out our detailed post on Clearwire's WiMax 4G.

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