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AT&T’s Early San Francisco 4G LTE Soft Launch Yields Impressive Speeds

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I took the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket for AT&T’s 4G network out for a test drive in San Francisco, California earlier today to see what speeds AT&T’s unannounced but soft-launched 4G LTE network was delivering. After hearing early chatter that AT&T had already begun to soft launch its LTE network in San Francisco, California, I wanted to see how AT&T’s LTE network fared against Verizon’s LTE network, the latter has been generating a lot of press and buzz for the consistency, expansive roll-out, and blistering fast speeds on its LTE network.

In my test at the rooftop bar at the Grand Hyatt Hotel near Union Square in San Francisco, AT&T’s 4G LTE network averaged between 6 – 9 Mbps while Verizon’s LTE network, tested on a Motorola Droid RAZR, pulled in speeds between 3.5 – 7 Mbps.

Though AT&T’s network was only marginally faster during testing at the fastest speed, it was more consistently faster than Verizon’s network. Part of the reason may be attributed to AT&T’s younger network and lack of LTE publicity so that carrier’s network is less saturated in San Francisco than Verizon’s, which had been actively pushing 4G LTE all over the country.

Speed tests ran on the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket on AT&T's 4G LTE network

On the upload side, both networks were on par, averaging just below 10 Mbps, which is great for users who snap a lot of pictures or record a lot of 1080p videos using the optics on their smartphones as they can quickly upload and share on Facebook, Flickr, email, Twitter, or other sites.

4G LTE speed test on Verizon's network using Motorola Droid RAZR smartphone.

It’s still to be seen how AT&T’s 4G LTE network will perform once the carrier fully launches the faster mobile broadband network in San Francisco, California. Time will be a great test to see how AT&T’s speeds hold up once more users flood the network. Right now, it does concern me a little that the speeds aren’t much faster than Verizon’s considering that the network isn’t fully strained yet. When Verizon first launched its network in SF, I got speeds close to 15 – 20 Mbps on the download side.

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

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