Verizon 4G Is Still a Finicky Feature

Verizon 4G LTE offers amazing download and upload speeds in a growing number of markets, but as I discovered this week, it’s still finicky in a number of markets, especially when compared to Verizon’s 3G nationwide blanket of coverage.

For the past week I have been spending a lot of time in the closest 4G LTE market, using the HTC ThunderBolt, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE and the Motorola Droid Bionic. This trio of 4G devices has allowed me to observe Verizon’s 4G LTE performance and coverage.

The best word I can use to describe the current state of 4G coverage in this area is, finicky. The 4G speeds and coverage vary enough in 4G markets that I am still not able to head out and count on solid 4G coverage through an entire day trip to the city.

This is to be expected as a network grows, and hasn’t changed my opinion on the usefulness of 4G and my opinion that your next phone should be a 4G device, but it is worth sharing.

Finicky 4G

Sample 4G LTE Speeds

Sample 4G LTE Speeds

Your Coverage May Vary– Unlike Verizon’s 3G network which has matured to the point of being almost everywhere you want to go, there are still a number of areas where I have observed 4G dropoffs on multiple devices. While traveling in the Toledo Area, it is nothing to have a great 4G signal one mile and then the next be back on 3G.

As I continued travelling, I was able to get on 4G again pretty quickly, but there are many more locations inside 4G markets that have connection issues.

Your Speed May Vary – The other thing that may come as a surprise is the wide range of speeds observed in the same location. It is nothing to see fluctuations of several MB in upload or download speeds while in the same location. When I ran 4 separate tests on the phone and 4 on a tethered computer, I got a wide range of speed results.Almost all of these were still much faster than 3G, but often fell below the speeds I expect.

Why I Still Like 4G LTE

Droid Bionic Mobile Hotspot Speed Test

Mobile Hotspot 4G LTE Speedtest

Despite these two issues, I still believe that your next device should be a 4G one, especially if you are signing a 2 year contract. By the middle of 2011, Verizon plans to have 2/3rds of the U.S. population covered with 4G LTE.

The early days will see issues like those I mention above, but as more apps begin to offer bigger downloads and video services increase, even average users who don’t plan to use the Mobile Hotspot feature will appreciate the 4G LTE speeds.