4G Data Is Now Rolling Out Faster

The pace of 4G data service roll-outs is about to pick up now that Verizon has announced that they will be turning on their 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) data service in 38 metropolitan areas by the end of this year. The service will also be enabled for 60 major airports. Verizon says that they expect to be able to provide customers with 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds and 2 to 5 Mbps upload speeds, which is significantly faster than current 3G speeds. Verizon has not provided any information about how much their 4G service will cost or when handsets that support LTE will be available, though the timing suggests new handsets for the Christmas shopping season.

Sprint was the first out of the gate to offer 4G data service that they have been rolling out in the United States during the past year. Sprint says the average downloads speeds on their 4G network is 3 to 6 Mbps with peaks of more than 10 Mbps. The Samsung Epic and HTC EVO are the two handsets, both running Android, that work on Sprint’s 4G network. Sprint also sells Mi-Fi and USB devices that work on their 4G network.

T-Mobile is rolling out their HSPA+ data service that can provide 4G speeds even though technically it is not a 4G service. T-Mobile’s service can theoretically reach 21 Mbps. Gizmodo ran tests throughout the country and saw speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to nearly 8 Mbps. T-Mobile just started selling the T-Mobile G2, which is their first handset that fully supports HSPA+ and they sell a USB device that works on the network.

AT&T has rolled out a 7.2 Mbps upgrade to their service that provides a theoretical max speed of 7.2 Mbps and plans to rollout their 4G service in 2011. The 7.2 Mbps service was turned on in time for the iPhone 4 launch, and the service provides average download speeds of 2 to 3 Mbps. AT&T says the rollout of the 7.2 Mbps upgrade lays the foundation for their LTE upgrade that will occur next year and will provide average speeds of 7 to 10 Mbps.