The End of Wired Broadband? Verizon’s LTE Trial Overachieves

by Matt Klassen on March 9, 2010

The future of 4G high-speed wireless Internet connection is here…at least until some 5G connection comes along and kicks its ass. Verizon, America’s leading wireless carrier, has recently announced that testing on its groundbreaking 4G, or LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless broadband has exceeded expectations, and that data transfer speeds on this next-generation wireless network will finally close in on traditional wired connections…provided, of course, that wired data transfer speeds never improve.

Verizon launched field trials of their LTE network in Boston and Seattle this past summer, and have revealed that users in these cities enjoyed an increase of data transfer speeds of up to 10 times that of the wireless giant’s regular 3G network. As PCWorld has reported, Verizon’s LTE trials have shown transfer rates of 5-12 Mbps while downloading, and 2-5Mbps on uploads, “which will give mobile customers browsing speeds comparable to a typical wired home Internet experience.”

With wireless speeds finally achieving download and upload rates comparable to wired connections, the ability to finally eliminate the need for wired broadband service in favour of exclusively using a more versatile wireless connection will certainly be a boon to many businesses and rural customers across the country.

Based on the success of these trials, Verizon recently reported that it is on track to deliver LTE capabilities to an additional 25 to 30 markets, which translates into roughly 100 million customers, by the end of the year. While no specific additional markets have been named, one would expect that this proposed LTE expansion will cover most major metropolitan centers.

But before you throw your wired Internet connection out the window, consider that wireless is only now flirting with the bottom end of the spectrum of data transfer rates for wired transfer speeds. All the while, wired broadband providers continue to work on pushing the limits of their bandwidth, with many creating DSL broadband networks that will soon boast between 50-100 Mbps transfer speeds. Further, Google has recently unveiled its plan to pilot test the Gigabit broadband, which is supposed to be able to deliver a bandwidth ten times faster than the fasted available today.

So, while the initial success of Verizon’s next-gen network certainly indicates a brighter future for wireless users, it may also just be another headache for disappointed customers to rally against. I’m sure Verizon is hoping for a lot more of the former, and a whole lot less of the latter.

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