Will Super-Fast Phone Networks Be Ready?

September 25, 2012

New phone networks are to boost speeds times faster than current phones for browsing the Web on mobile phones, but some analysts question whether wireless carriers’ infrastructure is ready to handle the traffic. The iPhone 5 may be the true test, they say. 

Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., and Sprint Nextel Corp. have spent billions of dollars creating these new networks—known as 4G LTE. But there are still gaps in the coverage as some carriers got a later start than others in building them. AT&T, for example, just started building their LTE network last year. 

The iPhone 5 will likely “tempt the masses to try those networks out, exposing gaps in coverage and testing the networks' ability to handle heavy traffic for the first time,” The Wall Street Journal Online notes.

Verizon Wireless’ LTE network covers 230 million people, but reportedly has gaps in its coverage, particularly in rural and some suburban areas. AT&T's network covers about 74 million people but also reportedly has large gaps in its coverage, even in suburbs of New York City. Sprint is starting to roll out its coverage in 19 cities, and T-Mobile has to yet to offer LTE coverage. 

There is no roaming on LTE, so when subscribers venture into areas without consistent coverage they will find their LTE service rolling in and out, The Wall Street Journal article reports. Therefore, the phones’ batteries could be quickly drained from repeatedly trying to hunt down a signal. 

Source: “Will New Phone Networks Hold Up?” The Wall Street Journal Online (Sept. 21, 2012)

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