The battle over network technology supremacy is reaching new heights, with both Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile USA trading claims over the performance of their next-generation networks.
Verizon Communications CTO Tony Melone dismissed T-Mobile’s claims that its upgraded HSPA+ network will offer service comparable to Verizon’s LTE network.
In an interview with CNet, Melone said HSPA+ provides incremental improvements via software and hardware upgrades and said it is possible to squeeze more performance out of HSPA+ technology. “So I am sure they are pushing the envelope on what can be done with HSPA+, but it doesn’t match what LTE is capable of,” he said. “The real difference in the technologies is when you look at what happens on the edge of the cell network, where the signal is weaker and speeds decrease. We’ve stated that average speeds on our network are 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps for downloads. And on the cell edge people are getting 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps on average. For HSPA, I’d say that the download would be a quarter of that or less. Folks who understand these technologies would have a hard time arguing with that.”
The verbal back-and-forth between carriers over network performance is nothing new, but has taken on a new twist now that both AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile claim HSPA+ is a “4G” technology.
Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, T-Mobile said at some point this year it plans to launch HSPA+ 42 technology, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 42 Mbps and represents a doubling of the speeds provided by the carrier’s current HSPA+ 21 network. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said that HSPA+ 42 will provide speeds that are comparable to Verizon’s LTE network. “There’s very little difference,” he said, adding that T-Mobile has been testing T-Mobile’s planned HSPA+ 42 upgrade against Verizon’s LTE network in Las Vegas and that both networks provided average download speeds of around 8 Mbps.
Melone added that he thinks the only reason T-Mobile is continually pushing the limits on HSPA+ technology is because the company lacks the spectrum to move to LTE. “So they are using HSPA+ to transition,” he said. “I’d do the same thing if I were them.”