If you're impressed with the current generation of LTE services, wait until you get a load of LTE Advanced.
Ericsson announced today that it had conducted a demonstration of LTE Advanced technology in Sweden that saw speeds peak at just under 1Gbps. That marks a tenfold increase over the peak speeds of current LTE networks. Ericsson says that the first commercial LTE Advanced services will up and running in 2013.
The current version of LTE is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA and EV-DO Rev. A to the 4G IMT-Advanced technologies that the International Telecommunications Union has said will support average speeds up to 100Mbps. LTE Advanced gained final approval for use from major handset manufacturers this past winter at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) conference in Taiwan. Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo also tested out LTE Advanced earlier this year and similarly achieved peak data rates in the 1Gbps range.
Verizon became the first American carrier to commercially deploy the first generation of LTE technology last year when it launched services in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population. This year, Verizon has expanded its LTE network to several markets in the South, Midwest and the West Coast. The carrier plans to have its entire current 3G footprint upgraded to LTE by the end of 2013.
AT&T plans to start offering its own LTE services commercially this summer, although its initial launch will be smaller than Verizon's as it will only cover Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. AT&T plans on covering at least 10 additional major markets by the end of the year, thus creating an LTE network that the company claims will cover 70 million Americans.
AT&T so far has waited patiently to get its LTE network up and running, as the carrier has consistently tried to get more mileage through upgrading its current HSPA+ network. But while HSPA+ does deliver significantly higher speeds than legacy HSPA or EV-DO Rev. A 3G networks, it is simply no match for LTE as a mobile broadband technology. A test released this year by PC World showed that Verizon's LTE laptop air cards provided average download speeds of 6.5Mbps and average upload speeds of 5Mbps, while HSPA+ networks such as those used by AT&T and T-Mobile delivered download speeds in the 2Mbps to 4Mbps range.