updated 02:25 pm EDT, Mon April 4, 2011
Sprint disputes test giving Verizon LTE speed win
Sprint in a statement on Monday took issue with a speed test by BTIG that gave Verizon's LTE network an unambiguous lead in 4G speeds. Spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh claimed the tests were "inaccurate" and that real-world tests on Sprint's WiMAX were much better, at about 4-5Mbps in New York City. Verizon's speed edge may have been because of the youth of the network where Sprint's were based on a more established network with a full load of users, BGR was told.
"The Verizon 4G LTE network is very new so no one has any fully time-tested data on it yet," she said, also taking a dig at how relatively late Verizon was to 4G phones. "As their network [at Verizon] gets loaded and more than just one smartphone comes forward on their network, we can better assess its capabilities."
While true that real-world conditions don't necessarily reflect actual speeds, Verizon might sometimes be ahead both on set expectations and technology. Its quoted claims of 5-12Mbps downstream are based on the assumption of a full load and reach about twice as high as Sprint's claimed 3-6Mbps. LTE peaks at a minimum of 50Mbps and can run up to 100Mbps where Sprint's WiMAX levels off at 16Mbps, increasing the odds that Verizon will be faster under better conditions.
Sprint also can claim a real-world device advantage by carrying several 4G phones and having a plurality of modems and routers to pick from.
BTIG's tests also made the unusual choice of testing based on using the HTC Evo 4G and Thunderbolt as hotspots instead of testing directly or using a modem. Performance gaps could be partly blamed on hardware since the year-newer Thunderbolt hardware could better juggle the needs of traffic.