SPEED TRIALS: UMTS VS. EV-DO
AT&T Wireless is matching Verizon Wireless’ 3G pricing as it moves into San Diego to challenge the CDMA carrier’s 1X EV-DO network with its new UMTS technology. Both carriers are charging $80 a month for unlimited laptop usage over their separate networks, as well as tossing in unlimited national access to their 2.5 networks nationwide.
Verizon Wireless’s BroadbandAccess service is now commercially deployed in Las Vegas and Washington D.C. as well as San Diego, but its Audiovox PC-Card handles both 1X and 1X EV-DO traffic. Meanwhile, AT&T Wireless’ Novatel card has only an UMTS interface, but the carrier is supplying free EDGE cards for customers roaming outside of its initial six-market UMTS launch.
Unlike Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless is going beyond the laptop market. It’s adding a “pro-sumer” UMTS package, with a choice of either a Nokia or Motorola handset. An adjunct to its mMode data offering, AT&T Wireless is packaging the UMTS service under its unlimited data usage plan for $25 a month, in addition to the cost of a voice plan. The setup allows customers to essentially use mMode’s standard services faster, but the carrier is also launching a UMTS-specific portal with Real Networks, which supplies exclusive video and audio content for around $5 a month, AT&T Wireless officials said.
As for the technology itself, AT&T Wireless bills its new network as achieving average speeds of 220 kb/s to 320 kb/s with bursts at 384 kb/s. Verizon Wireless advertises its 3G service at average speeds of 300 kb/s to 500 kb/s with bursts as high as 2 Mb/s. InStat/MDR conducted tests of AT&T Wireless’s network in Phoenix, verifying the carriers average downstream claims by clocking speeds 260 kb/s to 270 kb/s. It also recorded one data session performance at 350 kb/s. The same test performed on AT&T Wireless’ Seattle network yielded lower results, ranging from as low as 114 kb/s to as 250 kb/s. Both networks performed consistently in upstream trials, clocking rates between 57 kb/s to 59 kb/s.
InStat said recent testing of Verizon Wireless’s EV-DO networks backed up the carriers claims of 300 kb/s to 500 kb/s a second. A study of the San Diego market conducted by RBC Capital Markets right after last year’s launch showed the average download speed of the network was 329 kb/s, with a peak high-speed of 485 kb/s.
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