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What is Verizon's new high-speed XLTE, and why should I care?


What is Verizon’s new high-speed XLTE, and why should I care?

Verizon Wireless recently introduced XLTE, a new flavor of its high-speed LTE data network that promises the “very best high-speed data experience available on any wireless network in the United States.” In reality, XLTE is a solution to address a problem frequently experienced by other carriers: network congestion. When too many people in one area—say, in a large city—try to jump on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the network slows down significantly or bumps the phone user to a much slower 3G network. Not a good thing to happen while you’re downloading large files or streaming high-definition video.

To alleviate network congestion, Verizon’s XLTE service fattens its LTE data pipe by complementing its existing 700MHz 4G LTE network with the Advanced Wireless Services network it acquired back in 2012 from a consortium of companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks. AWS uses different frequencies of the LTE spectrum: 1700MHz for uploads and 2100MHz for downloads. Together, these three bands of spectrum should open things up considerably.

Or maybe not. These stated frequencies are actually just ranges. What really counts is how much spectrum the carrier actually controls within these ranges, and whether they can be clustered together to make the fatter data pipe (they come in 5MHz chunks). If these spectrum chunks are adjacent to each other, such as 695MHz, 700MHz, 705MHz, 710MHz, the carrier can easily make one big, fat 20MHz data pipe. If they’re scattered, the phone may be able to hop from one to another to alleviate congestion or increase its chances of finding a 4G network, but you may not get a faster connection.

XLTE is available in quite a few cities, large and small, and many of Verizon’s phones already support XLTE, including all the newest Motorola Droids, Samsung Galaxy S 5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Mini, Note 3, and ATIV SE; the Nokia Lumia Icon, the LG G2 and Lucid 3, HTC One M8 and One Max, and the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c.

But Verizon is not the first to take a multinetwork approach to solving network congestion. AT&T, whose 4G service is among the highest rated in Consumer Reports’ surveys, has had a dual-network advantage for several years. When AT&T’s LTE network isn’t available, smart phone users get seamlessly switched to the carrier’s HSPA+ 4G network. T-Mobile has a similar advantage, though its network is not as widely available.

Sprint’s Spark network strings together three 4G networks (800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz frequencies) to address coverage and congestion problems. But in the process, Sprint Spark phones lost the ability to do what older Sprint 4G phones could: make or maintain cellular data connections during phone calls.

We’ll have more on the changing face of 4G service in the coming weeks.

Mike Gikas


First cities with Verizon XLTE coverage

Alabama

Iowa

Ohio

Birmingham

Cedar Rapids

Canton

Decatur

Des Moines

Cincinnati

Florence

Sioux City

Cleveland-Akron

Mobile

 

Columbus

Montgomery

Idaho

Dayton-Springfield

Tuscaloosa

Blackfoot

Findlay-Tiffin

 

Burley

Lima

Arizona

Pocatello

Mansfield

Flagstaff

 

Marion

Phoenix

Kansas

Portsmouth

Prescott

Dodge City

Toledo

Tucson

Garden City

 

 

Hays

Oklahoma

Arkansas

Manhattan-Junction City

Bartlesville

El Dorado-Magnolia

McPherson

Lawton

Fayetteville-Springdale

Salina

Liberal

Fort Smith

Topeka

Oklahoma City

Hot Springs

Wichita

Tulsa

Jonesboro

 

 

Little Rock

Kentucky

Oregon

Russellville

Lexington

Eugene-Springfield

 

Louisville

Portland

California

 

Salem-Albany-Corvallis

Bakersfield

Louisiana

 

Chico-Oroville

Baton Rouge

Pennsylvania

Fresno

Lake Charles

Allentown-Bethlehem

Los Angeles

Monroe

Altoona

Merced

New Orleans

Erie

Modesto

Shreveport

Harrisburg

Redding

 

Indiana

Sacramento

Maryland

Lancaster

San Diego

Baltimore

Pittsburgh

San Francisco – Oakland – San Jose

Salisbury

Reading

San Luis Obispo

Scranton-Wilkes Barre

Santa Barbara

Massachusetts

Shamokin

Stockton

Boston

Sharon

Visalia-Porterville

Hyannis-Mid-Cape

State College

Yuba City-Marysville

Pittsfield

Stroudsburg

 

Springfield

Williamsport

Colorado

Worcester-Fitchburg

York

Colorado Springs

 

Denver

Michigan

Rhode Island

Fort Collins

Benton Harbor

Greater Providence

Greeley

Detroit

 

Pueblo

Flint

South Carolina

 

Grand Rapids

Charleston

Connecticut

Houghton

Columbia

Greater Fairfield and New Haven

Lansing

Florence

Hartford

 

Greenville-Spartanburg

New London County

Minnesota

Greenwood

 

Bemidji

Myrtle Beach

Delaware

Brainerd

 

Dover

Duluth

South Dakota

Fort Myers

Fergus Falls-Alexandria

Aberdeen

Fort Pierce-Vero Beach

Minneapolis-St. Paul

Rapid City

 

 

Sioux Falls

District of Columbia

Missouri

 

 

Jefferson City

Tennessee

Florida

Kansas City

Chattanooga

Beach

St. Joseph

Cleveland

Gainesville

 

Cookeville

Lakeland-Winter Haven

Montana

Dyersburg

Melbourne-Titusville

Billings

Jackson

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale

Nebraska

Knoxville

Orlando

Grand Island-Kearney

Memphis

Pensacola

Lincoln

Nashville

Sarasota-Bradenton

North Platte

 

Tallahassee

Omaha

Texas

Tampa-St. Petersburg

Scottsbluff

Amarillo

West Palm Beach

Austin

 

Nevada

Beaumont-Port Arthur

Georgia

Las Vegas

Bryan-College Station

Athens

Reno

Corpus Christi

Atlanta

 

Dallas-Ft. Worth

Augusta

New Hampshire

Houston

Columbus

Manchester-Nashua

Laredo

 

 

Longview-Marshall

Hawaii

New Jersey

Paris

Honolulu

Atlantic City

San Antonio

Kahului-Wailuku

Sherman-Denison

 

New Mexico

Temple-Killeen

Illinois

Albuquerque

Tyler

Bloomington

Santa Fe

Waco

Carbondale

 

Wichita Falls

Champaign-Urbana

New York

 

Chicago

Albany

Utah

Danville

Binghamton

Logan

Decatur-Effingham

Buffalo

Provo

Kankakee

Elmira-Corning-Hornell

Salt Lake City-Ogden

La Salle-Peru-Ottawa

Ithaca

 

Mattoon

Rochester

Virginia

Peoria

Syracuse

Charlottesville

Rockford

Utica

Fredericksburg

Springfield

 

Greater Hampton Roads

 

North Carolina

Harrisonburg

Indiana

Asheville

Richmond

Anderson

Charlotte-Gastonia

Roanoke

Bloomington-Bedford

Fayetteville-Lumberton

Winchester

Columbus

Raleigh-Durham

Elkhart

Wilmington

Washington

Evansville

 

Longview

Indianapolis

North Dakota

Olympia

Kokomo-Logansport

Bismarck

Seattle-Tacoma

Lafayette

Dickinson

Spokane

Marion

Fargo

 

Richmond

Grand Forks

Wisconsin

South Bend-Mishawaka

Minot

Appleton-Oshkosh

Terre Haute

Williston

Eau Claire

Vincennes-Washington

Fond du Lac

 

 

Green Bay

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