Though not officially listed as one of the Verizon 4G LTE cities, they have built-out the LTE network to cover most of our city. So I decided it was time to test the Verizon 4G LTE Portable Hotspot.
As a test venue, I used our lab which is 1.5 miles from the center of town. With SpeedTest.net, I benchmarked the download and upload speeds of the MacBook Air, iPad 2, and iPhone 4. I compared those attained with the Verizon Samsung 4G LTE Hotspot to the Sprint 4G (WiMax) Overdrive and the iPhone 4's built-in AT&T (3G? 4G?) HSPA+.
SpeedTest.net is not only a website but is available as an app on the iPad and iPhone. You can choose among a list of servers (cities). We chose Seattle (hosted by Towerstream). RED bar indicates fastest mobile broadband device.
As you can see from the graph, the Verizon Samsung 4G LTE Hotspot smokes the Sprint 4G WiMax (Overdrive) and AT&T HSPA+ (iPhone 4) networks on download speed. At our test location, the upload speed of the LTE MiFi was faster but not as dramatically. Be aware that the speeds can vary wildly depending on your location. (The orange bar is our lab's Comcast 50Mb/s rated "land line" as a reference.)
When I moved the testing to my favorite restaurant downtown, the AT&T HSPA+ (iPhone 4) download speed dropped to 147Kbps (!) and the Sprint 4G WiMax (Overdrive) download speed dropped to 1444Kbps. However, the Verizon 4G LTE Hotspot not only maintained essentially the same download speeds (14K+) but the upload speed jumped to 11,974Kbps -- or faster than the Comcast 50Mbps cable upload speed in our lab!
What started me on the quest for a wireless broadband hotspot was the pathetic data connection speeds I saw on the iPhone at my favorite downtown restaurant. You would think downtown would provide the best performance for the AT&T data network, but nooooo. Back in early 2010, I tried the Sprint 4G Overdrive portable hotspot. It was faster than Verizon and AT&T's 3G wireless broadband offerings plus it supported up to 5 devices. That was the perfect solution since we take MacBook Pros, iPads, and iPhones on our road trips. It served us well during the past year.
In January 2011, I heard Verizon's 4G LTE network was functioning at the local airport. I took the opportunity to test a 4G LTE USB modem. I saw as high as 20Mb/s download speeds. Instantly, my new wireless broadband fantasy became a 4G LTE Hotspot. Last Friday I strolled into the Verizon Wireless store to ask when the 4G LTE build-out was going to be completed in our town. They informed me that most of it was in place. They showed me a map indicating that our lab and all my favorite "haunts" were LTE operational. Needless to say, I came back to the lab with the LTE MiFi.
WHY THE SAMSUNG 4G HOTSPOT?
There are two different brands of 4G LTE Hotspot at the Verizon Wireless store: The Samsung SCH-LC11 and the Novatel 4510L. I chose the Samsung because it operates fully even when plugged into the power source. The Novatel does not. And the Samsung can use either the USB port on your MacBook Pro or iPad/iPhone charger or its own AC adapter to maintain or charge the battery.
The Verizon Wireless Samsung 4G LTE portable Hotspot is serious broadband solution for the on-the-go geek -- especially if you have Verizon's 4G LTE network operating in your neck of the woods.