LTE, WiMAX, and HSPA+: the 3.xG battle

According to Verizon, the initial LTE network will support average 5-12 Mbps down and 2-5 Mbps up. Sprint/Clear WiMAX currently supports average 3-6 Mbps down and up to 1 Mbps up. While T-Mobile’s current HSPA+ network along with AT&T’s planned rollout should fall somewhere in the middle.

The two key factors to achieve any of these are actual device throughput and backhaul/tower support in a given area. Currently there are no handsets that support HSPA+ or LTE speeds. T-Mobile has announced it’s first HSPA+ device, an HTC with Android, will be available in September. Samsung and MetroPCS plan to release an LTE handset this year but Verizon’s latest statement on the matter said to expect one mid-2011. Then there’s AT&T crying that LTE handset technology will be immature until 2012 and devices before then will have short battery life or be large by today’s standards. In other words, it’s still all talk at this point.

Note: Even though LTE and WiMAX is advertised as 4G and may eventually meet the ITU definition of 4G, neither do currently. Among many other requirements, one is reaching 100 Mbps down.