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Verizon Lit Up Many New XLTE Markets This Week

Posted by Tim-o-tato May - 2 - 2016 - Monday Comments Off

Verizon announced the lighting up of new XLTE markets in the US this week, bringing its total XLTE offering to nearly 500 markets. Included this week are towns in Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, as well as many others.

If you are a Verizon customer running on 4G LTE, then it’s likely you might already be on XLTE. To put it simply, XLTE is deployed spectrum to help bolster the carrier’s LTE offering in any given market. XLTE offers better speeds and up to double the bandwidth in high data traffic areas. Furthermore, many devices sold on Verizon’s network already work with the XLTE deployment, so customers don’t need to worry about receiving the benefit.

For a look at the latest towns added this week, look below. 

New Markets

  • Alpena, MI
  • Ironwood, MI
  • Lewiston-Auburn, ME
  • McCook, NE
  • Oneonta, NY
  • Petoskey, MI
  • Pottsville-Frackville, PA
  • Roseburg, OR
  • Tupelo-Corinth, MS
  • Vicksburg, MS
  • Victoria, TX
  • Waterville/Augusta, ME
  • Wausau/Rhinelander, WI
Via: Verizon

Verizon Lit Up Many New XLTE Markets This Week is a post from: Droid Life

LTE Advanced Pro and the road to 5G explained

Posted by wicked April - 5 - 2016 - Tuesday Comments Off

LTE ADvanced Pro logo

Being mobile aficionados, you are probably familiar with today’s networking terms like LTE and LTE Advanced. Now it’s time to get to grips with the next technology on this roadmap that is leading towards the 5G standard, which is known as LTE Advanced Pro. If you’ve also been following the transition between pre and true 4G technologies, you will probably appreciate that the LTE networking standard has and continues to evolve. LTE Advanced Pro is simply the next step.

The path to 5G

Before we look at LTE Advanced Pro in some detail, let’s understand exactly where this all aims to end up. The goal is to continue to evolve the current LTE standard towards reaching the 5G specifications. The standard looking to become a rather large, all-encompassing wireless communication system that not only caters for faster data speeds, but also supports many more devices online at the same time with greatly reduced latency.

Although there currently isn’t a definitive standard for a 5G technology just yet, the groups working on the early trials have defined a number of key requirements going forward. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • 1Gbps to 10Gbps connections for peak data rates
  • 100Mbps cell edge data rate (mobile data speeds)
  • 1 millisecond end-to-end latency
  • 1000x bandwidth per unit area
  • 10-100x number of connected devices
  • 90% reduction in network energy usage
  • Improved coverage, with a perception of 100% coverage

5G Logo Huawei 2015-4Read on: 5G, one wireless technology to rule them all?14

As you can see, there are quite a lot of things that developers want to accomplish here, and LTE Advanced Pro sets out to cover quite a few of them. Including the all-important much faster data speeds for us mobile consumers.

5G and LTE Advanced Pro time line

LTE Advanced Pro explained

A lack of definitive definitions in the mobile networking space is unfortunately all too common. The transition from pre-4G to true-4G technologies saw regular LTE move on to become LTE-Advanced, after the original specification was deemed too slow, and the standard is continuing to evolve. To accommodate these changes and the move towards the expected 5G criteria, LTE specifications undergo constant revisions, known as Releases. With Release 13 through to 14 (LTE Advanced Pro), the standard will introduce a number of new technologies and techniques to bring itself closer to realising these speed increases and requirements expected from 5G.

If you’re up to speed with the current LTE-Advanced specification (Releases 10 through 12), you’ll likely be aware that carrier aggregation one of the big enablers behind faster data speeds. This is accomplished by increasing the bandwidth available to devices, by aggregating data sent and transmitted across multiple frequency carriers/bands. Currently five component carriers can be aggregated with LTE-Advanced, but the Pro release will increase this to 32 different carriers.

LTE Advanced Pro LAA

Furthermore, while LTE-A supports aggregation across FDD and TDD spectrum types, LTE-A Pro will support a wider range of different spectrums and technologies, with support for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), enhanced LAA, and LTE – Wi-Fi Aggregation (LWA). What this means is that additional bandwidth can be made available by aggregating data together from the regular LTE bands, the 5GHz LTE-Unlicensed spectrum, and common Wi-Fi networks, to greatly improve data speeds.

You may remember that we talked a little about this when ARM announced its Cortex-R8 processor core that is designed with future 5G modems in mind.

ARM Cortex R8 5GRead more: ARM announces its Cortex-R8, destined for future 5G modems1

Other improvements to the standard include more efficient channel encoding, a new FDD/TDD data frame structure designed to reduce latency, and adaptive carrier upload/download allocation for traffic offloading and optimization. Additional antennas can also be deployed at base stations with enhanced MIMO for additional network coverage.

LTE Advanced Pro device to device comms

When it comes to the lower power device support and superior connectivity, LTE-M and NB-IOT technologies encompassed in LTE-A Pro will offer lower speed, narrow band access for low power devices. The aim is to reduce power consumption and costs, while allowing for high node density. Low data rate of just a few 100 kbps and much slower latencies should keep power usage down for these devices, while high bandwidth networking is reserved for our more powerful gadgets and other connected devices.

Release 14 of LTE-A Pro also aims to also coalesce vehicle-to-vehicle (LTE V2X) and device-to-device communications, convergent TV services, and location/proximity aware mobile devices for social networking and emergency services. It really is a huge standard to cover virtually any form of communication that you can think of.

If all this techno-jargon is a little off-putting, Qualcomm has put together a rather handy video that helps to explain a lot of these fundamental points.

Wrap Up

The long and the short of it is that LTE Advanced Pro aims to vastly increase the data speeds and bandwidth available for mobile communication by streaming and collecting data through a wider range of technologies. Not only that, but the technology wants to bring a much wider range of connected devices and platforms all under a single standard. This could enable brand new ways of communicating with each other and open up doors to innovative new products and markets. All of which is a precursor for next-generation 5G technologies.

We have already seen trials and modems offering support for some of the components of LTE Advanced Pro, but major roll-outs aren’t expected to begin hitting markets for a year or more yet. Even then, different countries and carriers will begin rolling out their own services in their own time, so the road to 5G is going to be very gradual. Still, now we know what’s heading our way.

State of Mobile Networks: USA March 2016

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2016 - Thursday Comments Off
Galaxy-S6-Speedtest-1

The US was one of the first countries to adopt the faster LTE networking standard back in 2010 and national carriers have continued to expand coverage over the vast country since then. However, over the past few years the US has fallen behind a number of other countries which adopted LTE later on, particularly when it comes to speeds. But perhaps one of the country’s big four carriers is better than the others or the national average?

Using data compiled from 181,927 OpenSignal users in the final quarter of 2015, we can see exactly which carriers are offering the fastest speeds and the best coverage for both 3G and 4G networks right across the USA. Let’s dive on in.

Data speeds

We’ll start with the statistics that everyone is probably most keenly aware of, data speeds. As we have seen from previous studies, LTE is now a common networking technology around the world, and despite being one of the earliest adopters, the USA has falling considerably far behind other nations when it comes to providing the fastest speeds.

The average 4G network speed in the US comes in at 9.9 Mbps, behind the global download average of 13.5 Mbps. If that isn’t bad enough, data from last year revealed that the top three countries for 4G LTE speeds were New Zealand, Singapore and Romania, with download speeds of 36, 33 and 30 Mbps respectively. Clearly the USA is a bit behind.

4G LTE evolutionSee also: Fastest LTE networks and countries revealed72

Looking more specifically at the USA’s four major carriers, that’s AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, we can see that the latter two are notably out in front when it comes to speeds. T-Mobile edges just ahead with a 12.3 Mbps average 4G network speed, while Verizon follows closely with 12.0 Mbps. So neither of the two are too far behind the global average. AT&T follows some way behind in third with 7.9 Mbps and Sprint languishes in last with just 6.6 Mbps on average.

The problem here for US network operators is that they are dealing with much more limited amounts of spectrum than many other countries. Some of the space is still tied up in 2G networks used for voice calls and there simply aren’t enough bands available to make wide use of LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation technologies that are available in other countries. The Federal Communications Commission plans to auction off a major chunk of the broadcast TV airwaves for mobile broadband use, but this might not even be made available for 4G networks and probably not any time soon either.

Things are a little different when it comes to 3G speeds though, with T-Mobile coming out as a very clear winner. The carrier managed an average 3G download speed across the US of 3.5 Mbps, following not that closely by AT&T with a speed of around 2.2 Mbps. Disappointingly, neither Sprint nor Verizon can break past the 0.66 Mbps boundary, making them considerably slower networks if you stray outside of 4G coverage.

US Carrier Data Speeds Q4 2015

Of course, data coverage is the best in built up cities and there’s also information available about which places have the fastest coverage. The winner is Miami with an average speed of 18.9Mbps on Verizon, followed very closely by Chicago at 18.8Mbps. New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta also score well, with speeds averaging above 16Mbps.

When it comes to the fastest network in the USA, the crown has to go to T-Mobile this time around. Not only is the company right at the top with its average 4G speeds, but roaming off into 3G territory will still provide a nippier internet connection than any of the other three big players.

Latency

Sticking with speed for a second, the other half of improved network data speeds is latency. Latency defines how quickly a network or website can actually respond to an action over the web, which is typically quite important for things like online gaming, video calls, and voice over LTE (VoLTE). Essentially, lower latency means better quality calls over an LTE network.

When it comes to 3G coverage, the four major carriers manage a latency between 110 and 131 milliseconds, with T-Mobile performing the best on average. Moving over to 4G almost cuts the latency time in half, with speeds falling below 85ms.

Interestingly, Sprint offers the best typical 4G latency at just 66ms, but is the only carrier that doesn’t currently offer VoLTE. Sprint is followed by Verizon on 74ms, T-Mobile at 77ms, and AT&T in last with a 85ms average. However, these scores are all relatively close and most users probably won’t notice much of a difference when loading up web pages.

Network coverage

The final pieces of data covered by the report reveals which US networks offer the best coverage. Despite falling behind other countries in terms of LTE data speeds, the US still ranks among the top 10 in the world for LTE coverage, an impressive feat for such a large country.

While all of the carriers do a pretty good job at covering most people with 4G LTE coverage a lot of the time, Verizon pulls slight ahead here with a coverage score of 87 percent. AT&T and T-Mobile follow on 83 and 81 percent respectively, while Sprint falls notably behind with a score of 70 percent. T-Mobile has really closed the gap on the leader Verizon, and it’s quite a close call between the three leaders.

An important point to note is that OpenSignal’s figures are based on the proportion of time that LTE subscribers have coverage available to them, rather than calculating the result based on geographical areas covered.

USA 4G LTE coverage all carriers

4G LTE coverage has now expanded over much of the USA.

OpenSignal

It’s tough to call an absolute best network from these results, as there are a couple of pros and cons to each of the networks. Smartphone owners still using older 3G handsets will certainly be better off on T-Mobile’s network. However, it appears that both T-Mobile and Verizon offer the best overall combination of 4G LTE speeds and coverage.

Does your own experience with the USA’s big four match up with OpenSignal’s result?

Verizon 5G Field Testing has Begun

Posted by Kellex February - 22 - 2016 - Monday Comments Off

To kick off the week of MWC, Verizon announced this morning that they have begun pretty serious field tests for 5G, the next evolution in wireless connectivity. With 5G, as we have mentioned in the past, the goal is to push wireless connections that can handle multiple gigabits per second speeds and insanely low single-millisecond latency. Verizon also hopes that 5G will be able to handle “exponentially more connected devices” at a time. 

As of today, Verizon has been working with partners like Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung Electronics America, and Qualcomm on early field tests. They are using Verizon’s network backbone to test in both outdoor and indoor environments, which includes both residential and commercial buildings.

In the video above, you’ll see some of those environments and how these partners are testing. From home internet connections with multiple 4K videos streaming on multiple TVs, to mobile internet at gigabit speeds, to business offices carrying strong signals while processing heavy loads, 5G sure looks fun.

So when will we move beyond just field testing? It’s going to be a while, but Verizon did say they hope to start implementing 5G technologies in 2017.

Via: Verizon

Verizon 5G Field Testing has Begun is a post from: Droid Life

Samsung, Qualcomm join forces to put up LTE-U small cell technology

Posted by wicked February - 19 - 2016 - Friday Comments Off

qualcomm-technologies-samsung

Korean gadget giant Samsung has picked their sometime-competitor-sometime-collaborator Qualcomm Technologies to team up on launching small cell technologies and products supporting LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U). Samsung has had a strange relationship with Qualcomm to say the least – they are competitors in the chipset industry (Samsung via Exynos), but are collaborating in very strange ways. One of them is that Qualcomm actually uses Samsung foundries for their processor cores. Another one is this, although this might be a little more understandable.

Samsung has recently announced the LTE-U eFemto cell – which incorporates a Qualcomm FSM9955 chipset. What the technology does is that it aggregates LTE bandwith from the licensed and unlicensed spectrum, which in turn helps mobile operators cope with the skyrocketing demand for mobile data. Simply put, the new Samsung LTE-U eFemto cell improves network performance in congested areas.

lte-u

The Samsung LTE-U eFemto cell can support three separate data streams of 20 MHz, across both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, offering a peak download throughput of up to 450Mbps. There are worries, however, that since LTE-U will take advantage of home wireless routers and small cell towers, that it might cause the degeneration of local WiFi signals.

Be that as it may, Samsung seems bent on pushing forward with the technology, and a device featuring the Samsung LTE-U eFemto cell will be displayed both at the Samsung and the Qualcomm booths at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which rolls in in just a few days.

SOURCE: Samsung

Samsung Gear S2 Classic With 3G/4G Coming to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile

Posted by Kellex February - 18 - 2016 - Thursday Comments Off

Samsung’s Gear S2 Classic will soon be available as a 3G/4G model at carriers in the US including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The device should arrive as early as March 11.

With a 3G/4G connected experience (4G is HSPA+ in this situation, not LTE), the Gear S2 Classic is capable of carrying on text conversations, receiving/placing calls, sending/receiving emails, and being prompted with other notifications, all without a phone nearby. The watch has an embedded SIM that allows it to stay connected to networks as a stand-alone device. 

Each carrier will likely charge an arm and a leg for the device or force you into some sort of contract to give it service. At this time, none of the carriers have provided pricing. However, it should arrive shortly, since March 11 is only a few weeks away.

As a recap, the Gear S2 Classic is the classicly-styled smartwatch from Samsung that runs their Tizen OS. It sports a 1.2-inch Circular Super AMOLED display (360×360), dual core processor, 4GB storage, 512MB RAM, IP68 dust and water resistance, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a 300mAh battery that can last from 2-3 days.

Via:  Samsung | AT&T | T-Mobile | Verizon

Samsung Gear S2 Classic With 3G/4G Coming to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile is a post from: Droid Life

AT&T joins Verizon on early 5G tests in the U.S. this year

Posted by wicked February - 12 - 2016 - Friday Comments Off

5g-logo-mwc-2015-2

AT&T has confirmed that it, like Verizon, will begin testing 5G networks in the U.S. in 2016, with plans to introduce commercial services for fixed 5G later in the year. This is not to be confused with wireless 5G which won’t be commercially viable until around 2020 (or 2018 if you live in South Korea). But with speeds of 10-100 times that of the fastest 4G/LTE networks, any 5G is good 5G.


5G Huawei -2See also: 4G and 5G wireless: How they are alike and how they differ6

AT&T is looking to test fixed 5G connections as a possible alternative to fiber optic broadband connections in rural areas. “Ultimately as an integrated carrier we have a lot of incentive to (add) any new technology (to our) footprint, particularly if that 5G for fixed usage has better economics than fiber in certain locales,” said John Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer.

Getting in early on a fixed line 5G network will obviously provide an advantage when the cellular version gets standardized in the coming years, with the expectation of an agreed-upon 5G standard for wireless to be worked out in 2018. AT&T is confident that its early forays into 5G networks will pay off in years to come for wireless 5G. As Donovan confided, “when it’s ready, we’re ready.”

AT&T Logo Shutterstock

Verizon announced similar plans last year and has already been cooperating with Samsung, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia and Cisco in testing its early 5G network. AT&T announced it will be working with Intel and Ericsson on its first trials, which will begin in the second quarter of this year.

While these efforts to be on the front foot are laudable, it’s important to note that without a formalized standard, what’s called “5G” now might be a long way from what 5G ends up being classified as in two years’ time. The basic themes of 5G (which requires a generational shift from 4G) are: extremely low latency, speed matching, multiple-user and multi-stream connections, pervasiveness and data speeds that are 10-100 times faster than current 4G connections.

The road to 5G

While the concept of pervasiveness means that “true” 5G won’t be true 5G until it is everywhere – with no areas of weak reception or no connection at all – the other themes are already in play in various 5G test that have been conducted for the last several years. T-Mobile is currently the fastest LTE network in the U.S. with download speeds of 12.26 MB/s, whereas 5G download speeds have already been demoed as fast as 3.6 GB/s.

The fastest theoretical LTE speeds currently are 150 MB/s while the various top speeds tossed around in 5G discussions so far have been anywhere from 10 GB/s to 20 GB/s. Of course the average person won’t see these speeds, but even something like 5 GB/s will be light years better than anything most of us have ever imagined.

AT&T will begin testing its fixed line 5G network in Austin in the next few months, with commercial rollout in the latter half of the year if the tests are successful. Verizon is testing its 5G network in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass.

When do you expect to see 5G? What are you expecting from next-gen data speeds?

Samsung launching Korean LTE network for public safety

Posted by wicked February - 11 - 2016 - Thursday Comments Off

 

KU_221_%5E_RTA_Emergency_Response_Iveco_Turbo_Daily_-_Flickr_-_Highway_Patrol_Images

Anyone who has been near a national disaster – or even just a massive sporting event – knows the frustration of clogged cellular service. This phenomenon is known as ‘the nightclub problem,’ a term I just invented on the spot because the situation is a lot like trying to communicate in a crowded club. Once everyone gets excited and confused, they start shouting, and because everyone is shouting, nobody can hear anything, so of course one must shout louder to be heard, thus contributing further to the noise. There is no time when it is more essential to be able to communicate clearly than in emergency situations, which is why Samsung is rolling out the “first live PS-LTE network in the world using the 3GPP telecommunications standard.”


5G Logo Huawei 2015-4See also: 5G, one wireless technology to rule them all?14

Our techno-savvy world has something of an achilles heel. We have become so reliant on instant information and communication that when we’re stripped of it, we often don’t know what to do. This Public Service LTE network will serve as a kind of failsafe, allowing smartphone users to stay in contact with each other even when national calamity is at hand, potentially saving lives.

Samsung’s network will arrive first in Seoul, where the network’s main control center is housed. Over the next few months, the network will spread to encompass the full city, then the province of Gangwon, and ultimately all of South Korea. Samsung believes they should be able to provide nationwide emergency coverage sometime in 2017.

What are your thoughts regarding Samsung’s public safety network? Will these kinds of redundant networks become standard, or will it be more important to push for the development of 5G networks capable of supporting national communication even in the event of crises? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!


best valentine's day appsNext: 10 best Valentine’s Day apps for Android!7

T-Mobile Promo Gets You 4 Lines of Unlimited LTE for $150

Posted by Kellex February - 3 - 2016 - Wednesday Comments Off

This morning, OpenSignal released a new report that T-Mobile is quite excited about, because it mentions their network as “closing the gap with Verizon.” That’s a big deal because Verizon’s network is almost always at the top of the charts when we think of the best network in the wireless business. To celebrate this gap closing news, T-Mobile is kicking off a new family promo that gets a family of four onto unlimited LTE data lines for $150 per month. 

The plan is similar to the one T-Mobile has opened up a couple of times now that gives families of four 10GB of data per line for $120. With this unlimited LTE plan, T-Mobile is charging you $50 per line for the first three lines and then giving you the fourth for free. It’s really that simple.

Of course, T-Mobile still offers the 10GB per line for $120 deal as well, in case you don’t need unlimited. Also, keep in mind that you can combine this new family plan with T-Mobile’s half off smartphone event.

T-Mobile says that in order to qualify for this promo, there are “no number port-ins, no trade-ins, and no need to purchase a new phone.” The deal is open to new and existing customers.

More on this new T-Mobile Unlimited deal, head over to T-Mo’s site.

Via:  T-Mobile

T-Mobile Promo Gets You 4 Lines of Unlimited LTE for $150 is a post from: Droid Life

Are you on the fastest LTE network in the U.S.?

Posted by wicked February - 2 - 2016 - Tuesday Comments Off

LG Optimus G Pro aa 5 4g lte 1600

If data is king, data speeds are the Galactic Emperor. Following the analogy, weak or patchy network connections are the thermal exhaust port through which an upstart young Rebel pilot could successfully fire two proton torpedoes, leading to a chain reaction that could blow up the entire U.S….carrier…system. OK, I may have gotten a little carried away there, but suffice to say LTE speeds are critical. A new report has revealed the fastest LTE network in the U.S.: are you on it?

OpenSignal has posted its most recent State of Mobile Networks: USA report, covering Q4, 2015, and the results are a little mixed. On the positive side, U.S. LTE networks get an A grade for coverage, ranking among the most extensive in the world. But when the report turns to the speed of those networks, things take a turn for the worse, with OpenSignal claiming the “U.S. finds itself falling short”.


LG Optimus G Pro aa 5 4g lte 1600See also: What is LTE? Everything you need to know27

The fastest LTE network in the U.S. is…

So which carrier has the fastest LTE network? T-Mobile, by a hair’s breadth, defeating Verizon at 4G download speeds by less than a third of a MB/sec. T-Mobile scored download speeds of 12.26 MB/sec compared to Verizon’s 11.98 MB/sec. When we switch to 3G download speeds, T-Mobile is way ahead, with 3.48 MB/sec compared to Verizon’s paltry 0.66 MB/sec (AT&T took second spot with 2.22 MB/sec).

US_LTE_network_speeds OpenSignal

But Verizon still comes out on top in terms of coverage. Verizon has the best LTE coverage in the U.S., with Big Red customers assured of a 4G connection 86.73% of the time. In second place (but trending downwards from previous months) AT&T customers were guaranteed a solid connection 82.63% of the time, while T-Mobile was right behind at 81.23%.

Even the fastest 4G network speed in the U.S. – T-Mobile’s 12.26 MB/sec – is below the global average.

While these figures may sound pretty good to you, the coverage percentage is the only number that’s worth getting excited about. The problem with U.S. carrier data speeds is that they average out at just 9.9 MB/sec, well and truly below the international average of 13.5 MB/sec. Even the fastest 4G network speed in the U.S. – T-Mobile’s 12.26 MB/sec – is below the global average.

OpenSignal_4g_speeds_regional_results Open Signal

OpenSignal takes this as an opportunity to call out American carriers, claiming the U.S. is “no longer pushing mobile technology boundaries like it used to”, putting the industry in the same league as Argentina, a country that only rolled out its first LTE network a year ago.

Are you happy with your LTE data speeds? Would you have picked T-Mobile as the fastest?

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