AT&T on Verizon LTE Launch: Consistency Trumps Speed
Never content to let a rival have its day in the spotlight, AT&T has taken the occasion of Verizon’s LTE launch to deliver several thinly-veiled digs at the nascent network. Specifically, AT&T’s Chief Technology Officer, John Donovan, argues — without mentioning any names — that Verizon is taking the wrong approach in its 4G rollout; Big Red is building out its LTE network alongside its existing CDMA infrastructure, while AT&T’s plan is to upgrade its HSPA+ technology to LTE in preparation for a mid-2011 commercial deployment. Therefore, Donovan claims, AT&T customers will theoretically only see a minimal drop in data speeds when transitioning in and out of LTE coverage (since by that point HSPA+ will be delivering 21Mbps in many markets), while Verizon subs will notice drastic degradation between LTE and EV-DO Rev. A networks. In other words, while Verizon is doing LTE first, AT&T claims that it will do LTE better.
Donovan also reiterates the standard AT&T line that Verizon can’t compete when it comes to simultaneous voice and internet connectivity, claiming that VZW subscribers performing both tasks may drop either the call or the data connection when moving from LTE to EV-DO coverage zones. He goes on to cite a survey of AT&T customers whose results state that 75% of respondents valued consistent speeds over faster speeds with large potential drop-offs. Furthermore, according to the Taylor Research & Consulting Group internet survey of 1,006 smartphone owners, 38% expressed that they “couldn’t live without” simultaneous voice and data connections. The survey concludes by asking another pair of questions also clearly tailored to deliver AT&T-friendly results (i.e. “importance of carrier experience managing smartphone traffic vs. carrier with a new, untested but probably faster network).
Frankly this all comes off sounding like sour grapes to us, with AT&T clearly bitter that Verizon has a lead in the post-3G race and trying to spin that head start as somehow being a detriment. You’d think that if AT&T really did believe its own claims of “nation’s fastest mobile broadband,” it wouldn’t be so quick to point out that customers allegedly value consistency and reliability over speed.