Mar 28, 2012

How does the speed of LTE compare to a WiFi connection?

Verizon, and to a lesser extent AT&T, have been advertising their LTE networks.  I don't use nearly as much of the data under my plan as I used to because of Wi-Fi at work, home, and two pubs in between, and as a result, I've gotten used to my smartphone having a PDQ data stream most of the time.  My device is 3G, and when I'm away from Wi-Fi it seems painfully slow.  Does LTE approach the performance we've come to expect from Wi-Fi, or is it closer to existing 3G speeds?

As of Dec. 2014, some LTE networks are capable of 350 Mbps which is quite excellent and comparable to cable-delivered broadband speeds---faster than most wi-fi connections are capable of at this time.

I think that it's about the same as an average WiFi connection.  Compared to 3G, LTE (or true 4G for that matter) is much faster.  I may be slightly off here, and it obviously varies with which network you are on, network congestion, etc., but for download speeds, I'd put it at about 2 mbps on 3G, 7-10 mbps for 4G, and 10+ mbps with LTE.  I'd count on those LTE speeds decreasing as adoption increases.  You can compare that to your own Wi-Fi connections, but the Wi-Fi connections that I most often use range from 1.8 mbps to ~10mbps.  There are many variables in all of these numbers, and for the most part probably just reflect what can be expected in my area (except for the LTE numbers, which I pulled off Google), but hopefully it gives you some standard of comparison.     

I've read that it can be faster than a wi-fi connection. However, my iPad is wi-fi only so I can't verify that. Also, LTE performance seems to vary depending on the network and the area that you are in. So it's hard to generalize about it.

I think that LTE is definitely a lot better than 3G though, so I'd consider getting it if you want something better than 3G. I don't travel much though so it's really not worth it to me to pay for an LTE account for my iPad.

I am looking forward to having LTE on the next iPhone though. 3G has been okay, but it will be nice to have a faster connection.
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