December 3, 2010
Verizon's new LTE network is capable of transferring speeds at up to 21Mbps, and if you set your mind to it, you could use up your monthly 5GB data limit in 32 minutes.Verizon is calling this 4G, but officially, LTE does not meet the requirements to be rated as a 4G network. Nothing out there does right now. That doesn't seem to be bother the carriers though as they are all jumping on the "4G" terminology.
That said, the LTE network is still fast compared to the 3G speeds we've been using the last few years. While it isn't likely you could figure out something to do with your phone that would allow you to pull down 5GB in just over 30 minutes, it is conceivable that you'd blow your quota way before the month was over. PC Magazine ran a few tests and posted some estimated times that it would take you to burn through your allotment. Streaming Netflix HD content would drain your quota in just under three hours. Watching the Godfather would be about all you could do that month. Hulu has a much friendlier encoding rate. You could watch just over eleven hours of programming before Verizon started dinging you for data overages. This brings up two questions. First, will the carriers stick to these absurdly low monthly quotas given the network is capable of delivering nearly 7TB per month to a device? The second question is, regardless of what the quota is, will the carriers do to help the users keep track of their usage? Keeping up with it behind a web page is nearly useless. You could blow through a gigabyte or two over the course of a few hours and not even realize it. They need to provide a meter directly on the device, otherwise, you'll start to see all sorts of reports of people getting large bills after exceeding their monthly limit.
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