Why upgrading to LTE is important for carriers and consumers

The great migration has begun. It began in late 2010, when two US wireless carriers, Verizon and MetroPCS, launched LTE networks. In the year that followed both companies expanded. Essentially everyone else has followed suit. Bell, Rogers, and Telus now have 4G LTE networks that will continue to expand until they cover most of the country. Soon enough, these carriers will cease offering their 3G products (and even their 2G products), instead featuring a full array of 4G devices. And everyone will benefit.

While 4G LTE services are heralded for their lightning fast speeds, there’s more to it than that. Yes, speed is an LTE network’s primary virtue, but it’s not all about how fast you can buffer a streaming movie. No, speed in this instance leads to something greater.


LTE efficiency

When it comes to LTE, efficiency is the key. Devices make faster connections, which means they’re spending less time querying the network. That means your query isn’t tying up network resources for very long, which leaves it open for others to make queries.

The best analogy here actually looks back on former US senator Ted Stevens’s famous remark about the internet being a series of tubes. Much as people liked to ridicule that statement, it applied well enough to the mobile internet. Too many queries at once meant less efficiency for everyone. Slow connections could also hold back the service as a whole.

With LTE, it’s as though we’ve widened these tubes. Now information can sprint through them. Because they can sprint through, there is less chance of things getting clogged up. Things run easily and efficiently. It means lower delivery costs for carriers, and faster, more reliable connections for users.

More incoming connections

This speed and efficiency will become even more important as more and more devices connect to LTE networks. Yes, many major carriers do have LTE networks in place, and they offer a variety of LTE devices. But the technology is far from widespread in its usage. That will start to change in the near future, though.

Starting right now, we’re seeing an increasing ratio of LTE to 3G smartphones being produced. That will only grow in LTE’s favor. That is, more and more smartphones will start connecting to LTE networks. In addition, we’re seeing more and more tablets with LTE capabilities. As Android ramps up its tablet efforts and Apple sells millions of iPad 3 units, we’ll see even more connections. But that’s not the end of it.

Other services want in on LTE networks as well. Verizon, for instance, has started to offer a home broadband service using LTE. It’s not much now, just 10GB for $50 per month, but that’s something that could grow as Verizon dedicates more of its spectrum to LTE. There is also the smart grid, which power companies use to monitor electricity usage. Cellular networks, and in particular LTE networks, will help them keep a constant eye on their networks. There are talks of household appliances connecting to cellular networks as well. LTE will make this possible.

As our reliance on wireless technology grows, so does the need for fast and efficient networks. LTE provides both of those. It’s no wonder that nearly every wireless carrier — even Sprint, which once championed WiMAX as its 4G technology — has embraced LTE. It creates a uniform wireless technology that can handle consumers’ and businesses’ increasing needs. The advertising might be all about the speed, but it doesn’t reveal the real benefit of LTE. The faster the data delivery, the more efficient the process becomes. That means more wireless for all of us.