There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the new wave of 4G phones hitting the market this year.Just because a device is labelled 4G, doesn’t mean it will run as fast as rival networks.
Carriers have different definitions of how they market 4G networks, even if they don’t technically meet the proper standards. The speed, availability, and delivery method of each major 4G network varies greatly.
We took a look at each 4G network in the US and broke down their top speeds, pricing, and availability to help you decide which one will work best for you.
Speed: Verizon claims speeds of 5-12 Mbps. Even at its slowest, that's still faster than AT&T and Sprint. What does that mean for you? Assuming your connection speed is hovering around the middle of Verizon's range, you would be able to download a song in less than 10 seconds.
Availability: You can sign up now for a 4G plan on your laptop with a USB modem. Verizon's 4G network is available in 38 metropolitan areas. Click here to see if it's available near you.
Phones: There aren't any 4G phones available right now on Verizon, but several are on the way, including the Droid Bionic and HTC Thunderbolt.
Pricing: A Verizon 4G USB modem will cost you $99 with a two-year contract. Data plans start at $50 per month for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB.
Speed: Sprint says its average download speed over 4G is 3-6 Mbps. Compare that to Sprint's 3G speeds of around 1Mbps.
Availability: More than 40 US cities now have Sprint 4G. Click here to see if your city is included.
Phones: HTC EVO 4G, HTC EVO Shift 4G, and Samsung Epic 4G
Pricing: An additional $10 to your current Sprint plan.
Speed: AT&T's 4G network isn't available yet, but it is claiming speeds up to 6 Mbps on its 4G network in testing. It's current 3G network hovers around 1.5 Mbps. It gets complicated though. AT&T will have two delivery systems for 4G: HSPA+ and LTE. LTE will probably be faster, but there's no word just how fast right now.
Availability: AT&T hasn't launched its 4G network yet. Like most others, it will probably be available in major metropolitan areas at first. AT&T says it will launch LTE by mid-2011.
Phones: These phones aren't available yet, but AT&T has announced they will work on its 4G network: HTC Inspire, Motorola Atrix, and Samsung Infuse.
Pricing: AT&T hasn't announced pricing yet.
Speed: T-Mobile claims its network can reach a 'theoretical' download speed of 21 Mbps. That's fast enough to download a two-hour movie in about five minutes. In practice, however, T-Mobile says the speeds are around 12 Mbps. That's still pretty fast, but we doubt people will experience those speeds in the real world.
Availability: T-Mobile 4G is available in 100 metropolitan areas. Click here for a map.
Phones: T-Mobile G2 and T-Mobile myTouch 4G
Pricing: Plans start at an additional $10 per month for 4G.