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When is 4G not 4G
June 25, 2013
12:52 pm
keith cooper

The cellular data networks deployed by Verizon include IS 95 = 2G, 1xRTT & EV-DO = 3G, and LTE =4G. When LTE data service is not available Verizon Android & iPhone’s drop back to slower networks and display 4G despite the fact Verizon never deployed another 4G network. Verizon is not alone in this disinformation. AT&T deployed EDGE = 2G, GPRS = 3G, HSPA+ =3.5G and LTE = 4G. Just as with Verizon the Android and iPhones display 4G when LTE connectivity is not available. When Speedtest, CoverageMap, or OpenSignal are used when “4G” is displayed to identify data speeds, the data throughput speeds are frequently significantly slower than what might be expected on a 4G network.


June 26, 2013
9:16 am
Forum Posts: 3283
Member Since:
July 2, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Keith,  are you saying that you never see the 3G indicator on your phone?  That it always reports you are in a 4G/LTE service area even when you’re not?  That has not been my experience.  I see 4G and 3G about equal amounts as we travel.  I know I’m really in 4G because I can talk on the phone even when my phone’s hotspot is providing Internet to my computer.  So, I’m talking and browsing at the same time.  When the phone reports 3G, I can’t do that.

I did a video about this: Talk and Browse at the Same Time.

When we’re in a 4G area and it’s really slow – I usually chalk that up to interference, distance, or too many people using it – like in Gillette last week during the FMCA rally when there were 2,300 RVs all trying to use the same Verizon towers!

June 26, 2013
7:34 pm
keith cooper


the majority of the observations are based on comparative results with an iPhone 4 and iPhone 5’s on the AT&T network. The iPhone 5’s typically register download speeds of 9M with upload speeds in excess of 1M. When the eNodeB (LTE cell site) footprint shrinks the cell phone connects thru the UMTS RAN and the display indicates 4G coming from what I am assuming is a nodeB (UMTS cell site) based on the average data speeds (800K down and 400K up). The so called 4G data speeds are consistent with median GPRS speeds. When tests are run with the iPhone 4 at the same physical location while displaying 3G, the average data speeds were also in the range of approximately 800K down and 400K up.

As to what I have looked at with regard to data speeds on Verizon most of my measurements were done using a Millenicom 4G LTE Jetpack. Millenicom is a data MVNO hosted on several service provider networks. This particular data package (20G) is running on Verizon’s networks. I expected to see LTE and 3G displayed because of the data package (10G @ LTE speeds & 10G @ 3G speeds). However, at times the modem has dropped from LTE to 4G at other times the display moves from LTE to 3G and back. 

As far as voice and data on the cell phones simultaneously that functionality has been available for years on the AT&T networks  on the GSM (2G), UMTS (3G), and LTE (4G) platforms.

FYI as the demand for bandwidth exceeds an engineered threshold the transceiver in the cell site reduces the power output on the radio effectively shrinking the cell footprint. This is referred to as breathing and it in turn causes the cellphone to look for a stronger signal, register and authenticate on the available 3G or even 2G network.



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