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Report: LTE experience varies by device, network

Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:13pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Metrico, a device testing firm, yesterday released its full-year report on the state of LTE and the customer experience in 2011. The report gauges various aspects of LTE-capable devices – data, video, voice, Web browsing – on both AT&T and Verizon Wireless' networks.

For the report, Metrico tested the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy II (Skyrocket) on AT&T’s LTE network. The company also tested performance of the HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge and Motorola Droid Bionic on Verizon Wireless’ LTE network.

The report found data and Web performance on LTE networks show at least a five-time improvement when compared to equivalent performance of smartphones measured on the carriers’ respective 3G networks.

Data performance on both AT&T and Verizon’s networks, as measured by stationary HTTP download and upload speeds, was comparable. All devices under test achieved a mean stationary data download speed exceeding 10 Mbps. Maximum download speeds above 30 Mbps were observed on both networks.

Although AT&T’s results are higher than those of Verizon, Metrico says the discrepancy could be attributed to Verizon’s offering being on the market longer and subsequently more loaded with subscribers.

Data speeds didn’t necessarily translate to a better user experience. Video showed significant variations in performance on the live network by device. The Samsung Droid Charge on Verizon showed the highest frame rate, while the Motorola Droid Bionic on the same network showed the lowest frame delivery rate.

Metrico notes that performance did not correlate with data and Web performance of these devices, indicating that onboard video processor and rendering software play a key role in the subscriber’s video experience.
Battery life varied by device and by application used, based on the specific resources, such as the display, required for different applications.

In a comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket on AT&T and the Motorola Droid Bionic on Verizon, battery life of the devices varied significantly by application.

Whereas the Skyrocket showed higher battery life than the Bionic for email, SMS, Web browsing and video streaming, it lagged significantly when it came to circuit-switched voice calling.

Applications, in turn, vary in their demands of the battery based on the resources they require. For example, the applications where the Skyrocket is ahead also require use of the display.

Metrico concludes that the subscriber experience is not simply driven by the network or the device, but by the combination of the two. Even devices with similar specifications connected to similar network technologies still demonstrate variation in performance, underscoring the criticality of measuring performance at the subscriber level.

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