AT&T vs. Verizon, 4G LTE networks battle it out

The newest iPad is the first device from Apple to offer a 4G LTE data connection. But as when buying a phone, choosing the best carrier is an important step.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
2 min read

If you're a little confused about which 4G LTE network you should choose for your iPad, you're not alone. AT&T and Verizon offer different phones and service plans, their data speeds can vary, and they cover different areas of the country. So when you pick a provider, it's important that you think carefully.

Luckily, we have this handy chart that can help you decide which 4G LTE network works best for you.

Lynn La/CNET

As you can see, being the first and most aggressive company in the 4G LTE arms race has worked for Verizon. It has the largest number of markets and people covered, and has 22 enabled devices, including the new iPad that is coming this Friday. Not stopping at just that, it also offers a higher data plan than AT&T (read more about comparing data plans between the two). Unfortunately, it has also been receiving some bad press for the number of 4G LTE outages customers have experienced in the past few months.

On the other hand, AT&T's 4G LTE network is growing quite quickly and impressively. Although it's only been a mere six months since its launch, the network has reached 74 million people. Counting the carrier's HSPA+ network (the "4G-ish" technology, as it's known), that coverage jumps to 250 million people.

AT&T's download and upload rates are competitively fast as well. To measure this, RootMetrics gathered 4G LTE speeds from seven large markets on both networks. The results gave us the average download and upload speeds of each city, the average of which is included in the chart. From what we can tell, Verizon has only a slight lead over AT&T. Once we have more data points, however, we'll be sure to update the graphic with more information.

In terms of user experience, however, it all comes down to the device you have. And both carriers provide decent phones on either side of the price spectrum. The Pantech Burst is a solid entry-level phone, and we can't get enough of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So while considering each network is extremely important, it might just have to boil down to the smartphones offered.