NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As part of the aggressive rollout of its blazingly fast 4G LTE network, Verizon (VZ - Get Report) has quietly remade the software consumers must use to access this network. Called VZAccess Manager, the application, which is similar to what AT&T (T - Get Report), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile offer, brokers the connection between a Web modem plugged into a laptop and the cell networks providing that modem entry to the Internet.But unlike most competitors, this most recent riff on VZAccess Manager offers remarkably accurate real-time upload and download speeds of actual network performance. In other words, you can really see -- minute by minute, bit by bit -- what kind of data service Verizon provides.
|Verizon's rollout of the blazingly fast 4G LTE network through 2013 threatens to surpass its Apple iPhone launch in hype, but the promise of the network wasn't evident in a recent 750-plus mile test around the Northeast.|
For sure, one trip does not national coverage make. My colleagues and I will continue to test these tools across the country in the coming months to get a clearer networking picture. But my cellular test route from suburban Westchester County in New York up to Hartford, Conn., Boston and New Hampshire and then into Maine has been a reliable predictor of cellular performance for about 15 years. And I can't see how that would change merely because carriers are rolling out a faster service. My initial takeaway? Sure, when there was 4G LTE access, it was impressive. In the few spots in and around New York and outside Boston -- remember full national rollout will not happen until 2013 -- LTE remains the benchmark for network speed and power. But beyond that, I was stunned -- I mean stunned -- to see how feeble overall data rates were, even when there was nominally good so-called 3G digital coverage. Now forget speeds that I might see from the Web connection in my office. I regularly saw 70 kilobits per second, or not much faster than the data rates provided by 56-baud modems from decades past. And often -- I mean like every 30 seconds in spots -- data rates would cycle down to nothing. Like Nada. Zero. Zip. There often was no connectivity at all.