Verizon Notes 4G Mobile Network Bandwidth Testing

Will even iPhone users have smartphone envy? They might once they see the bandwidth test results from Verizon Wireless's 4G rollout tests. Unless Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) does a deal with Verizon Wireless, iPhone users on AT&T's network will have to wait some time before higher 4G speeds are available on the iPhone.

"4G" is the common term used to describe next-generation wireless telecom systems, since they are the successor to the current 3G systems. Its formal name is LTE, or Long-Term Evolution. The emphasis on 4G is support for faster data transfers, as carriers have pretty much gotten the voice part down.

The big difference is data rates. 3G tops out at around 2 megabits per second, while 4G starts at 100 mbps and can hit 1 gigabit/sec. Those are the speeds, in theory, at least. Because 4G uses something called Forward Error Correction (FEC), it supports much larger data packets for transmission while reducing the bit error rate, which increases throughput.

Verizon Wireless, the mobile carrier division of Verizon Communications, (NYSE: VZ) is the first to embrace 4G LTE. Its largest rival, AT&T (NYSE: T) is set to follow suit next year with 4g LTE. Verizon has begun deployments and conducted trials in Boston and Seattle that indicate the network is capable of peak download speeds of 40 to 50 megabits per second and peak upload speeds of 20 to 25 Mbps. That's significantly faster than what most people experience at home with cable or DSL,never mind what wireless carriers have to offer now.

The nation's first 4G mobile network?

"We are on track to deliver an outstanding wireless data experience to customers in 25 to 30 markets covering roughly 100 million people by year's end," said Tony Melone, senior vice president and chief technical officer at Verizon Wireless in a statement. "As device makers, manufacturers and others around the world begin to introduce newer and faster products to take advantage of these incredible new speeds, Verizon Wireless will be positioned to offer our customers new and exciting products on the nation's first 4G LTE network."

Verizon Wireless has been testing 4G in both Boston and Seattle since August, 2009. Tests have included streaming video, file uploads and downloads, Web browsing and VoIP. The peak downloads are under optimal conditions. Verizon Wireless engineers report LTE average data rates are more like 5 to 12 Mbps for downloads and 2 to 5 Mbps for uploads.

Verizon expects to complete its LTE deployment in 2013.