We slice and dice the plans, phones and fine print at each major U.S. carrier to come up with 23 reasons you might choose one carrier over another.
As it stands on May 2011, the only carriers with a genuine 4G network are Verizon and Sprint. Verizon is rolling out LTE, or Long-Term Evolution, a genuine fourth-generation network created by a consortium known as 3GPP, with theoretical peak data rates of 300Mbps downloads and 75 Mbps uploads.
Sprint uses WiMAX, which is promoted by ClearWire and developed by a consortium led by Intel. It has down/up speeds of 75Mbps/30Mbps, way better than 3G but falling short of LTE. The thing is ClearWire has recently hinted that it will migrate to LTE in the future, so that leaves a huge question mark as to where Sprint is going vis-a-vie WiMAX or LTE.
T-Mobile is hyping "the largest 4G network," but it's not true 4G. It's network is HSPA+, an amped-up 3G technology, albeit very amped up. In theory, it can max at 84Mbps down and 22Mbps up but test of T-Mobile hotspots show it tops out in the 20Mpbs range. Hardly anything to complain about, but it's still not genuine 4G.
Now, AT&T has done some HSPA+ deployments of its own, so T-Mobile's network won't be orphaned if this deal goes through. But by and large, AT&T is now moving forward with LTE, not HSPA+.