Takes on Tech’s CES 2011 Best of Show – It Rules the Air

Posted by at 1:11 pm on January 11, 2011

We saw a bunch of great products at CES…Tablets, TVs, Cell Phones, Video Games, Laptops, Cars, even Washers and Dryers.  Behind all of them is the cloud, because those gadgets become more  powerful when connected.  While I may not want to pack my washer around with me when I go on a trip or out to to dinner, for the vast majority of the new gadgets we do want them to be mobile.  We also demand for them to work quickly and easily even while out of our homes and offices.

This brings us to the network. Let’s be honest, in the past most of us only noticed the network when it doesn’t work.  Plus how do you show off the network you are using, it is not like having the latest phone or laptop that you can show off while at the coffee shop.  Or is it?

Just before leaving for CES, our Verizon PR rep gave us here at ToT an LG LTE (Long Term Evolution) USB stick modem to test and use while at CES.  After using it a CES and having people wish they had one too, we now know first hand that Verizon LTE does “Rule the Air” and wins our BEST of Show for CES 2011.

Speed

To be blunt, Verizon LTE saved our bacon during CES more than once.  From allowing us to post stories on the show floor, in the press room and even from taxi cabs to letting us do site maintenance at 3 AM in the hotel room.  We were able to do it all via Verizon LTE without a hiccup.  In places where other networks disappeared, we still got a strong signal from Verizon.  LTE really shows the power of Verizon’s 700 Mhz Spectrum to get a signal into buildings.

LTE will really shine for those of you who make large files like video, graphics, insane powerpoints, etc.  While WiMAX has good download speeds, the best real world speed upstream you are going to get is 1 Mbps to 1.5 Mbps.  LTE blows that away.  A few times in Las Vegas we saw 16 Mbps upstream during file transfer.

Even with just 2 bars of service we were seeing 7-9 Mbps downstream and 2 to 3 Mbps upstream in both Las Vegas and Seattle.

Yes, there are not that many users on the network at this time and no LTE smart-phone in consumers hands, but Verizon has a strong track record in meeting the claims they make to consumers with their 3G network and we don’t except that to change with their new 4G LTE network.  At CES, Verizon outlined its plans to expand LTE coverage to even include rural areas, adding more value to their 4G network

Data Cap

Here is a good real world example for you when it comes to the data plans with LTE.  Netflix encodes movies at 1500 kbps, so it’ll take you 7.4 hours to burn through your $50 plan monthly allotment. That’s fewer than four movies.

With LTE’s much higher speeds, we here at ToT expect that users may find themselves sending and receiving more data more often, therefore hitting the data cap more regularly.  The VZAccess Manager does a good job letting you know how much of your data plan you have left.

More Hardware Coming

The LG VL600 USB stick sells for $100, after a $50 mail-in rebate with a two-year service contract, and only supports Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.   More modems will be coming out within a few weeks, and will include ones with Mac support. This is great new since many of the core users of Macs will welcome the speed that LTE will give them  All the modems out or in the pipe are backwards compatible with Verizon’s EV-DO network

Pricing

LTE pricing starts at $50/month for 5GB of data, with an $80/month plan for 10GB. Billing for overages run $10 per GB. Those prices are not insane for the premium service that LTE is, but not cheap either.   Verizon should plan on Sprint and Clear to push up their all you can eat WiMAX plans to those that are  concerned with price and download speed.

Verizon CTO Tony Melone said that for the launch day, “As the network evolves, other aspects around our offerings will evolve as well, and pricing is an aspect of that.”

More and more, we are a mobile connected world, this year ‘s CES  show floor just reenforced that.  So without a strong, fast and reliable network, none of those devices are as useful or enjoyable as they should be.  That is why we gave CES 2011 Best of Show to Verizon’s LTE network.  It is the man behind the curtain that makes the new products and devices useful and enjoyable.

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