While I wait for the pipes at home to thaw, or burst and thaw, I might as well get in a quick blog entry. Every mobile carrier in the U.S. is out advertising 4G, so I went in search of it. Now getting 4G at my home is something that won’t happen until hell freezes over (though with last night’s -20F temperature that might be more than an expression) but I figured I probably could get it at my office. I lease a small office in Castle Rock Colorado. Castle Rock is the county seat for Douglas County, which was the fastest growing county in the U.S. in the 1990s and continued to be one of the fastest in the 2000s. Douglas County is also one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., though I kind of scratch my head on that one (it is basically a very middle/upper-middle class county with relatively modest numbers of either poor or wealthy people). The county is pretty much split in two, with the northern half being Denver suburbs and the bottom half being rural. Castle Rock is pretty much at the center and marks the southern most point for Denver suburbs; it has been growing fast itself. Surely I could get 4G there.
Sprint has been in the 4G market the longest, and recently brought their WiMax offering to Denver. I check Sprint’s website and sadly 4G service doesn’t make it to Castle Rock. I keep hearing good things about Verizon, and LTE is available in Denver, but alas they too are not offering it in Castle Rock. Ok, T-Mobile has not only done a massive HSPA+ rollout but managed to co-opt the term “4G” along the way. Until T-Mobile started calling HSPA+ “4G” most of those in the know considered it a “3.75G” technology. What’s the difference you ask? Well who knows nor cares (ok, if you care about latency then you should care; HSPA+ doesn’t address 3Gs latency issues). Well guess what I found on T-Mobile’s website? It is no surprise that they don’t have 4G in Castle Rock. The real surprise is that they don’t even have 3G in Castle Rock yet! So that leaves AT&T, who is now promoting they have HSPA+ now with LTE (aka, “real” 4G) deployment to start later this year. Sorry, doesn’t look like they have HSPA+ in Castle Rock yet either. Though they do have decent 3G service there.
I really really wish I could say something nice about AT&T. As an AT&T customer I’ve certainly see them try to improve, and at time actually improve. But they just can’t seem to catch a break. This weekend I was sitting in a Starbucks in Kirkland Washington with a friend. I pulled out my Samsung Focus and did a speedtest on AT&T and got just under 500Kbps down. My friend pulled out his HTC HD7 and did a speedtest on T-Mobile and got 5Mbps down. Yes, T-Mobile has HSPA+ in Kirkland! AT&T, Microsoft IT’s favored carrier as well as the “premier partner” for the launch of Windows Phone 7, doesn’t have HSPA+ in Microsoft’s backyard. In fact, I’ve been searching for HSPA+ coverage with both my Focus and an HSPA+ enabled USB datacard ever since AT&T announced the rollout and I have yet to find it.
So hey Verizon, Spring, AT&T, and T-Mobile you might want to stop wasting your money on all those 4G ads and put it into actually deploying your 4G networks. Right now the emperors have no clothes.