If you've noticed Verizon's network getting faster recently, here's why: the carrier announced today that it's enabled LTE Advanced in over 450 cities across the US. The new technology lets certain phones receive more data at once, allowing for much faster speeds than typical LTE.
Verizon says that "typical" LTE speeds range from 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps, whereas LTE Advanced speeds can reach up to 300 Mbps. That's definitely not what you'll receive in real-world use, however. Verizon is only promising speeds up to 50 percent faster. Although, PC Mag seems to have found speeds over twice as fast while testing Verizon's network across the US earlier this year, measuring average download speeds of 27.79 Mbps on a phone that supports LTE Advanced.
Even though Verizon is announcing the launch of LTE Advanced today, it's not like it's flipping the switch in all of those cities today. Rather, Verizon has been testing and slowly rolling out LTE Advanced (also called LTE A and carrier aggregation) over at least the past year, but only now is it making a big deal about the rollout.
Some markets went live with LTE A over "the last few days"
A Verizon spokesperson said the announcement is coming today because it finally has something to show for the rollout. "Often our competitors talk about what they may do or what they hope to do," says Kelly Crummey, Verizon's communications director. "We talk about what we’ve actually done and the benefits our customers are actually receiving." While some LTE A markets may have been live for a while now, Crummey says that Verizon has been "lighting up markets as recently as the last few days."
Verizon says that LTE A is live in 461 cities total, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, and Boston. The full list is here. If you live in one of those cities, you'll still need a phone that supports LTE A in order to get the speed benefits. If you've purchased one in the past year or so, you're likely covered: the iPhone 6 and 6S lines are supported, as are many Galaxy phones from the past few years.
The other big carriers are moving forward with LTE Advanced as well. Sprint had an initial deployment in over 100 markets as of last November. AT&T has rolled it out in major markets like New York and San Francisco, and T-Mobile appears to be doing the same.