Verizon Wireless was kind enough to lend me a USB modem so I could test and review their 4G LTE service. It’s fast become my favorite digital thing.
I chose the Pantech stick because I knew Jon had had good results with it at CES in Las Vegas and because I’d seen a work-around for Mac support online. At the time of my requesting the review loaner, neither the Pantech nor VZW’s other 4G modem – an LG – offered Mac support.By the time I got my loaner, Verizon had released an update to their VZAccess software for Mac OSX that includes support for LTE connectivity via the Pantech stick. Score!
Out here in the Oakland/San Francisco, CA area, Verizon’s LTE network is fast. Bear in mind that your mileage will very much vary depending on network coverage, usage conditions, and other factors. But where I am and how I’ve been using the 4G? Faaaast. I’m consistently getting 15 Mbps down and 4 up, and have peaked above 20 Mbps up on more than one occasion. Latency is generally below 75 ms. In lay terms, that’s on par with many people’s home Cable Modem connections. (This is all according to testing via SpeedTest.net’s free online service) Also, the modem connects to VZW’s network way faster than any other USB modem I’ve ever used with any computer, Mac or PC.
I’m actually writing this post from a cafe in downtown San Francisco, across the street from an appointment I have to get to in a few minutes. With the LTE stick I was able to work during my entire BART (commuter train) ride from Oakland to downtown SF, something I haven’t yet been able do with T-Mobile or AT&T modems because I lost coverage during the underground part of the ride in the East Bay. Again, this little tale likely has no bearing on where you would use a USB modem, but for me it’s a big, big plus.
And check this out: Right now I’m getting slightly slower than average download speeds, around 10-12 Mbps down. But I just got 14.89 Mbps UP, which is insane. 15 Mbps up? On a cellular connection? That’s insane. I tested it two more times, and got 14.4 and 14.8. Up. Nuts.
Nothing’s perfect, and data caps and the potential of Verizon’s LTE network getting clogged up once more users adopt the technology rank as my two biggest cons of the magic Pantech modem. That and the $80Gb monthly fee for 10GB of data, that is; 10 gigs will go mighty fast when you’re surfing at 15+ Mbps, believe me.
Still, my experience with Big Red’s LTE has thus far been so good that their Pantech 4G modem is currently My Favorite Thing.