If you're on AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless and own a new smartphone, chances are you're running on a 4G LTE network (when one is available). It turns out, however, that we as U.S. residents are paying more for 4G LTE service than those in Europe. A recent report from the GSM Assocation's Wireless Intelligence croup found that Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone, charges about $7.50 per GB of data. Meanwhile, European carriers charge an average of $2.50. Why?

Brenda Raney, a spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, told The New York Times that the plan cited in the report also includes unlimited voice minutes and unlimited text messaging. The real figure, she estimates, is around $5.50 per GB of data. Still, as The New York Times notes, that's twice what Europeans pay on average for the same data. An analyst who participated in creating the Wireless Intelligence study said that U.S. rates are higher because of those packaged voice/minute/data deals. Also, European carriers allow consumers to buy LTE on pay-as-you go plans. In addition, the competition in Europe is much greater. There are only three major wireless carriers with 4G LTE networks, but Verizon and AT&T have the largest. So, essentially, they have the power to drive higher prices.

That could change, of course, once Softbank acquires a 70% share in Sprint. With new capital, Sprint could expand its 4G LTE network to compete more efficiently against AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile, too, has plans to roll out its 4G LTE data network. With more competition in the market, prices could drop. Still, we don't have the same level of LTE operators that Europe does. The New York Times said that there are 38 wireless carriers in Europe selling 4G LTE services.

[via The New York Times]