When I switched to T-Mobile way back in 2010 I was in awe of being able to get actual 3G speeds throughout Manhattan (in spots and times of day where AT&T would be unusable), so amazed that I dragged raced the two carriers here. I’ve since moved to Connecticut, and on my Nexus 4, without enabling its secret LTE radio, I can pull down data almost at the speed of my Verizon FiOS connection, over 20mbps, with a respectable 42ms ping. And, unlike Verizon, they don’t throttle down Youtubes to unusable speeds.
But in recent trips to midtown Manhattan, the speed has dropped substantially. In some areas like Times Square, not enough data even to get my Google Reader app to catch up. And they still haven’t gotten around to lighting up Grand Central Terminal’s train runway, so that’s a good eleven minutes to escape to Harlem on top of however early you got on the train during which time you’ll have no service at all, which, in addition to not having service, I believe drains your battery, fighting for a connection.
Now, LTE has a much higher spectral efficiency than anything, which I suppose why, given that 21mbps is good enough for anyone and LTE isn’t in the real world that much faster, carriers have been racing to deploy LTE (so that people packed into dense places like Manhattan and Frisco can use their phones). I just hope that, given the finite amount of spectrum and the increasing use of smartphones, the technology ends up being good enough for all New Yorkers once most of them eventually migrate to LTE to be able to spread their throughput wings and watch Youtube clips on their Google Glasses while stumbling into each other.