Verizon has upgraded what were particularly crowded portions of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network and improved its spectrum position, and the result in these areas is marked improvements to speeds and the user experience. To get this point across, Verizon has come up with a new name for the experience: XLTE.
In XLTE-equipped markets (there are more than 250, including Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston) and with what it's calling XLTE Ready devices (the Verizon site pulls up 27 of them, including the Apple iPhone 5S and C and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5), customers should experience "faster peak data speeds and a minimum of double the bandwidth to 4G LTE customers," says Verizon.
Verizon further explains that XLTE-capable devices can access both the 700MHz spectrum band and the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum, and that even customers with devices only able to access 4G LTE on the 700MHz band will benefit from XLTE, since they'll experience the difference of XLTE Ready devices being diverted to the AWS spectrum.
Putting the spectrum point another way, it's like an additional freeway has opened up, and even those cars that can't access it will enjoy being on a now-less-congested road.
"The industry and tech world recognize this is a big deal, and we want consumers to know, too," Ken Dixon, Verizon's chief marketing officer, said in a May 19 statement.
Verizon CEO and Chairman Lowell McAdam, speaking at a JP Morgan technology conference May 20, told analysts, "AWS makes sense for us," adding that Verizon had recently traded some spectrum in the 700MHz band for some AWS spectrum from T-Mobile, and that with an eye on gaining more AWS, Verizon is "expecting to participate fully" in the 2015 spectrum incentive auctions.
With smartphone sales slowing, LTE networks in place across all four major carriers and the increasing difficulty of wooing over new postpaid customers, network quality has become a key method of competing.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere said during that carrier's May 1 earnings call, "We went from 0 4G LTE-covered [people] to 209 million by the end of , and we now stand at more than 220 million. Not to mention we have the fastest nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States."
AT&T, during its first-quarter earnings call, discussed how it's already beginning to benefit its LTE network with the spectrum it gained during its acquisition of Leap Wireless—just as T-Mobile is doing the same from the spectrum it received during its MetroPCS acquisition.
Sprint, which has for several quarters been mired in the construction dust of a major network upgrade, has recently been touting Spark. During Sprint's April 29 earnings call, CEO Dan Hesse announced the addition of six new Spark-enabled markets, bringing the total to 24. Part of Spark's magic sauce, Sprint explained during the technology's October debut, is that it can access 4G LTE technologies on three bands of wireless spectrum.
A combination of tri-band technology, the "most advanced" devices, a design that makes possible the best "spectral efficiency" and even high-definition voice capabilities will, said Hesse, make for the "best possible customer experience."