Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where can you get 4G?

Editors’ note: This chart was originally published on Dec. 2, 2010. It has been updated with new information.

With AT&T finally announcing its first LTE markets, 4G (or some form of it) has finally made it to all of America’s major carriers. But just as is the case with regular cell phone coverage, the scope and scale of each carrier’s 4G network vary widely. Some cover a lot of ground and some cover barely any at all. As a result, it can take a lot of effort to determine where in the country you can find high-speed data access and how the different carrier networks contrast and overlap.

To save you time, we’ve compiled a handy chart that details 4G coverage for Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS, and AT&T. Verizon has been the most aggressive with its rollout, but in most major cities, and many medium-size and smaller markets, you can get 4G from at least two wireless providers. Almost all 50 states are covered, with just five–Alaska, Wyoming,

Montana, Maine, and Vermont–left out (a corner of southeastern New Hampshire gets coverage from the Boston market).

Now, we know what you’re saying about T-Mobile: though it can be just as fast as WiMax, its HSPA+ technology isn’t really 4G. That’s certainly true, but if you want to get technical, neither are LTE and WiMax as they currently exist. And regardless of definitions, we included T-Mobile’s network because it is the carrier’s fastest network at the time of this writing.

Now before you move on to the chart, there are a couple of other things you should know. For most metro areas, you can assume that neighboring cities and immediate suburbs are covered as well, even if we don’t list them separately. So, for example, even though T-Mobile lists Bethesda, Md., and Alexandria, Va., as distinct HSPA+ markets, we included them under Washington, D.C. Similarly, Oakland and San Jose, Calif., are listed under the San Francisco Bay Area. We also grouped together cities with common associations like Dallas/Ft. Worth and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Please let us know if we missed a carrier’s 4G presence in your area or if we missed your town entirely.              See the coverage chart