If you have watched television or Hulu over the past few weeks, you know Verizon has been touting the size of its 4G LTE network and the fact that it is larger than the other 3 networks combined. Sprint plans to close that gap over the next few months, but it won't be as easy as they thought.
In preparation for the launch of the iPhone 5, the first handset from Apple to support LTE despite the technology being standard last year, Verizon and AT&T have spent time setting up new markets with LTE hardware. After Verizon's latest round of pre-iPhone 5 LTE launches, they now claim to cover more than 75 percent of the US population with their LTE network. That doesn't mean they are done, though. In a statement, Verizon regional president Jonathan LeCompte said,
We will continue expanding and enhancing our 4G LTE network across the country to provide our customers with the best wireless experience possible and enable them to take advantage of the innovations that are being brought to market through 4G LTE technology.
Verizon isn't the only company expanding its LTE coverage. Hit the break to see what AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are doing.
AT&T also made enhancements to their network, adding Cincinnati, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Fayetteville and Wilmington, North Carolina; Honolulu, Hawaii; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington, bringing its 4G market count to 75. Sprint has also been making a push in move its 19 market count to over 100 by the end of 2012, bringing it ahead of AT&T and making it the second largest LTE network in the country, assuming AT&T doesn't install any more towers between now and the end of the year, which seems unlikely.
T-Mobile, the only US carrier without the iPhone 5, is also the only US carrier to not have a single 4G tower installed (despite deceptive marketing). Their current network plan has the beginning of their AT&T-funded LTE deployment in mid-2013. Is it a coincidence that the lack of LTE comes along with a lack of iPhone 5? Possibly, though Apple has never made a big deal about the network capabilities of their phones. My guess is it has more to do with T-Mobile's overall customer retention problems more than it does a lack of LTE towers today.
So, while the iPhone 5 might not be revolutionary, being just a moderate derivative of the existing stock, and apparently a cheaply made handset, it has at least accomplished one goal with its 2 million launch-day handsets: a larger LTE deployment across Verizon and AT&T for the rest of us.