Using Verizon LTE instead of CenturyLink DSL

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Pittsboro, NC – I’ve seen this mentioned as an alternative. It’s already been mentioned that the data caps are an issue, but also a wireless LTE network is not the same as a wired DSL network, some ways good some ways bad.

I have CenturyLink DSL at home and a Verizon LTE Jetpack at a business I help with. I also use my phone’s LTE connection as a backup to the CenturyLink DSL sometimes so I have done a lot of comparison between them.

Verizon truckThe LTE network is VERY variable, even over a few minutes the speed can range from blazing to pokey.  It’s more affected than DSL by external factors like the weather, how many other users are around, etc.

It’s not just the internet bandwidth that’s variable with LTE, it’s also the radio bandwidth, so your coverage is also affected by how many cell users are sharing your tower right now. The coverage area of a Verizon tower shrinks as more people use it. This is by design and it even has a name, see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_breathing_(telephony), but we notice the effects more drastically in rural areas where there are fewer towers that aren’t as close together, so when your tower wants to offload you to another one, there isn’t another one nearby to take the load.   The closer you are to the tower the less affected you are by this type of stuff.

At my house, the LTE coverage usually drops to near zero within a few minutes of a DSL outage, as people in the area switch to using it. If traffic is heavy on a nearby highway or there are a lot of Verizon users  in the nearby Jordan Lake recreation areas on a holiday weekend, my LTE coverage is significantly affected.

It’s also harder to keep a connection up with LTE. If you dial in to work with a VPN or if you stream, or do other things that require a steady connection, LTE will be very challenging. Another thing that can be a challenge is a secure site that logs you out if it detects a network change or a network drop.  If you mainly surf the web or download files you may not notice this as much. I don’t know why, I just assume it’s due to the variability and also nature of a radio signal vs a wired one.