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How fast is LTE?

My conversations with customers about deploying LTE enabled Out-Of-Band always wind their way towards the inevitable question about speed.  I have lots of hard science in my back pocket to lob back at that one and have armed myself with lots of Mbps and RSSIs.  There are sites and FAQs on LTE speeds (spoiler alert – 20 Mbps in most cases) and your experience may vary based on location, signal strength and your speed orbiting around the sun. But I always wondered what the “human metric” might be so I decided to put it to the test.

1. Start with science:

I conducted a small experiment in my home using our latest generation OOB solution – the IM7200. This juggernaut is the Big Foot of the OOB arena. Not the furry guy but the pickup truck on steroids.  With a 1GHz processor and loaded with 256MB SDRAM this hulk has LTE fuel injection. I sometimes wonder if I should have a permit for this thing.

Big Foot:

IM7200 – The Big Foot of the OOB arena:


Anyway, back to the science.  One really cool trick the IM7200 has up its sleeve is the ability to act like a cable modem.  Our fancy technical name for this is “Forwarding and Masquerading” with side helpings of DHCP services and DNS relay.  I enabled these features, pointed my laptop to the IM7200 as my default gateway, grabbed my DHCP address and browsed my way out the Internet across my LTE link.  So far so good.  I navigated to those bastions of objective science  – the carrier speed test. What I found really surprised me – the mind share around LTE was correct. I was getting 28.67 Mbps downloads. Then I compared that my cable modem speed and found the two to be very close.  Wow!!!  This got me thinking about the possibilities.

But is it good enough for my purposes?

Being a skeptic of metric tests designed to encourage me to purchase things I decided a more relevant test was needed.  I would test my own perception of speed.   I Skyped. Then I emailed. I browsed Google news and then I checked Salesforce.  I could not tell the difference.  Considering that most OOB applications for LTE would be using SSH as the primary session type this answered the bigger question – is the speed good enough. The answer is yes  – and then some.

Dan Baxter – Senior Sales Engineer – Opengear