Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T won enough spectrum licenses in the U.S. government's 700MHz auction concluded last month to roll out services a cut above what they offer today, though how fast they are for subscribers will be up to the carriers. As wireless technology continues its march through new standards, its speed can increase with each step. One of the latest, HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access), will offer 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps downstream and between 500Kbps and 800Kbps upstream on average, according to AT&T. But speed gains for individual subscribers don't have to follow that path directly, according to IDC analyst Godfrey Chua. The bottom line is that LTE handles spectrum more efficiently, but carriers have to determine the best tradeoff between speed and subscriber base, he said. Even the higher speeds that LTE can deliver won't meet the expectations of many users, in the view of Albert Lin, a mobile analyst at investment firm Sooner Cap. Consumers won't really benefit from the spectrum for some time. For one thing, some successful TV stations are likely to fight the handover of frequencies, Lin said.
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