Does LTE make a difference? I don’t think anyone would disagree that LTE/4G enables much faster data. As an example I thought I’d share a field trial utilizing LTE to watch live video while on Amtrak traveling between Washington, DC and New York City.
- The service and gear: Verizon LTE service running over a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (Apple lovers now have an LTE option for iPad…iPhone coming this fall)
- The live video site: TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference live streaming.
- The location: Amtrak between Philadelphia and NY’s Penn Station followed by a taxi between Penn Station and Pier 94 at 54th Street and 12th Avenue.
Motorla LTE Test Background
I was traveling last week to attend the TechCrunch Disrupt New York conference and it was due to start about 90 minutes before my arrival at New York’s Penn Station. Thankfully, TechCrunch is a progressive organization and decided to stream the conference live on its website.
Shortly after 9:00 am I pulled up the TechCrunch site on my mobile phone and started to watch the live streaming video. It took about a minute for the video to queue up and then started playing continuously. There were some moments that froze, most of which started right back up without missing a beat or comment. Other times it would freeze and then skip ahead to the current activity. There were two incidents where the video froze for more than a minute.
Of the hour plus that I watched the video on my phone, it stopped fewer than ten times on the train and five or six on the 15 minute taxi ride. Most freezes were fewer than five seconds and the taxi ride was worse than the train. This was not a surprise given the acute urban canyon challenge in NYC.
Although it wasn’t a continuous, uninterrupted video stream, I rarely get that experience on a high quality internet connection either. Granted an enterprise network or high bandwidth home system will be better, but given that we were traveling over 100 mph (160 km/h) in some areas I wasn’t expecting uninterrupted service. I also cannot validate whether all of the freezes were due to the data connection and not the TechCrunch website. If you were watching, please share your comments below.
What I can tell you is that the video was clear, mostly continuous and a good overall user experience. I had no problem following the conversations even with the infrequent freezes and felt like I was already up to speed with the conference activities when I arrived just before 11:00 am.
Conclusion: LTE is worth it
While many people complain about the weak WiFi bandwidth on the Amtrak trains on the eastern seaboard, there is an alternative if you are willing to upgrade to LTE. Prior to the video, I was pulling down web content and it was much faster than the onboard WiFi that was connected to my iPad.
There is another conversation here about how a for-profit company, TechCrunch via parent AOL, risked cannibalizing it’s conference attendance revenue by live-streaming its core content, but that is for another day. For today let me leave you with this conclusion. The LTE live video over Verizon exceeded my expectations for a moving train and taxi on New York’s west side. It was great to be able to view the content while heading to the event. With that said, I recommend attending Disrupt. Being there is even better.