Other carriers have used new names to describe alterations in existing technologies. Most recently, Sprint in October announced its Spark service for devices that can work over three wireless bands from the former Nextel network and two from Sprint's Clearwire purchase.
The advent of XLTE raises the question of what Verizon primarily intends to focus on in marketing its network services in a super-competitive wireless market. For years, Verizon has promoted the broadest nationwide coverage for LTE, and now with XLTE has focused primarily on reliability ("faster peak speeds") in 250 cities.
Broad coverage and reliable connections are intertwined, Verizon's Lewis said. "I think our nationwide coverage and having more than half our LTE markets deployed with XLTE is a pretty great thing for customers."
What will ultimately matter with XLTE and with similar network improvements from competitors is whether customers notice much of a difference using it. Surveys show that customers most value widespread coverage and competitive pricing for wireless services, but network speed and reliability are also high priorities.
In any given city or beneath any single cell tower, wireless network conditions can vary widely and will depend on the number of users and the geography and buildings that can interrupt a signal.
Given that physical reality, it's unclear how much impact XLTE can have on attracting new Verizon customers. Verizon is more likely fighting to keep intact its network brand and strong reputation against fierce competition in the ultimate hope of keeping its customers happy. To get new customers, Verizon knows there can't be any significant network problems. With network demands constantly growing with video and other content being sapped up by users, Verizon — and all the carriers — can't afford to stand still, either with network technology or marketing.
Marketing, such as Verizon's for XLTE, "is always looking for competitive advantage," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "It's like the New Coke. At the end of the day, consumers might be drawn to marketing programs, but will only be impressed if the programs deliver true benefits. So call XLTE what you want, if coverage and performance aren't there, it won't matter."
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