The carrier has repeatedly said that it plans to offer some 110 million Americans in the 38 city launch download speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 12Mbps -- or about 10 times faster than is currently available. Verizon plans to offer LTE 4G coverage throughout the country by 2013.
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The initial rollout to one-third of the U.S. population has most impressed analysts who have followed the WiMax 4G wireless launch of Clearwire and Sprint Nextel.
Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, has reached 68 WiMax markets over the past two years. Sprint boasts average speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps on WiMax and sells two smartphones capable of running on WiMax. AT&T, the second largest U.S. wireless carrier, plans to begin an LTE rollout in 2011.
While Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone is expected to discuss the LTE network launch tomorrow, Verizon's plans for its LTE-ready phones are expected to remain unclear. Verizon officials have said they will announce phones and other LTE devices in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, and to make them ready for sale by February.
Various blogs have said Verizon could offer is the HTC Incredible LG.
At the CTIA conference in October, Verizon President Lowell McAdam said LTE will increase network speeds and lower latency (the delays seen in back-and-forth communications) by more than half, making full motion video and other applications for machine-to-machine operations a reality. "It's time to turn on the afterburners and get ready for the next generation of wireless," McAdam said at the time.
Roger Entner, an analyst at Nielson, said Verizon's plan to roll out LTE to 38 markets at once would be a "really impressive feat" when one considers the network upgrades that are required.
Verizon, however, has said it use of the 700 MHz frequency for LTE will be something phone manufacturers can more easily adapt to, meaning they would improve the time it takes to bring a new LTE phone to market.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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