Verizon details plan for December 5th LTE launch
December 02, 2010 // Rick Merritt
Verizon Wireless said it will turn on its Long Term Evolution network December 5 and announced first details of its mobile data plans and modem providers.
The news comes just hours after the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced a controversial plan for broadband regulations that includes letting service providers set usage-based fees.
Verizon said it will initially launch LTE data services in 38 major metropolitan areas and in more than 60 commercial airports. The company expects the 700 MHz service will deliver data rates of five to 12 Mbits/s downstream and two to five Mbits/s upstream.
The data service will cost $50/month for up to five Gigabytes per month or $80/month access for up to 10 Gigabytes per month. Users will pay $10 per gigabyte for additional use.
Verizon is supporting two USB modems for laptop users that can link to either LTE or 3G nets. The LG VL600 available at launch and the Pantech UML290 available soon will cost $100 after a $50 rebate with a new two-year service plan. The company will make other modems available eventually and expects consumer-oriented LTE handsets will be available by mid-2011.
"Verizon Wireless has been talking up its plans to shift to usage-based pricing on its LTE network," said Philip Solis a research director for market watcher ABI Research. But "it has in fact chosen to keep its LTE pricing very similar to its existing plans," he said.
"Verizon Wireless' LTE rollout will be the largest LTE network deployment to date [and] as such it will deliver economies of scale that should provide a stimulus to the whole LTE ecosystem," he added.
The new network "immediately reaches more than one-third of all Americans where they live [and] by 2013 will reach the existing Verizon Wireless 3G coverage area,” said Dan Mead, chief executive of Verizon Wireless, speaking in a press statement.
Verizon chose to move quickly to LTE because rivals were threatening to leapfrog its CDMA-based network. Sprint launched the first handsets for its WiMax network in March and AT&T has been upgrading its HSDPA network.
In an ironic twist, the Verizon news came the same day FCC chair Julius Genachowski outlined a long awaited network neutrality policy. Industry has long complained the lack of clear guidelines on broadband policy was holding back network investments.
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