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Verizon Wireless is kicking off its 4G efforts by launch two modems on Sunday. Phones and tablets won't land until midway next year.  (Source: Verizon)
Two new modems will be available on Sunday, but no 4G smartphones or tablets

America's largest wireless carrier, Verizon Wireless, this morning officially kicked off its push for 4G. The company has launched its next generation wireless technology in 38 markets, which it says will cover 110 million Americans.  

Tony Melone, the company's Chief Technology Officer claims that the network will generally offer a 10 times performance boost over current EV-DO network (3G).  It will offer real world speeds of 5 to 12Mbps down and 2 to 5Mbps up -- several times 3G data speeds in many areas.  It will also cut the latency approximately in half from current 3G technology.

Verizon has "a very aggressive plan" to offer nationwide 4G coverage by 2013.  To do that it will be making use of its recently purchased spectrum in the 700 MHz range.

While it did not announce any new 4G-ready smartphones or laptops quite yet (apparently Sprint's Galaxy TabEpic 4G, and EVO 4G are still in a league of their own), it did announce two new 4G USB modems from LG and Pantech will each cost $99.99 USD after $50 rebate.  The first two modems will land exclusively in Verizon stores on December 5.  More modems are coming within weeks, and all are backwards compatible with Verizon's 3G network.  

The modems will come with a choice of two 4G data plans -- $50/month for 5GB or $80/month for 10GB.  Overages will cost $10 USD/GB, a pretty reasonable rate, compared to Verizon's past wireless modem overage rates, which could total a couple thousand dollars for going several gigabytes over. [
Ed. - Personal experience!]

Reportedly some of the new modems don't work with Apple computers, according to 
Engadget, who tested one of the devices.  Perhaps Apple is saying "no" to 4G, like it is USB 3.0Blu-ray, Flash, and SSD upgrades.

Another limitation is that while the modems can jump from 4G to 3G in areas of intermittent coverage, they can't jump back until data transmission is ceased (e.g. the network is disconnected).

"Other devices", i.e. 4G smartphones and tablets will likely be announced at CES and will launch in "mid 2011" according to Verizon's presentation.  

Verizon finished its presentation with a bit of humor -- "Whether you call it 4G or chicken soup, it launches this Sunday."

It also revealed during the Q&A that it might merge its 3G and LTE efforts in 2012 or 2013, around the time when it hopes to start transmitted voice information (phone calls) over its LTE channels.  Currently LTE will exclusively work with the company's data offerings.

There's plenty to take home from Verizon's announcement.  LTE is arguably significantly superior to the "4G-like" HSPA+ (actually 3.5G) that T-Mobile offers.  But T-Mobile has the edge in that it
currently offers 3.5G smartphones, while Verizon's offerings presumably won't land until mid-next year.  

Similarly Verizon has even more to worry about from Sprint Nextel, who currently is selling 
true 4G-enabled tablets and smartphones.  

On the plus side for Verizon, though, its deployment does seem fairly aggressive -- covering one third of Americans with a next generation data network is nothing to sneer at.  And the company seems well ahead of AT&T, which looks to be late to the gate  in the 4G generation (AT&T currently offers "LTE-ready" broadband cards, but its LTE network won't come online until next year).  With that said, AT&T currently has the fastest overall nationwide data network, according to several surveys, so Verizon also has to worry about that.

And it's important to consider that while T-Mobile and especially Sprint may be a bit ahead of Verizon, they're America's fourth and third largest wireless providers, respectively, while Verizon is the largest.  Thus lack of visibility and reputation may result in these companies being unable to fully capitalize on their technology advantage, in the brief window that it exists.

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By omnicronx on 12/1/2010 3:46:10 PM , Rating: 2
Sure you can, LTE as it currently stands is not real 4G (and neither is WiMax). While latency may be improved, real life performance is not that much different than HSPA+ networks..(there are also different types of deployments)

Until LTE advanced networks roll out a number of years from now, we will be in a transition phase (either 3.5G/3.7G/3.9G)..

The way the network is deployed also matters. Here in Canada, Bell's HSPA+ network is fantastic. Network theoretical speeds are up to 21Mbps. While you will of course never reach that, I just did a speed test inside my workplace and got a whopping 6Mbps. (its better outside).

Thats much faster than Tmobiles HSPA+ deployment by a longshot..

They have also just recently deployed Dual Cell technology which allows for theoretical speeds up to 42Mbps which will be quite competitive with Verizons initial LTE offerings. (if not better as deployment will be much faster as its just an upgrade to the existing HSPA towers that already cover the nation)

By mcnabney on 12/1/2010 4:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think the current LTE standard that Verizon, AT&T and the rest of the world will use has an absolute maximum bandwidth of 380mbs using all 20mhz and four MIMO antennas. Probably also within a mile of the tower.

So citing maximum theoreticals for HSPA+ still doesn't measure-up. Verizon isn't going to be marketing MIMO handsets, so that cuts the maximum theoretical for an LTE handset down to 95mbs. So I wouldn't be surprised if early LTE adopters might occasionally get ludicrous speeds, but there really isn't that much demand for it. Hell, they might even cap downstream at 15mbs just to keep expectations from rising to high. But really, 15mbs is a hell of a lot of data to consume. Of course downloading BluRay rips would take awhile, but that isn't what the mobile network is designed for. Now 720p video calls shouldn't even break a sweat.

By omnicronx on 12/1/2010 5:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying the are equal in general, I'm just saying they are comparable right now.

Verizon has no current plans to go beyond Category 2 perhaps 3 deployments (2 MIMO layers max) for consumer devices. The first phase will be Category 1 deployment, which is directly comparable to 21Mbps HSPA+ networks and actually a bit slower in theory.

The 380mbs speeds you speak of would be LTE UE Category 5, which we may not even see in consumer devices ever. (my guess is that we will jump right to LTE advanced, heck we may not even see category 4..)

Basically until Verizon rolls out category 2 equipment, its really just a bunch of '4G' hype, as 3G+ deployments can be just as fast.. Although as mentioned in the article, the latency can be improved by as much as half..(although from the testing I have seen, it does not seem to be the case in real life scenarios, definitely faster response times, but not 50%)

By omnicronx on 12/1/2010 5:03:36 PM , Rating: 2
I think the current LTE standard that Verizon, AT&T and the rest of the world will use has an absolute maximum bandwidth of 380mbs using all 20mhz and four MIMO antennas. Probably also within a mile of the tower.
I guess I was not very clear.. those bandwidths do not exist right now as nobody has category 5 equipment out in the wild.. Verizon is just now implementing their Category 1 network and their speeds of 5-12Mbps sound about right..

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