Verizon Wireless will light up its long-awaited LTE 4G network on Sunday, December 5 in all 38 of the US metropolitan areas and all 60 US airports previously promised. To start, it will only be available for data modems and will cost $50/month for 5GB/month and $80/month for 10GB, with overage costs of $10 per GB. The announcement was made by Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Malone at a teleconference On Wednesday.
Malone said that the speed of the Verizon 4G network will be 10 times faster than its current 3G network and that users can expect 5-12Mbps for downloads and 2-5Mbps for uploads when the network is fully saturated with users. In the meantime, users will occasionally experience even faster speeds. Verizon gave the example that with this type of performance you could download a 10MB presentation in less than 10 seconds.
Malone also stated that latency on the 4G network will be half of what it is on 3G and that it nearly mirrors traditional wired networks. Latency is the delay it takes data to get from one point to another and is one of the other major factors in perceived network "speed." Verizon also promised that its new 4G network will have the same standards of reliability that its 3G network has become known for.
When LTE goes live on Sunday, customers will be able to see street-level coverage maps and will be able to purchase 4G USB modems at Verizon Wireless retail stores and the company's online store. The 4G modems will cost $99 after a $50 rebate and a two-year contract. The modems also work on Verizon's 3G network when outside of the 4G coverage area.
Smartphones that run on Verizon's LTE network won't be available until the first half of 2011 when vendors start embedding 4G chips into the phones. Verizon reiterated that we'll hear a lot more about upcoming LTE devices at CES 2011 in January. Naturally, the biggest speculation is around whether Verizon and Apple will partner to deliver a 4G version of the iPhone.
Malone said to expect a lot of devices and apps to jump on the LTE bandwagon. "It will provide the launching pad for mobile broadband for the next 10 years."
The December 5 launch will light up all 38 major metropolitan markets at once. It will cover a third of the US population and it goes live in 60 airports as well so that road warriors have 4G connectivity while they're traveling. Verizon also emphasized that its LTE network will cover virtually the entire I-95 northeast corridor (Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston) and draws a big circle around the San Francisco / Silicon Valley area as well. Verizon also mentioned that it's largest market in size and population is Southern Californi, covering Los Angeles and San Diego and the surrounding communities.
"We're not stopping here," said Malone. He said Verizon plans to blanket its entire 3G coverage area with 4G by the end of 2013.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.