Verizon Wireless
The first 4G devices from Verizon Wireless will be USB modems. At launch on Dec. 5, the carrier will sell the LG VL600 (left); soon after, it will add the Pantech UML290 (right). Each modem will cost $99.99 with a two-year contract.
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By Wilson Rothman
msnbc.com
updated 12/1/2010 2:42:37 PM ET 2010-12-01T19:42:37

Verizon Wireless announced today that it was going to flip the switch on its 4G LTE network on Sunday, Dec. 5, promising wireless data speeds "up to 10 times faster" than its current 3G network, speeds comparable to or exceeding the "4G"-labeled networks currently active from Sprint and T-Mobile.

The network will be available in 38 major metro areas, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, as well as smaller markets such as West Lafayette, Ind. and Rochester, N.Y. It will also be available in 60 airports coast to coast, including all major airline hubs. Street-level network availability maps will be released on Sunday at Verizon's 4G website. (For a full list of cities and airports, scroll to the bottom of this story.)

The first 4G devices will be USB modems, the LG VL600 (available Sunday) and the Pantech UML290 (available soon after). Both modems will cost $99.99 with a two-year contract. Verizon won't launch with 4G phones — though given the issues that come with 4G phone ownership , that's probably a good thing. Phones will be available by the middle of 2011. Those devices will presumably be revealed at CES 2011 in Las Vegas, this January.

Although Verizon is not the first to launch a network emblazoned with the 4G label, the carrier doesn't want to be confused with the current 4G providers. "Not all 4G is the same. This is a big deal," said Tony Melone, Verizon Wireless's chief technical officer, during a conference call with reporters. "Android really took off when Verizon Wireless got behind it. The same thing will happen with LTE."

LTE is an acronym for "Long Term Evolution," a wireless data standard developed globally across many hardware companies and carriers. AT&T will roll out its 4G network based on the same standard.

The pricing of the plans will be $50 for monthly access totaling 5 gigabytes of downloaded/uploaded data and $80 for 10 GB. Both will come with a constant overage rate of $10 for each gigabyte of additional use. This price plan is the same as Verizon's 3G connectivity plan for tablets, mobile hotspots (MiFi), netbooks and notebooks, but $10 cheaper than its current 3G USB modem plan.

Though 4G refers to several different technologies, for consumers it generally applies to increased speed, measured in megabits per second. Today, Verizon's 3G network delivers between 1 and 3 Mbps for downloads, and up to about 1 Mbps in an upload. With its 4G network, Verizon is promising 5 to 12 Mbps down and 2 to 5 Mbps up. In contrast, Sprint promises 3 to 6 Mbps down on its 4G network.

Another measurement of network capability is "latency," essentially the responsiveness of the network. Melone says that latency performance of Verizon's 4G network is twice as good as the current 3G network. "It allows us to almost mirror ... the type of latency you experience in a wired network," he said.

Because the LTE network will not be present everywhere that Verizon's 3G network currently exists, the modems will be equipped with the ability to "hand off" the connection from 4G to 3G and vice versa. However, Melone said, when you move from 3G to 4G coverage areas, the modems are programmed to stay with the 3G network until you are done transmitting. Once there is no activity coming from your laptop, the modem will scan and jump to the 4G network, if it's still available.

Melone said the carrier has an "aggressive plan" to cover all of its U.S. footprint by the end of 2013. "This is the future of mobile broadband and mobile communications for the next ten years," he said. "This will make a difference."

Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Major Metropolitan Area Deployment (as of Dec. 5, 2010)

Arizona
Phoenix

California
Los Angeles
Oakland
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose

Colorado
Denver

District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.

Florida
Ft. Lauderdale
Jacksonville
Miami
Orlando
Tampa
West Palm Beach

Georgia
Athens
Atlanta

Illinois
Chicago

Indiana
West Lafayette

Louisiana
New Orleans

Maryland
Baltimore

Massachusetts
Boston

Minnesota
Minneapolis/Saint Paul

Missouri
St. Louis

Nevada
Las Vegas

New York
New York City
Rochester

North Carolina
Charlotte

Ohio
Akron
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Columbus

Oklahoma
Oklahoma City

Pennsylvania
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh

Tennessee
Nashville

Texas
Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, Dallas
Houston
San Antonio

Washington
Seattle/Tacoma

Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Commercial Airport Deployment (Airport Name, City, State)

Austin-Bergstrom International, Austin, Texas
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal, Glen Burnie, Maryland
Bob Hope, Burbank, California
Boeing Field/King County International, Seattle, Washington
Charlotte/Douglas International, Charlotte, North Carolina
Chicago Midway International, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago O’Hare International, Chicago, Illinois
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, Covington, Kentucky
Cleveland-Hopkins International, Cleveland, Ohio
Dallas Love Field, Dallas, Texas
Dallas/Fort Worth International, Fort Worth, Texas
Denver International, Denver, Colorado
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
George Bush Intercontinental/Houston, Houston, Texas
Greater Rochester International, Rochester, New York
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Atlanta, Georgia
Honolulu International, Honolulu, Hawaii
Jacksonville International, Jacksonville, Florida
John F. Kennedy International, New York, New York
John Wayne Airport-Orange County, Santa Ana, California
Kansas City International, Kansas City, Missouri
La Guardia, New York, New York
Lambert-St. Louis International, St. Louis, Missouri
Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Massachusetts
Long Beach/Daugherty Field, Long Beach, California
Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, California
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, Metairie, Louisiana
McCarran International, Las Vegas, Nevada
Memphis International, Memphis, Tennessee
Metropolitan Oakland International, Oakland, California
Miami International, Miami, Florida
Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nashville International, Nashville, Tennessee
New Castle, Wilmington, North Carolina
Newark Liberty International, Newark, New Jersey
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, San Jose, California
North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
Orlando International, Orlando, Florida
Orlando Sanford International, Sanford, Florida
Palm Beach International, West Palm Beach, Florida
Philadelphia International, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, Mesa, Arizona
Pittsburgh International, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Port Columbus International, Columbus, Ohio
Portland International, Portland, Oregon
Rickenbacker International, Columbus, Ohio
Ronald Reagan Washington National, Arlington, Virginia
Sacramento International, Sacramento, California
Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City, Utah
San Antonio International, San Antonio, Texas
San Diego International, San Diego, California
San Francisco International, San Francisco, California
Seattle-Tacoma International, Seattle, Washington
St. Augustine, Saint Augustine, Florida
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International, Clearwater, Florida
Tampa International, Tampa, Florida
Teterboro, Teterboro, New Jersey
Trenton Mercer, Trenton, New Jersey
Washington Dulles International, Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
Will Rogers World, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
William P. Hobby, Houston, Texas

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