updated 6/27/2005 6:53:40 PM ET 2005-06-27T22:53:40

Verizon Wireless is bringing broadband Internet service to 15 more markets, for a total of more than 50, extending its lead over Cingular Wireless and Sprint Corp. in delivering faster data transfers to laptop and cell phone users.

The expansion of the Verizon data network, which can make mobile workers more productive and which fuels such new services as video on cell phones, includes Seattle, St. Louis, Cleveland and the Long Island suburbs of New York City.

The announcement comes amid mounting speculation about possible snags in the launch of the same technology by Sprint and the further deployment of a similar service by Cingular.

Verizon's rivals both maintain they're on track with their wireless broadband strategies despite some substantial merger distractions.

Mindful of Verizon's publicity push, Sprint told The Associated Press on Monday that rather than waiting to launch its EV-DO technology across entire markets, it may start offering services in "dense business corridors" and airports in certain cities by early summer.

Sprint, hustling to complete its planned merger with Nextel Communications Inc., also said its EV-DO service will be available in about 60 metropolitan areas when its national build-out is complete in early 2006.

Cingular, which is working to integrate the AT&T Wireless network and operations it acquired late last year, already sells wireless broadband using a technology called UMTS in six cities and plans to add at least 10 more markets by the end of 2005.

EV-DO and the type of UMTS that Cingular is deploying are billed as providing download speeds from 400 to 700 kilobits per second.

That's on par with entry-level DSL and cable broadband services but well shy of the speed delivered by Wi-Fi connections at many airports, coffee shops and book stores.

But despite the slower speed, EV-DO and UMTS give users the flexibility of being to go online wherever there's a cellular signal. A Wi-Fi signal typically carries only a few hundred feet.

Wireless companies view mobile Internet access as one of more promising opportunities in an industry where price wars are weighing on revenues from phone calls and nearly two thirds of the nation's people are already signed up as customers.

Verizon, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, charges laptop $80 per month for unlimited Internet access. For cell phones, Verizon's multimedia VCAST service costs $15 per month for unlimited use, not including fees for premium content such as music videos and 3-D video games.

The Verizon service is now available in 13 of the 15 new markets: Akron, Ohio; Athens, Ga.; Beaumont, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Indianapolis; Lake Charles, La.; Nassau and Suffolk, N.Y.; New London, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; St. Louis; San Antonio; Seattle. The service will be turned on in Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y. on July 11.

As part of the latest rollout, Verizon is also adding service at airports in four more markets: Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, and Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose in California.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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