Verizon announced Wednesday that it will launch its LTE “4G” network on December 5th, starting with 30 major U.S. markets (see below). The company will flip the switch on the much faster wireless data network with two products that can use it, and neither is a smartphone — the company said that the first LTE smartphones would hit the streets in mid-2011.
Instead, Big Red will be offering two USB modems for road warriors looking for fast mobile networks for their laptops. Verizon’s LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network offers download speeds of up to 12 megabits per second, and the company said it expects real world performance on “loaded network environments” to be from 5 to 12 megabits per second. If it achieves those speeds, it will make this network the fastest in the U.S.
As we mentioned, there are no LTE smartphones on the market yet, and when they do hit, they’ll still use Verizon’s 3G network to make voice calls. That will be the case until at least 2012, leaving the LTE network for data alone. Verizon said it plans to have LTE coverage expand until it reaches all of the company’s current 3G network.
Verizon has said it will be announcing some LTE smartphones at CES in January, and the first units will hit the street in mid-2011. There was no mention of the iPhone, of course, but those hungering for a Verizon iPhone will note that Apple usually introduces new iPhone models in the middle of the year, and it has long, long, long, long, long, long been rumored that Apple will be bringing the iPhone to Verizon in 2011 (though most of those rumors have centered around a CDMA model, not an LTE model).
Until then, if you live or work in one of the markets below, you can grab one of two modems for US$99.99 with a two-year contract, after a $50 rebate. Data plans for the devices will be $50 for up to 5GB of throughput and $80 for up to 10GB of throughput. Both modems will be backwards compatible with Verizon’s 3G network.
Below are the cities and airports where the service will launch on December 5th.
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Major Metropolitan Area Deployment (Dec. 5, 2010)
Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Initial Commercial Airport Deployment (Airport Name, City, State) Dec. 5, 2010
Austin-Bergstrom International, Austin, Texas