updated 12:25 pm EST, Wed December 1, 2010
Verizon unveils 4G details for December 5 debut
Verizon as promised today confirmed the launch of its LTE-based 4G network. The service will go live in all of the planned 38 initial cities, including 60 airports, on December 5. Average speeds should be about 10 times faster than Verizon's 3G, at between 5Mbps and 12Mbps; the performance is enough that 20 typical photos could download in one minute or a single song in four seconds, Verizon said.
LTE's nature also means faster upload speeds, at between 2Mbps and 5Mbps, as well as lower latency that should better suit two-way video chat, multiplayer games, VoIP and other Internet access that is especially time-sensitive.
Full coverage should be in place by 2013, the carrier said.
Two USB modems will accompany the launch. The LG VL600 is a conventional adapter with a cap to cover the port. Owners of the MacBook Air and other very thin notebooks are being steered to the Pantech UML290, a dual-swivel modem that can rotate to fit tight spaces or vertical USB ports. Both will cost $100 after a $50 rebate and a two-year contract. Hopes of early launches for devices like the HTC Incredible HD were dashed, as Verizon won't have smartphones until mid-2011 and won't detail them until CES.
In spite of the much higher bandwidth, Verizon is planning to keep the same caps as it uses for its 3G service and is also setting the minimum price of entry higher. LTE users will have to choose from either a 5GB monthly plan for $50 per month or 10GB for $80. Both will cost $10 for each extra gigabyte over the cap.
The performance makes it the fastest cellular network in the US; Sprint's WiMax peaks at 10Mbps and more commonly reaches 3-6Mbps, often with less penetration indoors due to higher frequencies than the 700MHz Verizon uses. Early users may nonetheless face an early shock as its 3G will still be EVDO Revision A, which rarely goes past 2Mbps.