Verizon launched it’s 4G LTE network on December 5, completing an upgrade and installation process that took little more than a year. The implementation time was indeed fast and now Verizon’s 4G signal will be available in 38 cities by the end of the year, as well as a growing list of airports around the nation.
While Alaska seems bound to spent some time out of the 4G loop (or very probably will never have access to it), there as of now at least thirty or so metropolitan areas that have started to enjoy Verizon’s 4G network. There is actually a very nifty online tool from Verizon that you can use to check if your area is being covered by the new network or not. There doesn’t seem to be a map for future coverage but it seems that Verizon will continue to expand its network since the 4G network seems to be surprisingly fast, and possibly a contender to replace traditional DSL or cable broadband services throughout the US. Could this user in an era of complete, broadband connectivity from virtually everywhere? It’s still a bit early, and there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Though Verizon was not the first US carrier to offer 4G services (MetroPCS was, though their service seems slow in comparison with Verizon’s), soon AT&T and T-mobile are bound to follow with deployments somewhere around 2011, since their migration process is still ongoing. This means that no real competition about prices can begin until then, but starting off first in a race definitely gives one an advantage. It also seems that Verizon’s 4G LTE set a marketing standard as well, since it’s actually not a 4G technology. Don’t cry wolf just yet, it is quite fast and a lot faster than current 3G wireless broadband. It’s just not exactly a true 4G technology.
In reality, what wireless carriers are selling as 4G LTE, should actually be called 3G LTE, but then they probably thought it wouldn’t impress consumers as a technological evolution, a departure from 3G networks. LTE stands for Long-Term evolution and it is a technology built on top of the current 3G (UMTS) framework, designed to bridge the gap between current 3G networks, and the first real 4G networks.
Whereas Verizon’s 4G LTE service seems to be quite fast, topping at 20Mbps, with speeds as low as 5Mbps but as high as even 40Mbps, the LTE specification itself calls for even higher speeds, with the 4G ITU specification calling for a minimum of 100Mbps for users on the move and as high as 1 Gbps for stationary users.
The bottom line is, Verizon’s service might not be a real 4G service (everyone else calls it 4G as well so the name has stuck for better or worse), but it’s as fast as a cable or DSL broadband service, and this will probably be the key feature for services vying to shine in the wireless connectivity industry.