Today, Verizon launched the beginnings of its next-generation network, based on LTE technology. It will initially cover 110 million POPs in 38 markets, 60 airports. It is a great initial launch, though it only covers about a third of the total population, though it says it will match its 3G network coverage by next year. In keeping with marketing hype, it calls it a 4th generation network, though true 4G technology standards have yet to be finalized. This version of LTE is a pre-cursor.
The technology will be used for data-only services and for the next six months only be accessed via data cards. Its customers can choose from two 4G LTE Mobile Broadband data plans: $50 monthly access for 5 GB monthly allowance or $80 monthly access for 10 GB monthly allowance, both with $10/GB overage. Unfortunately, a similar model we’ve seen for data services even on a brand new network technology.
The interesting thing about Veriaon’s launch of LTE is that it puts it in the path of what most top providers will launch in the next few years. Having previously chose CDMA vs. GSM-based technology, Verizon (and Sprint Nextel) were limited in a global basis. Soon Verizon and others will be able to take advantage of large global economies like never before. I hope that this trickles down to the end consumer, but in any event, maturity of this technology on a global basis won’t happen until around 2015.