Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LTE Coverage Coming To 19 Cities Served by Verizon

Verizon will add Long Term Evolution service to 19 more metropolitan areas and plans to bring 4G to its full 3G coverage area in 2013. While Verizon offers LTE smartphones and modem cards, Apple's iPhone 5 isn't expected to use LTE. If Apple does skip LTE this year, it could encourage customers to stay with Apple instead of moving to Android 4G.

Verizon Wireless said Tuesday that it will activate its Long Term Evolution wireless network Relevant Products/Services in 19 more metropolitan areas on Thursday, including Dayton, Fresno, Hartford, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Spokane. The network operator also said it will expand its existing 4G LTE network in San Francisco and Detroit this week.

So Verizon will soon be offering data Relevant Products/Services-download speeds of five to 12 megabits per second in 74 metropolitan areas across the United States, and speeds of two to five Mbps for uplinks, noted Verizon Wireless Chief Technology Officer David Small.

"We are aggressively expanding our 4G LTE network," Small said. "By the end of 2013 we plan to bring 4G LTE mobile Relevant Products/Services broadband to our entire 3G coverage area."

LTE Upgrade Choices

Verizon subscribers who wish to upgrade to LTE's faster speeds have a selection of hardware Relevant Products/Services options from which to choose. On the smartphone Relevant Products/Services side, Verizon currently offers the HTC Thunderbolt, the LG Revolution, and the Samsung Droid Charge.

New LTE modem cards from Novatel, Pantech and LG are available for purchase by laptop Relevant Products/Services users, and also on tap are 4G-compatible mobile hot-spot products. On the downside, fans of Apple's iPhone and iPad Relevant Products/Services will need to stick with 3G for a while yet.

Some analysts are predicting that Apple will roll out a new iPhone 5 in September. "Given iOS 5 will be available this fall, we believe implies new iPhone hardware in September," observed Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Andrew Murphy earlier this month.

Still, this doesn't necessarily mean Apple intends to integrate superfast LTE capabilities into its next-generation iPhone. Verizon's LTE network operates on a different set of frequencies than the current 3G system, which means Apple's engineers would need to design, test and perfect a new antenna design for LTE's 700-MHz spectrum. Given Apple's past history of antenna problems, the company's engineers are sure to be very careful this time around.

"We believe the fifth-generation iPhone, possibly branded the iPhone 4S, will have a similar form factor to the iPhone 4 but a faster A5 chip, no LTE support Relevant Products/Services, and possibly a larger four-inch display," Munster and Murphy wrote last month.

The Risk of Falling Behind

On the other hand, Apple may not wish to "risk Relevant Products/Services falling behind" the latest 4G devices running Google Relevant Products/Services's Android platform, especially since Android has been classified more as a "fast follower" than a "tech leader," noted Lisa Pierce, an independent wireless analyst with the Strategic Network Group. "I can't imagine Apple would want to lose the [tech leader] moniker," she said.

If Apple doesn't introduce an LTE-compatible iPhone this year, the device Relevant Products/Services maker could dampen any significant jump in sales of 4G handsets running Android "by talking about its upcoming 3G/4G phone," Pierce observed. "And provide customers with other reasons to remain with and use Apple [devices] -- for instance, the iCloud."

Apple recently said it continues to see Wi-Fi as a very important wireless service Relevant Products/Services that helps AT&T -- but Wi-Fi doesn't help Verizon, Pierce noted. "In terms of competition, Verizon's moves are primarily designed to win AT&T customers because of AT&T's lag in focusing on LTE until recently," she said.

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