Watch out Sprint, Verizon is prepping its 4G network to go live this year with data cards and LTE handsets confirmed for the 2010 and 2011 roadmap to compete against your 4G WiMAX network. A trusted source of ours gave us the inside scoop on US cities that will go live this year through 2013, new 4G and 3G phones and upcoming 3G data plans. The timing couldn’t be better, as just this morning we caught a glimpse of an LTE device passing through the FCC along with some LTE dongles for Verizon – both of which are likely part of this aggressive 4G rollout by Big Red. By the looks of Verizon’s LTE roadmap, we’re going to have some seriously high-speed wireless data coming online in the very near future.
Although we weren’t expecting to really see LTE and devices until next year, given how late wireless technology and compatible devices can be despite promises, the timing of this news jives with Verizon’s tests this year where it completed trials in Boston, and moved onto user trials after completing its technical trials. The carrier has certainly come a long way since announcing its LTE plans last year.
Our source tells us that this year, both Atlanta and Athens, GA will go live with Verizon’s LTE network along with Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX. Additionally, a good chunk of east Massachusetts will be covered with LTE bringing the total population coverage up to 115-120 million people this year. Other cities included in the 115-120 million population wasn’t mentioned to us by our source. Not bad for what seems to be a roll-out that’s ahead of schedule. And, there is much more coming next year.
In 2011, all universities and most colleges and cities in Louisiana will go live: Shreveport, LA; Bossier City, LA; Monroe, LA; Alexandria, LA; Natchitoches, LA; Baton Rouge, LA; New Orleans area, LA; Lake Charles, LA; Lafayette, LA. For Mississippi: Oxford, Jackson, Tupelo, Olive Branch, South Haven, Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, Columbus, Starkville, Meridian and Biloxi. In Alabama: Huntsville, Florence/Shoals, Birmingham, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Dothan/Enterprise, Mobile, Troy and Columbus. This also includes new markets like Morgantown, WV.
In 2012, all major highways and interstates and all cities within an approximate radius of 30 miles from the interstates/highways will receive 4G. And in 2013, the entire 3G network as it exists today will be completely overlaid by Verizon’s 4G or LTE network.
As far as 4G handsets and data cards go, Verizon will release information on upcoming 4G phones in January. Two or three 4G data cards will be released this November.
New BlackBerry Storm, Android phone on the way
Amidst all this LTE news, there will also be some new 3G phones coming very soon. We’re told that a third iteration of the BlackBerry Storm will be coming, but it won’t be called a BlackBerry Storm 3. There will also be a new Curve and some BlackBerry flip phones, although we don’t have too many more details on those. It’s not all BlackBerry, however, as we also got word that more Android handsets will be on the way.
New Data Plans On The Way
Now, as far as the data plans go, 3G will be unlimited, but the new 4G data bundles will be capped. Our understanding is that the 4G plan won’t be separate from 3G plans, but will be included. So when you sign up for the $30 data plan, 3G will naturally be unlimited while your 4G/LTE usage might be limited to roughly 5GB per month. One thing our source did tell us is that the caps may be more or less than 5GB, but that was the estimated guess for now.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get any word for the cities that matter (no offense, cities that I mentioned here; I’m sure you’re all lovely) like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Chicago. Details about the roll-out of LTE in other regions are scant, but we’ll certainly keep you all updated as we hear more from our sources.
In all, it looks like Sprint will have some serious competition in the 4G realm as LTE goes live to take on WiMax. While Sprint’s WiMax has more available spectrum than that of Verizon’s LTE network, the frequency at which LTE operates might make it more usable in buildings as well as provide more reliable signal strength. Also consider the fact that Verizon will blanket almost the entire nation in LTE by 2013 and you might have to reconsider carrier options if 4G is a big deal for you. After all, we’re constantly hearing rumors that Sprint will be ditching WiMax for LTE in the future.