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12/6/2010
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Verizon Launches 4G LTE Network

High-speed wireless service is available in 38 U.S. metropolitan areas with a Pantech 4G modem offered by the carrier.

Pantech UML290 4G Modem
(click image for larger view)
Pantech UML290 4G Modem
Verizon Wireless launched its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 38 major metropolitan areas on Sunday and also began selling a 4G USB modem from Pantech.

The Pantech UML290 supports Windows XP 32-bit, Vista 32/64-bit (SP2) and Windows 7 32/64-bit operating systems. It will work on the carrier's new 4G LTE network, which provides speeds 10 times faster than its current 3G network, Verizon Wireless said. Customers can expect download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G mobile broadband coverage areas, the carrier said.

While its 4G network is now up, the UML290 is the only way to access it, as the carrier has not yet offered any phones that support it. Right now, the only way to access the network is on a 4G USB modem. The carrier reportedly plans to announce 4G-capable phones at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The battle over 4G has been building momentum. T-Mobile offers a service called HSPA+ that it says qualifies as a 4G network and touts it as the largest 4G network in the country, a claim that has drawn ire from Sprint and AT&T. Earlier this month Digi International and Sprint announced plans to provide the first commercial-grade integrated 4G routers for connectivity to remote sites, devices and device/sensor networks via 4G networks.

Verizon said its 4G LTE network covers more than one-third of all Americans, or 110 million people, as well as over 60 commercial airports.

"Verizon Wireless's LTE rollout will be the largest LTE network deployment to date," said ABI Research Director Philip Solis, in a statement. "As such it will deliver economies of scale that should provide a stimulus to the whole LTE ecosystem."

The Pantech UML290 will be $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a new two-year customer agreement on a 4G mobile broadband plan. Verizon also offers the LG VL600 LTE USB modem, which includes a slot for 4G SIM card, for the same price. Service pricing will be $50 for 5 GB of usage per month and $80 for 10 GB of usage per month. Both plans will charge $10 for each GB used over and above the included amount. Customers can visit Verizon's 4G site to check on the initial 4G LTE coverage areas.

"While Verizon Wireless has been talking up its plans to shift to usage-based pricing on its LTE network," Solis said, "it has in fact chosen to keep its LTE pricing very similar to its existing plans."

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