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Verizon Gains More Than Consumers With LTE Shift

To ease traffic on its 3G network, Verizon wants all future smartphone releases to support LTE.

Verizon made its name by having the best overall network in the country. With users consuming more and more data with each generation of smartphone, the limits of the current 3G network will become evident in the near future. Verizon could, of course, invest in its 3G network so it can grow, but why invest in yesterday's technology? The better bet is to move customers to its new 4G network by requiring new smartphones to support it.

Verizon currently has a batch of LTE phones running Android, but other phones supporting the 4G technology are already in the works for BlackBerry and Windows Phone handsets. Of course, Apple won't be left behind. Both the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 should support LTE.

In addition to phones, hotspots, tablets, and netbooks also will move to the new network. There will be some exceptions to the new rule. If you need a push-to-talk phone, those will likely be 3G for some time to come.

Before it moves exclusively to 4G for smartphones though, Verizon needs to improve its LTE network reliability. The network went down three times in December, and the outages were widespread and several hours long.

Many consumers won't see significant performance benefits from 4G. While those that stream video or use larger devices like tablets and netbooks will love the speed of the LTE network, smartphone users may not. Web browsing will be faster, but over 3G, it isn't too slow. Social network updates, email, and other apps also work fine over 3G.

The point is, the biggest benefactor, at least initially, of moving to LTE is Verizon. The company needs to first ensure, though, that the network is stable--far more stable than it has been in recent weeks.

If you are in the market for a 4G device on Verizon's network, you need to act fast. The company is running a "double data" promotion where you can get 4-GB, 10-GB, or 20-GB plans for the price of its 2-GB, 5-GB, or 10-GB plans, respectively. That deal expires this Sunday, January 15.

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