It's been a long time coming, but Verizon Wireless' LTE network is finally here. The network goes live in 38 cities and 60 airports across the country starting Sunday, December 5. Verizon is promising download speeds of 5 to 12Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5Mbps. Verizon says LTE network latency is half of what 3G's latency is.
Based on the initial set of devices being made available to access the network, Verizon expects business users to be the first to hop on board its LTE mobile broadband express.
Starting on the 5th, the first device capable of accessing Verizon's LTE network will be the LG VL600 modem. It is a laptop dongle. The second device, a Pantech modem, is also a laptop dongle. No, no LTE smartphones at launch, and probably not until well into 2011.
The two laptop dongles can access both LTE and Verizon's 3G network. According to Verizon, the modems will seamlessly fall back to 3G if/when the modem loses contact with the LTE network. The dongles cost $100 (after rebates) with a new two-year contract. Verizon is offering up to 5GB for $50 per month, and up to 10GB for $80 per month. Verizon will charge $10 for each additional gigabyte over and above the monthly allotment. (Amazingly, Verizon is pricing LTE data below what it costs for a 3G data plan.)
That all sounds pretty good. With the 38 markets, Verizon is promising LTE access to 110 million Americans, and says it will have its entire network switched to LTE by 2013.
The two USB modems that are being offered are only compatible with Microsoft's operating systems, though. Specifically, they require Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. Mac users can count themselves out, at least for a while. Verizon didn't say when support for Macs would be offered.
This clearly indicates that Verizon Wireless is looking to enterprise users to be among the first to adopt its LTE network technology. Verizon did the same thing with the first 3G laptop dongles years ago. By choosing to first make devices that work with Microsoft's systems, Verizon believes businesses will lead the LTE revolution.
What surprises me most is that Verizon isn't offering a device similar to Novatel's MiFi. The MiFi grabs onto 3G and then offers Wi-Fi-based access to up to five other devices that are in range. Sprint was sure to launch a MiFi-like device for its WiMax network as early as it could. Were Verizon to offer an LTE version of the MiFi, that would provide a far greater opportunity for users of other devices, such as Apple computers, to connect to the faster network.
Alas, it is not to be...at least for now.