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6/22/2010
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Verizon Wraps LTE Network Testing

User trials of the 4G network will begin in five cities, as the wireless firm aims to roll out the service in 25 markets this year.

Verizon Wireless has finished the testing phase of its new 4G Long-Term Evolution network in Boston and Seattle and is now moving to conduct "friendly user trials" in five cities. The carrier made the announcement during a conference call with hardware and software partners that will be designing devices for the 4G network. Verizon is able to build the network due to the purchase of the valuable 700-MHz wireless spectrum it bought in a 2008 Federal Communications Commission auction.

Average download speeds during the Boston trials ranged between 5 and 12 Mbps, and average upload speeds were in the 2-5 Mbps range, the carrier reported in a YouTube video release. That's a significant jump from 3G speeds, which typically top out at 1.5 Mbps down and 0.5 Mbps up.

"Technical trials are staged [and] tiered in accordance with industry standards,'' said David Clevenger, executive director of public affairs at Verizon Wireless. "They're [now] completed."

The technical trials began earlier this year in the two cities and the completion signifies that Verizon continues to make progress as it attempts to meet its self-imposed deadline of rolling out 4G in 25 to 30 markets by the end of 2010. The company says it's still on track to achieve this goal.

"The next phase is 'friendly user trials,' which means we're looking for feedback on the network," said Clevenger. The five cities where user testing will continue have not been announced and the carrier did not release details about who will participate in the testing.

Verizon employees are expected to be the primary testers, as well as some of the Verizon partners who are building LTE gear.

Verizon is the first major U.S. carrier to begin building its LTE network, with plans to launch the high-speed service to 100 million users in 25 to 30 cities across the country by the end of 2010. Its closest competitor, AT&T, has announced plans to invest $19 billion this year to expand its mobile broadband network, but won't begin technical trials of LTE until 2011, giving Verizon's 4G an edge of almost two years.

Verizon also recently announced plans to build out its LTE network in rural areas.

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