SAN DIEGO -- Verizon Wireless said Tuesday it will launch faster LTE wireless service in 21 cities on Oct. 18, reaching a total of 417 markets two months ahead of schedule. The carrier also announced it will soon reach another milestone: Putting a majority of its data over LTE.
The city of Marquette, Mich., will be Verizon's 400th city on LTE, and Verizon is planning a celebration of the event, said Nicola Palmer, CTO for Verizon Wireless, in a press conference at the MobileCon trade show here.
Verizon has both the largest LTE network in the nation and the world, Palmer note. The carrier began its LTE rollouts two years ago, and said in August that it had reached 75% of the U.S. population with LTE service. AT&T is on track to reach 100 LTE cities by year's end, and Sprint has similar plans "in coming months."
By the end of 2013, Verizon will have reached all of the locations where it has a 3G network. LTE speeds on Verizon are 10 times faster than 3G, and the company advertises that it offers 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps on downloads and 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps on uploads.
Palmer also said that by the end of 2013, Verizon plans to deploy voice services over the LTE data network. "We tested Live Volte (Voice over LTE) a few weeks ago and had an HD quality call," she said. "We're pretty excited about it."
Verizon is also sending about 35% of its data over LTE and expects to reach 50% soon, she said.
To help expand overall network capacity within areas where it already has LTE, Verizon plans to launch AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) network coverage atop of LTE in the middle to end of 2013, Palmer said.
AWS spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band has been acquired by Verizon in recent years and will add "depth and breadth" to existing cell sites, she said. Mike Haberman, vice president of networks at Verizon, said that to achieve adequate AWS coverage, Verizon needs four times the number of cell towers and other sites on buildings than with LTE, but that adding AWS offers a benefit to customers with better in-building coverage where wireless connections are sometimes poor.
The following are the 21 markets scheduled to get LTE service over Verizon on Oct 18: Gadsden, Ala.; Chico/Oroville, Calif.; Owensboro, Ky.; Waterville/Augusta, Maine; Marquette, Mich.; Brainerd and Fergus Falls/Alexandria, Minn.; Hattiesburg and Laurel, Miss.; Columbia, Mo.; Norfolk and North Platte, Neb.; Clovis, N.M.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bend and Medford/Grants Pass, Ore.; Amarillo and Victoria, Texas; Aberdeen and Walla Walla, Wash.; and Morgantown, W. Va.
The following cities will get LTE coverage by the end of 2012: Selma, Ala.; Blytheville, Ark.; Flagstaff, Nogales, Prescott and Sierra Vista/Douglas, Ariz.; Eureka, Calif.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Lewiston/Moscow, Idaho; Vincennes/Washington, Ind.; Fort Dodge and Ottumwa/Oskaloosa, Iowa; Petoskey, Mich.; Willmar/Marshall, Minn.; Butte, Mont.; Grand Island/Kearney and Hastings, Neb.; Lebanon/Claremont, N.H.; Farmington and Gallup, N.M.; East Liverpool/Salem, Ohio; Muskogee, Okla.; Pendleton and Roseburg, Ore.; Sumter, S.C.; Abilene, Texas; Keene, N.H./Brattleboro, Vt.; Kennewick/Pasco/Richland, Port Angeles, Wenatchee and Yakima, Wash.; and Riverton and Rock Springs, Wyo.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.