Verizon LTE expansion continues with 28 more cities

Count will reach 258 markets, with 400 planned by year's end

Verizon Wireless will add 28 more cities to its nationwide LTE network on Thursday, bringing the total number of markets with access to its faster 4G service to 258.

The carrier said in a statement that it expects to offer LTE service in 400 markets by the end of this year. Verizon's LTE network offers speeds of 5Mbps to 12Mbps on downlinks and 2Mbps to 5Mbps on uplinks -- about 10 times faster than 3G speeds.

Verizon has an expanding lineup of LTE smartphones and LTE aircards and expects to put the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE on sale in the coming weeks. A blue version of the Droid Razr goes on sale Thursday, Verizon said. Those devices revert to 3G where LTE is unavailable.

Before Thursday's expansion, Verizon said its LTE network covered about two-thirds of the United States and could reach 230 million people. AT&T is also rapidly deploying LTE service, but Verizon had a big head start, rolling out its first LTE deployments in December 2010. AT&T offered LTE service in 32 cities as of April. Sprint, the nation's third-largest carrier, expects to launch LTE in six markets by midyear, with a national expansion over the next 18 months.

A recent Metrico Wireless study of thousands of calls conducted in New York and the Baltimore-Washington area found that AT&T's and Verizon's LTE networks had comparable speeds, with Web page load times of less that 1 second.

On Thursday, Verizon will launch LTE service in the following cities: Houma/Thibodaux and Lake Charles, La.; Hyannis/Mid Cape Cod, Mass.; Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, Mich.; Biloxi/Gulfport/Pascagoula and Oxford, Miss.; Atlantic City/Toms River, N.J.; Dickinson and Williston, N.D.; Ashtabula, Bucyrus and Defiance, Ohio; Eugene/Springfield, Ore.; Lancaster, New Castle, Northern Cambria County, Oil City/Franklin, Somerset and York, Pa.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Mitchell, S.D.; Paris, Texas; Burlington and other parts of northern Vermont; Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Martinsville and Staunton/Waynesboro, Va.; and Sheridan, Wyo.

Also on Thursday, the carrier will expand existing LTE networks in Denver; Dover, Del.; Fort Myers and Lakeland, Fla.; Hagerstown, Md.; Canton, Lima, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown/Warren, Ohio; and Erie, Pa.

A full list of Verizon LTE cities is available on the carrier's website.

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 mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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