Just in time for the holiday smartphone season, Verizon Wireless today is announcing that its rollout of 4G LTE is ahead of schedule and is now reaching more than 400 communities.
The company is planning a launch on Oct. 18 at which point it will have 417 markets covered, reaching about 80 percent of the U.S. population.
Verizon is setting the pace for wireless companies in the country that are racing to upgrade their networks to LTE technology, which is up to 10 times faster than previous generation networks. The company has been spending more than $6 billion a year on the network, which was originally tested in the Seattle area and launched in December 2010.
The company now has the largest commercial LTE network not just in the U.S. but the entire world, according to Nicola Palmer, the company’s chief technology officer.
“We’re far ahead of any competitor. We have more converage on LTE than any of our competitors combined,” she said.
Palmer said the company now has about 11 million customers using the network and those using 4G devices are consuming twice the data, on average, as those using 3G devices.
As the footprint of LTE reaches most of the nation, the company now focuses more on increasing the network’s capacity, especially as higher-resolution devices increase data consumption further.
“The conversation on 4G LTE is quickly turning from coverage to capacity, there’s no doubt about that,” she said. “You can see the breadth of our coverage at this point. Now, as others are just starting to launch LTE, we’re thinking about how do we add depth to our offering, to always live up to our promises to customers about speed and other things.”
In the Northwest, Verizon Wireless is now bulking up the network in dense areas and extendng it to smaller markets.
The October rollout will bring LTE service to the Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, Westport, Walla Walla, College Place, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Granite Falls and Roy. Also getting the service in October are the Bend-Sunriver and Medford-Grants Pass areas in Oregon.
By the end of the year, the company plans to have LTE service in Port Angeles, Wenatchee, Yakima, Clarkston/Lewiston, Pullman/Moscow, Tri-Cities, Pendleton and Roseburg.
LTE coverage in Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma is being increased as aprt of the October expansion.