Verizon Going 4G LTE Only, Preparing for LTE-A
Verizon announced today that starting in late 2014, smartphones released through the carrier would only be compatible with 4G LTE, weaning customers off of the aging 3G network. This comes on the heels of Verizon’s proclamation that their 4G LTE network has now reached 500 U.S. markets, covers 49 states, and is accessible by 95% of the population.
In a recent blog post proclaiming the ubiquity of 4G LTE, Verizon cites statistics predicting that 4G LTE will connect 220 million subscribers and 24 billion devices by 2014. With 4G LTE service reaching 99% of their existing 3G customers, Verizon considers their rollout of the service largely complete.
Next up, Verizon reportedly has plans to begin integrating Advanced Wireless Service (AWS), or LTE-A, into its wireless network, although they have yet to announce a timeline. Unlike 3G vs. 4G, LTE-A will not be a new level of service, but an improvement on the existing 4G LTE network. Advanced LTE will allow for vastly improved speeds and greater bandwidth. T-Mobile is also deploying LTE-A, with plans to have it available in some markets by the end of 2013.
Even though no major carriers currently support LTE-A, it’s already making its way into consumer technology. Samsung announced this week that the upcoming Galaxy S4, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, will be the first smartphone to integrate LTE-A capability.
The Galaxy S4’s LTE-A feature is ahead of the curve, and may help encourage carriers to accelerate deployment of LTE-A. While the S4 will also be compatible with existing networks, Samsung claims potential speeds of 150 Mbps on an LTE-A network; twice the speed we’re getting now. The Galaxy S4 will test the waters in South Korea this summer before making its way to the U.S.