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Verizon's LTE Network to Reach 38 Cities This Year

Verizon Wireless announced that 38 markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, will get access to the high-speed LTE network by the end of this year.

However, the operator has not yet announced devices that will be able to work on the network. Lowell McAdam, president and chief operating officer of Verizon, made the announcement during a keynote speech at the CTIA conference in San Francisco. The company will conduct a press conference about the news later on Wednesday.

"LTE is not just about USB modems," McAdam said. "You may have heard we won't have elegant devices for some time. Come see us at CES in January." At the Consumer Electronics Show, Verizon will be showing a "half dozen" smartphones and tablets that will be available for the LTE network in the first half of next year, he said.

The 38 markets will cover 110 million people "on the day we flip the switch," McAdam said. He expects the network to offer 8-megabit download speed for users. At launch, the networks will cover on average 70 percent of the population in each market, he said.

Verizon will also launch coverage in 55 airports, he said.

"There's a tendency to think LTE is just about speed, but that misses half the equation," he said. "Equally important is that latency drops by more then half" compared to current 3G networks, he said.

He said that Verizon has advantages over others that are building LTE networks because of its nationwide 700 MHz spectrum. That band offers very good in-building coverage compared to spectrum higher up on the band.

Beyond this year, Verizon plans to finish rolling out LTE in all its current 3G markets by 2013. Within 18 months it expects to cover two-thirds of the U.S. population.

Verizon has also signed agreements with five rural operators, which will share access to Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum, building networks in their rural areas and allowing customers to roam onto Verizon's nationwide network.

McAdam boasted about Verizon's role as the first to choose and launch LTE, but the number-one operator was beat to market by MetroPCS, which launched the country's first LTE network in Las Vegas in September.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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