Verizon Tries to Maintain Edge Over AT&T in Race to 4G

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Verizon announced an additional 19 cities will have its faster LTE wireless network service beginning Thursday. The expansion brings the total to 74 metropolitan areas being served by Verizon as it fights to stay ahead of AT&T and other rival wireless networks.

A statement from Verizon lists the 19 new cities, which include Flint, MI; Sioux Falls SD; Salt Lake City, Utah; Milwaukee, WI, and others. The Verizon 4G LTE network delivers wireless broadband speeds ranging from 5 to 12 megabits per second--roughly ten times the speeds capable on the older 3G network.

With AT&T ready to roll out LTE, Verizon is expanding its 4G network to 19 new cities.
"On Thursday when we light up 19 additional 4G LTE markets, we will offer consumers and businesses in 74 metropolitan areas the most advanced 4G wireless network on the planet while continuing to offer the nation's most reliable 3G network coast to coast," said David Small, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless. "We are aggressively expanding our 4G LTE network: by the end of 2013 we plan to bring 4G LTE mobile broadband to our entire 3G coverage area."

Meanwhile, AT&T is making its first major push to deliver 4G this summer. Not to be confused with its existing HSPA+ network, AT&T is rolling out LTE in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

Although Sprint initially got a jump on competitors as the first wireless provider in the United States actively pushing 4G, Verizon has overshadowed it, and with AT&T jumping into the fray the focus will be on the two wireless giants.

There are two caveats to the 4G excitement, though. First--none of this is really 4G. It is sort of 3.5G, or pre-4G. While these LTE networks are significantly faster than their 3G predecessors, the speed and capabilities being delivered do not live up to the minimum specifications for 4G.

Second, a 4G network is only as good as the 4G device that connects to it. For an example, you need look no farther than the Motorola Atrix 4G, which has '4G' right there in its name yet was throttled by AT&T and initially delivered disappointing results.

My only experience with 4G so far is using a 4G portable hotspot loaned to me by Verizon. My experience inside my home has been less than stellar--sometimes abysmal. But, outdoors and out and about I have been able to consistently get 5mbps speeds which is nice for working on the go.

There are currently a variety of LTE-capable smartphones, but the elephant in the room is the Apple iPhone. The iPhone owns a significant share of the smartphone market at both Verizon and AT&T. It remains to be seen if the iPhone 5 will be LTE-enabled. If it is, though, that will most certainly drive adoption of 4G networking.

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