Verizon Wireless just announced details for its forthcoming 4G wireless network. The big idea is that this will be much faster for downloads and uploads than its current 3G network.
- Verizon’s network will launch on Dec. 5 in 38 “major” metropolitan areas, including New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston, etc.
- It will include two plans: 5 GB for $50 per month, or 10 GB for $80 per month, both with $10/GB overage fees. (This actually starts cheaper than Verizon’s 3G USB modems, which appear to start at $60 per month for 5 GB of usage.)
- For now, there will be two USB modems for LTE.
- “Consumer oriented” handsets for LTE expected by mid-2011. (Perhaps there will be less-expensive data plans for handsets than they have for laptop users?)
We tuned into Verizon’s press conference. The following are our LIVE notes.
12:03 Waiting for call to begin, while summarizing the press release above.
12:05 Call begins. They’re in Waltham, Mass., where they have built a new “Verizon Innovation centre.” The exec speaking is Tony Melone, CTO of Verizon Wireless.
12:07 Verizon made initial LTE announcement in 2009; today saying they are the first to offer LTE at the scale to make a difference to kickstart ecosystem to make it global 4G standard.
12:08 “Dramatic leap” in capabilities.
12:09 Covering about a third of Americans during first stage of rollout. Covering basically the whole major Northeast area, and huge area in Southern California. Also lots of airports.
12:11 4G term perhaps overused, but here’s the deal: This is a brand new network built side-by-side the existing 3G network.
12:12 Using brand new spectrum.
12:14 2-5 Mbps in uplink, 5-12 Mbps in download.
12:18 At CES they’ll talk more about additional devices, which should be out by mid-2011.
12:20 Thanking partners, including LG.
12:20 Looking forward to “forging new relationships” — Apple, wink wink?
12:21 “Continued aggressive expansion” on the way.
12:22 Not all 4G is the same — “this is a big deal.” Android, extremely successful, really took off when Verizon Wireless got behind Android. I think the same thing will happen here with LTE. Will really make the difference and kick start the next generation of mobile broadband.
12:23 Last remarks: Sunday, as stores open, LTE network will be live. Feel free to walk right in, buy LTE modem, and get zipping on laptop.
12:24 Street level maps for all of 38 markets at Verizon’s website, coming on Sunday.
12:24 Look for talks about consumer oriented devices at CES in January in Las Vegas.
12:25 Q&A begins. Thinking on pricing plans. $10 cheaper than what currently offer. What was behind decision to undercut current data plan? When we look at capabilities of this network, significant amount of customers will embrace network, where 5 GB may not be enough. So, in translation, looking to push people up to higher bandwidth plan at $80. (Or make them pay overage charges.)
12:27 How will people know when they’re getting low on bandwidth? Will get notifications when they pass certain thresholds in plan, plus you can check anytime.
12:28 When going between 4G and 3G, can be disruptive on Sprint? Can you seamlessly jump between them? No hiccup, handoff from 4G down to 3G network. One nuance is coming the other direction. Will stay 3G, when you stop transmitting, will find 4G coming in. Translation into english: You’ll be able to go from 4G to 3G seamlessly, but not from 3G to 4G.
12:29 Not to nitpick, but I think you said LTE phones midyear, but Ivan had said February? VZW says let me rephrase: Didn’t imply at mid-year, implied by mid-year. Not a different signal.
12:32 When voice is on data, how will pricing change? May be reasons to treat VoIP data differently than normal Internet data, with that may come some difference in how it’s treated. Timeline: For us, in terms of at a large scale, think the driver to that is when we have a big enough 4G footprint. Timeframe is late 2012, early 2013.
12:34 Shared plans? No contracts? Cheaper bits? When are we going to see new thinking in terms of plans. We wanted to come out of the gate here as simple as we could in initial stages. As network evolves, other aspects will evolve as well. More will come on that. Felt a simple straightforward approach was best.
12:35 USB modems will be available through stores and Internet, not immediately through third parties. Promoting to consumers? Had some advertising started that you may have seen over the weekend, not prepared to give a whole lot more detail right now.
12:37 One of the reasons we’re ot going out with VoIP on LTE out of the gate: Creates complexities that don’t serve anyone, don’t help customers, then issue of migrating off and on. Could have simul. voice and data using 3G and 4G networks. Bread and butter calling won’t be VoIP for a while. In terms of capacity, we expect to be successful, we expect them to generate usage, and we expect to design a network that can handle that usage.
12:40 How to counter some misleading marketing out there? (Alluding to T-Mobile calling its 3G network a 4G network?) Put it in peoples’ hands, let them experience. Anything else probably a waste of effort.
12:43 Last question: You’re calling this the real deal 4G, but real specs are 10x of that. VZ dismisses, says it’s a “quantum generational step up” from what customers experience today.
12:45 End of call.
Don’t miss: Everything You Need To Know About 4G Wireless
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.