Verizon launched its LTE network in December with 39 markets, and unveiled 49 more at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, so Tuesday's announcement will bring the total number of cities with LTE access to 147 by the end of the year.
"Aggressively expanding this powerful network beyond major metro areas reflects the reality that the 4G LTE ecosystem is growing quickly," David Small, chief technical officer for Verizon, said in a statement. "Our commitment to reach deep into medium-sized cities and smaller communities by the end of 2011 means the power of 4G LTE can be harnessed and provide advanced services to law enforcement, healthcare workers, educators, and other professionals, as well as to individual consumers, sooner than many thought possible."
In our tests, I got eight hours of 3G talk time with the Thunderbolt, six hours of video playback time, and only 2.5 hours of LTE streaming. So what's an Internet fan to do?
HTC and Verizon will offer a very high-capacity extended battery, the companies told me. The 2750 mAh battery is nearly twice the capacity of the Thunderbolt's built-in 1400 mAh unit. The big battery will cost $49.99 and will be available very soon, said Pat Bucci, Verizon's director of accessory products.
The new battery makes the phone about an ounce heavier than its existing 6.5 ounces, and it comes with a new back that makes the phone deeper as well, Bucci said.
"We want customers who are power users, that are going to have the hotspot on all day, to just go," he said.
Verizon Wireless will likely do away with its unlimited data plan and switch to tiered pricing sometime this summer, Fran Shammo, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Telecom and Business, said Tuesday.
Verizon announced in January that it would ditch its 150MB $15 monthly plan and require new smartphone users to subscribe to its $30 unlimited plan. That move, announced several days before Verizon unveiled its version of the iPhone, was intended to attract new customers to Verizon and the iPhone, Shammo said.
Verizon opted for the $30 plan because "we didn't really want to put up a barrier to anybody who wanted to come over and experience the Verizon Wireless network," Shammo said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco. "So we felt that it was important to go out at the $30."
Everybody knew, however, that that was not a long-term strategy, Shammo said. "We're going to move to a tiered pricing," which will probably happen "in the mid-summer timeframe."
We've got our hands on the Verizon Wireless version of the Motorola Xoom tablet. This Android 3.0 Honeycomb device supports Verizon's 3G and 4G LTE networks. In this video, we open up the Xoom and give you a look at the tablet hardware and accessories. Then, we powering it on to give you a look at the Xoom setup process. After entering in the Google credentials, we are up and running for a quick tour of the Honeycomb interface. This is just the unboxing, though, so stay tuned for a more thorough walkthrough of the device in the next episode of Bleeding Edge TV.
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Droid Life on Tuesday posted photos of the HTC Thunderbolt, which it says will be Verizon's first 4G LTE device. The site didn't have any details on specs except to note that it looks a lot like the Desire HD. The device features a kickstand and Google branding.
Verizon said it has no comment.
Verizon Wireless is taking a stand - in the race to deploy 4G LTE mobile broadband service, they don’t want to come in second to AT&T or Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, the latter of which said it would offer such a network commercially in 2010. According to executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon Communications, Dick Lynch, they plan to begin rolling the enhanced network capabilities out by about this time next year, ahead of the original 2010 timetable.
The original plan called for initial rollouts in 2010, with a wide commercial launch in 2011 and true mass availability coming shortly after. But according to an IDC analyst, Verizon’s new, more aggressive deployment schedule was likely inspired by the threat of launching after another company. Verizon wants to be first! Can you blame them? They don’t have the iPhone...
If you’re wondering what LTE is, it’s a fourth-generation wireless data system expected to be the next step up in speed and capacity for carriers using the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) platform, which is dominant in most of the world. Like Sprint Nextel’s already deployed (in one city) WiMax, it should deliver multiple megabits per second of throughput.
After introducing LTE, Verizon plans to offer subscribers small in-home base stations known as femtocells, which will extend the signal indoors - likely including built-in Wi-Fi, which will allow newer personal electronics such as cameras to automatically exchange information over the air. Imagine getting home from a trip and having your pictures automatically upload to the internet once you walk through the door. This may be a reality sooner than you think.
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