December 5, 2010
On December 5th, Verizon Wireless launched its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 38 cities and in over 60 airports. This deployment signals the beginning of the 4G/LTE wars. The fuss over 4G/LTE networks is based on significantly faster network speeds which enable a smoother, faster, less jittery video experience for customers. Verizon’s LTE network is expected to run nearly 10 times faster than the company’s 3G EVDO network with downstream speeds of 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps and upstream speeds of 2Mbps to 5Mbps.
Initially, Verizon Wireless is taking a land grab approach to marketing its LTE network service primarily to business customers who can connect to the Internet using their laptops. Data plans start at $50 per month for 5GB of data, or $80 per month for 10B of data. Additional data use above these data plan caps will cost $10 per GB. Lower price point plans which would appeal to cost conscious consumers were not identified. Verizon plans to offer LTE enabled smartphones in mid 2011.
The $50 per month baseline LTE data pricing plan is undercutting Verizon’s current 3G data access prices. Why undercut 3G data prices? Because the 4G/LTE competitive landscape is heating up. Clearwire is deploying a WiMax network in 68 markets, and T-Mobile is positioning its HSPA+ network as 4G in more than 80 markets. In addition, Verizon is hoping to capture a significant share of customers in the 4G market before AT&T jumps into the 4G arena in 2011, so expect more 4G/LTE announcements and increased competition for 4G customers in the coming year.