Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Verizon Reveals 4G LTE Launch Details - 5 Things You Need to Consider

Verizon announced their launch details (finally) for their 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) data service today.  While there weren't any surprises, it did finally deliver what most people wanted to know, the date and pricing.   This news is certainly exciting, but should you go out and buy a new 4G LTE device this weekend?  Click the link below to find out.

What is Verizon 4G LTE?

Essentially Verizon 4G LTE is Verizon's new and improved cellular data network.  Instead of today's 3G speeds of 1Mbps - 2Mbps downstream, you will see speeds of 5 Mbps - 12 Mbps.  While 4G (4th Generation) isn't the next evolution in cellular data networks, it is a big improvement. 

For more infomation on LTE, read Matt Buchanan's posts on Gizmodo.  He does a great job of explaining the technology:
  • Service launches December 5th
  • Two data plans to start:
    • $50/month for 5GB of data
    • $80/month for 10GB of data
    • $10 for every GB over your plan
  • Two devices at launch (Both $99 after $50 mail in rebate and 2 year contract)
    • LG VL600 data modem
    • Pantech UML290 data modem (available soon after launch)
  • Data coverage
    • 38 major metropolitan area
    • 60 commercial airports
5 Things You Need to Consider Before You Buy

It is Only Data Modems for Now

The initial launch consists of only two USB data modems.  So unless you are a heavy traveler or you need it for work, it is not worth the cost.  Remember you won't be able to connect your smart phone to these modems and the speed is gonna be the same or worse then Wifi.   Also, Engadget is reporting that the LG modem cannot be used with Macs.  Bummer.

Phones Will be Here in the First Half of 2011

Verizon said that they will be announcing consumer oriented devices in the beginning of 2011.  What this translates to is that they will be announcing phones at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and/or Mobile World Congress (MWC) in January and February respectively.  That means that phones will probably start hitting stores in the April to June time frame.  You can hold out for a few more months.

The Hand-Off Between 3G and 4G Networks Has Some Issues

It looks like Verizon still has some issues to work out transferring back and forth between their 3G and 4G networks.  The modems will be able to go from 4G to 3G, but not back from 3G to 4G.  The modem connection will have to be reset in order to connect back to the 4G network.

What this means for you is that if you are in an area that has spotty 4G coverage or you are traveling between 4G and 3G zones, once your 4G connection drops you will be stuck on 3G.  You won't be able to get back on the 4G network until you reset your modem connection.  Depending on how you use the modem or how coverage is in your area, this might not be an issue for you.

Initial Coverage is Great, But That Doesn't Mean You Have Coverage

While launching in 38 metropolitan areas and 60 airports is great, that doesn't mean you will have coverage.  Coverage maps will not be released until December 5th, but unless you are within 20 miles of those 38 cities, chances are that you might not have very good coverage or any at all.

It is Not the Only Option Out There

Currently there are other options out there where you will be able to get speeds very close to Verizon's 4G.  Both Sprint and Clear have 4G networks that use WiMAX technology, and are currently available in over 68 cities.  You can see about 10Mbps downstream on both of those carriers networks (they are really the same network).

T-Mobile also operates an advanced 3G network (though they refer to it as their 4G network) that uses HSPA+.  Their network is in about 70 cities and you can expect to see about 6Mbps downstream.  

All three options are available today and have different plans that might fit in your budget better than Verizon's plan.  So, are any of you going to take the plunge on Verizon?  Or are you gonna use a different option? Or are you going to just wait?  Sound off in the comments below.
    Source: Engadget

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