A Verizon Wireless executive has told Dow Jones Newswires that the carrier plans a huge expansion of its 4G LTE wireless network this year and plans only to roll out 4G-capable phones.
Word of Verizon’s plans to be in “at least 400 markets across the country” by year-end follows AT&T’s announcement earlier this week that its LTE footprint will double by the end of the year to 56 markets and 150 million-plus points of presence. AT&T has practically been begging customers to upgrade from 2G wireless to 3G or 4G.
The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones reported that Verizon Wireless CTO David Small said the carrier is aiming to lure 10 million additional Americans than previously expected to its 4G network. Verizon, which in January added five more markets to its LTE network, previously announced plans to cover 250 million Americans by year-end. The Journal reports that Verizon has drawn just 5% of its customers to its 4G network despite pouring billions of dollars into the roughly year-old network infrastructure.
Verizon’s plan to offer only 4G phones this year is bold considering that LTE-enabled phones made up just 7% of the U.S. market in Q4, according to NPD Group numbers.
The announcement also supports speculation that the much-anticipated iPhone 5 will support 4G LTE. Apple’s latest iPad is equipped to work with LTE networks. Verizon is one of the carriers that’s offering the new tablet; AT&T is the other.
Verizon has been out in front of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile on LTE, though that roll-out hasn’t been smooth. The carrier’s network has suffered a number of high-profile outages that have angered customers.
Bob Brown tracks network research for Network World.