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Verizon launching speedier 4G network Sunday

Mark Milian
Verizon Wireless stores will start selling accessories for laptops that can tap into its new 4G network on Sunday.
Verizon Wireless stores will start selling accessories for laptops that can tap into its new 4G network on Sunday.
  • Verizon launches its 4G network on Sunday
  • The network will initially cover 38 U.S. cities
  • At first, only laptops will be able to plug in to the speedier internet using an accessory

(CNN) -- After months of hype, Verizon Wireless will launch a 4G network on Sunday that covers one-third of the U.S. population, the company said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Initially, only computers, not phones, will be able to access Verizon's speedier fourth-generation network.

Customers will be able to buy an accessory from LG that can plug into a laptop, costing $100 after a $50 rebate and requiring a two-year contract. More of those types of products will come out in the next couple of weeks, Verizon CTO Tony Melone said at the event.

To make use of those products, customers can choose from a $50 plan for 5 gigabytes of data per month or $80 for 10 gigabytes. Each gigabyte you transmit over that costs $10. The prices are competitive with what the company charges customers connecting laptops on its 3G network.

"Verizon appears poised to go aggressively to lock up 4G subscribers," said Dan Hays, a director for consulting firm PRTM who has worked with major U.S. carriers in the past. "I think we're [also] going to see Verizon price [its smartphone plans] aggressively."

Verizon claims that laptop users on its 4G mobile broadband network will experience connectivity that's up to 10 times faster than the company's current 3G network. With this faster network, users will be able to download 20 photos in 60 seconds or a two-hour movie in five minutes, the company said.

In line with what the telecom said in October, the next-generation wireless data network will launch in 38 U.S. cities and more than 60 airports this year. That includes many of the country's most populated areas, allowing the 4G network to cover 110 million Americans, says Verizon, the largest U.S. cellular carrier by subscribers.

T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel, which have both launched newer, faster versions of their data networks, didn't immediately reach the largest cities, but they do now.

What all of these so-called 4G networks have in common is that they don't meet the technical specification for a real fourth-gen network. But these high-speed wireless networks are the best mainstream ones we have in the United States.

"We've heard a lot about 4G around the industry," Melone said. "This is the real deal. This is a brand-new network from the ground up that was built side by side with our current 3G network. It's based on the current technical standards. It is rich in mobility. It will provide the launching pad for the future of mobile broadband."

All three carriers -- even Verizon, before its announcement on Wednesday -- have ramped up advertising efforts for their respective 4G networks.

In the Verizon commercial, the carrier claims to have "the most advanced 4G network in the world." T-Mobile says it has "America's largest 4G network." Meanwhile, Sprint boasts to have "Evo, the first 4G phone" -- referring to the Android smartphone from HTC.

Being later to the game, Verizon is also behind its rivals in 4G smartphone offerings. As is commonplace, we'll first see laptop accessories with 4G chips, and the company says phones and other devices will come next year. Verizon is expected to unveil its first batch of 4G smartphones next month.


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