Verizon Talks 4G LTE Launch: Usage Plans, iPhone Possibilities, More

Verizon Wireless will launch its 4G mobile broadband network based on LTE in 38 cities across the United States by the end of this year, with per-meg pricing and the iPhone to be likely follow-ons.

Taking the stage at fall CTIA 2010, newly-appointed Verizon president Lowell McAdam and company CTO Tony Melone laid out a few more details as to the launch. For one, the execs noted that while Verizon has not finalized the decision on tiered pricing, it is very likely per-use billing is in the cards not that this comes as a shock to industry watchers. “We think theres a place for unlimited plans, but we also think that over time, because even though it’s a big pipe we have finite resources and spectrum, there will be a shift to more of a pay-as-you-use scenario,” McAdam said. “I expect that we will evolve to that. Looking at whats going on in the market, we’ll likely move over time to a bucket of megabytes and gigabytes, and people will just buy what they need.”

That will especially be necessary as more and more over-the-top providers begin to ride the network. While McAdam said that applications and services announcements will be made next year, for now, McAdam did say that “content optimized for wireless” is in everyones best interest. 

“The ability to support time-shifted or over-the-top video and the ability for the devices to handle it will really reach a crescendo as we roll out,” he said. “We expect to work together to make it as efficient as possible with compression techniques, smarter antennae and the like.”

When it comes to performance, the network will offer 8 to 12 mbps on the downlink with a 30-millisecond latency, and 2 to 5 mbps on the uplink depending on RF conditions. “This network coupled with millions of different applications, will connect people, places and things in ways that they previously weren’t connected,” McAdam said. “The amazing performance we’ve seen exceeds the theoretical expectations of this device at over 70 megabits per second.”

When it comes to 4G devices, laptop dongles and aircards will be available at launch. The carrier plans to discuss its further device strategy at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, where McAdam said it will unveil a “half-dozen” smartphones and tablets.

And what about the iPhone, which the Wall Street Journal is again reporting is in the manufacturing process as we speak?  McAdam said there was nothing to announce, but that “I expect at some point in time that our business interests will align, and LTE is another good reason for them to. I fully expect it but have nothing to say about timing.

“But I can show you a lot of great Droid devices that are available today,” he quipped.

The initial 38 cities will include Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Boston, and San Francisco, plus 62 airports. “We’ll reach more than a third of all Americans where they live and work,” McAdam said. “That’s 110 million PoPs the day that we flip the switch on this network.”

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