After what seems like an eternity of planning, Verizon is preparing to launch its 4G network on Sunday. At launch, Verizon’s LTE service will be available in 38 US markets. Prices will run $50 per month for 5GB of data, or $80 per month for 10GB, with additional data running $10 per GB.
Verizon is hardly the first company to build a 4G network in the US, but while CLEAR, Sprint, and a number of cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner are using a WiMAX network, Verizon is using competing LTE technology. T-Mobile is just slapping the 4G name on its HSPA+ network, because it offers similar speeds, even though it’s based on older tech.
But while CLEAR’s WiMAX network (which currently powers most other US WiMAX networks) offers download speeds of about 6Mbps and Upload speeds of about 1Mbps, Verizon says it will provide 5 to 12Mbps downloads and 2 to 5Mbps uploads.
On the other hand, CLEAR and its partners tend to offer unlimited data plans with no bandwidth caps, while Verizon apparently will not.
Verizon will begin selling two different 4G USB modems which you can use to get a laptop or other computer online this weekend. The modems will run $99 after rebates, and can switch between 3G and 4G networks depending on your location.
It doesn’t look like Verizon will be offering any 4G capable phones this weekend, but I suspect we’ll start seeing LTE-enabled smartphones before too long.
Update: It looks like there will also be a contract-free, month to month plan available, but you’ll have to pay $250 for the modems to get that plan.
Ironically, I just tested my Clear USB modem to see what performance I was getting right now, and it’s pretty good – 3.5 mbps down, about 1 mbps up. That’s still about 1/3 of the download speed I’m getting on the Quest VDSL, but it’s not bad. If this performance were consistent, I’d not be leaving Clear.
Clear’s plans may say they are unlimited but that’s not how it seems to work out. I am getting off of Clear after 10 months of a two-year contract because performance has declined steadily from close to what they advertised (and you quoted above) to speeds below dial-up (typically 0.25 mbps both ways) and way below what I see on 3G on my new iPhone. Whether that’s due to capping usage (as many speculate in Clear discussions) or just saturation, I cannot say.
Either way, it’s goodbye Clear for both home and mobile use and hello Qwest VDSL for home and the iPhone for mobile (I am considering but have not yet pulled the trigger on the tethering plan). So far so good on both.
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