Verizon: We'll hit 400th 4G LTE market Oct. 18

Roll out continues until end of year

Nicola Palmer

Verizon announced Tuesday it will cover its 400th market with 4G LTE Oct. 18, two months ahead of schedule.

Nicola Palmer, chief technical officer for Verizon, shared the news during a Verizon press conference at MobileCon 2012.

Lucky No. 400 is Marquette, Mich., Palmer said.

"It was almost two years ago to the day we announced the start of our 4G LTE roll out," Palmer said.

Verizon's goal was to hit 400 markets by the end of 2012, yet thanks to "great devices, fast build out and consumer demand," the carrier will reach the milestone next week.

While Marquette's getting the symbolic recognition (along with Big Red-themed celebrations, Palmer said) 17 additional markets are picking up post-3G coverage the same day.

Not stopping there

Palmer also said the 4G LTE roll out won't end Oct. 18, as more than 30 additional U.S. markets are slated to get the upgrade in November and December.

Verizon currently covers 75 percent of the U.S. with its LTE coverage, making it the largest 4G LTE provider in not just the U.S., but the globe, Palmer said.

What's more, 4G LTE usage is growing within the network itself.

"Currently, 35 percent of all Verizon's data traffic is on 4G LTE," Palmer said. "We look at that trend and how it's growing and we see the majority of customers [becoming] covered by the network."

Verizon anticipates covering the same footprint as 3G with 4G LTE by the end of 2013, she added.

LTE Looking ahead

Prompted by press questions, Palmer said the company is exploring LTE Advanced as "a set of techniques that we are looking forward to."

"LTE Advanced is one tool in the tool box," she explained.

With that, Palmer also said the company views AWS - spectrum picked up from various cable companies and carriers through a FCC-sanctioned deal - as a way to add depth to its 700MHz LTE spectrum.

"Our strategy will be to take existing cell sites and start deploying cell sites," she said.

Plus, AWS-enabled devices should be on the market "next year."

What's more, Verizon is delving into Voice over LTE testing, with plans to deploy infrastructure coming down the pipes.

Customers can expect to see such a service by the end of next year, Palmer said.