Verizon lighting up new markets with LTE every month, unsure about smartphone data pricingAlex Wagner - Senior News Editor
Verizon's LTE network is live, but many customers are waiting for smartphones capable of accessing Verizon's 4G before getting in on the new, speedy network. One big question surrounding those devices is just how much users will be paying per month for access to LTE data, and the answer is this: no one, not even Verizon is sure. Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that his company will take some time to watch the market and learn how much consumers are willing to pay for service while still keeping the value there. VZW current offers two LTE data plans, 5GB/$50 and 10GB/$80, and doesn't plan to lower them any time soon. "We have to hold firm as best we can until the entire environment is mature enough where we have devices and services so that people can see the value," Seidenberg said.
Staying on the topic of LTE, Verizon plans to expand their 4G coverage to additional markets every month for the next two years. At the end of 2012, VZW plans to have around 85 percent of the U.S. covered with LTE. Users can expect a string of devices capable of accessing that network to arrive beginning next month and lasting through June, with LTE device launches picking up even further in the second half of 2011.
The news that Verizon plans to light up new markets with LTE every month is pretty awesome, especially if they end up reaching 85 percent of the country with coverage by the end of 2012. I just hope that they can get the pricing for smartphones right. $50 for 5GB isn't a bad deal for a USB modem, and it's actually a little cheaper than Verizon's previous 3G mobile broadband plans. It'd be nice to see smartphone data get a similar deal, like $30 for 5GB of data per month (because, let's face it, they won't give away unlimited LTE data for $30 per month). I wouldn't be surprised to see them charge a premium of around $5 or $10 per month, though. Like Seidenberg, we'll have to wait and see what customers think of VZW's LTE USB modem pricing first. Luckily, it doesn't look like we'll be waiting long.