Nine months after lighting up its 400th LTE market, Verizon is celebrating another 4G milestone today. The big red carrier has announced that its LTE network is now available in 500 markets in 49 states, with an official launch in Alaska slated for July. The 500th market to be covered by Verizon's LTE service is Parkersburg, W.Va., and Verizon says that its LTE rollout is "substantially complete." Verizon went on to share some data about its LTE network, saying that that the service is available to over 99 percent of its 3G footprint and more than 95 percent of the U.S. population, adding that 57 percent of its total network traffic goes over its LTE network.
Verizon originally flipped the switch on its 4G LTE network back in December 2010, activating the service in 38 markets and 60 airports. Since then, the operator has steadily been expanding that footprint, and today Verizon has the largest LTE network of any U.S. carrier. The news that Verizon's LTE service is now available in 500 markets is pretty great to hear if you're already one of its customers, and the fact that Verizon has spread LTE coverage to 500 markets in around two and a half years is a stat that it can be proud of.
Looking forward, Verizon CTO Nicola Palmer told The Verge that her carrier plans to begin deploying Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service in 2014, which is at the latter half of a previous estimate that the carrier had given. The good news is that, once the rollout begins, Verizon says that it'll go quickly. Palmer also said that although Verizon's LTE network is mostly complete, the operator doesn't plan on offering LTE-only handsets until the end of 2014. Verizon then plans to begin refarming its 3G network and utilizing the spectrum for its LTE network sometime in 2015.