Just days after hearing about Verizon's successful LTE field trials and plans to deploy LTE in 25-30 markets by the end of this year, more news has surfaced about Verizon and 4G. In a conversation with Anthony Melone, chief technical officer at Verizon, WSJ confirms that Verizon plans to have a 4G capable phone available within six months of the LTE deployment. As is the case with Sprint (who is already boasting 4G speeds in certain markets), Verizon will most likely launch 4G mobile broadband devices for laptops before we see a 4G phone.
Melone also mentioned that the first phones will come equipped with dual chipsets that will allow consumers to access 3G networks in the event a 4G network is not available; a good strategic plan as new technologies have a tendency for hiccups. Unfortunately, building a 4G network is not a cheap endeavor, and Verizon will probably be looking to recoup their money in the form of tiered data plans. Regarding unlimited data, Melone said that "as much data as you can consume is the big issue that has to change." He went on to say, "It's one thing to say all you can eat is gone," and "it's another to have consumers worrying, 'Can I stream this radio?' That's what we don't want."
I think we'll be hearing a lot more about Verizon's 4G/LTE plans as they start moving towards their goal of 25-30 markets by the end of this year. And while it seems that data plans as we know them will probably be changing, time, competition amongst carriers, and the market as a whole will likely dictate the structure of future data plans.
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