Verizon Wireless has announced at the MobileCON 2012 conference that Marquette, Michigan, is poised to become the 400th market to receive Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, when the new network is lit on 18 October. The Marquette launch means that the mobile giant has hit its projected 400-markets target two months ahead of schedule. 18 October will also see Verizon initiate LTE services in a further 20 markets, taking its total to 417 (TeleGeography notes that several of these markets technically fall ahead of Marquette in the pecking order). That week 37 existing markets will also witness expanded LTE coverage, and going forward Verizon claims that its 4G network will cover 245 million people across the United States, or approximately 80% of the population. Confirming the developments, Nicola Palmer, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless, noted that as of end-June 2012 nearly eleven million customers utilised its LTE network, which now accounts for more than 35% of its data traffic. Further, in less than two years, Verizon has reached a point with LTE that took eight years with 3G. Verizon’s entire 3G footprint should be covered by 4G by the end of 2013.
In related news, Fierce Wireless reported that Verizon predicts a shutdown of its 2G and 3G CDMA networks within ten years, with a spokesperson quoted as saying ‘We are giving a decade worth of pre-warning’. A subsequent statement from Verizon regarding the future of its 2G and 3G networks read as follows: ‘The Verizon Wireless 2G and 3G networks will be available into the foreseeable future. Recently published dates are guidelines that we are giving customers who have to plan, fund and transition large enterprise projects to the faster speed networks. The Verizon Wireless 2G and 3G networks will be available as long as necessary to support customers who may have mission critical projects on those networks.’ The statement follows announcements by Verizon’s two main rivals, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel, both of which are in the process of phasing out older networks and re-farming their spectrum to support newer technologies. Sprint plans to turn off its iDEN network next year, while AT&T has pledged to turn off its 2G GSM network by 2017.