Verizon Wireless to add only LTE phones

Verizon Wireless will only be adding LTE-capable smartphones to its list of devices moving forward, as the mobile operator builds support for its next generation network.

Verizon’s LTE network is currently the largest LTE network in the U.S., covering more than 200 million people in 190 markets. But since its launch in 2010 the network has experienced three major outages, all within the same month.  Verizon (New York) referred to these outages as “growing pains.”

 “The recent issues that affected our customers’ 4G LTE service were unforeseen despite careful, diligent planning, deployment and ongoing upgrade programs,” says Verizon Spokesperson Brenda Raney.

Roger Entner, founder and analyst at Recon Analytics agrees, saying it is just a “painful lesson” that had to be learned and dealt with.

“Americans always looked with envy at other countries that were supposedly further ahead.  We are clearly the furthest ahead in LTE in the world, and Verizon is further ahead than anybody else, but that also means you can’t learn from anybody else,” says Entner. “As the technology matures, the problems become less and less. “

According to Entner, Verizon moving to all LTE devices is a smart move, especially because it will accelerate the introduction of entry-level 4G LTE smartphones into the market.

Last week, Verizon announced the addition of six new LTE smartphones from LG, Samsung, ZTE and Motorola at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

AT&T also recently announced three entry-level LTE devices under $50, but AT&T’s LTE network is still much smaller than Verizon’s, only being available in 26 markets as of January 6, 2012.

“This really puts pressure on [other service providers] to build out their LTE networks as quickly as possible,” says Entner.

The recent decline of 4G device prices for consumers is adding to that pressure, as consumers will no longer be deterred by higher prices.

“The difference in cost between LTE devices and 3G devices to consumers has basically disappeared,” says Entner. “End-customer prices for 4G LTE devices are identical to 3G devices, but provide up to 10 times faster download speeds. How can you say no to that?”

But even while covering 200 million Americans, Verizon’s LTE network still doesn’t have the reach its 3G network currently does.  According to Verizon, the telecom provider will continue to use both its 3G and 4G networks moving forward.

 “We have committed to supporting 3G for some time, so customers who are using those devices will still be able to do so,” says Raney.

Even though Verizon will only be adding 4G LTE phones moving forward, the mobile operator says that customers will still be able to use their 3G devices.

“All of our phones are backward compatible to 3G so the introduction of 4G devices is no different than we moved from analog to digital,” says Raney. “It is a phased in process that allows customers to move up to the newest technology in a way that suits their personal needs.”


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