Today Verizon announced the 500th 4G LTE market, in Parkersburg West Virginia, a move that delivers Verizon 4G LTE coverage in 99% of the places Verizon 3G is available covering 95% of the U.S. population and will soon offer 4G LTE in Alaska, marking coverage in all 50 states.
Nicole Palmer Chief Network Officer at Verizon told Gotta Be Mobile that Verizon considers the,”Initial 4G LTE buildout substantially complete.”
The announcement comes 8 months after the 400th LTE market announcement and outpaces competing carriers like AT&T, Sprint and T-mobile who are racing to catch up. AT&T is the closest 4G LTE competitor, with 291 LTE markets that covers 200 million people. Verizon’s 4G LTE network covers 298 million people. AT&T expects to hit 90% completion by the end of 2013.
After completing the initial 4G LTE build-out, and essentially delivering Verizon 4G LTE everywhere the company offers 3G, Verizon is looking to the future with new technologies that will offer better connectivity and a better voice experience.
Verizon re-affirmed plans to roll out VoLTE (Voice over LTE) in 2014 and AWS (Advanced Wireless Service) later this year. While consumers could care less about a new set of initials to keep straight, VoLTE is an exciting addition to Verizon as it will deliver a better voice experience while on a cell phone.
VoLTE will deliver a “richer voice experience than they have today,” Palmer told Gotta Be Mobile, adding that the addition of VoLTE will enable video chat and video casting.
Verizon is actively testing VoLTE on the commercial network, that’s out in the wild not just in the lab. Palmer is already part of the testing program and she calls VoLTE call quality, “quite remarkable.” VoLTE will deliver HD Voice calling, but at the start it will only deliver better sounding calls between compatible Verizon devices on the same network.
With this new network, Verizon phones will make calls over a data connection, which will also allow users to use their data connection while on a call, something many Verizon phones, like the iPhone 5 don’t support. It’s not clear if companies like Apple will build in VoLTE support in the rumored iPhone 5S or if consumers will need to wait for an iPhone 6 device to use these features on an iPhone on Verizon’s network.
Verizon will turn on AWS in the second half of 2013 which will allow compatible devices to browse the web at twice the current speeds according to previous studies. The Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4 is capable of AWS support, though it will need an update to turn the feature on.