After Verizon flips a new LTE switch on Thursday, around 2/3 of the US population will be in the coverage area.
The carrier has announced that as of tomorrow, a total of 230 metropolitan areas around the country will have access to its high-speed mobile network.
When it comes to 4G, Verizon was late to the game. Sprint was the first to the market with its Evo 4G phone that came out more than two years ago.
But Sprint’s network was powered by a standard called Wimax, which was significantly faster than the previous 3G network infrastructures but not nearly as fast as LTE.
AT&T and T-Mobile, meanwhile, launched their 4G services on a completely different standard known as HSPA+, which was inferior to Wimax so Sprint still dominated the game for a while.
But then Verizon finally entered the 4G market, and because it took the time to wait it was able to launch an LTE network from the outset. It quickly leapfrogged right ahead of all its competitors.
Now, AT&T and Sprint are both playing catch-up as they ditch their HSPA+ and Wimax networks to set up their own LTE infrastructures.
Verizon claims its high-speed network averages 5 – 12 Mbps download speeds, about 10 times faster than 3G.
By the end of 2012, the carrier says that LTE service will be accessible in 400 cities across the US, with a total reach of more than 260 million people.