Verizon 3G Network Expands, Even as 4G Rollout Underway

Verizon Wireless announced the build-out of new cell sites in Maryland and Virginia as part of it annual multi-billion-dollar investment to stay on top of user voice and data demands.

Verizon Wireless' plans to roll out a 4G LTE-based network during the fourth quarter haven't stopped the company from continuing to extend its 3G footprint. The nation's largest wireless network has increased its 3G coverage in four areas on the East Coast.

The increased coverage, the carrier said Aug. 20, is part of its multibillion-dollar investment each year to stay on top of growing demand.

"Even the most sophisticated wireless device is only as good as the network it runs on," Verizon's Mike Maiorana said in a statement, making a poorly veiled dig at rival AT&T's iPhone. "Verizon Wireless continues to invest in our network and add capacity to stay ahead of growing demand and ensure our customers have an even better wireless experience tomorrow than they had today."

Verizon's expanded coverage areas include new cell sites in four areas of Virginia - Henry County; the Fort Eustis military base in Fort Eustis; Charles City; and the historic neighborhood of Norfolk. In Maryland, Kent County and Baltimore residents likewise received a boost in their 3G voice and data services.

In 2009, Verizon spent $274 million on regional network improvements, bringing its total network investment in the area to more than $2.3 billion since 2000. Additionally, says the carrier, its network offers five times' the coverage of its competitors', and its "most reliable wireless network" tag has been proven in on-the-road testing.

"Using sophisticated testing equipment, Verizon Wireless' local team of network technicians conducted 66,552 voice call attempts and 373, 899 data test on the Verizon Wireless network and the networks of major competitors," Verizon said in a statement.

Testing of Verizon's planned LTE network is already underway, and the carrier plans to cover 25 to 30 U.S. markets-or approximately 100 million people-by the end of the year. Competitor Sprint launched its WiMax-based 4G network, via Clearwire, in Portland early last year and has since continued to expand. On Aug. 4, it announced that its subscriber total, ending the second quarter of the year, was 1.7 million, which was up 231 percent year over year.

By the end of 2011, however, research firm IDC is expecting spending on LTE equipment to outpace spending on WiMax.