Verizon LTE Network Continues to Grow, Despite Cable Deal Controversy

Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network will now include 27 new markets. The company's 4G efforts are barreling ahead, despite controversy regarding spectrum it's acquiring from SpectrumCo.

Verizon Wireless€™ 4G Long-Term Evolution network will go live in an additional 27 markets April 19, bringing its total to 230 markets across the United States. By year€™s end, Verizon€”which out of the gate has led the nation€™s LTE rollouts€”will cover more than 400 markets and more than 260 million people.

To date, it offers more than 20 LTE-enabled devices that can take advantage of the network€™s speeds.

€œThis year represents a year of growth and investment in our 4G LTE network,€ Verizon CTO David Small said in a statement, €œwhich stands out by virtue of its superb combination of coverage, speed and the variety of devices that we offer customers.€ In the fall, that lineup is expected to include an LTE-equipped Apple iPhone€”what some are calling the iPhone 5.

Verizon recently also announced the availability of bundled services with partner Time Warner Cable; the latter will offer video, Internet and voice services in combination with Verizon smartphones and tablets. The deal follows an agreement Verizon signed with SpectrumCo€”a joint venture between Time Warner, Comcast and Bright House networks€”in which, along with such bundling deals, the group will sell Verizon spectrum that it says it needs for its 4G efforts.

Industry competitors have cried foul on the details of the deal€”which have been intentionally opaque. Verizon left out a good amount of sensitive information in a report it submitted to the Federal Communications Committee, prompting Sprint, T-Mobile and others to ask the FCC to force Verizon to offer more details about the agreement.

On March 22, a Senate subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights questioned parties from both sides about what has become an industry debate. T-Mobile has also argued that the deal will give Verizon an €œexcessive concentration€ of wireless spectrum€”an asset that all carriers are at this point trying to come by.

AT&T last year made a very expensive, but ultimately unsuccessful, bid for T-Mobile. It wound up paying T-Mobile nearly $4 billion for its trouble, along with a chunk of spectrum that has revitalized T-Mobile€™s hopes for becoming a more viable competitor in the United States. (While AT&T was trying to acquire it, T-Mobile told regulators the deal was essentially its only hope, as it didn€™t have the funds for an LTE network.)

In early April, T-Mobile and Leap Wireless announced they were swapping some spectrum, in a move that would help each with their respective 3G and 4G efforts. Verizon, shortly before its SpectrumCo agreement, also purchased spectrum from Cox Wireless, which threw down its card, declaring the wireless game too rich for its blood.

Federal regulators have yet to rule on Verizon€™s deal with the cable companies, making new bundles seem more likely, at least for the time being.

On April 19, the markets with new access to Verizon€™s 4G LTE network will be: Auburn and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Pine Bluff, Siloam Springs and Van Buren, Ark.; Visalia/Porterville, Calif.; Fort Walton Beach and Ocala, Fla.; Brunswick, LaGrange and Macon/Warner Robins, Ga.; Peoria, Ill.; Kokomo/Logansport and Marion, Ind.; Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend and Hays, Kansas; Salisbury, Md.; Cattaraugus/Allegany, N.Y.; Sandusky, Ohio; Ardmore and Ponca City, Okla.; Salem/Albany/Corvallis, Ore.; Pierre, S.D.; and Big Springs and Tyler, Texas.

Joining them later this year will be: Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Sacramento, Salinas/Monterey, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Stockton, Calif.; Colorado Springs and Fort Collins/Loveland, Colo.; Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.; Boise/Nampa, Idaho; Carbondale/Marion and Rockford, Ill.; Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa; Boston and Worcester, Mass.; Detroit, Mich.; St. Louis, Mo.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Manchester/Nashua, N.H.; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.; Buffalo/Niagara Falls and New York, N.Y.; Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Providence/Pawtucket, R.I.; Nashville, Tenn.; El Paso, Texas; Provo/Orem and Salt Lake City/Ogden, Utah; and Olympia/Centralia and Spokane, Wash.