Launching in 15 new cities and expanding in 10 other cities today, Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network will now reach 160 million Americans, more than half the nation's total, the company said. In just under eight months, the 4G rollout has ramped up to provide coverage to 117 cities.
The cities getting 4G today include Tucson, Ariz.; Fayetteville/Springdale/Rogers, Ark.; Bakersfield and Salinas/Monterey/Seaside, Calif.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Frederick, Md.; Worcester, Mass.; Omaha/Council Bluffs, Neb.; Albany, Ithaca, and Syracuse, N.Y.; Altoona and Johnstown, Pa.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Provo, Utah.
Verizon is also expanding its LTE coverage in Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Baltimore; Boston; Lansing, Mich.; New York City; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; and Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah.
The carrier is aiming to be in even more markets before the year is over. The company said in March that it was shooting to cover 147 cities by the end of the year.
"Each new market and expansion is significant as it brings us closer to delivering on the promise to bring our 4G LTE network to more than 185 million Americans by the end of 2011," David Small, chief technical officer of Verizon Wireless, said in a statement.
A CNET interview with Small last month revealed that Verizon is now looking to hit 175 markets by the end of 2011 and that the company is currently shipping LTE phones, Mi-Fi devices, and PC cards in almost 100 markets.
Beyond offering 4G to major U.S. cities, Verizon is trying to deploy its network into more rural areas.
The company is working with several rural telecom carriers to partner their cell towers and backbones with Verizon's 4G LTE equipment and spectrum space. Unveiled in 2009, the Rural America program is promising to provide coverage to every single area in the U.S. Though such coverage is likely to take years, Verizon has so far partnered with 10 rural carriers to roll out its high-speed network to more than 2.1 million people in rural markets.
Verizon claims that on a real-world, fully loaded network, its 4G LTE should deliver average download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second and upload speeds of 2Mbps to 5Mbps.
Some real-world testing conducted this past March by mobile testing company RootMetrics crowned Verizon's network the fastest of the existing 4G networks. Running its tests in Seattle, RootMetrics detected download speeds above 10Mbps almost 90 percent of the time and average upload speeds between 5Mbps and 10Mbps 100 percent of the time.
At the same time that Verizon has hit half the country with high-speed coverage in eight months, AT&T is still trying to ramp up its own LTE network. AT&T is aiming to launch its 4G network in five cities--Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio--over the next few months with the goal of covering 15 markets by the end of the year.