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Verizon completes initial 4G wireless test

The wireless provider has successfully completed the first test of its 4G wireless service in the first two markets: Boston and Seattle.

Verizon Wireless announced Friday that it has completed initial testing of its 4G wireless service in Boston and Seattle.

Using a new technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE), Verizon was successfully able to complete data calls in Boston and Seattle, the first two cities where the company will deploy its service. Verizon is using the 700 MHz spectrum it bought an FCC auction to build the network. The company plans to start offering the service commercially in 2010, providing service for up to 100 million people in 30 markets. The company plans to have the entire nation covered with 4G service in 2013.

As part of this initial test, Boston and Seattle each have 10 LTE 4G cell sites up and running on the 700 MHz spectrum. Verizon selected these markets because of their geographic configuration of suburban and urban areas as well as the areas' high-technology population.

The LTE technology promises to be much faster than current 3G technology and the company expects to deliver services 15 to 100 times faster than these other wireless networks. The actual speeds of the technology have yet to be seen.

Verizon will be competing with Clearwire and its partners, which are already rolling out commercial service for their 4G wireless network that uses a technology called WiMax. Like LTE, WiMax also greatly improves wireless transmission speeds. Clearwire has already launched its service in Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Portland, Ore. And it will add another 10 markets in the next couple of months.

Cable providers Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which invested in Clearwire, will be reselling the service in their cable territories. Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel, which is also a Clearwire partner, is already reselling the service along with its own 3G wireless service throughout the Clearwire territory.

Verizon first mentioned Boston and Seattle as the first two cities to get LTE during its quarterly conference call with investors in July. So far, the company hasn't said much about how the LTE service will be sold and priced. Currently, Verizon offers 3G wireless using a technology called EV-DO. That service is about $60 per month for up to 5GB of data per month.

The Clear WiMax service from Clearwire starts at $20 per month for in-home wireless broadband. And its mobile Internet plans start at $40 per month. Customers can also get a day pass for $10. The company also allows customers to add voice service to their in-home package for $25 per month.