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Verizon lines up global 4G LTE roaming partners for 2014

The wireless carrier is at Mobile World Congress to discuss potential roaming deals.

Verizon 4G LTE
Lynn La/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain--Verizon Wireless plans to have several international 4G LTE roaming partners lined up by 2014, CNET has learned.

Executives from the wireless carrier, which boasts the world's largest LTE network, are in town to discuss potential roaming agreements, according to a company representative.

The first roaming partnerships will be announced in 2014. At least one Canadian company will be in the first wave of carriers, the representative said.

The move will allow Verizon customers to go overseas and still get a consistent high-speed wireless connection. The company has roaming deals for voice and some data services in 220 countries, through a combination of 3G GSM and CDMA technologies.

While Verizon was among the first carriers to launch a 4G LTE network, carriers around the world are starting to catch up with their own deployments. Verizon's priority is to line up partnerships in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, which is where its customers tend to visit. Carriers initially asked about a partnership when Verizon first launched its network in December 2010, but conversations have heated up in the last year.

Beyond a roaming agreement, Verizon is offering to lend support and advice to other carriers looking to roll out and maintain their 4G services. The carrier plans to show off its innovation centers in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco, and discuss its various partnerships, such as its NFL streaming service.

There are also technical details to work out before roaming agreements between Verizon and international carriers can work. Not every carrier is deploying LTE on the same band, so phones that are able to operate on multiple bands will need to be issued before customers could take advantage of the services. Companies such as Qualcomm have been able to incorporate multiple bands into a single chip.

Verizon may also have to rethink the pricing on its international data plans. Currently, a customer can sign up for a plan that allows the user to download 100MB worth of data for $25 per month, with each additional 100MB costing another $25. But with the speed at which LTE operates, consumers could find themselves quickly blowing through their allowance.

Verizon said it was too early to talk about potential pricing changes in its international plans.