WASHINGTON, March 17, 2011 - Verizon launched its first 4G capable phone Thursday, marking the first step into the next generation of high-speed wireless by one of the two biggest wireless carriers in the U.S.
Verizon announced Thursday's launch of the HTC Thunderbolt earlier in the week, boasting anticipated download speeds of 5 - 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 - 5 Mbps on a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. In comparison, those speeds outpace speeds in a Gizmodo test of Verizon's 3G average speeds late last year by a factor of about six.
Currently, the phone will only connect at 4G speeds in approximately 35 cities where Verizon has an LTE network in place. Wireless competitor Sprint rolled out its version of 4G last year, advertising average speeds of 3 - 6 Mbps covering 40 million subscribers.
Verizon and AT&T, which control more than half the wireless market share, have been in a heated race to roll out their next generation networks since both announced their plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. At the time, Verizon announced an in-place 4G network in 35 U.S. cities and anticipated phones that could utilize the network later in the year. AT&T, on the other hand, announced a host of 4G-ready phones, but did not project an in-place network until sometime this summer.
"Obviously this is a big day for us," said Verizon spokesman, Ed McFadden on Thursday. "Now consumers can experience what true 4G speeds can mean and what LTE technology means for various online experiences on a mobile device."