Verizon's LTE Launch: 5 Things To Know

"Beginning Sunday, Verizon Wireless is making the best network even better," said Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, in a statement. "Our initial 4G LTE launch gives customers access to the fastest and most advanced mobile network in America and immediately reaches more than one-third of all Americans, right where they live. That's just the start. We will quickly expand 4G LTE, and by 2013 will reach the existing Verizon Wireless 3G coverage area."

Details were provided during a news conference in New York Wednesday. Here's a rundown of the key takeaways.

1. Launch Date: Verizon's LTE wireless network goes live on Sunday, Dec. 5.

2. Markets: The network will be available in 38 markets, including major cities like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco in Chicago. Some 70 percent of those markets will have the service starting Sunday, with the rest soon after. Verizon will provide street maps (at indicating exactly where it's available, and will also provide access in some 60 U.S. airports. The full LTE network will be rolled out over a period of three years.

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3. Data Plans: Verizon is offering two different data plans. Customers can get 5 GB of data per month for $50, or 10 GB for $80, and they'll be dinged $10 for every 1 GB they go over their limits. Verizon will notify customers via text message if they're approaching or exceeding their limits.

4. Devices: Verizon said it expects handsets -- some of which are expected to debut at CES in January -- to be available by mid-2011 to support its LTE networks. Laptops will be able to make use of the connectivity at launch, and Verizon is selling two 4G LTE USB modems: the LG VL600 at launch and the Pantech UML290. Both are priced at $99.99 after a $50 rebate and with a two-year lock-in, and both provide backwards compatibility with Verizon's 3G network, according to the provider.

5. Not Quiiiite 4G?: Verizon's LTE network will be undoubtedly faster than its current 3G wireless offering, but much like the networks touted as having 4G speeds by rivals like Sprint and T-Mobile, Verizon's LTE, in its present form, doesn't quite meet the strict definition of 4G laid out by the International Telecommunication Union. Verizon claims its tests show download speeds of between 6 Mbps and 12 Mbps, up from the 700 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps speeds that 3G services average.