Verizon's 4G LTE network launches Dec 5 with plans cheaper than 3G

Three years after committing to LTE as its fourth-generation network standard, Verizon Wireless announced on Wednesday that it will be launching the new network on December 5th in select U.S. cities.

A total of 38 cities in the United States will make up the first crop of LTE-enabled networks, as well as 60 airports across the country.

At a press conference today, Verizon Wireless promised the network will offer speeds between 5-12 Mbps downlink and 2-5 Mbps uplink, which echoes the figures it gave back in March. In promotions for its Boston LTE field tests in May, Verizon showed a real-world system delivering 8.55 Mbps downlink speeds and 2.80 Mbps uplink.

The first hardware to support the LTE network will be two USB modems priced at $99 after contracts and rebates. Verizon said there won't be LTE handsets until mid-2011, despite the fact that there is currently a CDMA/LTE handset from Samsung available now in the United States through MetroPCS.

As for data plans, Verizon Wireless will start at $50 per month for 5GB of data, and $80 per month for 10GB. Interestingly, this is actually cheaper than Verizon's current 3G USB Modem plans, which cost $39.99 for 250MB per month, and $59.99 for 5GB per month. We've sent an inquiry to Verizon Wireless today to see if 3G plans will be adjusted as the LTE rollout continues.

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