News Column

4G Network a Work in Progress in Columbus

Jan 29, 2013

Tyler Ellyson

Norfolk is part of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

So are Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, Lincoln, McCook, North Platte and Omaha.

Columbus, however, is not, leaving local customers wondering what the hold-up is.

The short answer is Columbus doesn't have the proper infrastructure in place to launch the network, which is advertised as being 10 times faster than Verizon's 3G data network that currently serves the city.

"We are still completing infrastructure work in Columbus on the network and that is why 4G LTE has not launched yet," Karen Smith, Verizon Wireless public relations manager said by email.

Before an area can make the switch to 4G, Smith said new fiber-optic cables must be connected to every cell site and other equipment needs to be installed -- work that is under way here.

"In order to launch a 'market' we have to have most of the market ready to go," she said.

Technically, Columbus is part of the Omaha market area, which includes more than 20 counties in Nebraska and Iowa, but wasn't included when 4G service was first offered in the state's largest city in August 2011.

Instead, Smith said Columbus will be added on its own as part of a market expansion.

"We're continuing to work on Columbus and other areas of the state," she said.

Verizon launched its 4G network in Lincoln in November 2011 and expanded both the Lincoln and Omaha markets last year.

The service was added to the Grand Island, Norfolk and North Platte markets in October 2012 and the Hastings, Kearney and McCook areas two months later.

Smith said Verizon doesn't announce expected market launches until an area is ready for service, so no estimated timeline for Columbus' addition to the 4G network is available.

The company plans to have the nationwide network "substantially complete" by mid-2013.

Verizon introduced its 4G service in December 2010 and the network is now available to more than 270 million people in 476 markets, according to the company's website.

The service is compatible with tablet-style computers, mobile hotspots and smartphones, offering average data rates of five to 12 megabits per second for downloads and two to five megabits per second for uploads.

"It's very similar to the type of Internet speeds you would have in a fixed environment," Smith said.

Source: (c)2013 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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