Verizon LTE storms the South and Midwest

The company made its initial LTE launch in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population

Now that Verizon has brought its LTE network to most major markets in the United States, it has started to move its 4G services into medium-size markets in the South and the Midwest.

Verizon announced this week that four markets in Pennsylvania (Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown and Leigh Valley), two markets in Tennessee (Cleveland and Clarksville), two markets in South Carolina (Hilton Head and Columbia) and one in North Carolina (Wilmington) would soon get LTE coverage.

Verizon last year became the first major U.S. carrier to adopt LTE (Long Term Evolution) and last month rolled out its first LTE smartphone, the HTC ThunderBolt. LTE is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA and EV-DO Rev.

The company made its initial LTE launch in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population. The carrier plans to have its entire current 3G footprint upgraded to LTE by the end of 2013.

As far as speeds go, initial tests of the LTE network showed data downloads frequently topping 10Mbps in most major markets, although these tests were run when the network had just started and didn't have much congestion to deal with. A test released in March by PC World showed that Verizon's LTE laptop air cards provided average download speeds of 6.5Mbps and average upload speeds of 5Mbps.

In terms of plans and pricing, Verizon so far is sticking with two capped data plans that it unveiled last year: a $50 per month plan that offers 5GB of data consumption and an $80 per month plan that offers 10GB of data consumption. While users are allowed to go over their monthly limits on both plans, Verizon says it's going to charge users $10 per GB of extra data consumed. The carrier sends users text alerts when they reach certain monthly data thresholds, informing them when they have consumed 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% of their monthly data allowance.

Rival carrier AT&T said at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that it planned on launching its own LTE services in a limited number of markets this summer. So far AT&T has relied on upgrading its 3G HSPA network to HSPA+ technology to boost data speeds before making the switch to LTE.

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