Verizon to have 4G next year

Though it has the much-publicized largest 3G coverage area in the country, Verizon is falling behind the curve when it comes to 4G. Despite the fact that its CDMA rival Sprint has had a 4G infrastructure since last year, Verizon will not have one in place until 2011.

However, this is an improvement over the company’s previous plan, which wouldn’t have brought a next-gen mobile data network to the provider until nearly 2012. 4G technology, also referred to as “LTE” (Long-Term Evolution), offers download speeds at scales above what the current mobile standard offers.

At first, Verizon will probably incorporate a dual chip set into its mobile phones, so they are interchangeable between the carrier’s current network and the upcoming 4G network. “Very likely, we initially won’t have a single, integrated chip,” said Verizon’s CTO Anthony Malone in a Wall Street Journal interview.

During the interview, Malone also mentioned that the current unlimited data plans that so many Americans take for granted may be coming to an end. That “is the big issue that has to change,” he said.

Verizon, along with other mobile providers, need to recoup all the money they are spending in developing these advanced networks. The easiest way to do that is to introduce a new tiered data structure.

The company’s LTE network will reportedly be in place by the middle of next year, when people who use mobile data for computers and other connected devices will be able to tap into it. The first compatible phone could come out as early as 3 months after the network is set up.