Can You 4G Me Now?

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Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) is about to arm itself with new ammo for its Verizon Wireless attack ads.

The company's wireless arm -- a partnership with Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) -- will be launching its new 4G network on Sunday.

Verizon is promising substantially faster speeds using the Long Term Evolution standard, beating archrival AT&T (NYSE: T  ) to the 4G punch.

It won't be a perfect rollout. There are a few shortcomings:

  • Verizon is only introducing the service in 38 metropolitan markets, covering a little more than a third of the country's population.
  • Smartphones won't be hitting the market until the middle of next year. For now, it will be limited to USB modems. Even Novatel Wireless (Nasdaq: NVTL  ) and Sierra Wireless (Nasdaq: SWIR  ) mobile hot spots aren't launching this weekend. It's just the USB sticks -- for now.
  • Coverage is limited to devices running Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows. Yes, that still represents the majority of laptops and desktops in the country, but it's still another factor limiting its widespread appeal.

However, Verizon is pricing its service aggressively at $50 a month for 5 gigabytes of data or $80 a month for 10 gigabytes of data. That pricing is actually better than Verizon's current 3G data-only plans.

Sure, we can always groan about data caps, especially as we enter the realm of 4G coverage where bandwidth can be gobbled up fairly quickly. This is like driving a Ferrari through a school speed zone. However, metered bandwidth is becoming the new normal in wireless. We'll just have to get used to it.

There may not be a mad rush for Verizon's mobile broadband modems over the weekend. Consumers will likely wait until the smartphones and mobile hot spots arrive. This will give Verizon and Vodafone time to make sure the service is running just right before the deluge begins.

Verizon is looking pretty good at the moment. All it needs now is the iPhone.

Will 4G be a game changer for Verizon Wireless? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Microsoft and Vodafone Group are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is sadly not on Verizon. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, except for Novatel. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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