VZ Wireless Expands 3G Markets

By Colin C. Haley

September 22, 2004

The carrier targets business users in 11 new cities starting Monday. A consumer version isn't far behind.

Verizon Wireless is launching its mobile broadband data service in 11 new cities on Monday. The BroadbandAccess offering is already available in Las Vegas, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

"This expansion helps us expand our lead in the [business-to-business] space," Denny Strigl, Verizon Wireless president and CEO, said during a conference call with reporters today.

Markets coming online are: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Miami/Fort Lauderdale; Milwaukee; New York; Philadelphia; Tampa, Fla.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Additionally, more than 20 airports will be covered so business travelers can download e-mail and Internet content and access information behind their corporate firewalls.

The service, based on CDMA technology, promises speeds of 300 kilobits per second to 500 kilobits per second. It is backward-compatible, so customers who travel outside the 3G area will be switched over to Verizon Wireless' existing network. Users will pay a monthly fee for the service (about $80 per) and must also buy an access card for laptops (about $100 after rebate with a two-year agreement).

A consumer version of BroadbandAccess is planned for 2005. The company wants to expand the coverage area and test some handhelds before courting non-business users.

Spokespeople said it was too early to speculate on consumer pricing, service bundles or markets.

Verizon Wireless sees little direct competition with Wi-Fi , even though the technology is already available in many airports (Philadelphia is also considering Wi-Fi enabling the entire city). BroadbandAccess will have a much larger footprint, Strigl said.

Nor does it see a large number of consumers dropping their Verizon digital subscriber line connections once BroadbandAccess is available to residential customers.

Other carriers are also proceeding with 3G plans. For example, AT&T Wireless launched high-speed service in Detroit, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle this summer and Dallas and San Diego this month.



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