Verizon announces 4G network just weeks away in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Some county Verizon Wireless customers soon will be able to enjoy connections up to 10 times faster than what is currently available, according to the company, which announced this week that a 4G network would be launched locally on Sept. 15.

“Our intention is basically to mirror our 3G footprint by the end of 2013,” said Heidi Flato, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman. “If folks in those communities have 3G, they will be getting 4G at some point.”

Verizon’s 4G Long-Term Evolution network is already available in 117 U.S. cities including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Solano County and parts of Marin County. This latest expansion includes: Scotts Valley, Aptos, Watsonville, Live Oak and parts of Santa Cruz, as well as customers in the nine San Francisco Bay area counties that weren’t included in an initial rollout in December.

Last week, Verizon made the same announcement in Monterey, Salinas, Marina, Seaside and Soledad. Customers will be able to find out if their address is included in the new 4G network by going online shortly before the rollout.

“I don’t know about the demand although I would say that anytime a telecommunications company wants to link up Santa Cruz with better and faster telecommunications or Internet services — that’s a good thing for businesses here and for the overall brand of Santa Cruz,” said Jeremy Neuner, chief executive officer of NextSpace, a co-working office space in downtown Santa Cruz.

The upgrade is particularly important for NextSpace members, Neuner said. “We have a large contingent of mobile workers.”

Bill Tysseling, executive director of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, said the faster network supports new technologies on the near horizon such as unified communications, which involves the integration of all kinds of communications into one mobile device. In addition to allowing for faster movie downloads, the network is a vital component of the local economic infrastructure, which involves so many businesses involved in data-intensive transmissions, he said.

“One of the key pieces is bandwidth,” Tysseling said, noting the growing community of software designers, graphic artists, game developers and scientific analysts. “That’s really the big one for us. Those are all going to be key elements in the economy that we’re going to become.”

In addition to the lowest cost “nationwide plan” for $39.99, for smartphones, tablets and netbooks, customers will have to pay $30 for 2 gigabytes of monthly allowance, up to $80 for 10 gigabytes. The price range for mobile broadband plans for hotspots, USB modems and notebooks is an additional $50-$80 for 5-10 GB monthly allowance. Average data rates are estimated to be 5-12 megabits per second for downloads and 2-5 megabits per second on the uplink.

Earlier this summer, AT&T announced 4G networks in several major cities: Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. The company expects to have 4G service in 15 markets by the end of the year.




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