|LG's VL600 USB 4G Modem|
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The service is Verizon Wireless' "4G" service based on "LTE" . Although marketed as 4G, LTE does not meet the ITU requirements for true 4G (IMT-Advanced) which includes low and high mobility access (pedestrian and static vs. car and train). Verizon's LTE uses the 700 MHz band which was previously allocated to analog terrestrial television broadcasting. The switch to digital TV broadcasting has opened up valuable spectrum for mobile services with better urban transmission characteristics.
Verizon is claiming up to 12 Mb/s downlink and and up to 5 Mb/s up link. This service is only available in 39 urban areas today but will expand to several hundred over the next few years.
Mobile broadband is not cheap - most providers offer plans with data limits- such as 5GB/month. and charge for usage above that at about $10 per GB. Verizon encourages use of their free WiFi availability with a database of WiFi locations available to their subscribers.
Even wired (static) services (DSL, Cable-modem, FiOS) are beginning to impose monthly data usage limits: Comcast has a 250 GB limit. AT&T's limit is 150 GB plus $10/50GB. High quality dowloaded video at 10Mb/s would use about 36 GB/day at 10 hrs/day - on a monthy basis this is about 1,000 GB! A lot. More reasonable usage would be about 20-200 GB/month - still way over what's offered in the mobile space.
In the mobile space, streaming media at 1 Mb/s would still be excessive at 10 hours/day. So, the network speeds offered are really for fast loading of rich web pages, sporadic fast file downloads (buying music/video etc.) and moderate use of low-rate video. With 150 MB usage per day (4.5 GB/month) , at peak network speed, less than 100 minutes is needed to reach the daily limit. Low bit rate streaming at ~10kb/s could be supported continuously. Clearly, at future higher speeds, per bit costs will have to go way down - a kind of Moore's law for communication.