Verizon to upgrade Wisconsin wireless networkVerizon Wireless says it's spending $51.7 million to upgrade its high-speed 3G network in Wisconsin this year
By: By Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Superior Telegram
Verizon Wireless says it's spending $51.7 million to upgrade its high-speed 3G network in Wisconsin this year, with a large portion of the money aimed at boosting the network's capacity to handle data traffic such as video sent to wireless devices.
The plan includes $20 million for installing equipment on hundreds of cellular phone tower sites across the state, Verizon spokeswoman Carolyn Schamberger said Friday.
When the work is complete, the network will have 35% more data capacity. That's important, Schamberger said, because of the growth in smart phones and other portable Internet devices.
"We plan to stay well ahead of the curve," Schamberger said.
Verizon has spent about $35 million a year over the past 10 years expanding its Wisconsin wireless network.
AT&T Inc. also has spent millions on its network here and this year plans to create 30 new cell sites and upgrade more than 180 sites to 3G, or third-generation technology, throughout the state.
With 3G, consumers can get faster downloads from the Internet on their cell phones and other devices.
The next generation of wireless technology, often called 4G, could be even better with speeds that are 10 times faster than a 3G connection, according to Verizon.
Currently, the company has 4G field trials under way in Boston and Seattle. Tests have shown the network is capable of average data transfer rates of 5 to 12 megabits per second, so that browsing the Internet by phone could be as fast as using a wired connection.
AT&T and Sprint have 4G networks built or planned for Minneapolis by early 2011, and Sprint already has that faster service in about 25 U.S. cities.
Verizon says its 4G network could be available nationwide in 2013.
The faster speeds will deliver services such as video conferencing and high-definition movies to cell phones and also could improve sound quality.
It's still unclear how much consumers will have to pay for 4G in many areas. But with the explosive growth in smart phones and other wireless devices, the service providers have an incentive to offer it sooner than originally planned, said Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research at Park Associates, a telecommunications research firm in Dallas.
There are business applications, too. Using a wireless data card with a laptop computer, 4G could greatly speed up the transfer of large data files, said Dan Smith, senior director of information technology services at Marquette University.
"When I am traveling, that is where it would help me the most," Smith said.
Increase in data capacity Verizon says it will have after the work is complete.
Copyright (c) 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.