Verizon to unleash fast 4G on Alaska, Juneau maybe

If Verizon succeeds in bringing 4G broadband to Juneau, wireless users may see data speeds jump tenfold.

The current maximum speed for cellular data in Juneau is 3G or third generation wireless — about one half to three megabits per second of download speed. This is good for most Internet uses, email, browsing or streaming movies. However, data users who hate waiting for a web page to download or users with high bandwidth needs, like online gamers, may want something faster. Verizon plans to bring that speed to Alaska in the form of wireless 4G LTE networks — networks that are 10 times faster than 3G, according to Verizon.

“Verizon Wireless is actively working to create the fastest, most reliable mobile network in Alaska and that it will be 4G LTE,” said Scott Charlston of Verizon Wireless Public Relations.

Charlston did not say if Juneau would see 4G service soon.

“Building a 4G wireless network in Alaska is a challenging proposition and we will have more information about specific coverage areas as we get closer to launch,” he said.

However, as recently reported, WesTower Communications brought before Juneau’s Planning Commission on Nov. 8 plans made for Verizon for construction of a 119-foot broadband tower 90 feet off Mendenhall Loop Road.

Verizon is keeping the launch date of its network secret at this time, Charlston said.

4G LTE stands for Fourth Generation wireless Long Term Evolution.

Verizon claims its 4G service will allow customers to download a song in four seconds or upload a photo in six.

Verizon 4G LTE is currently available in 179 cities, and the firm plans on expanding to cover two-thirds of the U.S. population by mid 2012, according to Verizon.

Currently, calls from Verizon customers in Juneau are routed through Alaska Communications Systems towers.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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