NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless introduced a new high-speed wireless data service, which it said will be up to 10 times faster than its existing wireless service .
The top U.S. mobile company, a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, said the 4G LTE wireless service will be switched on this Sunday. Prices will start at $50 per month.
The launch comes as more consumers use smartphones and tablet computers to access the Internet, often downloading music and videos, which require fast wireless speeds. The move to 4G LTE, the latest wireless network standard, enables faster and smoother wireless Internet access.
The $50 monthly plan will allow 5 Gigabyte (GB) use, while a $80 plan allows for 10 GB use, Verizon Wireless announced on Wednesday.
Five GB is usually enough for someone who browses the Web, uses Facebook and sends and receives e-mails. But video takes up more space, with movies on Netflix taking up around 1 GB per hour on average.
It currently charges $60 for 5 GB usage on its previous, 3G service. While it’s charging less for a more advanced service, the company said it expects many customers to opt for the 10 GB plan as the new technology would allow for heavier usage.
Verizon Wireless has trailed smaller rivals Sprint Nextel and Clearwire Corp in offering services using the latest generation of wireless technology.
But some analysts have said Sprint, the first to sell a phone running on a next generation network, may lose its advantage once Verizon starts offering its service.
Verizon is ahead of its next biggest rival AT&T Inc in upgrading to the new standard. AT&T, however, likes to point out that it is able to boost network speeds by tweaking its existing network technology.
AT&T currently has exclusive U.S. carrier rights to sell Apple Inc’s iPhone, but analysts widely expect Verizon Wireless to gain rights to sell the phone in the first quarter of 2011. It is not clear if Apple will make an iPhone that works on Verizon’s latest technology.
Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Sinead Carew; editing by Andre Grenon and Derek Caney