Verizon Wireless says that it will be the first operator to provide commercial 3G services in the US, just pipping Sprint PCS to the post. The company, which is jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone, plans to launch the service on the East Coast and in Salt Lake City. Although marketed as a 3G service, it is different from the networks launching in Asia and Europe.
About 20% of Verizon Wireless’ 2G CDMA networks have been upgraded to support the CDMA2000 system so far. The ‘Express Network’ service will be mostly marketed to businesses. The service will be offered to customers paying over $35 per month for an existing talk plan, but at an extra cost of $30 per month. They will also have to purchase a specific Kyocera handset to use the new services, for another $79.99.
Although the system will certainly transmit data much faster than Verizon’s current CDMA network, it is not one that Europeans or Asians would recognize as 3G. Its theoretical maximum speed is 144 kilobits per second, which puts it more in the same bracket as 2.5G services such as GPRS and EDGE.