Verizon Wireless has launched its next-generation "Express Network" in several major markets, promising Monday to provide high-speed connections to the Internet and enhanced mobile features. The network will initially offer subscribers full access to the Internet via laptops, PDAs, and cell phones. Users can expect average speeds of between 40 and 60 Kbps, comparable to a dial-up connection. "We believe that enterprise customers are going to be most attracted to this service," says a Verizon Wireless spokesman.
But Gartner analyst Tole Hart believes business users aren't going to be interested until they see a wider range of applications, such as sales automation, field services, and tracking. "Just the fact that they have high speed isn't enough," he says. "I think business users are holding off until they see applications that are going to give them good ROI." Verizon says it's planning to eventually offer a full range of wireless services, and it revealed Monday that it's allying with consulting firm Accenture to market and sell mobile enterprise applications.
Verizon's next-generation network, based on Qualcomm Inc.'s CDMA2000 1X technology, is the first of its kind to launch in the United States, though competitors are close behind. "Sprint plans on launching theirs in the middle of the year, and it will have a lot more bang," Hart says. Other competitors, including Cingular Wireless and AT&T, are holding off and concentrating on competing General Packet Radio Service technologies.
The Express Network services are available now in more than 20% of Verizon Wireless' footprint, potentially available to 53 million Americans. Covered areas include Norfolk, Va.; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; New York; Portland, Maine; Silicon Valley and the Bay area; and Salt Lake City. Existing Verizon Wireless digital voice customers will be able to subscribe to the service for an additional $35 a month, which will let them use airtime allowance minutes for either voice or data.