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Verizon Debuts First Phones to Work on Next Network

By Scott Moritz
May 29, 2013 1:01 PM EDT 14 Comments
A Galaxy S4 smartphone manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co. during the unveiling of NTT DoCoMo Inc. new smartphones in Tokyo, Japan, on May 15, 2013.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
A Galaxy S4 smartphone manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co. during the unveiling of NTT DoCoMo Inc. new smartphones in Tokyo, Japan, on May 15, 2013.

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, began selling two phones this month that can take advantage of the company’s next network upgrade, which promises to more than double Internet speeds.

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s Lumia 928, which went on sale this month, and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930)’s Galaxy S4, which debuted last week, are the first phones built with components that let them work on Verizon’s Advanced Wireless Service airwaves, said Tom Pica, a spokesman for the Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based carrier.

The two models are among seven AWS-capable devices that Verizon Wireless has started selling in preparation for a new network on the AWS spectrum. The upgraded service -- which relies on long-term evolution, or LTE -- is scheduled to start in major cities, including New York, in the next few months.

All the AWS capable devices, including two Samsung tablets, two so-called hot-spot jetpacks and a USB antenna will need an over-the-air software upgrade to activate the connection to the AWS frequency, Pica said.

Verizon Wireless has started construction of the next phase of its network using existing AWS airwaves and other spectrum it acquired last year from a group of cable companies led by Comcast Corp. The carrier, which is co-owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), is using the AWS airwaves to help increase the capacity of its LTE network.

The expansion is necessary to keep pace with booming network traffic. LTE traffic volume will be six to seven times greater in three years than it is today, said Mike Haberman, vice president of network support for Verizon Wireless.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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