The carrier confirmed Monday media reports that a customer roaming from Verizon's older 3G network to the new 4G network will experience a two-minute delay before the special modem sold by Verizon connects to the faster network. When going in the other direction, 4G to 3G, the switch is seamless, according to the carrier.
Verizon launched the LTE network Dec. 5 in 38 cities and 60 airports nationwide. The carrier is promising download speeds of 5 Mb per second to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps. Verizon says LTE network latency is half of 3G's.
Verizon has gotten the jump on rival AT&T, which isn't scheduled to start rolling out its 4G network until next year. Such networks are important to the carriers because it will mean more paid services can be offered to subscribers.
Verizon's service won't be available on a smartphone until next year. The first devices capable of accessing the network are an LG VL600 modem and a Pantech modem that plugs into a Windows laptop. Macs are not yet supported. The modems cost $100 after rebates with a two-year service contract. Verizon is offering up to 5 GB for $50 per month, and up to 10 GB for $80 per month. Each gigabyte over the monthly allotment costs an additional $10.
In a statement emailed to InformationWeek Verizon says the delay avoids having the modem constantly scanning for the 4G network, which would drain battery power. Therefore, the modem waits two minutes before looking for the faster connection.
Verizon acknowledges that some subscribers have found the delay annoying. "Some users may be getting frustrated by the time waiting, and yank the modem -- and force a scan when they plug it back in," the company says.
Verizon says it is working with the modem manufacturers to company up with a better handoff mechanism.