Verizon’s LTE network covering two-thirds of country

Verizon’s (s vz)(s vod) LTE rollout has passed the 200-million-pops-coverage mark, extending the new ultra-fast mobile broadband network’s umbrella to nearly two out of every three Americans. Verizon plans to launch the 4G service in seven new markets on Thursday, bringing its total to 190 cities and towns. Verizon has now exceeded its 2011 target by 15 million, giving it an LTE network three times larger than at of arch rival AT&T(s T).

AT&T is also accelerating its LTE rollout schedule, but isn’t in quite the rush that Verizon is in. AT&T targeted 70 million pops and 15 markets in 2011. It hit the latter target in November, but last week announced it was also expanding to New York City and other markets. AT&T has something Verizon doesn’t, though: a 4G network to back up its 4G network. Distinguishing between the so-called ‘4G’s might be a marketing nightmare, but what it boils down to is AT&T customers will maintain much faster data speeds when they move out of LTE coverage, while Verizon customers are stuck with CDMA EV-DO, a technology that no one argues is against being 3G.

While Verizon is expanding the network at a rapid clip, it’s also hit a few snags along the way. Last week, Verizon experienced its second big LTE outage, shutting down 4G connections across the country. Verizon, however, is the first global operator deploying LTE on a large scale, making it a guinea pig of sorts, encountering the new technology’s bugs as they emerge.

The new Verizon LTE markets are:

  • Dover, Del.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Fitchburg/Leominster, Mass.
  • Duluth, The Rochester Area and St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Manchester/Nashua, N.H.
  • Poughkeepsie, N.Y.;
  • Findlay/Tiffin and Youngstown/Warren, Ohio
  • Indiana, Pa.

Verizon has also expanded its 4G footprint in San Diego and San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Chicago and Baltimore and Hagerstown, Md.