As expected, Verizon launched a new marketing campaign for the souped-up LTE network it’s been rolling out across the country since October. It’s called XLTE (while I assume the “X” plays off the word “extreme,” perhaps Verizon is also trying to riff off the of the new X-Men movie debuting this summer), and, along with a new logo and TV commercial, Verizon released some new stats on how far its rollout has progressed.
The new network – which is built over the Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) airwaves Verizon bought from the cable operators in 2012 – is now in half of the carrier’s LTE markets. Verizon closed out its initial 4G rollout last summer when it hit its 500th market, so that means XLTE is now in at least 250 cities and towns (Here’s a complete list in a PDF file).
XLTE will mean different things to different Verizon customers depending on where they’re located and what devices they own. Verizon doesn’t hold a consistent amount of AWS spectrum across the country, but in general it owns 40 MHz everywhere east of the Mississippi River, allowing it to triple its 4G network capacity and double its potential connection speeds in big markets such as New York City, Boston and Chicago.
Out west Verizon’s spectrum holdings vary, but at the very minimum it has doubled its capacity in every city the XLTE upgrade is in place, even though the upper speed limit of the network might not increase. Only customers with new smartphones can access the network’s AWS frequencies, but that includes its most popular new handsets like the iPhone 5s and 5c, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, the HTC One M8 and Moto X along with Verizon’s newer Droid smartphones.
Today about 35 percent of the LTE devices on Verizon’s network are “XLTE-ready.” But as more customers move onto that new network, it will clear up space on Verizon’s original 700 MHz 4G network, which in the last year has been slowing down from congestion. That means customers will older devices might see a bump in speeds as well.