Hub to get early look at next-level Web link
To test high-speed 4G cellular network
By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff | August 13, 2009
Before the year is out, Boston residents will have a new way to get high-speed Internet service: with their cellphones.
Verizon Wireless has selected Boston and Seattle as the first two US cities to test its new wireless data service, with speeds five to 10 times faster than the service used today by such popular handsets as Apple Inc.'s iPhone.
The new network could mean big changes in the ways people use their smartphones or laptop computers, at home and on the road. Today's networks, known as 3G, are good enough for checking e-mail or visiting websites, but they're too slow for high-quality video or real-time video gaming. They can't match the speed of the hard-wired Internet services offered by telephone and cable TV companies.
Verizon Wireless's new network, called 4G, will have the ability to display crystal-clear videos and allow users to play complex multiplayer games, or hold two-way videoconferences. Consumers might replace broadband Internet services from cable and phone companies with the new wireless service, in the same way some have ditched their traditional, hard-wired telephone lines in favor of cellphones.
Verizon Wireless will not say what it plans to charge for the new service, or reveal the speeds it will provide consumers. News of 4G's debut cities came in a Verizon Wireless conference call for investors on July 27, and the company said it is not yet ready to speak publicly about it.