Early adopters like 4G service

Robert Deglau started using the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE, or fourth-generation, long-term evolution network, as soon as it was introduced in the Milwaukee area last month.

Deglau, the information technology manager at General Automotive Manufacturing LLC in Franklin, installed the components for the new technology at the company of 400 employees. Between 10 and 12 employees of the company now share two 4G LTE modems for remote access to the company’s server.

The modems enable employees to access the Internet while out of the office. They can downlink at speeds about 10 times faster than on Verizon’s 3G network, said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Arianne Venuso.

The Milwaukee and Madison metropolitan areas, including 33 other southeastern Wisconsin cities and villages, were recently upgraded to Verizon’s 4G network. The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based wireless service provider first launched the faster connectivity in 39 other cities on Dec. 5, 2010, and now has a total of 74 metro areas upgraded to 4G.

“That was just the beginning,” Venuso said. “Verizon Wireless will continue to fine-tune, expand and enhance the network and update 4G LTE devices over-the-air – just as we’ve done with our 3G network.”

Verizon plans to cover its entire 3G service area with 4G by the end of 2013, she said.

“We’re concentrating on building out the major metropolitan areas, and then we’re expanding outward,” Venuso said.

The 4G LTE network enables faster downlink and uplink speeds on 4G smart phones, mobile hotspots – modems that enable shared Wi-Fi on-the-go – and remote USB modems such as the ones at General Automotive.

For an investment of $50 per modem, General Automotive has increased its remote productivity and realized cost savings, Deglau said. Mobile video conferencing is now possible with the increased bandwidth on this faster network and the modem cost, at $49 per month, is $10 less than the 3G modems the company used previously.

“Anyone who needs to access the network can do it quickly,” Deglau said. “I don’t need to run in to work. It’s made my life a little easier.”

He also purchased a personal 4G modem, which Deglau used recently to stream a remote broadcast of his radio show on WJYI AM JOY 1340 from Las Vegas.

“That’s amazing,” he said. “That little card, sitting inside a steel structure building, is able to do all this.”

The future of 4G is bright, said T.J. Fox, Verizon’s regional president for Illinois and Wisconsin. Eventually, the technology could allow users to control their car or the heat at home while they are somewhere else.

Currently, doctors in some areas are using 4G technology to monitor chips in their patients’ cardiac devices, and a jukebox company is using 4G chips to wirelessly upload new songs to its electronic library wherever it has machines, Venuso said.

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