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Verizon to offer 4G in South Florida -- and possibly the iPhone

South Florida will be one of the first metro areas to get Verizon Wireless 4G data speeds, the company announced Wednesday, giving users speeds up to 10 times faster than what's currently available.

In the initial launch later this year, Florida will have more metro areas covered by Verizon's fastest wireless network than any other state. Verizon's 4G technology, called LTE (Long Term Evolution), will be offered across Florida in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville metro areas.

The news comes as The Wall Street Journal reported on its website Wednesday that said Apple is making a new iPhone 4 that will work with Verizon's network, and will be sold in the first quarter of next year.

The new iPhone will use computer chips, made by Qualcomm, that work with Verizon's CDMA wireless network, the Journal reported, citing anonymous sources. Although AT&T, Apple and Verizon have not commented, the news would mean the end to AT&T being the sole carrier of the iPhone.

Verizon does not currently sell mobile phones that could take advantage of the 4G speeds, and it's unknown if the new iPhone could. But customers who use Verizon's mobile broadband devices to connect laptops to the Internet, such as aircards, would be the first to benefit.

Verizon has not announced if customers will need to pay more to access 4G speeds, or when exactly this year the 4G switch will turn on.

Verizon's 4G network technology will be rolled out to 38 areas in the U.S. and more than 60 airports, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Palm Beach international airports.

In a heavy use environment, Verizon expects average 4G data speed for downloads to be 5 to 12 megabits per second. The 3G download speed for Verizon ranges from 600 kilobits per second to 1.4 megabits per second.

In South Florida, the 4G network will be available from Kendall to Jupiter, and includes western suburbs such as Plantation, Tamarac and Palm Beach Gardens, Verizon said.

AT&T will also use LTE technology for it's upgrade to 4G, which the company said will happen in mid-2011.

In late August, T-Mobile began to roll out its 4G service in South Florida, using network technology called HSPA+.

Sprint was the first carrier to launch 4G wireless download speeds this year in the U.S., although it's not yet activated in South Florida. Sprint uses WiMAX, a different type of 4G technology than Verizon or T-Mobile.

"All 4G is not created equal," said Verizon spokesman Chuck Hamby. "We're not worried about being first to market. We're worried about being best to market."

Verizon 4G Launch Markets

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