Verizon Wireless said Thursday it has invested roughly $135.5 million in its network in Illinois during the first nine months of the year, laying the groundwork for the planned Chicago launch of its 4G network by the end of 2010.
Company spokeswoman Carolyn Schamberger said Verizon’s total Illinois investment for all of 2009 was $168 million, putting the operator on track to outspend last year’s investment. A direct nine-month comparison was not available.
Verizon announced Wednesday that it will light up its 4G wireless network in 38 metropolitan areas, including Chicago, by year-end. In the Chicago area, the 4G network will cover more than 7 million people, T.J. Fox, Verizon’s region president for Illinois and Wisconsin, told reporters on a Thursday call.
Verizon’s plan is to have its existing nationwide 3G footprint covered by its 4G network by the end of 2013. The rest of Illinois outside the Chicago area will see its network being built over 2011 and 2012, Fox said.
Fox said the first devices available for its 4G network will be aircards and USB dongles that plug into laptops. The company is planning to unveil 4G-enabled smartphones at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Clearwire was the first operator to provide consumer 4G service in Chicago with its launch at the end of 2009. Sprint Nextel and Comcast also offer 4G services using Clearwire’s network. Sprint and Clearwire are each in about 55 markets in the U.S., and Sprint sells two smartphones – the HTC Evo and the Samsung Epic – that are enabled for the 4G network.