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Verizon LTE network now covers two-thirds of U.S. population

Verizon's LTE network may not be the fastest right now, but it does cover the most people.

Verizon today added LTE coverage in 27 markets, including Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Pierre, S.D., and expanded its coverage in 44 other markets, including San Francisco, Boston and New York City. With the new expansions Verizon now estimates that it covers more than two-thirds of the American population.

MORE ON LTE: New Verizon service brings LTE to private networks 

ANALYSIS: LTE spectrum: How much do the big carriers have?

Verizon's announcement today also means that the carrier is well on its way toward meeting its goal of upgrading its entire 3G CDMA-based EV-DO Rev. A network footprint to LTE by the end of 2013. Verizon's LTE network has expanded at a steady clip since its launch in December 2010, when the carrier launched services in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the American population.

However, Verizon hasn't been alone in its deployment of LTE as rival carrier AT&T has quickly been catching up after launching its first LTE services late last summer. What's more, a recent study from PC World showed that AT&T's LTE network now tops Verizon's in terms of average download speeds. Overall, PC World found that AT&T's LTE services averaged downloads of 9.12Mbps, easily besting Verizon's LTE average download speeds of 7.35Mbps. However, Verizon still maintained an edge in terms of uploads, as its 5.86Mbps average upload speed edged out AT&T's 4.91Mbps average upload speed for the fastest in the United States.

LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A to the 4G IMT-Advanced technologies that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says will deliver consistent speeds in the 100Mbps range. Verizon and AT&T are currently the only two carriers that have LTE networks up and running in the United States although Sprint is expected to launch its own LTE network in the coming weeks and T-Mobile is slated to roll out LTE sometime in 2013.

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