Berkshire County among nation's sites to get new Verizon high-speed wireless


PITTSFIELD — While broadband coverage remains spotty in some areas of the Berkshires, the Pittsfield metro area was recently selected as one of 461 similar areas across the United States to receive Verizon's new coast-to-coast LTE Advanced Network.

The Pittsfield metro area includes all of Berkshire County, said Verizon spokesman Andrew Testa.

"Verizon LTE Advanced works like a turbocharger on an engine," said Tami Erwin, the head of operations for Verizon's wireless unit. "Speed boosts kick in when you need it most, with big data use."

With the new service, Verizon subscribers in the Berkshires can use LTE Advanced technology to obtain wireless data speeds that are 50 percent faster for customers using one of the 39 LTE Advanced-capable phones and tablets that are already on Verizon's network.

These devices include Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7 smartphones, Moto Droids and Apple iPhones. New devices from Apple, Samsung, LG and other manufacturers will be LTE Advanced-capable as soon as they hit the market, according to Verizon.

Customers with a phone or tablet with LTE Advanced capabilities and the most recent software will benefit from these enhancements without effort or additional costs, Verizon said. There will be no extra plan costs, no settings to change, and no indicators to check, the company stated.

Verizon LTE Advanced uses software to combine two or three bandwidth channels into one larger channel to send data sessions over the most efficient route to completion.

This technology, which Verizon refers to as "carrier aggregation" uses a combination of 700 megahertz, or cycles per second, AWS and PCS spectrum.

"The analogy we like to use is imagine a road with three lanes and solid lines between them," Testa said. "There could be heavy traffic in the middle, but no traffic in the other lanes because those lanes are solid, and traffic can't move effectively. With LTE Advanced you can have cars in all three lanes and have them reach their destination faster."

LTE Advanced currently utilizes a combination of two-and-three-carrier aggregation. Customers will continue to enjoy typical download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second Mbps. But the two-channel aggregation has shown the ability to provide peak download speeds of up to 225 Mbps, which Verizon states far exceed the current speeds being experienced by wireless data networks nationwide.

According to Verizon, engineers deploying three-channel aggregation have experienced speeds greater than 300 Mbps.

"Say you're trying to download a really large power point of 100 megabytes," Testa said. "That's where the aggregation will be very helpful. The faster speeds download much faster."

Verizon began rolling out LTE Advanced at the beginning of this year, he said.

"We looked at a broad geography when we were doing this," he said. "There's 461 metro areas, and we take a great deal of pride in covering that vast majority of the country.

"Verizon takes a lot of pride in deploying the latest technologies not only in major metro areas, but also in rural areas," he said. "We deployed LTE-Advanced in Pittsfield because we know our customers depend on our network."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413 496-6224.


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