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Verizon Boosts 3G Data Service

Verizon Wireless gave a hefty boost to the speed of its 3G network Monday, when it launched BroadbandAccess, a broadband wireless data service that boasts speeds of 300 to 500 kilobits per second with bursts up to 2 megabits per second.

The service, built on CDMA 1xEVDO technology, will go live for customers in the Washington, D.C., and San Diego markets on Wednesday. Verizon's existing 3G Express Network, built on 1XRTT technology, offered average speeds of between 40 and 60 kbps. It has been renamed NationalAccess with the BroadbandAccess launch.

Verizon Wireless said BroadbandAccess will allow customers to mirror their desktops while working remotely, using virtual private network (VPN) connections to access corporate local area networks (LANs) and intranets. The company noted that 1xEVDO technology has built in data protection and authentication, allowing it to work with businesses' existing IT infrastructure and security solutions.

The company said the service is ideal for downloading complex files, noting that users of the service could download a 1MB email attachment in less than 20 seconds. Verizon claimed GPRS would take nearly seven minutes to download the same file, and EDGE technology would take about a minute and a half.

Verizon is making the service available as part of VZOffice, a new suite of business solutions which combine complementary wireless voice and data solutions -- including NationalAccess. It also includes WiFiAccess, allowing customers to utilize wireless hotspots in places like airports and hotels.

"It's like an ala cart menu," Verizon Wireless spokesperson Andrea Linskey told internetnews.com. "You can choose voice, messaging or remote access."

BroadbandAccess goes for a flat rate of $79.99 a month. The company is also offering the Verizon Wireless PC 5220 card, manufactured by Sierra Wireless, which is required for the service. Verizon said through the end of the year, its customers can buy the card for $149.99 after a $100 rebate. The company said that it plans to offer additional BroadbandAccess devices, including additional cards, modem solutions for the office, and a range of the latest mobile devices.

Primarily, Verizon Wireless sees BroadbandAccess as a B2B play, Linskey said, though consumers who want to buy the PC 5220 card will have the option of getting the service. She noted that Verizon sees an opportunity in large business customers looking for greater speed in remote services.

"Right now, we're the only carrier that can offer that," she said.

Currently, the BroadbandAccess service is only available in Washington, D.C., and San Diego, where Verizon held trials of the service. However, during the trial, the company extended the coverage area beyond the initial trial areas. In Washington, D.C., it extended the coverage to the Reston and Alexandria, Va. areas as well as Rockville, Md. The San Diego coverage now extends from Oceanside south to National City and east to include Escondido, Poway and El Cajon.

Linskey said the company does have a network rollout plan but has made no firm decisions about what is next for BroadbandAccess.

"We have a network rollout plan in mind, but we haven't made any statements about where we're going next or when or how fast," she said. "We're going to let the market help us make those types of decisions."



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