To stay in front of the LTE pack, Verizon purchased $3.6 billion worth of spectrum from a cable consortium last year, then sold off a bunch of its own to gain FCC approval. The fruit of that labor is now arriving in force, as Big Red has quietly turned on the new Band 4 frequencies in the commercial corridors of major cities like Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta. The rollout began last month in New York, when customers began reporting higher internet speeds. The carrier told GigaOM that flipping the switch will triple the LTE capacity in the new centers and bring significantly faster surfing: up to 80Mbps for now, with 100-150 Mbps speeds theoretically possible.
Most markets east of the Mississippi and some western cities will eventually see that kind of zip, made possible with the deployment of 40MHz of spectrum, or double what Verizon was using until now. Some cities like San Francisco and LA, however, will get 30MHz only, which will still boost carrying capacity and speeds by 150 percent. Verizon said it's not advertising the new speeds for now, admitting "you could see 80 Mbps today and 20 Mbps tomorrow and then 10 Mbps the next day." Of course, you won't see them at all unless you have the right hardware, which is limited to the iPhone 5s and 5c, Samsung Galaxy S 4, and several Motorola Droid models. However, Verizon has promised it'll arrive to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and other Android handsets soon.
*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.