Business news from the Fredericksburg region.

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Speeding with 4G LTE can be costly

Your Verizon Wireless smartphone or tablet may already have accelerated to NASCAR speeds on what used to be called the “information superhighway” as 4G LTE is deployed in the Fredericksburg area.

But be careful you don’t end up screeching into a data plan wall.

Three weeks ago, a company spokeswoman said it was in the process of rolling out the ultra-fast service in the Fredericksburg area. That’s pretty vague in terms of who will be covered and who won’t.

According to Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Melanie Ortel, the company is currently conducting tests so it can provide an accurate coverage map.

Fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) are to be up to 10 times faster than 3G. Verizon Wireless promises download speeds of 5–12 MB per second and upload speeds of 2–5 MB per second. Some are getting better results than that.

Keep this in mind, though: Accelerated data delivery equals accelerated data consumption. That’s especially dangerous (i.e., potentially costly) when streaming video and music.

Some area residents are reporting that 4G been deployed in their parts of the area and that their mobile download and upload speeds have been bumped up significantly.

Chuck Tolson has good news for Verizon Wireless customers in Stafford County:

“I just tested my new iPad and have a three-bar LTE signal! Did a and got Ping: 51 ms; Download: 20.02 Mbps; and Upload: 12.46 Mbps!

“I live on Truslow Road in Stafford about a mile south of its intersection with Poplar Road so the LTE signal is reaching this far west off U.S. 17.”

But at least one area resident already would like to slow things down.

Veronica McCabe Deschambault of Braehead Woods in Fredericksburg said, “We’re getting it. I don’t use my smartphone much, but my kids are thrilled. So my son went through 2 GB, exceeding his [monthly] data limit in two days, I think [he] was watching TV on his phone. I got the notice he had exceeded his data quota.”

Data consumption at 4G varies by device and customer habits. The New iPad seems to be a real gas guzzler.

“Obviously,” Ortel said, “data usage varies from customer to customer, and that’s the reason why Verizon Wireless offers a variety of data plans to meet the various needs of our customer base.”

The company currently has a “Double Your Data” promotion for new 4G smartphone customers. For the $30 monthly access plan, customers receive 4GB of data instead of 2GB; at the $50 level, 10 GB instead of 5 GB; and at the $80 level, 20 GB of data instead of 10 GB.

Verizon Wireless also has an online tool to estimate data consumption. Go to verizonwire calculatorPopup.jsp for its Data Calculator.

Ortel said 4G video streaming uses about 350 MB per hour, compared with 250 MB for 3G. But that’s on a smartphone. It’s considerably higher on 4G tablets.

Using Wi–Fi cuts costs, but doesn’t deliver 4G speed.

Customers automatically receive email alerts at 50 percent, 75 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent and 110 percent of their plan’s capacity.

If a customer does exceed the monthly data allowance, it costs $10 for each extra GB. Customers can upgrade their plans and not have to pay the overage fee.

So 4G is exciting. And it’s also a little scary.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163