Verizon to end Wi-Fi in NYC in favor of EV-DO service

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Verizon Communications Inc. said it will phase out its payphone-based Wi-Fi hot-spot service in New York City during the next two months in favor of its rapidly expanding CDMA2000 1x EV-DO wide area wireless network.

Verizon noted that it currently operates around 380 hot-spot locations in New York, with most located in Manhattan. Verizon originally planned to deploy more than 1,000 hot spots around New York to support its digital subscriber line service, but usage levels never met expectations.

Verizon has repeatedly said it favored a wide area wireless broadband solution over a local area Wi-Fi network, citing superior coverage and seamless roaming capabilities. The company said last year that it had stopped aggressively selling Wi-Fi to customers due to stronger demand for its EV-DO service.

Verizon Wireless charges $80 per month for unlimited access to its EV-DO network, available in more than 30 markets across the country. The company said it plans to offer EV-DO across more than two-thirds of its network by the end of this year.

Customers can also access the high-speed network using the carrier’s consumer-focused Vcast service from select handsets for $15 per month. Verizon Wireless added that it would offer customers two free months of access to the Vcast service for a limited time.

Verizon Wireless claims to have invested $138 million on its New York network already this year on top of the $475 million it invested in 2004. The carrier has also acquired 40 megahertz of wireless spectrum in the 1.9 GHz bands covering New York during the past several years to support its legacy 25 megahertz of spectrum in the 850 MHz bands.

A number of Verizon Wireless’ competitors, including Cingular Wireless L.L.C., Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc., are moving ahead with their Wi-Fi plans and have introduced software that will allow users to switch between wide area and local area wireless broadband connections depending on speed and availability.

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