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Verizon looks to LTE completion, Gigabit FiOS

CEO Lowell McAdam's keynote also promised $10 million in awards to people with new ideas

After announcing its 4G LTE mobile network at CES two years ago and its FiOS fiber-based home broadband offering here in 2004, Verizon used a keynote address on Tuesday to pitch its progress on those and other projects.

Verizon Wireless will finish building out its LTE network by the middle of this year, six months ahead of schedule, said Lowell McAdam, a former chief of the wireless subsidiary who is now chairman and CEO of parent company Verizon Communications. Today, that network reaches more than 273 million U.S. residents -- 89 percent of the population, he said.

Meanwhile, the company has a platform in place to increase the speed of FiOS to 1G bps to homes, McAdam said. The company has more than 5 million FiOS customers now. A version of the service with 300M bps speed came out last year. Not to leave out enterprises, McAdam said Verizon would offer 100G bps speeds, which already connect most major U.S. cities, in its metro Ethernet networks to boost the speed companies can get.

McAdam highlighted notable uses of Verizon's networks and its cloud infrastructure, such as cellular connectivity for Golden-i, a headset that firefighters can use for augmented reality. Among other things, Golden-i can let them see through smoke with an infrared camera and view floor plans as they walk through a burning building, according to a video shown during the keynote.

But Golden-i was demonstrated at last year's CES. McAdam made it clear Verizon is looking for new ideas: He announced the Powerful Answers Award program, which will give a total of US$10 million in awards to whoever develops the best innovations for taking advantage of the company's mobile, video and cloud technologies.

The contest is intended to come up with promising new developments in health care, education and sustainability, which Verizon will help the winners bring to fruition, McAdam said. The top award will be $1 million and Verizon will start accepting submissions later this year.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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