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Verizon starts the slow process to becoming an LTE-only network

Verizon is pushing ahead with its plan to become an all LTE network, and according to research carried out by one network expert, it has already started repurposing its 3G spectrum for LTE purposes. The evidence comes from Milan Milanovic, who spotted Verizon had turned off some 3G frequencies in Manhattan recently, only to then find them reactivated a short while later and carrying an LTE signal.

A spokesman for Verizon confirmed to GigaOm it’s running these tests, and that it was in accordance with its plans to shift away from 3G in the future. The idea is to eventually have all its subscribers using LTE, something which depends on it having plenty of coverage, a fully operational VoLTE system, and an LTE-capable smartphone in everyone’s hands. That’s quite a to-do list.

Related: T-Mobile starts to introduce VoLTE

Anyone thinking their 3G Verizon phone is about to become obsolete shouldn’t worry; it’s a long way off yet. Milanovic’s tests showed the reception level and data speeds on the newly integrated network were poor, indicating the program is still in the very early stages of testing. Additionally, back in August, Verizon said it wouldn’t launch an LTE-only smartphone until sometime in 2016, again indicating the switchover is going to take some time.

Verizon hasn’t officially announced the swap over from 3G to LTE either, and the spokesman quoted by GigaOm wouldn’t provide a time for doing so. However, what we’re seeing is the very beginning of the process, and the slow shift away from 3G smartphones and networks.