A while back, Verizon announced more detail about their plans to bring 4G LTE to the Tucson area. I’ve been paying hyper-close attention to each carrier’s 4G rollout plans in my area, primarily out of personal interest, secondarily because that means when phones launch I won’t have to keep driving to Phoenix to test them. The actual press release is here, if you want to read it. If you want the actual nugget of new information, however, just read this:

The 4G LTE network will extend through Tucson between Interstate 10 and Harrison Road, north to Sunrise Drive and south to Valencia Road, including the Tucson International Airport.

That’s a bit curious actually, since the four thoroughfares specified don’t completely bound a region. Sunrise doesn’t extend all the way to Harrison, and Valencia is a bit discontinuous as well. Further, Interstate 10 bounds the bottom and left side of the box. I spent some time figuring out what that actually looks like, and created a google maps/earth .kmz overlay image, and image.

There’s a bit of interpolation going on here, namely assuming that Ina will bound the north part after Sunrise disappears, and that the jump from Sunrise to Harrison takes place like shown. It gives a decent impression of what the initial profile will be like, however.

A few things immediately stand out. First, there’s a bit of the east side that is genuinely clipped off. Second, south tucson between I-19 and I-10 doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s definitely a part of “Tucson,” yet the bounded region that Verizon stipulates would seem to preclude coverage making it down there. But perhaps the most head-scratchingly surreal part of the box is the fact that coverage will only extend to Sunrise.

Beyond and around the Sunrise/Skyline line is the foothills. This is the region where it makes the most sense to deploy 4G LTE due to the kind of neighborhood it is. Extending only to Skyline (and not even a little beyond) seems like a completely missed opportunity. It’ll be interesting to see the actual coverage profile and when things start rolling out. As of right now, I can confirm that there isn’t 4G LTE anywhere in town – I’ve tested at the airport, downtown, U of A, and throughout town with the HTC Thunderbolt, Pantech UML290, Samsung hotspot, and another unreleased datacard thus far to no avail. Hopefully it comes soon. Verizon has 22 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum (upper c block) in most of Arizona including Phoenix and Tucson. Only the far west part of Arizona has 34 MHz.

Update: 

Today Verizon Wireless announced that the Tucson, AZ market will be included in the August 18 nationwide LTE rollout. Last week I heard from a good friend of mine with a Droid Charge that LTE was working in various parts of Tucson already, no doubt as Verizon tests individual eNodeBs for functionality.

Update 2: 

At around 10:30 PM on August 17, Verizon 4G LTE went live in Tucson. Some people on Twitter sent me notifications about them seeing the service light up in areas that were even outside the circle painted by earlier press releases, so if you’re reasonably close to the boundary outlined in the press release, there’s a good chance LTE is active in your area.

One person tweeted a link to some speedtests, which show that things are indeed working:

Currently I don’t have any 4G LTE devices, but when I get another one for testing we’ll have a better picture of coverage and speeds in this market.

Update 3: 

It’s live, and it’s fast! I’ve tested it thoroughly and published some results already in the context of the Droid Bionic review, which is only a UE Category 2 device. Soon as I get a UE Category 3 LTE device I will run some more tests and get a better picture.