When Verizon Wireless's 4G long-term evolution (LTE) service finally makes its debut, it will likely usher in an era of tiered data access that replaces unlimited plans, chief executive Lowell McAdam said last week.

"The model to me going forward is I expect that people will have realistically four or five or six devices that they have to connect to the network, and it may be as many as 20," McAdam said during a Wednesday Barclays Capital event.

As a result, it will make more sense to "buy a bucket of megabytes" that can be used up on whatever device you happen to be using, he said, according to a transcript.

McAdam's remarks came in response to a question about whether Verizon will be able to monetize 4G technology, and whether they will move away from a $30 unlimited plan in order to accomplish this. "I think this whole concern about unlimited megabytes on a smartphone naturally goes away here as we bring the new devices and the new applications to the market," McAdam said. "So you buy a bucket of megabytes, [and] you pay a little bit to activate and plug-in, whether it is your healthcare monitor or your car or whatever it is, and you are off."

For Verizon, McAdam said the "cost to deliver a megabyte for us [on 4G] is going to be a half to one-third of what it costs on 3G." Verizon has been working on its super-fast 4G service for some time, and McAdam said Wednesday that the company has "officially stopped our technology trial and are now moving into pre-commercial launch."

The company intends to have 4G available in up to 30 markets by year's end, and McAdam to "make a big splash at CES in January." Verizon has been testing in Boston, Seattle, and Erie, Penn. and intends to provide 4G service to the entire country within three years, he said. McAdam confirmed that Verizon will allow rural carriers to lease access to its wireless spectrum "in places that we would not have gotten to until year three or year four or year five."

These carriers will have a roaming agreement with Verizon, which will allow them to use Verizon spectrum and its devices in the open c-block. Verizon has said that the first 4G LTE devices will be dongle or modules for a laptop, but McAdam denied Wednesday that that will be the only 4G offering from Verizon.

"If you come to the CES I think it would be very surprised at the number and variety of devices that we will be able to bring to the table," he said. "With more countries coming there is going to be a real opportunity here to bring smartphones and tablets and those sorts of things to market. So that is where we are focused."
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