In March 2008, Verizon Wireless paid $9.4 billion for nationwide 700 MHz spectrum that includes the C-block, which carries open-access stipulations. This past Sunday, the carrier is finally launching its so-called 4G wireless network that uses a network technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

Beginning Sunday, December 5, the service will be initially available in 38 markets and 60 airports covering 110 million customers including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Verizon will update its coverage map with street-level mapping on Sunday.

For comparison, two years ago Sprint and Clearwire both rolled out their 4G WiMAX in Baltimore on the 2.5GHz frequency band. As of November 1, both carriers had a total of 61 cities online.

Verizon said it expects real world performance on ?loaded network environments? to be from 5 to 12 megabits per second. Latency is claimed to be in the 35 to 40 millisecond range. Verizon has chosen to cap network speed so everyone on a loaded system will see approximately the same upload and download speeds. This is a smart move to keep user expectations from becoming support problems like they often are on AT&T’s 3G data network.

Pictured above: LG’s VL600 USB modem.

For laptop connectivity, two 4G LTE USB modems will be initially available. First with a LG VL600, a USB modem. At 3.88 x 1.48 x 0.58 inches and weighing in at 1.76 ounces, it’s all but a thumb-sized device.

Verizon’s 700 MHz LTE network should have download speeds of 5 to 12Mbps, with the uplink ranging from 2 to 5MBps. Your mileage may wary and users will fall back to 3G connectivity where LTE isn’t available, Verizon said.

Their modem currently supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 PCs, but not Macs. Later, there will be the Pantech UML290 USB modem with similar specifications.