Friday, November 19, 2010

Verizon Jumps LTE Rollout

Verizon Wireless expects to begin deploying next-generation LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless broadband within a year, a top executive of the carrier said Tuesday.

“We expect that LTE will actually be in service somewhere here in the U.S. probably this time next year,” said Dick Lynch, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon Communications, in a speech at Cisco Systems’ C-Scape conference in San Jose.

Since the LTE specification has not yet been finalized, most observers have predicted that a 2010 test is more realistic, with rollouts starting in 2011. AT&T intends to deploy LTE in 2012, reports Unstrung.

Still, Japan’s NTT DoCoMo said last month it would offer such a network commercially in 2010 and LG demonstrated 60Mbps download speeds on the world’s first LTE chips for cellphones and data cards, yesterday.

LTE, like WiMax, should deliver multiple megabits per second of throughput.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone, chose LTE in order to have a consistent 4G technology around the world. AT&T will first use HSPA+ (Evolved HSPA), an evolution of their current 3G technology before they start fresh with LTE.

“A femtocell of LTE or an access point of Wi-Fi is a really critical component of the way customers want their broadband delivered,” Lynch said. Verizon’s femtocells probably will include built-in Wi-Fi, Lynch added. That radio might be used by other devices in the home that don’t have cellular radios. Femtocells also transfer the backhaul expense to consumers.

Sprint Nextel has already deployed their “4G” technology with Mobile WiMAX now offered in Baltimore and Portland, Oregon. They will roll it out nation-wide through the newly formed venture, Clear. The next generation of Mobile WiMAX is 802.16m with speeds up to 1-Gbit/s fixed and 100-Mbit/s mobile, backward compatibility with Mobile WiMAX and “improved broadcast, multicast and VOIP performance and capacity.”

LTE, like WiMAX, will require a forklift upgrade. New infrastructure on the towers, new backhaul and new handsets.

Most importantly, Verizon needs wide-band spectrum. Verizon may tap their AWS band and 700 MHz band spectrum holdings for LTE. But even wider channels are necessary for high speed LTE.

AT&T and Verizon may be jumping the shark with LTE pronouncements. In the 700 Mhz auction, dual 6Mhz “A” & “B” blocks were purchased by phone companies with Verizon winning the largest “C” block (with dual 11MHz channels). That’s not enough for broadband LTE.

Wide channel (100Mbps) LTE just won’t fit on 700 MHz. It takes 20MHz per sector.

The FCC’s 700 MHz auction raised $19.6 billion for the U.S. Treasury with AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless accounting for the bulk ($16 billion). Here’s the FCC’s full list of 700 MHz winners. Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein issued separate statements; (Copps and Adelstein).


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