Verizon Wireless flexes LTE muscle at CES

Live videoconferencing, streaming video to mobile devices demonstrated

Verizon Wireless demonstrated a series of technology prototypes this week to show how end users would benefit from its upcoming LTE (Long Term Evolution) cellular network.

Streaming video and live videoconferencing over wireless LTE were among the demonstrations shown in a private room at CES to reporters and other visitors. Verizon is also working with a number of partners on applications for enterprises, ranging from building security to field services and health care.

Verizon expects to launch LTE in 25 to 30 cities by the end of 2010, a spokeswoman said, and has begun data transmission trials in Boston and Seattle.

The race between carriers to prove high speed wireless superiority is growing more intense. AT&T Inc. is also developing an LTE network, while Sprint Nextel has touted its 4G capabilities already available over WiMax in 27 cities. Sprint launched its Overdrive mobile hotspot at CES this week to link WiMax to up to five Wi-Fi devices.

Sprint has said the Overdrive will bring WiMax speeds averaging 3 to 6 Mbit/sec, about 10 times the speed of 3G networks, while Verizon officials have previously said LTE should increase speeds by ten times over current networks, and up to 6 Mbit/sec.

At CES, Verizon showed a demonstration of live videoconferencing over LTE using portable units from Creative Labs. Creative Labs retrofitted its existing InPerson live videoconferencing devices, which have cameras and small screens included but currently operate via Wi-Fi and an Ethernet cable connection. (With LTE, the Ethernet connection is eliminated.)

Creative Labs is working to shrink down its InPerson product and include an LTE module based on its Zii chip to make live videoconferencing truly mobile.

In another demonstration, the movie "Up" was streamed in 1080p over LTE at 4 Mbit/sec to a small handheld tablet device that will eventually incorporate a two-inch LTE module made by Motorola and currently runs an Nvidia second-generation Tegra processor. The device's design and interface is being developed by Innovative Converged Devices.

Verizon is also working with Ericsson on a range of LTE-capable wireless applications for enterprises and industry. A spokeswoman emphasized that all the demonstrations shown at CES might not result in final products, but do show the capabilities of high speed wireless with LTE.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send e-mail to mhamblen@computerworld.com or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

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