Verizon aims for LTE deployment in 2009

More aggressive time table shows 'the race is on' for bigger 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.

"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 at Verizon Communications Inc., in a speech at Cisco Systems Inc.'s C-Scape conference in San Jose. That would represent a more aggressive timetable than many observers have expected for the high-speed data system, which has been pegged for initial deployments in 2010 and wide rollouts starting in 2011.

LTE is a fourth-generation wireless data system expected to be the next step up in speed and capacity for carriers using the GSM platform, which is dominant in most of the world. Like WiMax, it should deliver multiple megabits per second of throughput.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC, chose LTE despite using CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) today, in order to have a consistent 4G technology around the world. In the U.S., LTE will be a rival to WiMax, which Sprint Nextel Corp. already deployed in one city and will further roll out through the newly formed venture Clearwire.

Verizon's plans show that "the race is on" for quick LTE deployment, after Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. said last month that it would offer such a network commercially in 2010, said IDC analyst Godfrey Chua.

Shortly after introducing LTE, Verizon will offer femtocells, small base stations for subscribers' homes, to extend the signal indoors, Lynch said. A femtocell talks to the native cellular radio in a phone or other device that is normally used on a cellular network. But as an added feature, Verizon's femtocells probably will include built-in Wi-Fi, Lynch added.

"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 wants to embrace the broader consumer electronics world through devices sold in retail stores such as Best Buy, Lynch said. "Machine-to-machine" applications, such as cameras automatically uploading photos to the Internet over the air, may increase the number of devices on wireless data networks "by an order of magnitude" compared with just human subscribers, he said.

"Broadband capabilities will be found in virtually every electronics product out there," Lynch said. Verizon Wireless is trying to move from the model of selling every customer a phone and service to where they can buy them separately, he explained.

On Verizon's wireline network, the carrier will deploy 100Gbit/sec. links on its backbone by this time next year, Lynch said. It is also caching some content close to subscribers' locations to reduce needless long-haul transport, and it wants to explore using peer-to-peer technology as a tool for delivery of some content, he said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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