Verizon Offers Insight into Its LTE Strategy for 2010

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-04-01
 
 
 

LAS VEGAS-There's plenty of news and new products to interest approximately 30,000 attendees on the opening day of the CTIA Wireless show here at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Not only did Research In Motion officially unveil its BlackBerry App World "on-device" store, a formidable-looking new competitor to Apple's iTunes online music, video and application smorgasbord, but Verizon Wireless offered more detail about the new 4G network it will launch in 2010, based on its swift new LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless protocol.

Verizon is now deep into building its Verizon Wireless LTE Innovation Center, which will serve as a home base for developers looking to get on the LTE bandwagon. The center, based in Waltham, Mass., will open in summer 2009 and include a lab for product testing and development, and home and business environments to allow simulated usage of products in real-life situations. Verizon announced in February 2009 that it will launch its LTE network in mid-2010.

A key IT question: Which operating systems will Verizon eventually choose to implement this potentially huge new LTE market? Microsoft (Windows Mobile), Google (Android), Apple (iPhone), Sun (Java OS), Qualcomm (Brew) and others are already well-entrenched in the various wireless markets.

"Well, there are about eight or nine different operating systems out there, and what that means for the operator is any time we get a new application we have to match it to both the device and the OS, and it really slows our time to market," Verizon Communications Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg told a group of reporters and analysts after his keynote address.

"What we expect to see over the next couple of years is to land on three, maybe four, of those operating systems [on the LTE network]," Seidenberg said. "Then we can put some standards across the top of them. Then we'll try to implement globally with partners like China Mobile, SoftBank and Vodafone, so then that application can fit a limited number of operating systems and then hit all devices at the same time.

"This way, we can literally turn these applications [out] in a matter of weeks, rather than months."

Verizon also announced that Brian Higgins, a 14-year company veteran of planning and product development, will serve as the first executive director and will be commissioned to build the development community.

Fall of 2008, Verizon and its European partner, Vodafone, have been testing 4G LTE networks in Minneapolis, northern New Jersey and Columbus, Ohio, in addition to Budapest, Hungary; D??sseldorf, Germany; and Madrid, Spain. The two companies are working with a long list of network infrastructure providers in the testing.

Testers have reported peak speeds of about 60M bps, which is comparable to some fiber-link networks. T-Mobile and Nortel Networks also have been testing LTE networks, and both have reported being impressed with the performance.

Nortel told Reuters recently that it believes LTE is the most likely upgrade path for about 80 percent of the world's existing mobile phone providers, with the others going for WiMax.

In other news, the worldwide recession does not appear to be denting the wireless telecommunications industry. CTIA has released the findings of its semiannual industry survey, which includes numerous metrics on the industry's continued growth.

Worldwide wireless revenues showed big year-to-year gains, as wireless data service revenues for the year 2008 rose to more than $32 billion-a 39 percent increase over 2007, when data revenues totaled $23.2 billion.

Wireless data revenues for 2008 amounted to nearly 22 percent of all wireless service revenues.

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