Verizon Wireless’ CTO said this week the carrier hopes to have LTE up and running in some markets by the end of next year, a high-speed boost to the carrier’s previous, already accelerated plans to begin rolling out Long Term Evolution technology by 2010
“We expect that LTE will actually be in service somewhere here in the U.S. probably this time next year,” Verizon Wireless CTO Dick Lynch told a Cisco Systems C-Scape conference this week, according to PC World.
The plans seem to run counter to conventional thinking, as speakers at the LTE America’s conference in Las Vegas this week were skeptical that Verizon Wireless’ original plan for a 2010 launch was achievable. The technology recently had its deadline for a standard extended from this month until next March, though the current proposal is said to be “frozen.”
Nadine Manjaro, senior analyst at ABI Research, said Verizon Wireless could launch a non-standard version of LTE to meet its original 2010 deployment plans and then upgrade to the final standards at a later time. This would ape a similar move by NTT DoCoMo Inc. when it launched its UMTS-based FOMA service using a non-standard version before upgrading the network to a standards-based version.
So why the rush by Verizon Wireless to get LTE to market? LTE America speakers noted that the newly formed Clearwire Corp. is expected to begin a serious push of its mobile WiMAX network beginning next year, and Verizon Wireless is keen on keeping its position as the leading “network” carrier in the market.
Sprint to do LTE?
Interestingly, Clearwire-backer Sprint Nextel Corp. could eventually join Verizon Wireless on the LTE playground. A report this morning from FBR Capital Markets claims the carrier could eventually move its current CDMA-based operations to LTE.
“In our view, although WiMAX offers a significant wireless data leadership position for the company in the near term, we do not expect the new Clearwire to fully substitute a mobile 4G product for Sprint,” the report states. “A converged voice and data 4G solution (such as LTE) is preferable to what essentially will be a fusion of two different networks (CDMA and iterations therefore for voice, WiMAX for data) in a WiMAX 4G world.”
Sprint Nextel would joint AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA Inc. and a handful of regional players in the United States in supporting LTE.
Sprint Nextel is currently in the midst of rebanding its 800 MHz spectrum used for its iDEN network, the results of which will provide the carrier with 10 megahertz of additional spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band as well as contiguous spectrum in the 800 MHz band. Most expect initial LTE deployments to happen in between 10 megahertz (in a 5 megahertz uplink, 5 megahertz downlink) or 20 megahertz (in a 10 megahertz uplink, 10 megahertz downlink) configuration.
While support for LTE is growing, there are some concerns about what an actual deployment could look like. Erik Neitzel, distinguished member of technical staff-network specialist at U.S. Cellular, told attendees at the LTE America’s event that antennas needed to support the 700 MHz band would need to be between 8 and 10 feet tall and around 14 inches wide. “You will have to run structurals on towers” to support the antennas, Neitzel said.
If necessary, such a configuration would significantly boost the cost of an LTE deployment.