Verizon: LTE's launch on the horizon; not worried about WiMax

Verizon: LTE's launch on the horizon; not worried about WiMax

Summary: Verizon offered an update on the rollout of 4G LTE technology, with 15-20 markets expected to light up this year.


Special Report: CTIA Wireless

Minutes after the CEOs of Sprint Nextel and Clearwire finished talking up WiMax on the keynote stage at CTIA Wireless, Verizon convened a panel to provide an update on LTE deployment.

There seems to be a consistent feeling that LTE is the queen of the ball here - and even Clearwire and Sprint execs acknowledged that LTE is a more powerful technology and that they, too, might eventually adopt it. But in the smaller session with Verizon execs, there was no real mention of WiMax. Verizon is committed to LTE and convinced that it was the right decision to take that 4G path. 

Here's the update: Look for 4G LTE networks to light up in 25-30 markets this year, as previously promised. Beyond that, the company is looking out another 15 months to double the number of markets. In fact, execs said that by 2013, the company's 4G coverage map looks a lot like the 3G coverage map that we see in the company's television commercials today - and, in fact, it should have even more red on it.

With that said, things are moving along. Getting the backhaul in place is challenging enough, but there's more to it with LTE. As an early entry player in LTE, Verizon says it has to do more than just build the pipeline. It also has to beef up the LTE ecosystem, as well, with devices, apps and other content.

Specifically, the panel focused on several initiatives to do this, including an open development community and a 4G venture forum.

The venture forum is an interesting approach because it bridges the investment community with the development community so that, upon launch of LTE, there's a there there. In such an ecosystem, there will be a number of small developers who might otherwise have a tough time grabbing the attention of investors.

The initiative that grabbed my attention was the development initiative that's working on building out a Vcast apps marketplace. Apps have become the hottest things on smartphones and, as they've grown in popularity, so have the number of apps marketplaces. I asked Verizon whether we can have too many marketplaces, whether partners - notably, the OS platform folks - can also be competitors.

The short answer is that, yes, we can have multiple marketplaces and partners can also be competitors, largely because the goals are the same: beef up the offerings for the ecosystem. The differentiation comes in the selection of offerings. In the Vcast apps store, for example, you'll find versions of an app that work seamlessly on as many Verizon-supported products, whether they're running Android, Blackberry, Palm or Windows Mobile. In the Android marketplace, by contrast, the apps are designed for that platform and its devices.

Consider the analogy of competing department stores that sell some of the same items. Each has to differentiate itself in a way that makes it attractive to customers. Sure, you can buy those high-end shoes at either store but one may also include perks such as a personal shopper or a in-store coffee kiosk as means of making that store more attractive.

For the shoemaker, the competition creates a win-win as he wants his products to be in as many distribution channels as possible so they can reach the largest number of buyers.

As the session came to an end, the company was lobbed a question about whether it was at a competitive disadvantage because WiMax was already off the starting line while LTE is still heading toward the track. The executives were unfazed by that. It's not like LTE is still light years away. The trials in Boston and Seattle have been going well and the rollout of LTE is finally in sight.

For what it's worth, they didn't seem to be worried at all.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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  • so, is Sprint 4G and Verizon 4G incompatible? can i roam? or is this a non-

    standard technology like the precursor V.92 modem war??

    • They are not compatible at this time

      Sprint wanted to be first to market with 4G and so they picked WiMax, as it was ready for launch while LTE was not.

      Verizon wanted to harmonize their networks with their co-owner Vodafone. 4G provided the perfect opportunity to do so.

      Once LTE takes off worldwide, Wimax will be a niche technology.
  • Difference? WiMax is Open Standards & LTE is closed! ;)

    The reality is Verizon/Vodaphone, Sony Ericson,
    Motorola remain committed to a cell phone caste system
    of closed access proprietary standards. This in reality
    is the only difference between these two advanced
    mobile data telephony standards. That and it does not
    fully comply with the IMT Advanced 4G requirements.
    Like WiMax does with it's superior backhauling

    The battle on speed, etc will always go back and forth.
    But WiMax has an incredible headstart on Open Standards
    hardware with lower hardware costs not requiring
    license fees. Motorola are backing LTE only because
    they stand to make more money. Not because it's a
    better system.

    With Verizon it's simply back to their proprietary
    control of their garden walled segregated prison on

    Give me Open Standards Freedom any day over greedy
    closed controlled standards proposed by LTE's (Long
    Term Evolution) Corporate aims! :D

    "yes but one nice thing about wimax is it can piggy
    back on lte networks but lte cant piggy back on wimax.
    lte is faster but sprint is rolling out v2 basically of
    wimax and v3 is almost ready and it is upwards
    compatable and its a hell of alot faster its just
    software thats limiting it atm."

    LTE is left stranded once LTE Advanced becomes the
    standard and that's the same thing that'll befall LTE
    Advanced!'s simply the continuing a system that
    is Defective by Design! $$$Planned Obsolescence$$$!!!