CTIA 2009 Preview: Verizon's LTE Party
Verizon Wireless will undoubtedly bask in the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) limelight at this week's CTIA Wireless 2009 show now that the U.S. operator has selected equipment suppliers and announced deployment schedules for it ambitious proto-4G mobile broadband network.
Verizon's CTIA team should certainly take the opportunity to celebrate in Las Vegas this week because the hard part of the LTE process -- the network rollout, the nail-biting wait for devices, the pressure to meet the aggressive 2010 launch date communicated to the market, and the decision about whether to confuse the general public by using "4G" in its marketing -- lies ahead. (See LTE Phones Will Lag Behind Networks and MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.)
Expect CTIA chatter about LTE to revolve around: the kind of embedded devices Verizon wants; the operator's Evolved Packet Core (EPC) architecture strategy; future support for voice services; hand-off issues between CDMA and LTE; and the operator's 4G backhaul strategy.
And, hopefully, Verizon will provide further details about what it plans to do with its LTE network and what the actual average peak data rates are likely to be. (See Operators Face LTE Deployment Dilemma.)
But Verizon won't be the only operator talking up LTE this week.
"Now that Verizon has selected LTE, all the other North American operators in its orbit are looking to do likewise," says Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.
U.S. cable operator Cox Communications Inc. announced this week that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. will supply a 3G CDMA network that, eventually, will be upgraded to LTE. The deal is an important win for Huawei in the U.S., where the Chinese vendor has been seeking a notable reference customer for some years. Cox is now looking for a second supplier for its mobile broadband network. (See Cox, Huawei Make Wireless Connection , BCI Gets Busy With Cox's 3G Buildout , and Cox Hires Wireless Ops Guru.)
MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) has also entered the U.S. "4G" race and has talked about plans to deploy LTE in 2010. (See MetroPCS Chooses LTE for 4G Wireless Network.)
And AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) revealed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month that it has accelerated its LTE deployment plans by a year with a network rollout slated for 2011. While AT&T said it'll upgrade its 3G network to 7.2 Mbit/s HSDPA and plans to implement 21 Mbit/s HSPA later this year, the operator may shed more light on its 4G ambitions this week too. (See Nextera Picks NexTone.)
Vendors love LTE too
It won't be just the service providers talking up LTE this week. Verizon's vendors -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) for radio access, AlcaLu and Nokia Networks for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), and AlcaLu, Ericsson, and Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR) for evolved packet core -- will be showing off their wares.
Meanwhile, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Nortel Networks Ltd. will also put their LTE offerings on display. (See Moto Shows Off LTE.)
Nortel will wheel out its LTE demo with LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , and the Canadian vendor, currently in the midst of a major reorganization, is also developing trial femtocell systems for LTE. (See Nortel Keeps LTE Dream Alive, No Femtos in Verizon's First LTE Rollout, Nortel Files for Bankruptcy Protection, and Nortel Appoints EMEA Administrator.)
Here's a snapshot of the LTE news for the week so far:
- AlcaLu Converges in RAN
- AT4 Tests LTE RF
- Forum Preps LTE Device Tests
- Camiant Sprinkles In LTE
- Tecore Touts 4G Upgrade
- Genband Joins VoLGA
- Starent Adds Smarts to LTE Core