Verizon Wants LTE ASAP
BOSTON -- Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone says that it is in his company's best interest to move to nationwide LTE as soon as possible and cut the pricing of mobile data services along the way, but that the operator is unlikely to stop CDMA-based voice services before 2018 at the earliest.
Melone took the stage at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s annual capital markets day here in Boston this morning to talk about Verizon's view on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology and how the wireless market will evolve as mobile broadband services become the norm. Ericsson is one of Verizon Wireless's two key infrastructure partners on the LTE deployment, along with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.)
"It is in best interest to blanket the country with LTE as soon as possible," Melone said of the operator's aggressive LTE deployment plans. It will be the first U.S. operator to go commercial with LTE next year, if all goes to plan.
Melone said the operator will "soon" move to "phase four" trials of LTE over 700 MHz. The first commercial markets will follow in 2010 with a rapid deployment planned in 2011 and 2012.
He said Verizon wants to continue its history of being on the "leading edge" of wireless deployments. The company's growth and continued financial fitness show the wisdom of this strategy, he told the crowd.
Melone's comments echo those of Roger Gurnani, senior VP of product development at Verizon Wireless. Gurnani told UNTV at the CTIA show in April that the operator would build out LTE in its nationwide footprint within two or three years of the 2010 launch. (See Verizon to Complete LTE Network by 2014?)
You can watch the whole interview here:
Asked about the differences in mobile data pricing between Europe and the U.S., Melone said that prices are likely go down in the U.S. as faster wireless broadband becomes more prevalent.
"Pricing is inhibiting the growth of this market. Quite frankly, this is likely to change even before LTE."
The future of CDMA
Melone was asked whether the coming LTE network would make Verizon's current 2G (or 2.5G if you prefer) and 3G CDMA networks redundant. Interestingly, the 2G voice network is likely to hang on longer than the current 3G EV-DO network. Melone said that Verizon's 2.5G CDMA 1xRTT network is "very stable" for voice services. "In 2018 or 2020, we're likely to still have a 1x network."
Data services on the 3G EV-DO have a "much shorter lifespan," Melone said. "We'll quickly migrate to LTE."
The CTO once again reiterated that the company doesn't expect to spend much more on LTE than it currently does on deploying 3G services. "The investment will be significant, but it displaces what we would spend on 3G."
The operator has, of course, already laid the foundation for LTE with its $9 billion spend on 700 MHz spectrum for its proto-4G rollout. "We believe that is essentially enabling our growth for the next 10 years," Melone said.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung