Light Reading

Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
11/21/2011
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A job ad from Verizon Wireless points to Canada and Western Europe as being the among the first international areas where the operator may try and enable 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) roaming services for its subscribers.

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based operator has been looking for a global LTE roaming manager to work with its new 4G network.

"The Manager of Global LTE Roaming is accountable for supporting the overall marketing plan to bring global LTE roaming for Verizon Wireless customers traveling overseas and also laying the groundwork for inbound LTE roaming," the ad copy reads. "This position will focus particularly on the Canadian and Western European markets."

Verizon says that the goal of the job is "to drive global roaming revenue growth" as the applicant gains understanding of "how Verizon Wireless can capitalize on its LTE footprint for the next 3-5 years."

Enabling global roaming across LTE networks is no small task. Despite the technology being promoted as a "global standard," there are multiple radio frequencies that need to be supported and China -- for one -- is deploying a somewhat different format for 4G LTE. (See TDD Camp Sets Out Global Ambitions for more on the ambitions of the Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) crowd.)

Verizon has made no secret of its global LTE roaming ambitions: The wireless operator's CTO, David Small, told AllThingsD in September that Verizon is already having talks with its global partners, China Mobile Communications Corp. and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).

Of course, Verizon and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) LTE subscribers can't currently roam between each operator's bands on their respective 700MHz 4G deployments.

Why this matters
Canada and Western Europe could prove to be some of the easier areas to roam to on LTE. Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. (NYSE: RCN; Toronto: RCM) is currently running its initial LTE markets on 2.1GHz, but Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement has previously said that a 700MHz auction could happen by late 2012. This would broadly align Canadian 4G with Verizon's service frequencies.

European regulators, meanwhile, have reached an agreement that all EU countries move to approve the use of the 800MHz frequency for mobile broadband services by January 2013. 800MHz is close enough to 700MHz that it should make incorporating radio support for both services possible.

For more
Read up on roaming below:



— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:23 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


Yeah, I recall the history, trying to get a handle on when LTE global roaming might start to become a reality though. I mean Verizon appears to be fighting national LTE roaming between 700MHz bands so clearly roaming is only an interest when it directly benefits them


 


Seems like 700MHz-800MHz US-Europe LTE roaming should be fairly achievable though.

krishanguru143
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krishanguru143,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:23 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


They could have had international roaming in place over a decade ago but decided against it.  The JV between Verizon and Vodafone required that VZW GSM based technology be evaluated.  When VZW did and word got out to the press (this included what was known as RCR at the time) they were asked about it.  The response was that they were required to test it and never had any plans to actually use it, just fulfilling a contractual obligation.  Sam Gent which was CEO of Vodafone at the time was none to pleased with that statement.  VZW is late to the party as they wanted to be late.


 


VZW stayed with a "standard" that had no future as W-CDMA was where it was at.  Look at when the CDMA was laucnhed in the US compared to W-CDMA in Japan.  The supplier that did W-CDMA was a supplier to VZW, so it was not like it would have been a stretch to support it.


I wonder how much it cost Qualcomm to keep VZW and Sprint from leaving?  The 2.5, 3G and 4G Qualcomm was pushing hasn't worked out all that well.  Where W-CDMA has had numerous upgrades to faster speeds, that same cannot be said for EV-DO.

joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:23 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


Make no mistake this is a massive task and Verizon likely wants to get Voice-over-LTE in place alongside roaming. Look at the dates, spectrum auction in Canada in late 2012, Euro moves in 2013. That says 2013 to 2015 for European & Canadian roaming to me.


 


What do you think?

joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:22 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


Re:VoLTE standard, not as far as I know.


"Promote IMS/VoLTE/RCS through direct carrier meeting or support at industry conferences" is all Big Red says in the ad.

krishanguru143
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krishanguru143,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:48:22 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


Is there a true VoLTE standard though?  There have been a few competing standards.  Getting the manufacturers to sell phones that support multiple bands have always been an issue.  Just in the last year you see pentaband 3G chipsets in phones.


 


Back to the VoLTE portion, roaming can't exist if the carriers use different standards for VoLTE.  Data only won't please anyone when they can't make a call.


 


Look at sprint, going the TDD LTE path.  Who are they going to roam with?


 


Will the European carriers favor VZW over say AT&T?  With Vodafone having a stake in VZW, they may not want to put money in the packet of a competitor.  Next, if you leave the VZW network, you are going to have to roam with a different carrier.  If the person had a phone that also supported the US 3G bands, that would put them on the AT&T network, at the very least it would be a quad-band GSM phone.  So, the carriers in Europe may favor AT&T as 4G, 3G and 2G could all be supported under one roaming agreement.

Dan Warren
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Dan Warren,
User Rank: Moderator
12/5/2012 | 4:48:18 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


I'd argue (and I hope you'd agree I am in a position to know) that what GSMA VoLTE defines is the baseline for a Voice service that is equivalent to CS - narrowband codec, default frame rate and so on.  The intent is to ease UNI and NNI interoperability, preferably without the need for an interworking function, and to allow the roaming interfaces between home and visited networks to be consistently implemented.  The purpose of this approach means that in a fully implemented and interconnected model, any VoLTE device will always be able to establish a call to any other VoLTE device.  Because there is also a per-call capability negotiation mechanism (SDP Offer/Answer) you can negotiate in Wideband codecs, video and so on.


So it is a pseudo-standard, and if everyone adopts (and all the indications are that, over time they will) it becomes the de facto standard.


Agree that the other challenge with roaming is the radio layer, and the spectrum bands and TDD and FDD issues are certainy a challenge.  However, at Mobile Asia Congress last week, there was a growing number of multi-band, multi-tech chipsets on display.

Gabriel Brown
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Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:48:18 PM
re: Verizon Eyes LTE Roaming in Europe, Canada


A way to think of VoLTE is as a profile of the IMS standards. It is useful because it helps operators define interoperable services and provides a baseline for IOT between network and handset vendors.


VoLTE needs more than standards. It needs operators to collaborate on the practicalities of interconnect, settlement, and so forth.

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