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Gearing Up for LTE

6:15 PM -- Network equipment vendors like Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), along with handset silicon developers, are pushing ahead on trying to get pre-4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) equipment on the market in 2009.

The EE Times reports that Qualcomm now wants to start sampling LTE chipsets in the second quarter of 2009, while far smaller rival Sandbridge Technologies Inc. is already showing off sample silicon to customers. (See Sandbridge Intros LTE Processors.)

Unstrung has already pointed out that the LTE standard isn't actually ratified yet. That is expected to happen sometime this month. (See LTE: The Big Freeze.) There appear to be three operators at the forefront of potential LTE deployments at this early stage: China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), T-Mobile International AG in Europe, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S.

Verizon has already done lab trails on LTE and looks likely to start field trials in the first quarter of next year. Commercial launch is supposed to start "late in 2009" and continue through 2010. (See AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G .)

As far as I can ascertain at the moment, Verizon is sticking to that schedule. So you can understand the urgency for LTE vendors of all stripes to move beyond the test-and-demo stage and ensure equipment is in the hands of the operators. Particularly as Verizon wants to run LTE over its new 700 MHz spectrum, although it will run the early 2009 tests over different spectrum.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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