Verizon Goes LTE

CDMA operator Verizon Wireless is to trial high-speed next generation network technology in the U.S. in 2008 in a move that aligns it with the GSM world's prefered global standard for fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband. (See Verizon Uses LTE for 4G.)

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based operator is working with its part-owner Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) on "a co-ordinated trial plan" for 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) -based Long-Term Evolution technology that begins in 2008.

Trial infrastructure suppliers will be Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , and Nortel Networks Ltd. .

Verizon says it has been talking to LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) with regard to handsets, but that "discussions... have expanded beyond traditional suppliers" to "consumer electronics companies [that] anticipate embedded wireless functionality in their future products."

The move to LTE is the second major shift the company has made this week, having already announced it will open up its CDMA network in 2008. (See Verizon Tears Down the 'Walled Garden' .)

The move to the LTE standard brings the operator in line with its European minority owner and partner Vodafone, and will potentially make it easier for 4G Verizon users to roam between other operators' networks worldwide. (See Verizon, Vodafone Head for LTE.)

"LTE has emerged as the leading next-generation wireless technology, in part because of the weight of support from leading operators and vendors," says Unstrung Insider analyst Gabriel Brown.

"By using the move to OFDMA to adopt the 3GPP standards track, Verizon Wireless can access global economies of scale. Taking this decision at an early point in the cycle will see Verizon emerge as a pioneer of LTE technology and place it at the vanguard of global wireless deployments," adds Brown.

The 3GPP LTE standards are being developed to provide 3G operators with an upgrade path to all-IP mobile broadband networks.

The target baseline performance in a 2x20 MHz channel, using a terminal with two receive antennas and one transmit antenna, is a peak modem rate of 100 Mbit/s (equivalent to 5 bit/s per Hz) on the downlink and 50 Mbit/s (equivalent to 2.5 bit/s per Hz) on the uplink. Longer-term targets using more sophisticated modulation and antennas for more than 300 Mbit/s peak on the downlink and 80 Mbit/s on the uplink. (See 3G LTE: How Far? How Fast?)

"We expect Verizon's LTE network to be available only in 2010 or thereafter, yet the headline would impact vendors now," say analysts at CIBC World Markets in a research note on the Verizon Wireless decision. "The decision reflects the global transition away from CDMA and to a common, global wireless standard."

"Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) is the key loser, we think, as the CDMA 4G migration path is abandoned... Qualcomm has yet to license LTE... Other CDMA carriers will now need to consider their steps as the ecosystem shrinks," stated the CIBC team.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

spc_isdnip 12/5/2012 | 2:58:00 PM
re: Verizon Goes LTE Okay, I remember the 3G battles well enough. The CDMA crowd could do a fairly simple upgrade to the compatible CDMA-2000 protocols. The GSM crowd grokked CDMA but insisted on their own spec, WCDMA. And here in the US, 2G GSM still dominates the GSM world.

But now the 3GPP answer, LTE, and the CDG/3GPP2 answer, UMB, are doing the same dance. The two look awfully similar. Both are OFDMA, both multi-antenna, etc.

Frankly VZW's move looks like a death blow to UMB. If VZW can make the transition to LTE, then what's the point of UMB? Or does 3GPP2 really have something valuable and different to offer the CDMA world? Haven't both sides learned the value of harmonizing? Or is 3GPP making life needlessly difficult for CDMA players? So, as Rodney King once asked, why can't we all just get along?
El Rupester 12/5/2012 | 2:57:31 PM
re: Verizon Goes LTE You missed out WiMAX: the third very similar air-interface (OFDMA, MIMO, flat-architecture, etc)

"You can be first or best" - WiMAX is first, LTE is perhaps a bit better but has a big enough base of support from guaranteed customers to be a success.

It is notable that nearly all of the IS95/cdma2000 community have defected: Sprint to WiMAX, Verizon to LTE, Koreans to HSPA & WiMAX, KDDI to WiMAX...

What does UMB have? It is later, it has no customer base, no eco-system, hard to claim any "obvious" technology advantages, and -to be blunt- no friends.

If UMB is lucky, maybe it becomes the IS-136 of the 4G world -- ie essentially an irelevance in a two-horse race. Maybe.

(btw are you Fred Goldstein who was with ADL?)
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