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