4G World 2011: Who Can Match Verizon's LTE Footprint?
Verizon now has LTE in 165 markets covering more than 186 million people. It expects to have the 4G service up and running in 178 towns and cities by the end of the year and have its deployment completed by 2013. (See Verizon Sells 1.4M LTE Devices in Q3.)
By comparison, its major rival, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), has launched LTE in five markets now and expects to have it in 15 cities by the end of the year. For at least a couple of years, AT&T's answer to Verizon's LTE footprint will be that its devices can fall back to faster high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) across its 3G footprint. (See AT&T Building Islands of LTE in 2011.)
AT&T clearly sees its merger with T-Mobile US Inc. as the eventual answer to nationwide coverage but -- if the U.S. Department of Justice allows that to happen -- it will still require a lot of LTE deployment for Ma Bell to match Verizon's footprint. (See AT&T: Expect More 4G from T-Mobile Buy.)
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) may currently be Verizon's closest rival for next-generation wireless services. The operator has WiMax services in 71 cities, covering 120 million people, through its partner, Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR). That work has now stopped, however, as Clearwire scratches around for US$600 million to deploy an LTE overlay on its existing network. (See Sprint Network Vision and 4G LTE Plans Should Integrate with Clearwire .)
So, Sprint is going it alone with an "aggressive" deployment of LTE in its current CDMA frequencies. The operator hopes to cover 250 million people with its LTE deployment by the end of 2013. (See Sprint to Launch LTE by Mid-2012.)
Sprint also hopes to use LightSquared L-Band spectrum for LTE capacity later on. Of course, LightSquared has to get over its little problem with GPS. It goes without saying that we'll be talking to operators and vendors about shrinking 4G infrastructure, signaling, chips and a bunch of other stuff too in Chicago. But it seems worthwhile to use this show to take stock of where we're at with next-generation network deployments right now.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile