MWC 2010: Verizon on Track for LTE in 2010

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- Verizon Wireless says it is on track with its plans to launch commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services this year.

"I have no doubt that we'll make a 2010 launch," said Dick Lynch, executive VP and CTO of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), who was speaking today at a GSM Association (GSMA) press conference.

Lynch said that the operator was in the final stages of tests, "Phase 4," for the LTE deployment and that the tests running in the cities of Boston and Seattle will be completed in two months time, after which the operator will be able to announce plans for a commercial launch. (See Verizon Makes LTE Connection in Boston & Seattle .)

"In the next 60 days, the Boston and Seattle systems will be fully passed in terms of all the testing... before we announce to ourselves [and to others] that we're ready to go to commercial launch in a big way," he said.

Lynch said that Verizon plans to launch LTE in 25 to 30 markets across the U.S. in 700MHz spectrum this year.

Last year at this show, Lynch announced the equipment suppliers for its ambitious LTE network deployment: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR) -- now part of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) -- and Nokia Networks for IP Multimedia Subsystem.

The first LTE devices that Verizon Wireless will offer will be USB dongles, and Lynch noted that the operator is now evaluating between eight and 10 different devices from manufacturers, excluding machine-to-machine devices.

For voice services over LTE, Verizon has thrown its weight behind the IMS-based voice over LTE (VoLTE) initiative, which the GSMA launched today.

Initially, Verizon will use its CDMA network to provide voice services while the LTE network will be for data only. But Lynch said that the need for voice over LTE is not too far into the future.

"We'll move more quickly to voice over LTE than any of us give ourselves credit for. We're serving [about] 92 million voice users on our existing CDMA network. Given the amount of money we've put into that network to provide good quality voice, I don't see that we have an interim problem."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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