Verizon: 4G Questions Still in the Air

2:15 PM -- SAN DIEGO -- CTIA MobileCON 2012 -- Verizon Wireless 's press conference Tuesday, which revealed that it beat its deadline to hit 400 markets with Long Term Evolution (LTE), ended up throwing up a few questions about the timing of its future 4G upgrades.

Here's what caught my attention:

Small cells: Verizon Wireless CTO Nicola Palmer didn't say exactly where and when the operator might start deploying 4G small cells to improve coverage and capacity. She said Verizon sees them as a possible solution for dense urban capacity areas but they won't fit everywhere.

Voice over LTE: The CTO expects to have 4G packet voice services that doen't need to fall back to the 3G network late in 2013. Why's it taking so long?

"As you would expect, we're doing it right," says Palmer. For Verizon that means deploying wideband codecs for clearer calls and end-to-end quality of service (QoS).

LTE-Advanced: Palmer said that the next version of LTE (release 10) is more interesting to Verizon because it will add capacity rather than speed. She didn't give any definite timetable for when the operator might deploy LTE-Advanced.

I take all this to mean that during most of next year Verizon will ride its 4G LTE coverage marketing message hard. Why shouldn't they, really? Big Red is way ahead of the pack in that respect. (See MobileCON 2012: Verizon Beats 2012 4G Target.)

It does, however, give the smaller carriers a chance to perhaps look at boosting up speeds and capacities in the cities with LTE-Advanced and 4G small cells. (See Meet the Next 4G: LTE-Advanced and 4G Small Cells Step Out .)

I'm not sure how worthwhile it is for smaller carriers to deploy VoLTE and the rich communications services (RCS) that follow from that work. In theory, RCS should allow the carriers to hand-off packet voice and video between their separate networks, a big advance from now.

The major carriers, however, might be the gating factor in all that pushing deployment to 201 and beyond. If larger networks don't support RCS then it rather negates the point of being first, since users still won't be able to video chat with many friends anyway.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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