Verizon Takes LTE Home

With its LTE rollout complete, Verizon Wireless is now looking to bring 4G to the home with a new LTE broadband router, but it isn't likely to have a broad appeal.

The Novatel Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: NVTL)-built Verizon 4G LTE Broadband Router with Voice, announced Wednesday, is designed to replace the home phone and power home WiFi for up to 10 devices over LTE. Verizon Wireless is offering the router with three plans to choose from: a $20 for voice only, $20 for data only, or $30 for voice and data. The device costs $30 when purchased with a voice and data plan or $50 with a single-service plan, both on a two-year contract.

Here's the catch though: To use a router plan, you must also be on one of Verizon's Share Everything plans. That means the router is dipping from the same data bucket as your smartphone, tablet, or any other devices you have connected. As such you'll hit the data cap pretty quickly. (See Verizon: One Data Bucket to Rule Them All.)

Verizon is targeting the device at small businesses and those customers that may travel and want to take it with them for connectivity on the go. The router also has three Ethernet ports and a backup battery, so that it will work during power outages.

Why this matters
Verizon is on the hunt for new connections for its now-complete LTE rollout. Replicating in-home broadband is a somewhat surprising choice given that its Verizon arm offers FiOS broadband and TV, but given the limits of the LTE router, there likely won't be much risk of cannibalization.

Now that Verizon has total ownership of Verizon Wireless, the company is likely to explore more integration between its various services. Adding home LTE use to the bundle is one step, albeit small, in that direction.

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

MarkC73 9/28/2013 | 10:34:56 PM
Re: Who would buy? I think the home will always trend to being wired, even if wireless can obtain like speeds.  As we get more speed to the home we'll get, the more applications will that eat that bandwidth.  Unless wireless can leapfrog fiber, I think the trend will be to have a wired home and offload your wireless and use wireless as constant mobile connectivity.  With that said, that doesn't mean it isn't a good solution to a niche market, one with controlled data usage in an area with good coverage.
DOShea 9/26/2013 | 9:38:59 PM
Competitive reaction to AT&T Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't AT&T also announce something similar--an LTE router or service targeted at Verizon landline customers ready to cut the cord? This would have been at least some months ago...
Kevin Mitchell 9/26/2013 | 8:58:32 AM
4G LTE = For Ground Line Time is Ending? The latest mobile technology for a fixed solution? Yes, it makes sense. Some of the reasons have been discussed here and I also shared them in my blog post after the launch of Alianza's latest voice solution. Wired broadband doesn't always make economic sense or due to long cooper loops, poor quality.

One LTE router vendor I met with recently mentioned they have nearly 20 deployments in the US.

In 2009 the FCC said that 100M Americas had poor or no access to broadband. LTE can help. And if you are going to bring broadband, you might as well bundle VoIP.


Look to the Cloud - Hosted Voice Solutions for Fixed

DOShea 9/25/2013 | 9:38:06 PM
Re: Better than current VoiceLink? I'm still trying to figure out why Verizon couldn't have offered this while Vodafone was still involved with the company. For a product/service with apparently narrow appeal, it doesn;t come off as something Verizon needed freedom from a foreign owner to launch.
spc_isdnip 9/25/2013 | 2:25:38 PM
Better than current VoiceLink? Verizon took a beating recently when they tried to get around repairing their damaged wireline infrastruture in parts of New York State by using Voice Link instead.  That uses 3G cellular, with its awful EVRC 7kbps coding.  People hated it and VZ finally relented and agreed to install FiOS on Fire Island.

VZW's data plans are utterly uncompetitive with fixed; they're aimed at smartphones, not home use.  This new product has the same price, so it isn't suitable either.  But in rural areas where cell loading is low, they could offer lower cost data usage plans as a substitute for wireline DSL.  Are they willing to consider that, or are they just going to leave those markets to WISPs?

If they can do high-quality (not 7 kbps) voice over LTE, then perhaps they can convince more people to substitute it for wireline.  VoLTE doesn't have to be EVRC. But it does need QoS, not just over-the-top VoIP.
prakashdaga 9/25/2013 | 2:16:43 PM
Verizon takes LTE Home Given the possibility of bandwidth choking in LTE n/w, it might be used as a backup link for the business users.
MordyK 9/25/2013 | 2:14:46 PM
Re: Who would buy? Aside for the cost and reliability issues, the speeds are only comparable because of the limitations in the local lines. FiOS has no theoretical limit and even DSL can - with newer technologies - far exceed LTE's speed capabilities.

There's also the issue of multiple customers degrading the speeds by actually using it, which is a non-factor in fixed line installations.

The only practical approach is to have such a thick network density profile, but that still requires fixed lines for high speed backhauling.
KBode 9/25/2013 | 1:40:06 PM
Re: Who would buy? I think this is primarily aimed at two segments:

People stuck on satellite broadband who'd appreciate the lower latency and faster speeds of LTE. Compared to expensive satellite and its daily usage caps, Verizon LTE probably seems like a slight step up.

People Verizon intends to hang up on slowly as they back away from DSL in markets they don't want to serve. Kind of a "hey, we're killing your unlimited DSL line and reliable POTS, but here's a wireless router with tiny caps and $15 per gigabyte overages, enjoy."

Who else would buy this? Certainly not people who have access to an unlimited and uncapped fixed-line option.
RitchBlasi 9/25/2013 | 1:25:34 PM
LTE A sticky point on LTE in the home will be how people use it - and will there be enough spectrum to run apps/services that are bandwidth hogs.  People may believe they can do exactly what they do with their fixed broadband - and they probably can - but QoS could be an issue as more people rely simply on LTE.  And yes, pricing will always be an issue.  Imagine people abandoning their current fixed broadband service and downloading Netflix movies.  

It would be interesting to find out if there is any research as to fixed broadband abandonment similar to the number of homes that have shut off their traditional phone lines in favor of mobile...which is more than 33% at last look. 
Sarah Thomas 9/25/2013 | 12:28:25 PM
Who would buy? I think a long-term goal of LTE has always been to replace home broadband networks. Its speeds are certainly comparable. I just think the pricing is off. Maybe it will appeal to users in areas that don't have a broadband alternative, but not to most LTE users (especially us work-at-home types whose companies won't pay for in-home access...)
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