MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS — Verizon Wireless is ready to deploy Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, “in a big way,” CTO Dick Lynch told a press conference at Mobile World Congress. Nonetheless, there are challenges to tackle.
Lynch said the operator is expecting compatible devices to arrive on time, and is on track to deploy 25 to 30 markets in the United States by the end of the year, beginning with Boston and Seattle.
“We’re in Phase 4 of trial work,” he said. “Within the next 60 days, Boston and Seattle will be fully passed in testing. We will then be ready to go to our vendors and say we are ready to move into commercial deployment in a big way.”
The first devices to market, Lynch said, will be data cards for laptops, but handsets won’t be too far behind. “We have seen more interest in development of chipsets and devices than we originally thought – we underestimated it,” he said.
He did acknowledge that voice over LTE is a challenge for now – a challenge the operator and 39 other GSM Association members hope to solve by coming together to back the adoption of an IMS-based fix. The Voice over LTE (VoLTE) initiative was in fact announced at MWC this week.
Verizon is in a somewhat unusual situation being a CDMA carrier deploying LTE, which is a technology that grew out of the rival GSM technology family. For Verizon, handsets will thus likely initially be CDMA/LTE dual mode devices as Verizon plans to continue running voice on CDMA for the time being. It also previously announced a sunsetting strategy for its 3G EV-DO data network as LTE comes online.
But because its hybrid network will persist for some time, Verizon also this week announced it would be joining the GSM Association in hopes of enabling and smoothing out the 3G-4G technology integrations.
The operator is deploying in the 700 MHz spectrum that it acquired at auction in 2008 and has been gearing up to be one of the first to market with the 4G technology ever since. It was at last year’s Mobile World Congress that Lynch announced its RAN suppliers, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, as well as Starent Networks (acquired by Cisco Systems Inc.) as its packet core providers.