Verizon Confirms LTE Plans, Things Get A Bit More Interesting

Verizon Wireless, the US mobile JV between Verizon and Vodafone, has confirmed that it will use LTE for its next-generation mobile network. This is significant because it, in essence, will bring Verizon into the GSM-based camp (though LTE isn’t technically a GSM technology, it’s viewed by most GSM operators as the logical upgrade path from UMTS). Many years ago, Vodafone tried to get Verizon to drop CDMA for its 3G network, in favor of UMTS, but it declined, though the two will eventually have compatible networks once they roll out LTE (probably sometime early in the next decade). Indeed, Vodafone and Verizon say they’ll conduct coordinated trials of LTE starting next year.

This announcement is particularly interesting in light of Verizon’s pledge to open its network earlier this week. Stepping into the LTE camp should result in a slew of more compatible devices that people can use on Verizon’s network, as well as allow it to leverage the economies of scale afforded to the “GSM” camp.

Also, with regards to the thought that Verizon’s new sense of openness has more to do with non-handset devices embedded with mobile radios than typical mobile phone service, check out some quotes from the PR (added emphasis mine).

Verizon Wireless CTO Dick Lynch: “With a host of new devices and applications, and a particular focus on embedded wireless in virtually every piece of electronics you buy in any store, we believe LTE is the best technology with global scale to deliver on the promise.”

Verizon CFO Doreen Toben: “Fourth generation’s higher data speeds will usher in a new era of wireless applications and appliances, all of which can benefit from connecting to the nation’s premier wireless network.”

And Lynch again, quoted in the WSJ: “The next generation isn’t about supporting voice and messaging, it’s about supporting all sorts of applications and devices emanating from the consumer-electronic manufacturers. Those guys aren’t going to be able to go with multiple technology.”

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