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12/11/2008
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Verizon Expects 4G Wireless In A Year

The company has been assembling pieces needed to launch LTE, beginning with its $9.36 billion worth of 700-MHz spectrum.

Verizon Wireless expects to begin a launch of its 4G LTE technology by the end of next year, a company executive said Wednesday in an indication that the pieces of the super-high-speed wireless technology are falling into place in an orderly manner.

"We expect that LTE will actually be in service somewhere here in the U.S., probably this time next year," said Dick Lynch, executive VP and CTO of Verizon Communications, addressing a gathering at Cisco's C-Scape conference.

Lynch said the company plans, too, to later offer a line of LTE femtocells with Wi-Fi capability to extend wireless signals indoors. "A femtocell of LTE or an access point of Wi-Fi is a really critical component of the way customers want their broadband delivered," Lynch said, according to media reports.

Verizon has been assembling pieces needed to launch LTE, beginning with its $9.36 billion worth of 700-MHz "beachfront property" spectrum it purchased in an FCC auction earlier this year. The valuable spectrum has excellent propagation features as well as excellent in-building penetration features.

LTE chipsets are already being sampled by Sandbridge Technologies, with Qualcomm not far behind. Ericsson has been working with Japan's DoCoMo -- and probably others -- to build out LTE infrastructure. Vodafone Group, which owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, had been promoting LTE for next-generation higher-speed wireless, and Verizon Communications, which owns 55% of the wireless operation, embraced the technology.

Vodafone has long promoted LTE as a worldwide next-generation standard and most wireless service providers are going along with LTE. The big question for many is when the switchover should take place. Australia's Telstra Next G network, based on HSPA+ technology, is well on its way to becoming the world's fastest network, with 21-Mbps speeds currently being deployed. Telstra's CEO Sol Trujillo said last week that with speeds of 42 Mbps coming in a few months, he doesn't see an immediate need for LTE in the near future. However, he added that Telstra will switch to LTE when it makes sense to do so.

LTE will likely compete in the United States with WiMax, which is being rolled out piecemeal by Clearwire, which is 51%-owned by Sprint. The Clearwire-Sprint effort has a major mobile WiMax location -- in Baltimore -- up and running, and Clearwire is planning to move its fixed WiMax customers to mobile WiMax.

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