"We want our new partners to understand where we are" with the new spectrum, said Verizon's Brian Higgins in an interview Tuesday, as the company prepares to introduce developers to new specifications for its LTE 700-MHz network in a webcast on January 20. "The real trick will be for them to figure out new types of business models," said Higgins.
Higgins, who is executive director of the company's ecosystem development, said the new, robust network will expand existing types of applications while opening up entirely new classes of applications at the same time. He noted that Verizon Wireless expects new embedded applications to be developed. As just one example, he pointed to the possibility of appliances -- like refrigerators -- being fitted with wireless monitoring devices. A missing part, for instance, could be pinpointed via a wireless link, cutting service costs.
Higgins noted that the combination of LTE technology and the excellent propagation characteristics of the 700-MHz spectrum will boost in-building and outdoor network reach as well as increase speed and lower latency features of the network. Verizon Wireless, which is a Verizon Communications-Vodafone partnership, spent $9.36 billion for the spectrum in a Federal Communications Commission auction last year. At the time, the firm's CEO and president Lowell McAdam promised a "tidal wave of innovation" would one day rise from the network.
Higgins predicted "a whole new category" will be deployed on the network based on advanced video technologies. He also envisions a flood of games being developed for the LTE network.
Verizon Wireless is encouraging startup companies to participate in its 4G Venture Forum, which is soliciting business plans. In addition to larger, established partners -- "the usual suspects," Higgins calls them -- an effort is underway to attract smaller companies. "We're making a concerted effort to nurture smaller players," he said.
Founding participants in the unit include Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as well as venture capital firms Charles River Ventures, Northbridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, New Venture Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.
Initial products will likely be LTE dongles and data cards for laptops and notebooks. Verizon Wireless has said it expects to introduce the network in 25 to 30 markets next year and cover nearly all of its existing nationwide 3G footprint by the end of 2013. Higgins said the company is planning an "evolutionary change" from its CDMA 3G network to the LTE network