First Verizon 4G Devices To Be Wireless Modems

By Joseph Palenchar On Mar 9 2009 - 6:00am

Verizon Wireless expects to offer dual-mode 3G/4G USB modems when it launches 4G service in its 700MHz spectrum in 2010, and other data-centric devices and CE devices with embedded 4G technology will follow “in the not-too-distant future,” VP Tom Sawanobori told TWICE.

Such devices could include netbooks, mobile internet devices and CE products such as digital cameras and handheld games, but Sawanobori didn't specify if they would arrive in 2010. Verizon is also looking at LTE-equipped smartphones and feature phones. Although Verizon's IP-based 4G technology, called Long Term Evolution (LTE), is primarily a data technology, it could deliver VoIP service, he noted.

In an unspecified number of markets in 2010, Verizon will launch commercial LTE service and then quickly expand service to “a significant footprint” before the year is out, Sawanobori said without getting more specific. The dual-mode USB modems supporting the launch will incorporate LTE and 8 EV-DO. Rev. A technology.

The carrier has been field-testing LTE in otherwise-unused 1.7/2.1GHz spectrum that it owns in Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and northern New Jersey. After June 12, when analog TV stations are expected to turn off their 700MHz analog signals, Verizon will shift trials to two other unnamed markets and to the 700MHz band.

Verizon's nationwide 700MHz spectrum covers more geographic area and reaches more people than the carrier's CDMA 1x EV-DO 850/1,900MHz spectrum, which reaches around 274 million people, combined with its unused 1.7/2.1GHz spectrum, a spokesman said. The 700MHz footprint excludes Alaska.

In Verizon's U.S. field trials, LTE delivers peak data rates of 50Mbps to 60Mbps, but the company hasn't disclosed expected average throughputs. Whatever the throughputs turn out to be, the carrier promises to exceed the speeds of competing technologies deployed in the U.S. in 2010 and beyond.

Verizon would be the first U.S. carrier to offer LTE. AT&T has embraced LTE but has not announced deployment plans.

By operating its LTE network in the 700MHz band, Verizon continued, the carrier will be able to deliver maximum speeds to more locations within a market than LTE networks would in higher frequency bands, Sawanobori said. He pointed to the 700MHz band's ability to transmit signals over longer distances and with better in-building penetration compared to other U.S. bands used for cellular voice and data. Those bands are the 850/1,900MHz bands, 1.7/2.1GHz Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bands and the 2.5GHz band being deployed for Mobile WiMAX service in the U.S.

“Performance will be enhanced throughout cell coverage areas vs. deploying more cells at higher frequencies,” Sawanobori said.

LTE speeds will help “meet consumer demand for mobilizing the many applications [consumers] frequently use when tethered to high bandwidth wired networks,” added Dick Lynch, executive VP/chief technical officer of parent Verizon Communications. In fact, Verizon plans to implement an IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) network that will provide multimedia services to Verizon wireless subscribers and broadband-landline subscribers, including FiOS fiber-optic network subscribers.

Rating 3G/4G Data Rates In U.S. Networks
CDMA 1x EV-DOaverage downloads 400-700kbps with 2Mbps peaks; 50-70kbps uploads*
EV-DO Rev. A600kbps-1.4MBps average downloads; 350-500kbps average uploads*
W-CDMA HSPAactual 700kbps-1.7Mbps average downloads; 500kbps-1.2Mbps average uploads**
W-CDMA HSPA+theoretical 20Mbps peak downloads+
LTE50-60Mbps peak downloads in Verizon trials
Mobile WiMAXAverage 2-4Mbps downloads++
*Actual average throughputs in Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless networks
** Actual average throughputs in AT&T Mobility network, but carrier plans an HSPA upgrade that will double theoretical peak download rates to 7.2 Mbps from current theoretical 3.6Mbps
+AT&T plans to upgrade to HSPA+ during 2009 and 2010 to deliver theoretical peak speeds to 20Mbps.
++ In Clearwire network.
Source: U.S. carriers reporting on own networks © TWICE 2009

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