updated 10:40 am EST, Thu November 29, 2007
Verizon Chooses LTE for 4G
Verizon on Thursday confirmed a choice of its fourth-generation cellular Internet access that will dictate both its phone offerings and its compatibility with other networks. The company says it will use the new standard known as Long-Term Evolution, or LTE; the technology promises as much as 100 megabits per second in downloads and 50 megabits in the reverse direction while also cutting down latency to 20 milliseconds, making particularly intensive online games, high-quality two-way video, and other time-sensitive features more practical.
Connections in real situations are expected to be slower but still easily exceed the peak speeds of Verizon's current EVDO Revision A network, which peaks at 1.4 megabits per second downstream in actual use. This and the CDMA calling network that form the backbone of Verizon's service are ultimately expected to phase out as a result of the announcement.
The changeover to LTE is also poised to create a significant ripple effect in the cellular industry, increasing compatibility between Verizon and other networks. Vodafone, which owns a significant stake in Verizon, also plans to migrate from its incompatible GSM and HSPA networks to LTE. It will effectively let Verizon customers roam on its high-speed connection without changing devices or relying on a dual-mode phone such as the BlackBerry 8830, which supports both CDMA and GSM.
AT&T is similarly positioned to switch to LTE and could for the first time allow roaming between its network and Verizon's, increasing the overall coverage between the two services. Customers from AT&T with LTE cellphones should also be able to port their phones to Verizon's newly open network without being locked to the latter provider's choice of software. However, the break will also isolate smaller carriers such as Alltel and Sprint, both of whom have either revealed no immediate plans beyond 3G (in the case of Alltel) or which have expressed a desire to use WiMAX instead of LTE, as with Sprint's upcoming Xohm service.
A joint trial of LTE between Verizon and Vodafone will start sometime in 2008, though neither company has said when it plans to launch a commercial service. These networks are so far predicted to launch in 2009 or 2010.
Written, edited and compiled by Jeff Smith.