Verizon Clarifies LTE Plans, Sort of

 |  Includes: NOK, S, T, VZ
by: Judy Weil

More on the never-ending battle between WiMAX and LTE deployments. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) announced in December that it would deploy LTE by 2009, earlier than planned. Some industry insiders heralded the end of WiMAX, while some believed that Verizon was nervous that Clearwire was continuing to consolidate spectrum from its partners for the use of a WiMAX network.

Now Verizon plans to deploy LTE in 2010, and says they will be minimally impacted by the Obama administration’s decision to delay the U.S. move to digital TV. Verizon needs the spectrum that will be freed up from the move for its LTE testing.

From Verizon Communications' Q408 conference call:

Q: You have been talking about slowing up CapEx a little bit at the beginning of the year and trying to come in lower than last year. Is this more of a containing wire line to right size the business? Is this maybe holding off on LTE deployments to see how the year unfolds?

A: I would say it is not a containment. It is really to start out slow, see what we need to do so we don’t get ahead of ourselves in putting in capacity that we don’t need.We are planning on the LTE piece to do our market trials later this year. So they are scheduled for 2009. We are working with our manufacturers. Very good cooperation in that regard. Commercial availability in 2010. Our goal is within the first half of 2010.

Q: A delay on the digital TV shouldn’t cause problems there?

A: No it shouldn’t. We are trying to work through that issue but certainly later in the year had been our plan on the trials and we are trying to work through even with the DTV delay whether we could use some of that spectrum to work out the trial… Concerning the bill as we understand it, it allows certain programmers to cut over sooner if they are ready and it gives us a chance to use that spectrum where it is available for testing and to move forward. I think the way the bill is currently constructed the potential for further delay beyond the June 12 date is probably pretty low.

TMC Net:

WIMAX Forum: "While WiMAX is already in deployment, new spectrum or the re-farming of wide swaths of 2G spectrum will be necessary to free up spectrum to deploy LTE and take advantage of the wider channel bandwidths that are supported. LTE will also take time to roll out, with deployments forecast to reach limited adoption by 2012. LTE networks will require new client devices and service providers will need to purchase new radio access network (RAN) equipment in addition to upgrading their core networks to handle additional IP-based traffic."

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