While all is quiet on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) news front — we recently contacted Verizon Wireless folks to ask if there was any word on its much-touted test deployments of LTE in Seattle and Boston, which are supposed to happen before the calendar says it’s 2010 — and we got the sounds of silence in reply. (Actually, we were told “no news now” but we are betting we’ll hear more at CES in January.)
But you’d be mistaken to think that Big Red isn’t cranking levers, setting up towers and the like, because LaTE or not, LTE is coming. As proof we now have the Verizon LTE Innovation center, a website with some actual meat on the bones — as in, Verizon saying officially, publicly, that its initial implementation of the next-generation version of wireless data communications will likely offer download speeds of between 5 Mbps and 12 Mbps, with upload speeds of 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps. (If you are keeping score like we do, these figures sound pretty much like we predicted back in February, and way, way off the 50 Mbps or higher numbers that other predictive types were cheering about).
Taken with the appropriate grains of salt that recognize that this Verizon site is a public relations vehicle, and not a scientific or standards-body document, it is nevertheless pleasant to see some facts and figures instead of mere puffery, like Verizon claiming it will offer something it calls a “10 + 10 MHz implementation” for LTE, which we are guessing is a vague reference to the channel size it will use. If you are a wireless gearhead you may sort-of know what Verizon is talking about here, but if you are an advanced wireless gearhead you will want some more details, mainly about how Verizon plans to eliminate channel interference with this somewhat non-traditional method of deployment.
Then there is the whole spectrum depth question, which Verizon tries to paint as an advantage — touting its spectrum swath at 700 MHz as something that lets it be “the only carrier with contiguous 4G spectrum,” as if the bandwidth in Wichita will matter when the wireless pipes in New York get filled up with users. We’ll have more to say about spectrum depths at a later date, but we are guessing this is a map battle that Verizon may not want to make videos about.
While there really isn’t much more that is solid news on the site — being a PR concoction, the Verizon offering can’t help but make unsubstantiated claims like the great leap of faith toward worldwide LTE roaming, and we quote:
SIMPLIFIED WORLDWIDE ROAMING: Verizon Wireless’ chosen migration path to LTE, the widely adopted next-generation 3GPP standard, will provide greater opportunities for seamless international roaming and for global device economies of scale as well.
We here at Sidecut Reports will quite readily take anyone’s pint wager on whether such “seamless international roaming” and “economies of scale” actually hit the LTE market before the Olympics hit London. I mean — with Qualcomm in charge of the patents for LTE do we really expect device costs to come down? How much are those 3G cards still going for, anyway? Still $150 or more before the lock-in “rebate” that’s really no bargain?
While we wait for more news from Verizon on LTE, a few more guesses — any “trials” in Seattle and Boston in 2009 will be closed, private affairs, all the better to make ridiculous claims that can’t be verified (which will be breathlessly “reported” by press-release chasers anyway). We’ll probably hear about them after the fact (did we mention CES?), as we wait for the real news about those 25 to 30 commercial launches Verizon is still planning for 2010. Think LaTE 2010. And think expensive, data-only plans revolving around laptop cards or USB dongles. That’s the 4G revolution, LTE style.