Verizon Taps Multiple Vendors To Build First U.S. LTE 4G Infrastructure

Working together, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson will be charged with building the infrastructure needed to support Verizon's push into offering commercial LTE-based service in the U.S., expected to start as early as 2010, said Verizon executive vice president and chief technology officer Dick Lynch in an Alcatel-Lucent statement of his keynote remarks.

"Verizon Wireless' LTE network deployment will be driven by our vision of providing ubiquitous global broadband connectivity and mobility," Lynch said in his remarks. "LTE enables us to continue to meet business customer demands for a higher bandwidth, low latency service that works broadly in the United States and globally, while helping us to meet consumer demand for mobilizing the many applications they frequently use when tethered to high-bandwidth wired networks."

According to published reports from the keynote, Lynch said that 4G LTE trials were under way in the United States and Europe, and field trials have reported download rates of up to 80Mbps, although exact download speeds were yet-to-be-determined.

In his remarks, Lynch also indicated that Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson aren't the only vendors getting a piece of Verizon's LTE action.

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Verizon named Starent Networks to provide packet cores, and both Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks will be key suppliers for the IP Multi-Media Subsystem (IMS) network -- the foundation, Verizon explained, of its ability to offer "rich multimedia applications regardless of access technology," and of which LTE will be one of the key wireless access networks.

Lynch added that Verizon expects its LTE service and other new programs to work concurrently with 3G offerings it already has in place. Lynch said Verizon will continue to expand its FiOS network, and expects to maintain commercial service for its 3G offerings "well into the next decade."

The push in recent years toward 4G wireless has seen two major technologies move to the head of the discussion: LTE and WiMax, the latter of which is backed most prominently by the combined 4G wireless businesses of Clearwire and Sprint-Nextel. (Clearwire in early January debuted its 4G WiMax broadband service in Portland, Ore., making it the second major U.S. city to receive a WiMax makeover after Baltimore.)

With this announcement, it's clear on which 4G technology Verizon is placing its bet. From Mobile World Congress, Lynch said laptops will be the first beneficiaries of LTE, and that he expected the first LTE-equipped smartphones in about two years.

"Verizon Wireless' ground-breaking move toward LTE underscores its commitment to accelerating and stimulating an environment that will offer its customers greater capacity and new services in more areas than ever before," said Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen in a statement. "With LTE's bandwidth and its ability to co-exist with the current 3G platform, we look forward to partnering with Verizon Wireless to build the next-generation foundation that will economically enable new forms of communications using both fixed and wireless, as well as mobile broadband."