Verizon aims for LTE deployment in 2009

Verizon Wireless expects to begin deploying next-generation LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless broadband within a year, a top executive of the carrier said Tuesday.

"We expect that LTE will actually be in service somewhere here in the U.S. probably this time next year," said Dick Lynch, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon Communications, in a speech at Cisco Systems' C-Scape conference in San Jose, California. That would represent a more aggressive timetable than many observers have expected for the high-speed data system, which has been pegged for initial deployments in 2010 and wide rollouts starting in 2011.

LTE is a fourth-generation wireless data system expected to be the next step up in speed and capacity for carriers using the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) platform, which is dominant in most of the world. Like WiMax, it should deliver multiple megabits per second of throughput.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone, chose LTE despite using CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) today, in order to have a consistent 4G technology around the world. In the U.S., LTE will be a rival to WiMax, which Sprint Nextel already deployed in one city and will further roll out through the newly formed venture Clearwire.

Verizon's plans show "the race is on" for quick LTE deployment, after Japan's NTT DoCoMo said last month it would offer such a network commercially in 2010, said IDC analyst Godfrey Chua.

Shortly after introducing LTE, Verizon will offer femtocells -- small base stations for subscribers' homes -- to extend the signal indoors, Lynch said. A femtocell talks to the native cellular radio in a phone or other device that is normally used on a cellular network. But as an added feature, Verizon's femtocells probably will include built-in Wi-Fi, Lynch added. That radio might be used by other devices in the home that don't have cellular radios.