Access to high-speed wireless networks in America is not nearly as prevalent as access to high-speed networks is in other countries. With the FCC having auctioned off spectrum that will allow high-speed wireless networks to be deployed, the stage has been set to provide Americans with much faster wireless access.
One of the big winners in the FCC auctions this year was Verizon Wireless, which plunked down over $9 billion for its chunk of the 700MHz spectrum for its planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network. After Verizon was announced as the auction winner for the upper C block of spectrum, it told consumers that it would be a few years before any services were available on the new bandwidth.
InformationWeek reports that Verizon is now saying that it expects to begin the launch of its 4G LTE network by the end of 2009. Verizon CTO Dick Lynch said in a statement, "We expect that LTE will actually be in service somewhere here in the U.S., probably this time next year." The key words in that statement are “expected” and “somewhere”.
If Verizon is able to launch any LTE service by the end of next year it will be in very large markets like New York City or other massive population areas. Lynch also said that Verizon would be offering femtocells with Wi-Fi integrated to extend wireless signals in doors, a key issue for many wireless Internet services.
Required LTE chipsets are being sampled by chipset makers like Sandbridge Technologies and according to reports, Qualcomm isn’t far behind on sampling its own LTE chipset. LTE will not be a standard only in the U.S., Vodafone, which owns part of Verizon is touting the specification for use globally.
LTE isn’t without competition though. Sprint is pushing a rival format with its Xohm WiMAX service. Sprint is currently offering WiMAX in only a few areas of the country and the economy and Sprints inability to retain customers have placed doubt on the long-term viability of WiMAX.