Details are emerging on Verizon Wireless's LTE rollout. Softpedia reports that the carrier, in one configuration, will offer per-user data speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps). The system, the story says, will support video sharing, surveillance, conferencing and streaming. The story runs though the other advantages that Verizon Wireless is touting, and some of the challenges to older technologies that it supposedly alleviates.
The rollout will be facsinating. Generally, telecommunications introductions-from wireline or wireless carriers and service providers or cable operators-occur on a phased-in region-by-region basis. InformationWeek reported this fall, however, that Verizon Wireless plans to turn up its Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G service in "as close to all-at-once as possible" in the words of Tony Melone, senior vice president and chief technology officer.
The move is significant for a couple of reasons. From the marketing perspective, launching service to all or most of its massive service area simultaneously, accompanied by what undoubtedly will be a mega-advertising and marketing campaign, clearly will create significant buzz and elevate the LTE service to a high level of subscribership almost from day one. On the technical front, the ability to do this all at once suggests quite strongly that the actual movement from 3.5G to 4G is not a huge issue.
While most experts think that LTE's future is brighter than that of WiMax, the technology-which has a significant head start-will end 2009 with a significant number of subscribers, though estimates vary between 2 million (ABI Research) and 10 million (The WiMax Forum). Clear, the biggest WiMax provider in the United States, has the advantage of being part owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Google, Sprint and other powerful companies. This gives its Clearwire product significant muscle.
I've already written that there will be lots of 4G rollout news in 2010. The highlight has just shifted, however. If Verizon Wireless sticks to its plan, the lighting of its LTE network will be the biggest single 4G event of the year. It and the other rollouts will lead to price wars, innovative plans and a lot other things that will make consumers and businesses happy.