Verizon Takes Early Lead Over AT&T in LTE Showdown

by Gaurav Kheterpal on March 22, 2010

The LTE Battle

The LTE Battle

Though there’s been a lot of media hype about LTE (Long Term Evolution) since last year, there is still no live carrier deployment for this 4G technology till date. As expected, all big names have been lining up to get the first mover advantage for an LTE launch. Verizon Wireless definitely has an early advantage over all its competitors including AT&T in terms of getting its network infrastructure ready to launch LTE by end of 2010.

Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been quick to admit that LTE is much more promising than WiMax from a carrier perspective. Verizon Wireless plans to roll out LTE in at least 25 markets covering a subscriber base of 100 million users by the end of this year. Further, Verizon plans to start selling LTE compatible handsets mid next year and data cards by end of this year.

John Donovan, AT&T Chief Technology Officer is not worried about Verizon’s early mover advantage in LTE space. He says

“2012 will be the time when you’ll have decent handsets, decent quantity of handsets, and decent choice of handsets. Right out of the chute, it’s going to be difficult to engineer. It’s going to drain the battery like crazy, and it’s going to be a fat brick. Consumers won’t see the real benefit of the faster mobile Web surfing and other data exchanges until later.”

Clearwire, the company which acquired Sprint’s WiMax business, has been publicly bragging about its 100 MHz spectrum for a while now. It is interesting to note that LTE players like AT&T and Verizon Wireless will only have 12-20 MHz spectrum as compared to the massive 100 MHz WiMax spectrum of Clearwire. While speaking at GSM Association LTE webinar, Kris Renne, AT&T Senior Vice President of Architecture and Planning mentions

“You need to make sure you count all of our spectrum when you make these comparisons. If AT&T fills up its 700 MHz band, it has plenty of unused Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) spectrum to fall back on. And if that band, too, were to become full, AT&T has one of the country’s largest portfolios of cellular and PCS spectrum. That spectrum is all being used right now for 2G and 3G services, but as LTE demand grows, it makes perfect sense to convert high-speed packet access (HSPA) channels and GSM channels to LTE, which can much more efficiently deliver data capacity. We will have the opportunity to re-utilize this spectrum in the future.”

Verizon Wireless plans to start re-farming EV-DO carriers for 4G once the LTE network is operational. Tom Sawanobori, VZW vice president of technology, mentions

“The 700 MHz auction wasn’t the last chance for operators to get 4G spectrum. Tt was just as important to look at the quality of the spectrum Verizon holds, not just the quantity. By using the high-propagation 700 MHz band, Verizon can build a much more dispersed network than Clearwire, whose WiMax networks operate at 2.5 GHz. That will save it both capital and time as it seeks to roll its LTE network out quickly.”

WiMax vs. LTE, Verizon LTE vs. AT&T LTE – these are going to be interesting battles for sure!

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow by:RSS,Twitter,, or Friendfeed

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