Verizon to Seek Rural Partners as It Rolls Out More Robust Network

FCC, Mobile Broadband, National Broadband Plan, Wireless June 4th, 2010

, Deputy Editor,

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2010 – Verizon plans to blanket the nation in the fast, long term evolution, or LTE, technology and is looking for help in rural areas.

The firm realizes that it will be unable to build out or manage a truly nationwide network and is seeking partners to cover rural America.

In addition to seeking partners, the firm has reportedly been in talks to share its spectrum.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cellcom’s  CEO said Verizon has been in talks with many  small rural firms to be a designated LTE entity for a given area. The rural firm would be responsible for providing service and maintaining the necessary infrastructure. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said these deals are still in their infancy and no pricing model has been set.

Currently, Verizon’s 3G service covers 90 percent of the U.S. population but plans to cover 48 states by the end of 2013. Its proposed rollout estimated 25 to 30 markets to be covered by the end of this year with double that amount by the end of 2012. Verizon has the rights to prime 700 megahertz spectrum for all of the lower 48 states and Hawaii.

The LTE network will be backward compatible with the current 3G network which will allow for users in LTE areas to switch between networks to obtain the best possible speeds. While the 3G network has speeds of 3 megabits per second down and  4 mbps up; the LTE network will have speeds between 5 to 12 mbps down and 2 to 5 mbps up. This increased speed also comes with expanded capacity which will transform the way customers make mobile phone calls, rather than using a separate transmission method all calls will be made via the LTE connection and be mobile VoIP. In addition, LTE is one of the 3GPP standards which will  allow handset manufacturers to make a single handset for the global market. Consumers will be able to travel without having to change handsets.

In a joint statement, FCC commissioners  Julius Genachowski and Meredith Baker said: “Bringing the benefits of mobile broadband to rural America is one the commission’s top priorities. The news of Verizon Wireless’s plan to partner with rural providers to accelerate investment in 4G networks is very encouraging. Seamless universal connectivity is essential to economic growth and world-class technology leadership. We look forward to learning more about Verizon Wireless’ initiative, its successful implementation, and other examples of industry-led innovation.”

The national broadband plan advocates that the government assist the wireless industry in the expansion of LTE as it will be able to provide high-speed access to much of the nation faster than the expansion of high-speed wireless solutions.

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