The future of mobile broadband lies in next-generation data network technologies like the 4G LTE wireless standard. Earlier this year, we didn’t expect any commercially viable LTE networks popping up until halfway through the 2010 calendar year. At the time, wireless carriers like Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS were in the running to launch the first commercial LTE network in the US. Then, Verizon Wireless goes on record with their plans to go live with LTE as soon as the first quarter of 2010. That news alone was enough to get mobile geeks like me giddy as a schoolgirl waiting for a Jonas Brothers concert. Today, I’m happy to say that Verizon Wireless has completed its first test on its 4G LTE test network in Boston and Seattle!
The announcement is huge, make no mistake. With their first successful LTE test already completed in the third quarter of 2009, it’s not hard to see Big Red lighting-up their nationwide LTE network in Q1 2010. Verizon’s 4G LTE network uses the 700Mhz spectrum that Verizon Wireless won at the FCC’s 700Mhz spectrum auction last year. This test of the LTE network showed that streaming video, file transfers and web browsing worked well using the 3GPP’s Release 8 LTE spec. Voice calls were made using a VoIP service, as the current Release 8 LTE specifications make no provisions for voice calls.
Apparently, Samsung and LG handsets were used to test the LTE data services. That bodes well for having at least a couple LTE-capable mobile phones on tap for Verizon’s 4G LTE launch.
Verizon’s LTE network will provide faster wireless data speeds several times faster than any 3G network today. It will make the best use of Verizon’s prime spectrum real-estate on the 700Mhz band. The lower-frequency spectrum more easily penetrates buildings and obstacles, making it ideal for mobile broadband services in crowded metro areas. So, not only will Verizon’s LTE network serve up faster data speeds, it’ll work almost everywhere you do!
This test represents a major milestone in Verizon’s roadmap to a fully operational LTe network in the US. If things go according to plan, we will all soon be surfing the wireless web at speeds past what most DSL customers today are getting.