Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Verizon: Low Latency is Key Driver for LTE

Low latency is what makes new LTE customers say "Wow" -- perhaps even more so than the fast downlink rates, said Tony Melone, EVP and CTO of Verizon, in a keynote address at Telecommunications Industry Association's Inside the Net show in Dallas. Verizon is expanding its LTE network at an aggressive pace and is dedicated to taking a leadership role in the industry through early and large-scale deployments, standards development, and work with device manufacturers. Melone's speech, and follow-up press briefing, touched on network ambitions in both the wireless, FiOs and business domains, as well as where these overlap.

Some highlights:

Verizon Wireless expects to among the first to deploy voice over LTE (VoLTE). A rollout is expected in second half of 2012. Investment in the CDMA network continues and this will serve as a back-up to VoLTE. Melone expects that voLTE will not be positioned as just another voice service, but something clearly beyond current offerings. It will be HD voice and it will integrate new capabilities, such as video and social features.

The recent LTE outage was due to a software error affecting the IMS core. The error condition spiraled out of control taking other systems with it. 3G subscribers were not impacted because they do not register with the IMS core, but 4G subscribers were not able to fallback onto the EVDO network because they do register with the IMS core. Working with its vendors, Verizon implemented a temporary fix and then later a permanent upgrade that solves this issue. Melone described the event as a learning experience that is better to have when they are early in the network rollout rather than when tens of millions of users are on-board.

Verizon Wireless will have 10 LTE devices in its portfolio shortly and this continues to expand.

Verizon Wireless will use Wi-Fi offload opportunistically. In the home, Wi-Fi easily relieves traffic over the 3G/4G network. The company has an ongoing partnership with Boingo. It will also use Wi-Fi in high-traffic areas, such as stadiums, where spectrum is simply not enough.

Verizon Wireless has an LTE Innovation Lab in Massachusetts where device vendors can tune their offerings for LTE. New ideas include an LTE enabled media feed for broadcaster, LTE-enabled kiosks for banks and retailers, and an LTE-enable HD camera for field operations, such as utility personnel. Verizon Wireless will open a new LTE Innovation Lab in San Francisco.

Verizon's FiOS offering is available in 15 million homes and this will expand to 18 million. The top tier service is 150 Mbps downstream and the company is testing 1 Gbps over the same fiber plant.