UPDATED: Verizon ends DirecTV LTE trials, but not due to SpectrumCo deal

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Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) has ended its trials with DirecTV for in-home LTE service--but not because of a recent tie-up Verizon Wireless made with cable companies, a Verizon spokesman confirmed. Further, Verizon left open the possibility of a future partnership with DirecTV for LTE service.

Communications Daily reported Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam said Verizon would end its relationship with DirecTV to focus on building a relationship with Comcast. "One of our hallmarks is focus and we're focused on getting Comcast up and running and I can't do both, so we made our choice," McAdam reportedly told Communications Daily

Verizon Wireless plans to spend $3.6 billion to buy SpectrumCo's AWS spectrum licenses. The deal will allow SpectrumCo owners Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to resell Verizon's services and products and for Verizon to sell the cable companies' products.

However, Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told FierceWireless that the conculsion of Verizon's trials with DirecTV were not a result of Verizon's budding relationship with the cable companies. Verizon's DirecTV LTE trials were disclosed by Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo. "Our trial that Fran had mentioned with DirecTV has concluded," he said. "The trials are done because the trials were scheduled to be done. This is not linked in any way at all."

Nelson said that Verizon continues to hold discussions with DirecTV on LTE, but said the company had nothing new to report out of the trial.

Verizon indicated in October that it was gearing up to offer fixed, in-home LTE Internet service nationwide sometime in the fourth quarter as an alternative to satellite broadband service. The carrier's plans, disclosed during the company's third-quarter earnings conference call, appeared to be an expansion of a test Verizon ran in Erie, Pa., with DirecTV.

"You're going to see that come in the fourth quarter with what we now call the Cantenna, which is not a commercial name obviously, but it's the antenna that we actually trialed with DirecTV, which was extremely successful," said Shammo, according to a Morningstar transcript of Verizon's third quarter call. Shammo said the service will leverage a spectrally efficient antenna.

In a test in Erie, Pa., last year, Verizon and DirecTV offered LTE service to a handful of homes using a rooftop antenna. The homes were equipped with a satellite dish to receive DirecTV video service. By bundling the two services, Verizon and DirecTV could effectively compete with cable companies outside Verizon's traditional FiOS service footprint by combining broadband Internet and video content.

At a recent investor conference, McAdam did not talk about Verizon's trials with DirecTV, but did discuss how he envisions a partnership with the cable companies proceeding. "So we were well down the road in developing that for FiOS and then the opportunity came up to partner with Comcast--that is where the discussions really began--that gave us the nationwide play," he said, according to a Verizon transcript of the event. "Because while we could do it and do it very well within the FiOS footprint, wireless is a national asset and I needed to look for an opportunity to expand that scale. So that is when we started talking about a joint venture where we could develop these integrated, truly integrated, products and bring them around nationwide."

For more:
- see this Multichannel News article
- see this GigaOM post
- see this Light Reading article

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