More than two years ago, Verizon Communications' (NYSE:VZ) Executive Vice President Dick Lynch revealed to the audience at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, the key vendors that the company would use for its highly anticipated LTE rollout. Lynch was joined by many of those same vendors at the opening of the company's Innovation Center, a facility in Waltham, Mass., where entrepreneurs and others will come together to create next-generation products that will take advantage of Verizon's LTE network.
During an interview with FierceWireless after the opening, Lynch said that back in February 2009 when he made that announcement at Mobile World Congress, he already had the idea for the Innovation Center. He knew that the company couldn't just sell LTE as a faster version of a wireless network. "If we just started selling LTE as faster, we wouldn't be benefiting the business or the customer," he said. "LTE, in my mind, sets the stage for looking at connectivity differently. It's something that everyone can employ."
More than 300 technology experts work at the center, which features two buildings with more than 135,000 square feet of labs and office space in one building and 60,000 square feed of showcase and office space in another.
Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are founding partners in the Innovation Center and Cisco and Samsung Mobile are premier participants. Engineers and other subject matter experts from these companies are working in the center and each company has a display for visitors.
Lynch said that they have already received a lot of interest from companies that want to collaborate on products at the center. And while Verizon doesn't expect every idea will be a success, he is confident that participants will find the necessary technical resources for their ideas.
Of course, Verizon isn't the only operator to launch an innovation center. AT&T (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) also operate labs and development facilities. Later this summer, Verizon plans to open a similar facility in downtown San Francisco that will be geared to application developers.
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