Verizon's innovation center

Verizon was one of the first to launch an innovation center when it opened its LTE Innovation Center in October 2009 in Waltham, Mass., in conjunction with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. The facility houses a factory, RF shielding in various labs and a replica of Verizon's commercial LTE network. The company is currently building a 60,000-square-foot addition that will serve as an "experience center," or showcase, for Verizon's work with its partners in various vertical markets, like connected home, healthcare and telematics.

Brian Higgins, Verizon's executive director for ecosystem development, said the carrier's approach has been to set realistic expectations yet focus on unlocking new practical devices and solutions that can be brought to market. "Some products may be commercial, some may be commercial in the not-too-distant future, others are more far out," he said. "Our focus is on real products that we are selling now or are soon to be selling."

Higgins said that at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Verizon demonstrated 30 LTE products and services--some of which sprung from the center. One, a collaboration with Nomad Innovations, created the LiveEdge mobile news camera solution. The 1.5-lb. unit attaches to a news camera and enables live coverage for broadcast, cable or the Web via LTE, which Higgins said can reduce the cost of a $250,000 satellite news truck down to a tenth of that for the same result.

Verizon also is going to launch an LTE application center in San Francisco later this year to focus on software development by exposing network APIs and making them available to app developers. Higgins said this will allow game developers, for instance, to put their games in the cloud and take advantage of LTE's low latency for more fluid gameplay.

Overall, Higgins said the centers allow Verizon to "share risk" for developing the LTE ecosystem and be "slightly more nimble."

"We don't have to say we're going to sell 10 million units," he said. "We're going to build it because we think it's important for people to see the capabilities that can be driven by a particular product or a particular application."

Verizon's innovation center