Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will officially launch its 100th LTE market July 21, just eight months after launching the service. The launch is notable, considering competitor AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has not yet launched any LTE markets. AT&T has said it will launch LTE service in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio some time this summer.
Verizon also achieved another major milestone Tuesday with the official opening of its LTE Innovation Center. Verizon Communications Executive Vice President Dick Lynch was joined by key partners such as Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson at the 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 FierceBroadbandWireless after the opening, Lynch said he came up with the idea for the Innovation Center early in the LTE planning process. 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 feet of showcase and office space in another.
Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are founding partners in the Innovation Center; 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 already have 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 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 geared to application developers.
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