Verizon touts numbers behind its XLTE rollout

Verizon Wireless' (NYSE: VZ) marketing push behind its newly branded "XLTE" network includes an infographic highlighting some of the numbers underlying this higher-capacity service, which runs over the operator's AWS spectrum.

Verizon XLTE Infographic

(Source: Verizon)

In the new infographic on its website, Verizon specified that there are now 28 LTE devices that are "XLTE-ready" and operate on both 1.7/2.2 GHz AWS spectrum as well as 700 MHz spectrum. That differs from a list of XLTE-ready devices on the company website, which only shows 27 compatible devices.

"XLTE-ready" devices automatically access both 700 MHz spectrum and the AWS spectrum in XLTE cities, and customers whose devices do not have access to AWS benefit by traffic moving off of 700 MHz and onto AWS spectrum.

Verizon has activated service on its 1.7/2.2 GHz AWS spectrum in more than 250 markets across 44 states, meaning the spectrum is available in about half of the operator's LTE markets, the number of which exceeds 500. The company noted it committed $9.4 billion to 2013 capex, "which helped to expand and maintain its nationwide network, including its 4G LTE and XLTE build out."

The minimum increase in capacity that XLTE delivers is twice what is available in markets without XLTE service, according to Verizon.  It also says XLTE enables faster peak data speeds in markets where it is activated, but the operator is being cautious about specifying exact improvements.

"Our plan is always to anticipate and stay ahead of demand, and we're doing that with XLTE. Our promise of 5-12 Mbps (and 2-5 Mbps up) hasn't changed," Verizon spokeswoman Debi Lewis told FierceWireless earlier this month.

However, PC Mag reported that its tests have already shown Verizon's XLTE network can deliver 80 Mbps on the downlink.

What the operator is calling its XLTE network is really just LTE delivered over its Band 4 LTE AWS spectrum. Currently, most Verizon LTE customers are on its 10+10 MHz chunk of 700 MHz Upper C Block spectrum, which is getting crowded and, likewise, has suffered performance issues in dense metropolitan areas such as Manhattan.

But Verizon has been busy alleviating the spectrum crunch in many markets by activating service on its AWS spectrum, which includes a 10+10 MHz spectrum block that it bought from cable operators in 2012 for $3.9 billion.

In a December 2013 interview with GigaOm, Verizon Wireless Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer explained that the operator is fielding 40 MHz (20+20) of AWS spectrum wherever it can, including every major city east of the Mississippi and in several western markets. In certain cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, where Verizon holds less AWS spectrum, the operator activated 30 MHz.

Verizon's AWS rollout is not only beneficial to customers, but it also keeps the company on the FCC's good side.

When Verizon bought AWS spectrum from the SpectrumCo cable consortium, the commission directed Verizon Wireless to provide signal coverage and offer service to at least 30 percent of the total population in the areas where it gained the cable operators' AWS licenses within three years. The FCC also specified that within seven years, Verizon must provide signal coverage and offer service to at least 70 percent of the population in those AWS license areas.

Verizon recently said it will deploy AWS spectrum nationwide over the next 14 to 18 months.

For more:
- see this Verizon infographic
- see this PC Mag article

Related articles:
Verizon confirms 'XLTE' marketing for LTE network to highlight AWS deployments
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FCC approves Verizon's $3.9B AWS purchase, T-Mobile spectrum swap