Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) appears to be preparing to give its MVNOs access to its LTE network, according to people familiar with the matter. Verizon's MVNOs, including TracFone Wireless' Page Plus Cellular and Selectel Wireless, currently are only able to connect to Verizon's 3G CDMA network.
"We're not going to comment on any speculation, nor do we comment on business relationships with wholesale or MVNO partners," Verizon spokeswoman Debi Lewis wrote in response to questions from FierceWireless.
Nonetheless, several sources indicated that Verizon's MVNO partners are going to launch LTE support "soon," possibly in the third quarter of this year.
Other Verizon MVNOs reportedly include ReachOut Wireless, GreatCall and BYO Wireless. MVNOs generally do not comment on the wireless networks they use. It's also not clear which MVNOs will actually move to support LTE since many MVNOs focus on the low-cost calling services currently best suited to Verizon's CDMA network.
Verizon's move to open its LTE network to its MVNOs comes as little surprise. Verizon's LTE network now covers roughly 306 million POPs, and the company has said that that fully 76 percent of its total wireless network traffic now travels of its LTE network. Moreover, Verizon said starting in 2016 it plans to begin releasing LTE-only phones, after it launches Voice over LTE technology, and will then begin refarming portions of its CDMA spectrum for LTE services.
Further, Verizon just last month confirmed it is launching LTE data service for its prepaid customers for the first time. Verizon has up until now limited its prepaid customers to its 3G CDMA network.
Other carriers, specifically Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), have made LTE access a key part of their MVNO strategy. Sprint, for example, has given its MVNOs access to its latest devices and network technologies, such as Sprint Spark.
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