Verizon CTO: 35% of data traffic now goes over LTE

SAN DIEGO--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) CTO Nicola Palmer announced that 35 percent of the carrier's overall data traffic traveled over its LTE network at the end of September. She said that in "a few months" a majority of the carrier's traffic would be transmitted over its LTE network.

verizon wireless CTO Nicola Palmer

CTO Nicola Palmer

Palmer said it took Verizon eight years to reach this milestone with its 3G CDMA network, but it only took the carrier two years to reach the goal with its LTE network. She said 11 million of the carrier's 89 million postpaid customers owned LTE devices at the end of the second quarter.

Further, the carrier announced it will reach its goal of launching more than 400 LTE markets more than two months earlier than scheduled. Palmer said Verizon had planned to launch 400 LTE markets by the end of this year, but the carrier now plans to offer LTE service in 417 markets nationwide by Oct. 18.

Verizon said it expects to offer LTE across its entire 3G CDMA footprint by the end of next year.

"Our 4G LTE rollout has been far, wide and fast," boasted Palmer here at the CTIA MobileCon trade show.

"Verizon came out with a very fast, aggressive rollout with LTE and then pushed down the accelerator even more," said Roger Entner, Recon Analytics founder and FierceWireless contributor. "Doing a whole network overlay in four years? It's unprecedented."

Interestingly, Palmer offered some additional insights into Verizon's LTE buildout plans. She said the carrier plans to add support for its AWS spectrum to its existing 700 MHz LTE cell sites by the middle or end of next year. "We've already started getting ready for that," she said. "Technical trials are underway."

Palmer said Verizon will start selling devices that can support LTE on AWS spectrum next year.

Verizon earlier this year purchased $3.9 billion worth of AWS spectrum from a group of cable companies, and said it will use the spectrum to add capacity to its LTE network, which currently runs on its 700 MHz C Block spectrum.

Palmer also said Verizon is now working to auction off its 700 MHz A and B Block spectrum licenses. The carrier said it would auction off its 700 MHz A and B Block spectrum licenses if it obtained regulatory approval for its AWS spectrum purchase. "We're taking offers [for the licenses] and will proceed accordingly," Palmer said.

As for Voice over LTE, Palmer said Verizon is currently testing the technology. "I would expect that we would have something by the end of 2013," she said of VoLTE. Palmer said she made a test VoLTE call a few weeks ago. "I gotta tell you, it was fabulous," she said.

Finally, Palmer said Verizon will deploy small cells into its network in order to improve capacity and coverage, but she did not provide a timeframe for that effort. "We're excited about small cells. I expect we will take advantage of small cells in the Verizon wireless network," she said, noting small cell technology will improve the performance of Verizon's network in dense, urban areas.

"I do expect they [small cells] will be part of a comprehensive solution" to capacity issues, she said.

For more:
- see these two Verizon releases

Special Report: CTIA MobileCon 2012: Complete coverage

Related Articles:
Verizon's Hillier discusses data privacy and the future of mobile marketing
Verizon's Shammo: We have enough spectrum for 4-5 years
Verizon's Shammo: Our LTE network will give us advantage in iPhone 5 sales
Verizon: We'll hit LTE capacity limit in some markets by 2013 without new spectrum
FCC approves Verizon's $3.9B AWS purchase, T-Mobile spectrum swap
Verizon launches shared data plans, as T-Mobile knocks them 
Verizon's McAdam defends concept behind shared data plans