Verizon defends LTE at WiMAX confab

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--Clearly outnumbered by the mobile WiMAX advocates in the audience, Verizon's Chris Neisinger defended his company's choice of LTE for its 4G network technology. During the WiMAX Forum Americas 2009 conference here this morning, Neisinger said Verizon considered deploying mobile WiMAX technology but ultimately selected LTE because the company believes the technology will have a larger ecosystem.

"WiMAX has a lead now because it has deployments, but we think in the longer term the LTE ecosystem will be larger than WiMAX, and will give us global reach and the volumes we need to succeed," Neisinger said.

Neisinger, executive director of networks at Verizon Wireless, participated in a panel discussion with Barry West, president of international for Clearwire (which is building a WiMAX network), and Teressa Kellett, director of 4G for Sprint (which is reselling WiMAX services). During the discussion, Neisinger explained that Verizon has the same view of the market as its WiMAX competitors. "When we look at 4G, we see all the same business opportunities and openness and growth of wireless that the WiMAX group is talking about," he said. "There are similarities. We have the same view of technology, but a different view of the standard."

West said Clearwire's advantage isn't just in its growing WiMAX footprint, but also in its unique spectrum position. West said WiMAX and LTE will perform similarly since they are both based on OFDM technology, but Clearwire's vast spectrum holdings will allow it to stand out from the pack with more competitive price plans such as unlimited data packages.

Neisinger countered that Verizon's network quality and performance will continue to be its key differentiator. "Customers do care about network quality. They do care about coverage. Any network being built today must focus on that. With our spectrum, the amount is important and the frequency is important. We went for 700 MHz spectrum because of the coverage that is required for a nationwide network." Verizon agreed to pay almost $10 billion for 700 MHz C-Block spectrum during the FCC's auction last year.

Clearwire has deployed WiMAX in more than two dozen U.S. markets and plans to cover 120 million POPs by year-end 2010.  Verizon, meanwhile, plans to have 100 million POPs covered with LTE by year-end 2010.

Related articles:
Clearwire CEO promises WiMAX handsets by Christmas 2010
Clearwire raises an additional $920M in financing
Can you hear my LTE call now? Verizon begins 4G rollout