Verizon launching commercial LTE markets in Q4

Verizon Wireless will turn on its commercial LTE markets in the fourth quarter, according to a company executive. These comments serve to narrow the carrier's next-generation network launch window.

"In the fourth quarter, we'll be turning on [commercial] markets as planned,"  Verizon Communications CTO Richard Lynch told Sidecut Reports. Previously, the company had said only that the commercial launch would be sometime later this year.

Verizon plans to conduct friendly user trials of its LTE service this summer in advance of the wider commercial rollout. The carrier has said it plans to launch to 25 to 30 commercial markets this year, covering 100 million POPs.

The company has been conducting LTE trials in Boston and Seattle since last summer, but has not yet said which markets will get LTE service this year and what its pricing plans for the service will be. However, Lynch previously has indicated that the carrier will be adopting a usage-based pricing model for LTE.

Lynch recently took part in a ceremony to break ground on the company's multimillion-dollar LTE Technology Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Lynch said the facility will focus on developing products beyond USB modems and handsets. "We've already got places to do the routine," he said. "This is about new and different."

The Verizon executive also dismissed criticism levelled against the carrier last month by AT&T CTO John Donovan, who said the LTE ecosystem will not be mature enough when Verizon launches its network, and that the first LTE phones will drain battery life and look like a "fat brick."

Lynch described the critique as "purely hypothetical and based on other people's belief, not mine." He said Verizon is not seeing bulky devices coming through its labs that "you won't have to wait too long" before commercial LTE handsets. Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone has said the carrier will launch LTE handsets by mid-2011. 

For more:
- see this Sidecut Reports article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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