Verizon planning big LTE splash at CES

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) appears to be planning to showcase its LTE network and devices at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Speaking at a Barclays Capital Global Communications, Media & Technology Conference today, CEO Lowell McAdam urged investors to come to CES. "I think you will be surprised at the number and variety of [LTE] devices that we bring to the table."

McAdam comments are likely in response to claims by rival AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) that Verizon's early LTE devices will be clunky. Earlier this month AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey told GigaOM that the LTE ecosystem is not mature enough yet for a commercial rollout, and that Verizon's first LTE phones will be clunky.

At an investor conference earlier this month, McAdam said that Verizon may launch up to five LTE phones by next May. He hinted that those supplying the LTE phones may include Motorola (NASDAQ:MOT), HTC, LG and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). 

McAdam said Verizon has progressed from the field trial to the pre-commercial stage of its LTE deployment. The company will start adding friendly users soon. Verizon has three LTE test markets: Boston, Seattle and Erie, Pa. McAdam said the Pennsylvania market is geared to testing rural LTE applications.

In terms of throughput, McAdam said Verizon has recorded throughput in the 8 Mbps to 12 Mbps range, and that he expects commercial LTE speeds will be better than 7 Mbps. He added that the company is working with several technology firms to explore compression techniques that could improve video over LTE.

McAdam also addressed 4G pricing. He said that, due to growth in connected devices and machine to machine services, there will be a natural evolution toward purchasing megabytes of data on a network in order to connect five or six or more devices. "I think this concern over unlimited megabytes on a smartphone will go away as we bring new devices and new applications onboard." 

He also added that voice will become irrelevant on LTE. "By 2012 the voice we sell on LTE will be VoIP."

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