Verizon to offload EV-DO, LTE traffic onto Wi-Fi

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will use Wi-Fi offloading techniques to handle increased data traffic on its EV-DO and LTE networks in homes as well as crowded hotspots such as hotels, airports and stadiums, Verizon Communications CTO Tony Melone said.

Melone made the comments during an appearance at the 2011 TIA conference, and they indicate that Verizon is going to take a page out of rival AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) book; AT&T launched a Wi-Fi offload strategy in multiple markets last year. Melone did not indicate when the Wi-Fi offload service would launch or what markets it would be available in, but he said it would be an important element of Verizon's overall network strategy.

"We won't use it ubiquitously to cover up flaws and capacity limitations," Melone said, according to GigaOM. "In my mind it's much more effective to invest in your 3G and 4G environments than rely on Wi-Fi."

AT&T uses 24,000 Wi-Fi hotspots to supplement macro cellular coverage in a handful of locations in key markets. The areas, which AT&T calls Wi-Fi hotzones, include Austin's Sixth Street, Chicago's Wrigleyville, downtown Charlotte, N.C., New York's Times Square and San Francisco's Embarcadero district.

Melone also dropped several other significant tidbits of news during his appearance at TIA. He said that by 2013 Verizon could launch some LTE-only devices, without 3G radios, depending on consumer uptake of LTE. Verizon plans to launch LTE in 175 markets by year-end, cover two-thirds of its network by mid-2012 and blanket its entire 3G footprint with LTE by the end of 2013. 

Interestingly, Melone also revealed that a software glitch in Verizon's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network architecture caused the carrier's LTE service outage in April, which lasted for more than 24 hours. According to a report in Connected Planet, the bug affected the core network's backup systems, which eventually caused service on the entire network to go down. Melone said Verizon's vendors identified the problem and developed a fix, and Verizon brought the LTE network back online market by market to ensure that no problems persisted. Cisco Systems provides the common packet data network (PDN) gateways for Verizon's LTE network, while Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and Nokia Siemens Networks both supply elements of the IMS architecture.

For more:
- see this GigaOM article
- see these two Connected Planet articles

Special Report: Wi-Fi offload for mobile networks: 20% of traffic and counting

Related Articles:
Verizon still cagey about cause of LTE outage
Verizon says LTE network outage fixed
Verizon details 59 additional LTE market launches for 2011
AT&T adds WiFi hotzone in Chicago
AT&T expands WiFi offload project
AT&T tests WiFi data offload concept in Times Square