Verizon will deploy AWS spectrum in 50 markets by mid-2014

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is planning to augment its LTE network in 50 different cities with AWS spectrum in the first half of 2014 to avoid potential capacity issues. That process includes seeding the customer base with AWS-capable devices, as well as deploying inbuilidng coverage and Distributed Antenna Systems, according to Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam. 

The company is almost finished upgrading its LTE network in New York City by using the AWS spectrum, McAdam added. 

Speaking at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference, McAdam said that in New York Verizon has around 300 cell sites and there are about around a dozen with capacity issues. He said Verizon is "fortifying" 49 cell sites in the New York metro area and 42 of them are already complete. New York is one of the markets where the carrier has added 20 MHz channels of AWS spectrum to augment its network.

"The cells recover very quickly when you can add that additional spectrum," McAdam said. "This is a short-term blip." He added that "we're now back to where we want to be" with the network and that New York's capacity issues have been more difficult to work through than other markets.

Last week Verizon Wireless Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer told GigaOM that in every major city east of the Mississippi and in several western markets, Verizon is using full 40 MHz of spectrum, twice as big as the 20 MHz network it has deployed on its 700 MHz Upper C Block spectrum for its macro LTE deployment, which now covers 303 million POPs.

According to GigaOM, in major cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C, Verizon has tripled its LTE capacity, while in downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles it increased capacity by 150 percent. The upgrades first started in October.

McAdam also touched on LTE Advanced and noted that the carrier will use LTE Advanced to increase throughput, network performance and to handle things such as video.

"Our goal is to keep the network ahead of our competition.," he said. "But that by itself is not enough." The focus will be on adding applications and solutions that can take advantage of network capabilities, he said. One is LTE Broadcast, which McAdam reiterated Verizon will demonstrate at the Super Bowl in New York in February with devices that are capable of accessing LTE Broadcast technology.

"In New York City, with the right device, with that caveat, you will be able to watch the Super Bowl live," he said. Going forward, he said, "you will see more and more things you will be able to watch live on your device."

Verizon is also focused on Voice over LTE. McAdam said Verizon is testing VoLTE in the market now and that starting next year it will enable "a whole suite of high-end communication services" such as HD Voice and video conferencing, and  that "FaceTime-like applications will be much easier from the device than they are today."

For Verizon, the true benefit is that over time VoLTE will let the carrier refarm legacy spectrum for LTE, McAdam said. Verizon's Palmer said in June that the carrier expects to be able to refarm some of its PCS spectrum for LTE starting in 2015.  

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