08
Nov
LTE-Logo

On an investor call earlier this morning, Verizon Wireless CFO Fran Shammo said that the carrier's buildout of its 4G LTE network will be completed by mid-2013. This is after an earlier estimate of the end of 2013, putting the company a full six months ahead of schedule.

Now, network news isn't really very exciting. And what I just wrote up there is pretty boring. But, this is important stuff. Verizon is quite literally years ahead of its competitors if this turns out to be true. AT&T doesn't plan to overlap its current 3G footprint with LTE service until the end of 2014 - a full 1.5 years behind Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile? Yeah, don't get your hopes up. That means the second-largest wireless provider in the US is not only well over a year behind Verizon, but that it's behind Verizon with a smaller national coverage area. That's kind of insane to think about.

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Verizon's 700MHz band holdings, image via PhoneScoop

Right now, Verizon's LTE network already covers 250 million people, a landmark AT&T expects to reach at the end of 2013. And as we know, Verizon will also begin its VoLTE (voice over LTE) rollout some time before the end of 2013, which will almost certainly make it America's first VoLTE network of any substantial size. This puts Verizon on the fast track to begin phasing out its CDMA equipment, and become a full-on GSM carrier.

An even more exciting implication? It's entirely possible you'll be able to start bringing your own phone to Verizon by early 2014. As part of its licensing agreement for the 700MHz Block C spectrum band, which is utilized as a major part of its LTE network, Verizon is required to allow carrier-unlocked phones on its network:

  • Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  • Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;

FCC Moving Forward Report

While Verizon does have some wiggle room on that requirement at the present time because it still operates a closed-model CDMA network, once its LTE network is capable of supporting both voice and data, it will have to allow customers to bring their own compatible devices. Verizon currently skirts these rules because it has two networks - the aforementioned CDMA network, and the new LTE network. The Block C rules only apply to "the network built using the spectrum," which by definition does not include the older, incompatible CDMA network.

By the end of 2014, it's quite likely we'll start seeing unlocked multi-band LTE phones that support both Verizon and AT&T, and that will allow you to go back and fourth between the two. Eventually, T-Mobile and Sprint will probably get lumped into this interoperability (you know, by 2034), just in time for wireless network standards to completely change again.

via FierceWireless

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Nimer55

    So Next years Nexus has to simply add an LTE radio with support for 700mhz spectrum, and it will work for Verizon customers; though if the LTE network is ever down, they will have issues. They will not have the fail safe that the current network provides.

    (I use term "they" because I live in Canada, though this still excites me.)

    • zmberven

      True, but if they no longer have to focus on keep the CDMA network going, they will be able to throw more resources toward bandwidth and stability on the LTE network

  • bluevoodo

    So....LTE nexus in 2014 or 15? (blah I dont care tmobile is ok)

  • adi19956

    Weird. As a Briton I don't feel so behind any more. Vodafone here which hasn't even started 4G yet said it will have 98% population coverage by 2014, EE saying the same

    • A Griffith

      The landmass that Verizon is covering and has already covered easily makes it more impressive than covering the UK with 4G LTE. That's always been the reason for the higher cost of service in the United States. You have to cover NYC, San Francisco and most of the thousands of miles in between.

      • adi19956

        I know. Wasn't saying anything bad towards Verizon, but all this time I've been feeling left out compared to the US, but because I live in the countryside, even in America I wouldn't be covered. It's nice to know.

        Also Vodafone's date is incredibly ambitious. O2 and Vodafone only plan to have 98% 2G and 3G coverage by 2015 and 3G came out here 10 years ago.

        Shows how much they're spending on it I suppose. 0 million coverage to 60 million coverage in 1 year

        • Scott

          What type of 3G do you have over there? Verizon's is ancient CDMA technology that maxes out at 2-3 Mb/s. Our 2 GSM counterparts use HSPA+ for their fastest data connection, Tmobile's going up to 42 Mb/s and ATT's at 21 Mb/s.

          • adi19956

            We don't have any CDMA. We have EDGE, HSPA, HSPA+ across all networks then Three and O2 have DC-HSPA at 42mbps.
            Then 4G EE have started the rollout in 11 cities, Three just bought spectrum for it and the main auction is Q1 next year

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      well you guys are much smaller lol

  • Scott

    This is Verizon. They'll never let you bring your own device. They'll find a way.

    • Mack

      The FCC has made it so Verizon doesn't have a choice. Fortunately for consumers Verizon has had little success in trying to stand up to the FCC especially on similar issues.

      • Scott

        But we can't possibly predict what will happen in 2014. I'm just going by history.

        • Chahk Noir

          By 2014 Verizon will buy the FCC and change that rule.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        I hope you're right.

    • http://twitter.com/cabbieBot cabbieBot

      Yup. There's no way Verizon is racing headlong into openness. They have the world by its nuts. Even if they did allow customer's to bring their own device, expect an incredible signup fee to make it unattractive.

      • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

        I think you mean they have the US by its nuts.

        • http://twitter.com/cabbieBot cabbieBot

          Touche.

  • http://twitter.com/KickingLettuce Kicking Lettuce

    I almost feel upset for deciding to go prepaid to get the Nexus 4?

    • Scott

      I'm probably doing the same thing, and I have an unlimited verizon plan.

      • moelsen8

        me too. i can't help myself. i won't even be saving that much money.

        • Scott

          I would be going from around 80 bucks a month to 45 if I use straight talk's 45/month plan. I just need to test out ATT's network in my everyday places that I travel to.

          • moelsen8

            i currently pay $67/month with unlimited data, but I'm still a holdout on one of the tiny texting plans they used to offer, and i supplement with google voice. kind of inconvenient but it saves me like $15/month that i'd otherwise be paying for just a few more text messages. and also have my work discount.

            actually after using GV for a while now, i'm tempted to try out t-mobile's $30/month plan with unlimited texting, data, and 100 minutes and then use something like GrooVe IP to call using VOIP. actually been doing some research on that in the last day or two..

          • Scott

            Yeah making the switch from Verizon isn't just about saving money. If it works out with coverage/data speeds I could port my number to Google Voice and fully utilize that service, use VOIP calls and make calls from any computer, text from any computer, use any GSM phone that I want (all I'll probably ever do is upgrade to the next Nexus,) and no contracts with ETF's and such. The only 2 things I'll miss are the coverage, and the unlimited LTE speeds. Other than that, it's all a win for me.

          • shojus

            I am with Verizon on their unlimited data plan as well and I pay just under $70 w/taxes and insurance with my work discount... I too, do NOT have text messaging cause I use GV for that and it's really not much of a pain for the savings you get... I am ordering the Nexus 4 as well but I have the $30 T-mobile plan too so I won't be dumping Big Red just yet... I figure that most people that move to Verizon are spending close to $100/month after taxes and I can have 2 plans for that price and I get to play with the latest and greatest phones too, which is a BIG plus for me cause I am a full fledged phone junky!! lol I absolutely HATE Verizon but I LOVE tethering at 40-50mbps down and 10-20mbps up and that is what I will continue to do until they decide to boot me off of their unlimited plan... In normal browsing on a smartphone I can barely tell the difference between Verizon's LTE speeds or T-mobile's HSPA+ speeds so unless your tethering to a computer I doubt that you will notice a huge difference in your mobile browsing experience... Feel free to voice your opinions but with all that speed you can only load a page so fast...? For everyone leaving Verizon for the Nexus 4 (GOOD FOR YOU!!) It's about time Verizon loses some customers! :) And Scott, can you elaborate more about porting google voice numbers and what the benefits are? I am kinda lost when it comes to porting numbers to GV and what the benefits are... Thanks!

          • moelsen8

            if you port your number from somewhere else, it becomes a GV number you can use like you use their service now with whatever number they've assigned you or you chose when you signed up. benefits are portability.. you can just give out your GV number and won't have to care about what number you have on any wireless service.. so it's beneficial to people on pre-paid that may jump around etc. just get a sim card from whatever carrier and whatever number they give you, and people call your GV number and your phone rings. you can also call and text from a computer or tablet or whatever else then too. i'm just about sold on doing it if i jump on the Nexus 4. only downside is no MMS, except if you're on Sprint. but that's manageable at least.

          • shojus

            Thanks for clarifying that for me! :) What I have always done is just give out my GV number and set it up to ring whatever number I have on a certain carrier so that way I can keep my number from the carrier for "important" calls (family) and give out my GV number to everyone so I can always be contacted wherever I am and if I don't want a certain person to call me then I just logon to GV and block them! lol So I think it's basically the same only I have a few numbers to deal with instead of just one...

    • Chahk Noir

      Don't be. You're probably paying half of what it costs Verizon subscribers over the course of their 2-year subscription. By 2014 you'll be able to buy five Next Nexus phones with the savings.

  • moelsen8

    all this talk about LTE sounds exciting and all.. but my experience with Verizon's LTE always makes me feel like i'm on a different network than the rest of you. hell, when i'm walking around town, my 4g drops when i hit the blocks with bigger buildings, then back up again, then drops again the next block. it's nowhere near as good or stable as 3G. it barely reaches inside any buildings. and forget driving around, it'll be up and down and all over the place. and i live and work within a few mile radius of NYC. i'm glad 3G is still around because at least it's always there.

    it's blazing fast when you're sitting still in an open area, i'll give it that... but i'm almost scared to think of an all 4G LTE network with the experiences I have with it. and all of that is besides the whole battery life thing..

    • http://twitter.com/Mr_SoloDoelo Mo Betta Brooz

      I'm not saying your experience isn't true but I would say it's the exception more than the rule.

    • Zacharypt

      I am not surprised at your experience with this. But theoretically the reason they have expanded to cover so many population so fast could be based on creating an outline coverages versus something filled in. So hopefully this mid 2013 bit will mean backfilling the towers that will color in the outline. Creating a more solid and consistent 4g experience and probably increase speeds because more towers in major urban areas will be sharing the load of users.

    • Joshua

      Not gonna say you're wrong because I'm sure such things can happen anywhere. I haven't experienced any trouble here in Albuquerque. This place is, though, quite flat with almost no obstructions.

      One thing you might try is to see if it's your phone. I know some devices have inherently shoddy antennae (look no further than Antennagate if you need proof). I've heard many good things about Motorola phones in the way of data connectivity, so if you're willing to sacrifice the camera, that may be something you'll want to look into. If not, then just check if your phone has a faulty antenna. Either way, best of luck getting your issues sorted out.

  • codemonkey85

    So, does this mean that if I'm in a 3G area now, with no local LTE, that eventually my area will also be blanketed in LTE? Is this a guarantee? My little town never gets fun things.

    • http://www.swehes.com/ Hans-Erik

      LTE, being on a lower frequency, which means it reaches further, will be cheaper for Verizon to run than its currently old CDMA. No reason for them to keep it around unless there are some people who just want to keep their old phones.

      • TonyArcher

        LTE ( the technology disregarding spectrum) doesn't run anywhere near as far as CDMA 1x, maybe 2/3 or a half as far. CDMA 850 travels a lot further than LTE 700.

        • John O’Connor

          The distance is really dependent on the downtilt of the tower's cells and the broadcast signal strength.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

        wrong.they chose that frequency so that is penetrated buildings and cars better than their cmda frequency did. It does not travel farther

        • Aaron Saellam

          Really, then explain why I drop down to 3g inside almost any building with a steel structure?

          • http://twitter.com/Andrw025 Andrew

            I dunno how to answer that, but my experience has been the complete opposite. I barely get a 3g signal at work but I get full bars of 4g.

  • Raphaël Briand

    back and forth*

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    All they need to do is to keep a tiny CDMA network running.

    • wolfkabal

      Yeah, I can see them doing something like supporting voice and data over LTE, but continue to require CDMA for something (radio updates? (guessing)).

  • Brian Menius

    "Yo, Verizon. I'm really happy for you. I'ma let you finish, but TMobile has one of the best prices of all time. One of the best prices of all time!"

    Really, though... this is all very impressive, and I knew how impressive their rollout has become when I moved to TMobile last weekend, anyway. For the difference in service, the price premium simply isn't justifiable for me.

    With Verizon, I was paying $190/mo for three lines after a 22% discount. With TMo, I'll be paying about $130/mo for three lines without any sort of discount- and that's an upgrade from Verizon's 3G service on two of my lines by moving them to TMo!

    I loved 4G LTE speeds on my Galaxy Nexus with Verizon. I hated the heinous battery life. I didn't love the price.

    I like HSPA+ speeds on my Note II with TMo. I love the battery life. I love the price. Plus, TMo is GSM. That's a plus in my book. Verizon will find a way to cripple the benefits of GSM with their LTE service. I know it. You know it. The FCC just doesn't know it yet.

    • Cherokee4Life

      its justifiable because Verizon's service is just that good. i mean it really it.

      I have Sprint and 4 lines with all the bells and whistles for $220 with a 23% company discount as well

      • Brian Menius

        That's rough for Sprint. :o

        If I were dependent upon my phone for my livelihood (travel for work, etc.), I'd probably still have Verizon. As it stands, Verizon's coverage is excessive for my needs- and for the savings, it made a lot of sense to jump.

        Funny as it sounds, I went away for a weekend in March to a very remote location. One of the motivating factors in choosing this place was it's remote location. I hoped to arrive and have no signal. To my dismay, I had a very reasonable signal- and that was on a Galaxy Nexus! Anyone whose had one knows the radios aren't exactly stellar.

        Yeah, I could have just turned my phone off and forgotten about it for the weekend. I'll be the first to admit that the thing may as well be stitched to my hand as, like many, it's become the natural go-to as a time filler. I wanted to be forced to not be able to use it for the weekend. Sad? You could call it that, I suppose.

  • Agito504

    Verizon I enjoy using unlimited WiFi tethering on my galaxy nexus and its unlocked boot loader. And thank us for getting rid of grandfathering data subscribers. I will be buying my phones from the OEM of my choice outright from now on. And only if the boot loader can be unlocked :)

  • JG

    Let me get this straight.... According to the proposed time line, sometime with in the next 6-7 months, I should see my little hamlet in the middle of nowhere get switched from 3G to 4G.... And then, in time for the following year's Nexus season, I'll be able to get a Nexus 5S direct from Google, that I could take to T-Mobile, AT&T *OR* Verizon & get activated on their network.... (And presumably Verizon won't be able to hold back the updates like they did with GNex since there won't be any proprietary code they can hold hostage)....

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Mosher/1138055436 Matt Mosher

      Exactly.....Im calling bullshite as well.

      I'll believe it when I see it.

  • Casen Brashear

    Hopefully, this means the next Nexus will be a VoLTE phone.....

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwstokley David Stokley Sr.

    the bad part about sprint and T-mobile is U.S.Cellular is rolling out Lte faster then both of them. Here in Nc U.s.Cellular has LTE and sprint has none...

  • MeCampbell30

    This seems like an unlawful boycott (of all non Verizon-cartel phones) in violation of antitrust laws. Someone should tell the DOJ to bring an enforcement action.