Verizon CTO says 4G service is on track

Verizon's Dick Lynch says the company is nearly finished testing its 4G LTE network. And it will offer commercial service later this year, as expected.

BARCELONA, Spain--Verizon Wireless is on track to offer its 4G wireless service later this year, the company's chief technology officer said here Monday.

Dick Lynch, an executive vice president and CTO for Verizon Communications, said during a press conference here that Verizon Wireless is on track to launch its commercial LTE (long-term evolution) service this year. The gathering was hosted by the GSM Association, which puts on the Mobile World Congress.

Dick Lynch Verizon Communications

Lynch said Verizon Wireless is in the final testing phase, or "Phase 4," of its LTE technology. Within 60 days he said he expects testing to be completed in Boston and Seattle. After those trials are complete, Verizon will be ready to announce commercial deployments.

Verizon announced its plans to launch its LTE network in 2010 at the Mobile World Congress last year. The company has said previously that it will launch the service in 25 to 30 markets throughout the U.S. by the end of 2010. The company is using 700 MHz that it acquired in a Federal Communications Commission auction.

Initially, Verizon Wireless will offer USB air cards that access LTE for its laptop customers. Cell phones and other mobile devices with embedded LTE will be introduced later. That said, Lynch and other executives from the European carrier Orange as well as from equipment maker Ericsson, said that LTE handsets will be introduced sooner than anyone had anticipated.

Lynch said getting voice to work over LTE has been particularly challenging. But that challenge is getting resolved as Verizon and other members of the GSMA announced Monday they are supporting a standard that uses IMS technology to deliver voice services over LTE. Still, more work needs to be done.

Until a solution is complete, Verizon will use its CDMA network to provide voice services. And the LTE network will be used for data. Eventually, when voice over LTE becomes a reality, Verizon will use that technology.

Verizon will also have to integrate EV-DO into its LTE offering to ensure that customers can switch to the 3G EV-DO network when the 4G LTE network is not available. Even though Verizon is being aggressive in building its network, it won't happen overnight.

The next bit of news consumers can look for from Verizon is pricing. Verizon hasn't yet detailed plans for how much it will charge to use the new 4G LTE service.