What the Verizon move to LTE might mean to the consumer?

Joe Kramer
Director of Wireless Services
| Published: September 23, 2007

Well, the next generation of cellular technologies will all be OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing) based since it is the most optimized air-wave technology to carry data.

Specifically, all three major cellular standards proposed, UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband), LTE (Long Term Evolution) & Wimax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) will use OFDMA on the downlink. Wimax also uses OFDMA on the uplink while LTE & UMB would use SC-FDMA on the uplink because it uses much less power on hand-held device. Also all mobile TV standards like Media-FLO and DVB-H are OFDM based.

Verizon has made statements in the past to the effect that they see little difference between these standards, that they are more alike then different.  So Verizon likely sees no compelling reason to promote a proprietary standard in UMB that offers no real advantage except for slightly easier upgrade benefits for a CDMA carrier. A Verizon spokesperson in paraphrasing also sees it 'still all as just OFDM?.  In this way there is no overriding reason to have a different standard when it's really all the same technology?OFDM

Furthermore, Wimax will also likely work with or merge with LTE, they are both global standard initiatives that are largely free of proprietary grip.

Consumer benefits first off would be that Data roaming will be available virtually on anyone's network. This is because most the world which is GSM based will undoubtedly migrate to LTE too, since LTE is the GSM/UMTS migration path.  By teaming with Vodafone, Verizon is assured an international partner early as they begin LTE rollout.  Devise development will be much simpler without having to develop specific phones for more standards over the already varying spectrum bands around the world. So device development becomes simpler & cheaper for everyone leading to quicker releases of devices. You don't need as many chip configurations and cross testing.  OFDM (LTE) will have far greater data speeds than current standards in the neighborhood of tenfold. OFDM is much simpler, more flexible data carrying technology than cdma or gsm.

With Verizon's move the U.S. mostly will become now part of an international standard. Its move will also help speed up the overall move to 4G now that all other carriers see that LTE is the lead dog technology for cellular carriers who will also see greater interest in finalizing the standard and planning infrastructure equipment now to accept future LTE allocations. This universality of LTE will give more flexibility in device operation for particularly all U.S. carriers as they have a more common platform and all IP back-end systems which are a part of LTE which will also like lead to much quicker and richer development of services available.

Special thanks to Mike Klein - contributing editor