Verizon’s LTE Network: Better performance than Sprint’s, LTE for rural homes, but no VoLTE anytime soon + T-Mobile’s LTE build

At an Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) event on May 8th, Verizon Communication’s CTO Tony Melone said: “there is no way” that Sprint Nextel Corp. forthcoming Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will beat the performance of his company’s existing 4G cellular network which uses larger communications channels.   Mr. Melone made the statement in response to a question about Sprint’s claim that it will offer a comparable LTE experience to AT&T Inc. and Verizon using smaller channels.

AT&T and Verizon have started with 10MHz by 10MHz channels in the 700MHz band for their 4G LTE deployments. Sprint will use 5MHz by 5MHz channels in the 1900MHz PCS band for its LTE service, due to launch in six cities by mid-year.

“There’s no way a 5 X 5 network can perform like a 10 X 10 network,” Melone said.  He did note that if a network is “fully loaded” with users, it could start to drag on performance. All things being equal, however, larger channels always provide better LTE performance, according to the Verizon CTO (and Shannon’s Channel Capacity theorem).

For the consumers who cannot get such cable modem based Internet access (from a MSO), but are in rural areas that are covered by the LTE network Verizon is pushing its LTE based “HomeFusion” connection.  It’s expense, at $199 plus a monthly service fee.  The HomeFusion costs at least $60 per month for a 10GB bucket of data. Consider that a two-hour HD movie eats through about 2GB of data in one sitting.;contentBody;1r

During an interview with Network World today, Verizon Vice President of Network Hans Leutenegger said that the carrier won’t be deploying any voice over LTE (VoLTE) services on its network until late next year at the very earliest. The reason for this, he said, is that Verizon is already largely satisfied with its current (CDMA based) voice network and doesn’t see the need to push both handset manufacturers and its own customers to use a new technology just yet.

Separately from Verizon’s huge presence at CTIA, T-Mobile announced that Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) would be building its $4B LTE network, which is scheduled to be deployed in late 2013.  The contracts cover LTE network installation at 37,000 cell sites owned by T-Mobile.  That’s a big step up from it’s current HSPA+ network, which the carrier erroneously calls “4G.”

Ericsson now is supplying LTE gear to all four of the major U.S. operators, as well as to tier II operators MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Canadian carrier Rogers Communications, helping cement its dominant position atop the global 4G market.  On the other hand, NSN needed to keep T-Mobile a customer in order to remain relevant in the U.S. 4G market. T-Mobile is now NSN’s sole LTE radio contract in the U.S., though it is building the Telus and Bell Mobility 4G networks in Canada and is supplying parts of Verizon’s LTE core.

Part of the spectrum to be used for T-Mobile’s LTE network came from AT&T.  T-Mobile is planning to combine the new AWS band spectrum it got from AT&T with what it’s able to refarm from its existing wireless network. The company believes these two sources will be enough to offer “up to 20MHz of LTE in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.”