Sunday, November 28, 2010

Verizon and Rural Fixed 4G LTE Wireless

The turkey's just about gone at our house, transitioning from a Thanksgiving Day bird to turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey chili and maybe (just maybe) some turkey soup. It was a nice relaxing holiday and like most people, I enjoyed watching some football on Thanksgiving day - it was especially good this year because the New England Patriots were playing the Detroit Lions. Go Pats!

During the game on Thursday I found one commercial particularly interesting - the new one from Verizon Wireless 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution). If you have not seen it - here it is.

What's so interesting?
  • The commercial is rural focused - no fancy city slicker stuff here and no mobile/cell phones are shown. What looks like an old farm that could have been taken out of the 1940's - the kind of location telcos like Verizon have avoided or, at most, have been trying to push low bandwidth DSL service to.
  • The farm in the commercial looks like it only has electrical power strung on poles - take a look around 6 seconds into it - there are some poles running down a very long driveway. I only see one cable and it looks like power to me. I guess they could be telephone wires or the copper could be buried for phone service.
So, we've got this rural farm out in the middle of nowhere with this big long driveway/access road. Not a place anyone would expect to find any kind of internet access beyond dial-up or maybe some kind of satellite service. The kid runs back with the Verizon package and.... you see the rest..... broadband!

Picking the commercial apart here's what I see for today and the future:
  • Verizon will be pitching LTE as a both a mobile and a fixed service. Fixed service will be pushed especially in rural areas where other broadband options are not available. LTE won't just be for mobile devices and the commercial makes this clear.
  • Initially fixed voice and data services will be available but in time, we'll likely see a video service being sold. But - with all of the major networks streaming now along with companies like Hulu and Netflix delivering online content - the line is rapidly blurring between data and video services.
  • Can video be delivered over LTE - yes. There are capacity issues when it comes to the number of cell towers and backhaul fiber that needs to be run to the towers to handle the load. Over time this will be taken care of. I think we'll see something similar to the Optical Network Terminals (ONT's) used for FiOS installed in people's homes - they will be called WNT's (Wireless Network Terminals) or something like that.
  • Verizon FiOS is basically finished - what's there and in the process of being negotiated is there. Nothing more at least from Verizon when it comes to fiber to the home (FTTH). For now. the push is wireless.
Things are (finally) going to start moving - Verizon Wireless claims they will have full nationwide LTE coverage by 2013. AT&T is not far behind when it comes to roll-out plans and Sprint/Clearwire has had WiMax (a competing 4G service) availble for the past year or so.

Living in rural New England with only one broadband option I'm pretty excited about the kind of competition LTE is going to bring. When it comes to the Patriots though - I'm not real excited about the competition those New York Jets are bringing - they are a really good team!

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