Verizon Tests LTE Network in Boston & Seattle

While a single swallow doesn’t make a summer, it is safe to say that 4G wireless broadband is making a shy appearance in the U.S. The increasing availability of Clearwire WiMAX (which some say isn’t quite 4G) has now been followed by the news that Verizon, the nation’s largest mobile phone company, has tested a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Seattle and Boston. The tests included streaming video, file transfers and web browsing. Verizon also tested VoIP calling as well.

Verizon is using the 700 MHz spectrum to offer LTE services and will commercially launch its 4G network in up to 30 markets in 2010. Full national coverage will be available by 2013. Boston and Seattle each now have 10 LTE 4G cell sites up and running on the 700 MHz spectrum.

Verizon is being coy about the amount of bandwidth available to end customers. The company says it can handle 7-12 mbps down and 3-5 mbps up on the current network, but I’d like to know what Verizon is doing about its backhaul infrastructure. It’s easy to talk about bandwidth available on the air interface, but in the end it all boils down to the backhaul bandwidth.

The wireless giant has been a flip-flopper when it comes to its LTE plans, always speaking with forked tongues. Regardless, as a Bay Area resident, I’m not counting on experiencing 4G speeds anytime soon. Maybe Clearwire WiMAX will soon surface in San Francisco, though I’m not holding my breath for that either.

Verizon is using Alcatel-Lucent gear in Boston and Ericsson equipment in Seattle. Other suppliers such as Starent Networks and Nokia Siemens Networks are also providing equipment to Verizon. Devices from LG and Samsung will soon be supplemented by devices from ST-Ericsson, Motorola and Qualcomm, Verizon says in a press release.