Despite a tanking economy and a potential delay getting access to the spectrum Verizon (VZ) bought in last year’s FCC auction, the telco says it’s still on track to roll out its next-generation wireless network next year.
On the company’s earnings call today, Verizon COO Denny Strigl said he’s still hoping LTE will be commercially available in the first half of 2010, with in-house testing to begin later this year. LTE’s main benefit is significantly faster download and upload speeds than today’s 3G networks, meaning it’ll be especially helpful for laptop cards and smartphones.
This keeps the fire raging under Clearwire (CLWR), which recently merged with Sprint Nextel’s (S) WiMax unit. The companies have been scheming to offer super-fast wireless Internet service since 2006 — first separately, then together — but strategic and funding problems have delayed the rollout, and Clearwire is quickly losing its early-mover advantage.
Clearwire’s WiMax service is only available in Baltimore and Portland, and the company has pushed back launching Chicago, which was initially supposed to get Sprint WiMax service by the end of 2007.