Just as Verizon has predicted since late 2007, the company has completed its first trials of LTE (Third Generation Partnership Project’s Long Term Evolution), the as-of-yet non-standardized 4G wireless technology.
Verizon was able to make calls in the 700 MHz spectrum based on the 3GPP’s Release 8 LTE standard in trial deployments in Seattle and Boston. The company was able to stream video, upload and download files and browse the Web, but most importantly, it was able to complete voice calls.
Voice has been one of the biggest obstacles thus far for LTE, because the 4G standard is 100% packet based. Traditionally, voice calls are completed on circuit-switched networks, and Verizon utilized VoIP in its trials. This is the main area of contention with Voice over LTE. Verizon utilized the 3GPP-supported system called IMS (IP Media Subsystem) which is an offshoot of the Release 8 draft, while the hardware manufacturers support a system called VoLGA (Voice over LTE via Generic Access).
Verizon now has 10 LTE cell sites in the 700 MHz block in Boston and Seattle, and says it expects to be ready for a commercial launch in 30 markets by 2010 which will cover approximately 100 million people.