wonder if this could mean good things for at&t bold eventually? and how does one volunteer for test duty! Verizon's LTE deals with Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent may be signal transition for Dallas-Fort Worth technology work | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Technology and Telecom News | Dallas Business News
Verizon's LTE deals with Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent may be signal transition for Dallas-Fort Worth technology work
12:00 AM CST on Saturday, February 21, 2009
By ANDREW D. SMITH / The Dallas Morning News
A pair of companies with big Dallas-area operations celebrated this week when Verizon Wireless hired them to build part of its next-generation voice and data service.
Verizon Wireless is building the Long Term Evolution network, based on radio spectrum being given up by TV. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent will start work almost immediately on contracts for the Long Term Evolution, or LTE, network that is scheduled to reach two test cities by the end of this year and 25 to 30 major cities in 2010.
Verizon will use radio spectrum abandoned by TV stations after the digital transition to host its LTE service, which will be faster than today's cable Internet and available wherever cellphones work.
LTE will probably expand Internet usage over the next decade as much as home broadband has expanded it over the past decade, experts say.
"LTE will bring so much speed and capacity that any device in any location will be as connected as your home computer," said Glenn Lurie, director of the emerging devices unit at AT&T. "It will change how devices work and how we use them."
It also will provide a huge opportunity for networking equipment makers.
None of those companies is based near Dallas, but most have big local offices. Ericsson is a Swedish company with 2,200 workers in Plano. Alcatel-Lucent is a French company with 1,800 workers in Plano.
Other big names in LTE include the beleaguered Canadian company Nortel Networks, which began the year with 3,000 employees in Richardson, and Nokia-Siemens Networks, which has 900 employees in Irving.
Add the people who work on LTE at local chipmakers Texas Instruments Inc. and STMicroelectronics Inc. – and their counterparts at cellular carriers such as AT&T Corp. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. – and LTE looks like one of the most important technological transitions facing the local economy.
AT&T plans to begin serious construction of its LTE network in 2011. MetroPCS says it will move soon on the new technology.
Eventually, nearly all of the nation's wireless infrastructure will be replaced or augmented by the new technology, which has delivered download speeds faster than 30 megabits per second in tests.
Observers had expected this flood of activity to begin next year, but Verizon surprised the industry late last year by announcing plans to launch a massive construction program in 2009. If the rest of the industry follows suit, the activity could greatly help the North Texas economy.
None of the companies involved with the Verizon deal will say which cities will get LTE first or quantify the size of the initial two contracts. But Verizon paid more than $9 billion just to get some of the bandwidth its LTE network will occupy.
Arun Bhikshesvara, vice president of solutions sales for Ericsson North America, called the Verizon contract a "major win" for his company.
Ericsson developed most of its LTE technology at research labs in Silicon Valley, but much of the testing and optimization of that equipment will take place in Plano, along with much of the project oversight.
Alcatel's Plano office will play a much smaller role in the company's LTE contract, but that contract is still good news.
Alcatel has struggled with massive losses and management turnover in recent years. The Verizon contract could do much to steady the corporate ship, particularly if it leads to more contracts.
Nortel and Nokia Siemens also have high hopes for LTE network construction contracts.
Chris Ebert, head of strategic communications for fourth-generation equipment at Nokia Siemens, expects LTE to drive the wireless industry over the next few years.