@MWC – Verizon plans to launch LTE in at least 25 markets this year

US operator  Verizon Wireless plans to launch LTE services in 25 to 30 US markets this year, according to the company’s chief technology officer.

“I have no doubt we will launch LTE this year,” Dick Lynch told a GSMA press conference in Barcelona today.

he said Verizon is within 60 days of  completing its LTE trials in Boston and Seattle and then plans to go to a commercial launch. The company is targeting 25 to 30 markets through which it can reach up to 100m customers, one third of them within the US.

“We have single spectrum covering the entire country,” he added, which will make it easier for terminal makers to provide devices.

Lynch says the company is already considering ‘eight to ten’ devices for its launch, and that the first devices will be dongles for laptops.

Lynch pointed out that Verizon is serving around 91 million customers on its current CDMA voice network already and wasn’t going to give that up any time soon.

“LTE will initially be for other types of applcations but I think we will move to voice over LTE much more quickly than we give ourselves credit for.”

The GSM Association today made this more likely by announcing that it had adopted the work of the ‘One Voice’ initiative, which has developed a way to provide voice and messaging services over the packet-based LTE service, an issue that had threatened to be a stumbling block for the uptake of LTE.

China Mobile, KDDI and Verizon Wireless all used the opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to day to announce that they are joining the GSM Association, a move that is being widely seen as marking a commitment to an LTE future fro each of the operators.

Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of the GSM Association, said: “Ten years after IMT2000 it finally looks like we are moving towards a single global standard.”

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