September 15, 2006 11:43 AM PDT
Newsmaker: Verizon Wireless takes the road less traveledSee all Newsmakers
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Then we have EV-DO Revision Zero, and we've had some good success with that so far. We've got embedded chips in laptops and mobile devices. With Revision A, we get the benefit of higher uplink speeds and lower latency. It gives us a real path to a nice push-to-talk service that's even better than the one we have now.
Revision A also gives us an opportunity to do real (Internet Protocol)-based services, like interactive gaming, laptop video conferencing and things like that. Revision A also has quality-of-service controls. And since it's a pure IP network, it gives us a great runway for future services. So I think we are in good shape until we need to find a 4G network.
Speaking of 4G, Sprint Nextel announced recently that it plans to use WiMax to build a new 4G network. What do you think of that?
Lynch: Well, first of all, the ITU, International Telecommunications Union, which defines 3G and 4G, hasn't even defined 4G yet. So we don't even know what 4G is yet. What we do know is that the next-generation wireless network will offer faster speeds and lower latency.
I think Sprint is using 4G terminology in an attempt to suggest what they would like to see. But I'll hold judgment for now. For me, to build another network implies that I have a need for a network that isn't being served by my current networks. I acknowledge that day will come, but I don't see a need now.
Before I decide on a particular technology, I'd rather take my time and see what the technology requirements will be, then have a bake-off between technologies.
What do you think of WiMax as a technology? Is it even a contender to become the basis of 4G wireless?
Lynch: WiMax is certainly one of the technologies we are considering. But it also makes sense for us to look at EV-DO Revision C and LTE (Long Term Evolution). I have to know the application that I want to enable before I can choose a solution. I have time to look at all of them.
One more thing we know about 4G is that all the technologies being considered--WiMax, EV-DO Revision C and LTE--are all based on OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing). So we probably can surmise one more thing about 4G, which is that it will likely be based on OFDM. But I'm not making a premature decision on any one of these technologies.
T-Mobile is supposedly getting ready to launch a new service that will allow customers to switch between its cellular network and a home Wi-Fi network when they're in their homes. Will Verizon Wireless offer a similar converged Wi-Fi/cellular service?
Lynch: I see Wi-Fi as being synergistic with any wide-area technology, and eventually, all wide-area technologies will have a hook to Wi-Fi. But the systems out there today are premature. How do you hand off between the cellular network and the Wi-Fi network transparently? And how do you handle security? When that device is on the Wi-Fi network, there is an opportunity to get all kinds of worms and viruses that can then be brought onto the cellular network.
Until I see the right focus, I will be reluctant. We won't put out a half-baked offering that will disappoint customers. I also think only a subset of customers really want this service, anyway. Most people just want a voice service that works everywhere.
What's the biggest challenge Verizon Wireless faces in the next few years?
Lynch: Our biggest challenge is going to be enabling the network for voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). We just need to do it. Not because the customers are unhappy. The 1XRTT network is doing just fine and will be there for years.
But landline and enterprise worlds are moving full speed ahead with VoIP. And it will be necessary for us to move in that direction to enable converged services. There will be certain applications for voice and video that will be IP-based. And while it isn't there yet, eventually, there will be a cost benefit to using VoIP instead of the circuit-switched network we use today.
When will you be able to move to VoIP?
Lynch: When we have the EV-DO Revision A network ubiquitously deployed. The latency and throughput on 1XRTT network aren't such that we can do VoIP on that network. And it wouldn't make sense for us to put it on MediaFlo, because it's a broadcast network. Even though Revision Zero is IP-based, its uplink speed is too slow. Revision A is a high-quality network with faster uploads, so it's logical to use that network.
How big a deal is it to make this switch to VoIP?
Lynch: Well, we've already got the basic network in place. And we're already upgrading to Revision A. Then it's just a matter of layering higher-level capabilities and adding some hardware and software throughout the network. It's actually much easier than trying to build a network from scratch.
Verizon Wireless consistently gets high marks for its reliable network. What are you doing differently from your competitors?
Lynch: I've been an absolute fanatic about making the network better every year. We spend about $6 billion every year on the network. Yes, we're spending some of this on EV-DO and EV-DO Revision A, but a big portion of that money goes toward just making the network work. It's like that saying, "It's the basics, stupid!" You've got to get the basics right. The vast majority of our customers do nothing but voice and text messaging.
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