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Verizon opens 4G innovation lab

Verizon opens 4G innovation lab

US carrier Verizon Wireless demonstrated its commitment to 4G technology LTE this week with the formation of a forum designed to develop and promote LTE technologies.

The 4G Venture Forum (4GVF) brings together financial investment, product incubation and market validation for products and services from Verizon Wireless, venture funds including Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, Charles River Partners, New Venture Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) and Redpoint Ventures, and Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, the primary network infrastructure providers for Verizon’s LTE rollout.

Those participating in the initiative have pledged to make up to $1.3bn available for 4GVF development, but other business details are not being disclosed. The cash will be used to fund new ideas; provide development assistance; and test concepts through labs and communities such as the Verizon LTE Innovation Center and the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), as well as similar resources from Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.

Interestingly, the 4GVF may support and fund 4G advancements regardless of underlying network technology, which potentially means WiMAX may get a look in, and funded entities will not be contractually obligated to work with Verizon.

The US carrier plans to launch its LTE network in 25 to 30 markets in 2010 and cover virtually its entire current nationwide 3G footprint with LTE by the end of 2013.

However, mobile operators around the world are warned to expect high costs to migrate to LTE, with a tier one US operator looking at expenditure of up to $1.78bn in the first year. The figures come from network planning and optimisation firm Aircom, which last week launched an LTE cost calculator and published estimated capex investments facing a tier one mobile operator in the first year of rollout in each of four regions. But these figures will vary by region, the legacy equipment operators have in place and the spectrum they have available.

Is the estimated CAPEX investment for LTE likely to delay rollout?

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