When it comes to competing with rival '4G' providers and dealing with the threat of stronger competition that could emerge as a result of market consolidation, Verizon Wireless believes it has a crucial weapon in its armoury: its network.
″Our push has been to show customers,″ that the experience on an LTE network is significantly better than on a 4G-branded HSPA network, Verizon Wireless' director of global roaming Greg Dial told Total Telecom this week.
″We let the network do the talking,″ he said.
T-Mobile USA is one rival that offers a so-called 4G mobile service that actually runs on HSPA. The company plans to merge with smaller player MetroPCS in order to gain some much-needed scale to compete more effectively with the likes of Verizon, but also to help it push ahead with LTE rollout.
But Verizon is unphased by the prospect of a stronger competitor, noting the complexities involved in merging two telecoms operators.
″You don't wave a wand and it happens overnight,″ said Thomas Pica, executive director of corporate communications at Verizon Wireless. ″It takes a long time,″ he said, pointing out that it's something Verizon Wireless itself went through more than a decade ago when it was formed from the merger of Bell Atlantic, Vodafone AirTouch and GTE. At one stage the company had to integrate 14 different billing systems, Pica said.
So while rivals are concentrating on integrating the various elements of their businesses, ″we can focus on our network,″ Pica said. ″We invest an average of $8 billion per year in our network.″
And the network is the main area of focus for the Verizon Wireless executives attending Mobile World Congress this year. The company is looking for international roaming deals for LTE.
″We're creating partnerships now for LTE roaming,″ said Dial. ″[LTE roaming] is a new opportunity for us,″ he said. ″[CDMA] limited the availability of our network for inbound international roaming.″
And the telco is pushing ahead with its LTE rollout, its network now covers 273 million people. ″We're close to 90% of the population,″ said Pica. ″We expect to complete the coast-to-coast build by the end of this year,″ added