BARCELONA, Spain -- There was a big announcement here today that could bring super-fast 4G cell-phone service to the U.S. a lot quicker than previously expected.
Telefon AB L.M.
will build the first fourth-generation LTE wireless network in the U.S.
LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution. This new technology is expected to allow much faster mobile access to new cellular features like high-quality HD video. These features just weren't feasible with 3G wireless networks, but had been available via c able and DSL broadband networks
Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent will construct the network for Verizon Wireless, which is Verizon's mobile joint venture with
. They expect they will be able to start commercial service of the new technology next year.
That's what Verizon says. But according to some of the industry experts I discussed this with here at the show, the 2010 deadline seems a little bit overly optimistic. They believe that LTE technology is more like two or three years away from a feasible rollout in the U.S.
I spoke with a number of people responsible for making some of the highest-tech, recently announced, touch-screen handsets that the industry expects to be released this year. They told me that they see pure LTE-capable handsets becoming a reality a few years down the road.
One of the problems facing both the network and handset manufacturers could be an intermediate step of needing to create dual-mode handsets that will be able to be used on both Verizon's current CDMA/EVDO 3G network as well as its future 4G LTE frequencies.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.