The long-awaited fourth generation wireless network called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is expected to be released by year-end in up to 30 markets by Verizon Wireless (VZ). But if you were at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, you didn't have to wait to see how this next-generation cellular network will work.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% The technology, which is supposed to increase data speeds over wireless networks by 10 times -- up to 6 Megabits per second -- has a great deal of support from Verizon and other carriers such as AT&T (T). But it will also be up against WiMax, which can also achieve speeds of up to 6 Megabits per second. Sprint (S) is a big player in WiMax, already operating its service in 27 U.S. cities.
So, the stakes are high. At the CES show, Verizon showed off just how much better so many applications will work on this next-generation network. For starters, Verizon showed a video conference using Creative Labs equipment. The result? Virtual meetings that are noticeably smoother than today's typically buggy experience.
But LTE will also be able to handle the bandwidth-hogging content of a myriad of consumer devices, such as digital cameras that will instantly shoot data across its networks. Samsung, for instance, has a digital camera that can record high-definition videos that can then be quickly uploaded over an LTE network to, say, a social networking site.
Beyond these fairly obvious applications, LTE is likely to also spawn new, innovative apps. For example, with LTE, consumers will be able to use a number of home services set up by Verizon and its partners to monitor your home security, provide home health services and turn down the heat while you are away.
In security, Verizon is partnering with firms that offer home software that will operate over LTE. The idea is that LTE radios will be able to handle cameras outside the home that allow you to see every area of your house. The network allows for that kind of bandwidth.
Looking ahead, it's not hard to imagine a day when Verizon Wireless won't just be offering Internet, telephone and television all for one price. Instead, you could sign up for energy management, security, media management and even health services.
That could mean new revenue streams for Verizon and other wireless carriers. This can't come too quickly. A few years ago, the average subscriber was paying as much as $200 per month for services. Today, that number has come down to under $100 per subscriber. With its LTE system, Verizon could soon start to recoup some of that lost monthly subscriber revenue.
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