Qualcomm May Slow Verizon’s LTE Rollout

4/6/09

Verizon’s schedule for deploying speedy fourth generation mobile phones may be subject to delay. Citing a Deutsche Bank research report issued this morning, GigaOM suggests Verizon won’t make its plan to have LTE (Long-Term Evolution) handsets available by the end of 2010.

The holdup is due to the LTE chip production schedule at San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM). Verizon has said it will have LTE in 20-35 markets by the end of 2010. However, Qualcomm’s LTE chips for data cards won’t be generally available until the second half of 2010, according to Deutsche Bank.

The process of building new chips into phones usually takes up to 18 months after the first chips are out. So LTE chips for handsets might not be available until well into 2011.

Qualcomm marketing director Michael Mamaghani said in San Francisco last week he expects the commercialization of LTE devices to happen in 2012 or later.

LTE represents an upgrade in 3G UMTS technology to 4G mobile technology. Verizon, AT&T, Motorola, and Samsung have generally shown more interest in LTE, while Sprint and Intel are advancing with rival WiMax (‘Worldwide Inter-operability for Microwave Access’) technology. Intel has developed its own WiMax chipset.

Anssi Vanjoki from Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone producer, last week harshly compared WiMax to Betamax, the early video format that was superseded by VHS in the 1980s.

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