Verizon is implementing its XLTE technology on Friday in over 300 of its more than 500 markets with 4G LTE. XLTE is designed to increase network capacity and enhance high-speed wireless services, as 4G networks continue to roll out across the U.S.
The XLTE technology employs the company's AWS, or Advanced Wireless Services, spectrum, which is intended to at least double the capacity of the network. With increased capacity, the network can handle more simultaneous traffic, such as sending or receiving photos or video, as well as more users surfing the Net at the same time.
Heavy traffic usage is common in areas and times where there are significant populations of high-data users, including cities, concert venues, sports and other large events. The company says that XLTE Ready devices -- of which there are currently more than two dozen -- can access faster peak data speeds. Over a third of devices using the Verizon Wireless network can utilize XLTE, including the newest Droids, Samsung Galaxy S4, S5 and Note 3, and the iPhone 5C and 5S.
The Verizon 4G LTE network was first launched in December 2010, and the company said it is now nearly complete, covering 97 percent of the U.S. population. Verizon said it has invested more than $90 billion nationally in this century to build and enhance its wireless network.
Akshay Sharma, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner, told us that Verizon's initial, existing network was "on the 700MHz band C block, 2x10, or two 10 megahertz lanes, one for uplink and one for downlink."
XLTE, he said, "is over AWS licenses at a higher 1700 MHz band, with 2x20, or two 20 megahertz lanes for uplink and downlink. It isn't a new standard, but standard LTE over additional highway lanes, increasing capacity."
T-Mobile has a similar 2x20 network in some cities, he said, and Sprint's Spark uses a combination of approaches to increase capacity.
"The real newer standard," Sharma told us, "is LTE-A or LTE Advanced, leveraging carrier aggregation, effectively bonding disparate channels to make [them] appear contiguous. This is analogous to small trucks on small highways arriving at the same time [and appearing] like a big truck arriving on a big highway lane."
Ramp Up Next Year
He added that LTE-A with carrier aggregation is not here yet, with the first deployment having taken place last year in Korea with SK Telecom. "It likely will ramp up in 2015," Sharma said.
Bill Menezes, principal research analyst at Gartner, said all the major carriers are using additional spectrum to "widen the highway." He noted that "Verizon got stung last year when its network got overloaded."
LTE-A, Menezes told us, "is the next iteration of the global LTE standard [that] increases the efficiency with which the spectrum is used." This self-improving efficiency might have a somewhat longer staying power to handle the continually increasing demand, he said, than other efforts like Verizon's branded XLTE.