Ina Fried

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Verizon: We Haven’t Hit Many Speed Bumps With LTE Launch

A top Verizon Wireless executive on Monday said that the company has seen fewer headaches than expected since it launched its faster data network in December.

“Frankly I expected some speed bumps,” said Nicola Palmer, Verizon Wireless VP of Network Operations. “The surprise here to me is the speed bumps were very few and far between and they didn’t do any damage to the undercarriage.”

Speaking at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit, Palmer said that the hardest part has been the fact that rolling out its LTE network requires renegotiating with all the people that own the locations where it has cell towers. The new network requires all new antennas, base stations and other gear.

“What has been difficult is all the individual negotiations with the land owners,” Palmer said.

The result, though, has been a network that can allow things like high-definition video that weren’t possible before.

Verizon and its rivals are all competing to offer faster networks, but taking different approaches. Sprint was first out of the gate with its WiMax-based 4G network. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is using a faster version of its existing HSPA network, which it is also selling under the 4G moniker. AT&T, though slower to roll out a faster network, is taking a dual approach, with plans for both HSPA+ and LTE.

Palmer reiterated that the company plans to move away from unlimited data toward tiered pricing, a move she said is necessary for the industry.

“Unlimited billing on data is simply unsustainable for the industry,” Palmer said.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik