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Verizon's LTE Innovation Center: It's like a 4G Tomorrowland

Verizon Wireless shows how LTE will change home, business and travel

By Brad Reed, Network World
July 13, 2011 04:30 PM ET

Network World - Have you ever gone to Tomorrowland, the Disney theme park that dazzles you with tantalizing glimpses of what future technology will bring? Well, that's sort of what Verizon Wireless was shooting for at its LTE Innovation Center debut exhibition this week.

During both the opening ceremonies and exhibit tours, Innovation Center representatives showed off several new products that utilize Verizon's LTE wireless network to make life just a wee bit more convenient (early tests of commercial services have shown LTE download speeds in the 7M to 12Mbps range, although these speeds are likely to decline once more users subscribe to the services) . The LTE Innovation Center, located in Waltham, Mass., is meant to be a collaboration hub where young start-ups can get advice and technical know-how from the pros at Verizon and its equipment partners. In other words, if you're a young company that knows nothing about LTE but would like to incorporate it into your product to give it more mobility, you now have a place to go.

ANALYSIS: LTE in 2011: Curb your enthusiasm

During a panel discussion, representatives from three tech companies talked about how LTE had added an element of mobility to their products that exceeded anything they could have had with Wi-Fi. Bob Klingle, the CEO of LiveEdge, said that LTE was the key to letting his company create television news cameras that could broadcast from anywhere on the spot without having to wait around for a satellite truck. He also said that his company would never have survived if he didn't get hands-on help from Verizon, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.

"I was looking at mothballing the company because we just weren't there and the technology wasn't there," he explained. "But we have the good fortune to run into Verizon and Ericsson and the Innovation Center... we now have a product that NBC and CBS and Fox desperately want to change their cost structure and to democratize live news gathering."

Tim Root, the CTO of VGo Communications, explained how LTE made it possible for the company to mount a teleconferencing service on top of one of its mobile robots that gives people the ability to simulate moving around a room during a video conference. As an example, he cited a boy who had an immune disorder that prevented him from attending school in person. The school decided to give him some help by installing a VGo telepresence robot in the classroom and letting him attend classes through the robotic interface from his home. Root explained that this added mobility was something that only could have been accomplished with a high-bandwidth wireless network with sufficient range to ensure constant connectivity.

"Not only does it let you communicate with your device to a VGo device... but it also gives you a dimension of mobility," he said. "We have a bunch of customers who put a VGo where their [work-related] team is and they have remote workers in international and other locations and they connect up every day for multiple hours and they're truly there. They can drive the unit, as it's controlled remotely, so they're fully empowered to go wherever they need to go."

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