Verizon forms VC group to prime 4G Market

Matt Bowman · October 6, 2009 · Short URL:

The carrier has enlisted venture firms to incubate products, opens test lab in Waltham.

 Verizon Wireless is rolling out its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) service--the backbone of its 4G (fourth generation) network--in Boston and Seattle later this year, and is calling on VC firms to fund devices and services that can put all that bandwidth to good use.

The carrier announced Monday it had formed the 4G Venture Forum (4GVF), comprised of its two LTE infrastructure providers, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, and six VC firms: Charles River Partners, Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, New Venture Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.  The firms will deploy as much as $1.3 billion of their collective $9 billion under management on 4G initiatives. The group is not restricted to Verizon's Network, or LTE, so firms can also support innovative companies that tap 4G capabilites on, say Clearwire's WiMAX networks.

LTE is expected to function at download speeds of 100Mbps. Expectation for 4G services include Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), video chat, mobile TV, HDTV content and Digital Video Broadcasting. LTE is aimed first at mobile laptops, but will move from there to PDAs and phones, and eventually other devices like cameras and (why not?) ToyBots.

Verizon also announced the opening of a lab at the Verizon Wireless LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, MA. The lab will provide a testing grounds for 4G products, with engineers from Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent on hand for assistance.

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