Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:16PM - 683 Views
Chris Dunham, PDT Sports Writer

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Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

In just a few years the old commercial line, “Can you hear me now?” from Verizon Wireless ads has turned more toward, “When can’t you hear me?”

On Thursday, Verizon Wireless announced that its customers in the Portsmouth area were now part of the 4G LTE (Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution) network offered by the cellphone provider.

Verizon joins AT&T as the other major provider in the Portsmouth area to offer 4G connectivity.

Executive Director of Verizon’s network Don Carretta said the upgrade brings unprecedented ability for innovation for those connected to Verizon’s services.

“You will see a lot of advances concerning the connectivity of devices both at work and at the home for those in our network,” Carretta said. “Things like opening a garage door from work or unlocking the front door so your child can get inside are now possible.”

Verizon users with 4G-capable devices from Lucasville to Franklin Furnace will now have access to vastly improved data speed on the network.

Carretta said the process of upgrading the network in the Portsmouth service area was not as easy as flipping a switch, though the term ‘switch’ is part of what makes the new 4G capability work.

“There are basically three aspects that went into bringing 4G LTE to Portsmouth,” Carretta said. “The first was upgrading the tower sites.”

Carretta said each of the antennas required hardware upgrades to handle the 700 MHz spectrum that 4G LTE utilizes. The process also involved negotiating with the owners of each tower site, as providers lease their towers to other providers.

The second step was upgrading the connections from the towers to the switching locations.

“We have to upgrade what is referred to as the backhaul, which is the connection between towers and the switches,” Corretta said. “You need a fast pipe for that and the traditional copper-based backhaul. With 4G we switched to fiber optic ethernet service which has a minimum of 50 Megabit capacity, sometimes higher.”

The last step was the flipping of the switch, so to speak.

“Our base stations needed upgrades on the routing switches so we installed hardware known as eNodeB,” Carretta said. “That makes it so the network has very little latency or wait time.”

Over the past several years, Verizon and the other major wireless providers such as Sprint, AT&T, Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile, have been in an arms race to provide their customers a 4G network.

AT&T alone invested $212 million in just the first half of 2012 upgrading its Ohio wireless and wired network capabilities.

According to Carretta, 4G is the future of mobile data usage.

“The 4G network is an open standard with low latency,” Carretta said. “The potential uses for the network are endless.”

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@heartlandpublications.com.

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