Verizon Wireless spectrumVerizon Wireless is claiming double the bandwidth for the AWS-based LTE capability it has rolled out in more than half of its LTE markets under the brand name XLTE. When asked for specifics, a Verizon spokeswoman said, “We are still focused on our brand promise of 5-12 Mbps on the download and 2-5 Mbps on the upload.”

AWS spectrum is in a relatively high frequency range that supports higher-capacity connectivity over relatively short distances. That makes it well suited for augmenting the company’s existing LTE network, which operates in the lower-frequency 700 MHz band. Lower -frequency spectrum is better suited for covering greater distances and for penetrating walls and other blockages.

Marketing Verizon LTE
In a promotional video about Verizon XLTE, Verizon says: “Faster peak speeds in cities coast to coast. More space for everyone to stream and share more – today, tomorrow and far into the future. This is XLTE. For best results, use Verizon.”

YouTube Preview Image

To take advantage of the new XLTE network, customers will need a phone that operates in the AWS spectrum band. In an announcement today about XLTE Verizon said nearly all of the devices it currently sells are XLTE-capable. These include the most popular iPhone and Samsung models that dominate the market. Undoubtedly Verizon’s devices also work in the 700 MHz band, enabling the device to operate using the best network available at any particular time.

Verizon apparently has been selling XLTE-capable phones for at least several months as the company said more than 35% of all devices operating on the Verizon Wireless network can use XLTE.

In today’s announcement, Verizon noted that customers with LTE devices that don’t work in the AWS band will benefit indirectly from the AWS rollout. “Customers with 4G LTE devices operating solely on the 700 MHz spectrum in XLTE markets also benefit from the extra capacity created by XLTE-ready device traffic moving to the AWS spectrum,” the company said.

Verizon plans to promote XLTE through in-store signage and through commercials, the company spokeswoman said.

High-Frequency Pros and Cons
Verizon isn’t the only carrier with higher-frequency spectrum, but it may be the only one to have broadly deployed LTE in both low-frequency and high-frequency bands. Some carriers have used higher-frequency bands for their primary network, and as a result, design decisions likely did not focus on providing additional capacity in high-traffic areas.

Verizon’s XLTE news comes as the government gears up for the auction of additional AWS spectrum dubbed AWS-3, as well as additional low-frequency spectrum in the 600 MHz band.

Regulators have limited the amount of spectrum that the nation’s largest wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T will be able to acquire in the 600 MHz band, arguing that networks are less costly to build using lower-frequency spectrum.

But as Verizon’s announcement illustrates, higher-frequency spectrum has other advantages – at least for a carrier that already has deployed service in lower-frequency bands.