US operator Verizon Wireless yesterday announced plans to work with its vendors and venture capital partners to invest as much as US$1.3 billion in LTE technology. Dubbed the 4G Venture Forum (4GVF), the group includes Alcatel-Lucent Ventures, Charles River Partners, New Venture Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures, as well as Verizon’s LTE network suppliers Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. The venture firms will identify and fund ideas for devices and applications, while Verizon and the two infrastructure companies will test concepts through their labs and developer communities.
Today’s announcement comes as Verizon is stepping up its LTE efforts in a big way. Several weeks ago the carrier tested an LTE network in Boston (using Alcatel-Lucent gear) and Seattle (with Ericsson equipment), including streaming video, file transfers and web browsing. Yesterday it also opened its LTE Innovation Center in Boston and opened an online portal for device developers. Verizon plans to launch LTE in up to 30 markets by 2010, making it the first US LTE operator and also potentially the world’s first mover in this space.