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Verizon, DirecTV Testing LTE-Based Home Broadband
As our leaked photos from September suggested...
by Karl Bode 10:29AM Friday Dec 10 2010
Back in September you might recall we directed your attention to some exclusive, leaked photos from a user in Pennsylvania, who claimed to be participating in a beta test of a new broadband delivery service. According to the user, the technology somehow integrated Verizon LTE service -- but was being installed in conjunction with DirecTV. Verizon, as you might expect, wouldn't comment when we asked them for detail. Fast forward to this week, and a report in Investors Business Daily proclaims that Verizon and DirecTV are cooperatively testing residential LTE broadband service:
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Verizon is providing broadband Internet service to a small number of Erie homes via its 4G LTE network. The homes are equipped with a satellite dish to receive DirecTV's video services. A rooftop radio antenna connects to Verizon's LTE network. DirecTV installs wiring in homes to connect to TV set-top boxes, and the homes get LTE broadband via a wireless router...Rumors of an LTE-based alliance between Verizon and DirecTV surfaced a couple of months ago on the Broadband Report blog.
The confirmation of the plan apparently slipped out of the mouth of a DirecTV executive at an analyst meeting in New York City last week. There's no additional details outside of the fact that this partnership is real, though the executive insisted Verizon's LTE network (launched last weekend) is a "couple of years away." As we noted in September, a large number of our readers will recall that DirecTV has traveled a somewhat rocky road when it comes to offering broadband.

A partnership with DirecTV is a smart play for Verizon, who as we've repeatedly noted, plans to use LTE to fill in rural coverage gaps not reached by FiOS or DSL. It's particularly clever if you consider this service would compete directly with the DSL service offered by companies like Fairpoint and Frontier -- who acquired Verizon's aging copper landlines in dozens of states in exchange for oodles of Verizon debt. Verizon offloaded debt and unwanted networks, got huge tax breaks, and now gets to win back many of those customers with a hybrid LTE/satellite platform.

The big question of course will be just how much Verizon will charge for this service, and just how low their caps will be. Verizon's already taken some heat for 5-10 GB per month mobile LTE caps, and such restrictions will be more pronounced for a more-frequently-used residential service -- especially if DirecTV video features are routed over LTE. Still, consider the fact that their competition in many of these markets will be either overpriced, slow DSL -- or overpriced, heavily capped and slow satellite service from Wild Blue and HugheNet.

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