When most mobile operators in the world built
their networks on the GSM (Global System for Mobile
Communications) transmission standard, Verizon went for CDMA
(code division multiple access), a transmission technology
that enables multiple calls to be carried over a single
When other mobile carriers adopted Java for developing cell
phone applications, Verizon went with Qualcomm's BREW
(Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless). And now, as it
looks as if mobile operators in Europe are leaning toward
DVB-H to deliver streaming video on cell phones, Verizon has
already committed to another technology: MediaFlo.
Verizon's risk taking seems to have paid off. The company
has consistently scored high in customer satisfaction
surveys, which has translated into some of the lowest churn
rates among wireless carriers in the United States.
The man behind much of this success is Dick Lynch, Verizon
Wireless's executive vice president and chief technical
officer. In cell phone years, Lynch is what you might
consider an old timer.
As CTO of Bell Atlantic Mobile back in 1995, and later as
Verizon's CTO, he led several industry initiatives,
including the advancement of CDMA into a commercial wireless
offering and the deployment of the EV-DO (Evolution Data
Optimized) wireless protocol for third-generation networks.
Earlier this year, he became a fellow of the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), one of the most
prestigious distinctions in the field of electrical
CNET News.com caught up with Lynch at the industry's recent
CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006 conference in Los
Angles to get his take on a variety of hot topics, including
mobile advertising, 4G networks and mobile TV.
Q: There's been a lot of talk recently about mobile-phone
operators inserting advertising into their services. I know
that Verizon Wireless has been testing mobile ads. How do
you envision that the experience will be for consumers?
Lynch: From a technology standpoint, we will use SMS (for
text messages) and MMS (for multimedia content) messaging to
do a lot of the push advertising. There could be electronic
coupons that will have a reader device, so people can redeem
them. We'll be able to do some location service functions,
so when you go to a new city, you'll get restaurant or hotel
information. We'll just push that information to the phone
when you arrive.
What if people don't want these advertisements?
Lynch: There will be an option to opt out of the process. We
won't be ramming ads down people's throats. Some people may
not see any advertising, and they'll be willing to pay
accordingly. And people who want to see them will also pay
Verizon has agreed to be the first mobile operator to use
Qualcomm's MediaFlo mobile broadcast network to offer live
television on mobile phones. Last year, there was talk from
Qualcomm that the network would be ready in the fourth
quarter of this year. How are things shaping up?
Lynch: Some of the cities are up and running now. And I
expect we will have service in some cities available by the
end of the year.
Verizon already has its V Cast mobile-video service. Why
do you need MediaFlo, too?
Lynch: V Cast and MediaFlo were designed for different
things. MediaFlo offers real-time streaming video services
and scheduled programming. V Cast is an on-demand clip
One of the nice things about MediaFlo is that it provides a
high-quality network for streaming video. Other carriers'
mobile services that say they are streaming over an EV-DO
network quite frankly don't have the proper quality of
service in place.
Why did Verizon Wireless choose MediaFlo, which is a
brand-new technology, instead of DVB-H (Digital Video
Broadcasting--Handheld), which is based on existing standard
Lynch: That's easy. We did a bake-off of the technologies,
and MediaFlo came out the early market leader. It also has
long-term characteristics that make it a better technology.
Right now, Verizon Wireless is the only operator
supporting MediaFlo. And the No. 1 and No. 2 handset
manufacturers in the world--Nokia and Motorola--are throwing
their weight behind DVB-H. Does that concern you?
Lynch: Not really. We have multiple handset manufacturers
for our MediaFlo phones in advance of our launch.
So which companies are making the handsets for you?
Lynch: We haven't announced that yet. But look where our
handsets have traditionally come from. You shouldn't be
surprised to see some of the same names. And I wouldn't be
surprised to see one of these others you mention, that are
supporting DVB-H, also making handsets for MediaFlo.
Verizon Wireless has been rolling out its 3G network
based on EV-DO for more than a year. And now you're
upgrading the network to EV-DO Revision A. How does the
landscape change, once you have Revision A deployed?
Lynch: We have three networks right now. There's the 1XRTT
network, which we use for voice and SMS services. We'll have
no problem serving customers on that for years to come.