Verizon Wireless is finishing the initial roll-out of its 4G LTE network, which now covers 95 percent of the U.S. population. Verizon is covering 500 markets in 49 states and launches in Alaska next month.
Verizon is now looking for ways to ramp up other spectrum to push deeper.
That's because, according to Juniper Research, there will be more than 220 million 4G LTE subscribers in the world by 2014 and 57 percent of Verizon's data is carried on its 4G LTE network. Adoption of the technology is rapidly growing.
With the roll-out feat accomplished, Verizon is looking to move into new markets. Rumors are spinning that the company offered to buy Wind Mobile, a Canadian telecom start-up, and is looking to acquire Canadian wireless telecom Mobilicity. Reuters news service published the report, citing "people familiar with the deals." Verizon exited the Canadian market in 2004 when it sold its minority stake in Telus Corp.
Jeff Kagan, a telecom analyst in Atlanta, said wireless, as an industry, has been rapidly growing and changing over the last few decades -- but that growth isn't sustainable.
"We are reaching the point in the U.S. marketplace where the rate of growth is slowing in traditional wireless," Kagan told us. "So some U.S. carriers like Verizon and AT&T are looking to expand into other markets around the globe. This has been occurring with international companies for some time. There are many wireless companies already doing business in other countries."
Kagan pointed to the U.S. wireless marketplace as a prime example. Sprint is about to merge with SoftBank of Japan. That means of the top four carriers, only AT&T Mobility is a 100 percent U.S. company. Verizon Wireless is almost half-owned by Vodafone, T-Mobile is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG of Germany.
Verizon's Head Start
"The Canadian marketplace limits foreign ownership, but today the limits are higher than they were. I believe that trend will continue and over the next few years the limits will rise and eventually be eliminated," Kagan said. "That is why Verizon wants to get into the Canadian marketplace early and start to build."
From Kagan's perspective, tomorrow's wireless industry will look much different from the early days. Yesterday, he said, wireless carriers were building out their ability to deliver fast wireless data connections to their customers. That will continue, he said, but U.S. carriers seem poised to enter non-U.S. markets like Canada.
"Will they be successful? Good question. Each country is different, cracking the code to be successful in each country is also different," Kagan said. "We'll just have to take this one step at a time. But this is the direction that companies in the U.S. wireless industry seem to be heading in."