2011 sure doesn't feel like that long ago, but it's evidently long enough for Verizon to realize that demand for innovation is booming in Silicon Valley. Not quite two years after the company cracked open the doors to its San Francisco-based Innovation Center, it's already looking to expand. During a briefing today at its other Innovation Center -- the one located just outside of Boston -- we were told that plans are underway to expand the SF facility. Presently, the Waltham, Mass. center is the vaster of the two, and it's Verizon's goal to stretch the California edition to (roughly) match the original location.
We were also told that the company has looked at a variety of other cities where potential Innovation Centers could be planted, and while "three to four" undisclosed metropolises are in play, the company wants to nail the execution of its first two before hastily expanding into new locales. According to Praveen Atreya, director of Verizon's Innovation Program, there's just too much involved in the incubation and launch process to not devote the proper amount of manpower to it. In other words, there's more to launching a product than just design and manufacturing; a lot of TLC goes on in order to make something have a successful shelf life.
Separately, Mike Haberman -- VP of Network Support at Verizon Wireless -- affirmed that VZW is still on track with its LTE rollout and HD Voice plans. After just hitting 491 LTE markets, Verizon Wireless now covers over 95 percent of its points-of-presence (POP), and it still plans to be "substantially done [with its LTE rollout] by mid-year." He also confirmed that "as of this month, over 54 percent of Verizon's data traffic takes place on its 4G LTE network, with a full 28 percent of its base converted" to the technology. Naturally, many are wondering when they'll be able to stop relying on the (relatively) archaic 1xCDMA technology for voice calls.
Haberman stated that VZW is "testing [HD Voice] right now, and has it working in the network right now," further clarifying that he "expects to have devices capable of HD Voice in 2013 with a launch [to the public] early next year." Granted, you'd need a new handset to take advantage, but what's potentially most interesting is Verizon's intention to move towards cross-carrier HD Voice as quickly as possible."We'll eventually take CDMA out of the device," said Haberman, "likely at the start of the next decade. And there's no technical reason VoLTE and HD Voice can't go across carriers. We're working on that, though it'll be Verizon-only at launch."
We'll have more from our visit to Verizon's Innovation Center in the coming days, so stay tuned!
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.