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DirecTV Tests LTE With Verizon Wireless

DirecTV has teamed up with Verizon Wireless for a test of high-speed Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology in a few homes in Pennsylvania, designed to deliver an integrated Internet and TV bundle.

The test was reported Thursday by Investor's Business Daily,  after had previously speculated that Verizon and DirecTV were working together on LTE.

A DirecTV spokesman confirmed the test is being conducted near Erie, Pa. A Verizon Wireless representative declined to comment.

Verizon Wireless said it launched LTE wireless services in 38 markets where more than 110 million Americans live on Sunday, Dec. 5. The company says the LTE services offer 5 to 12 Megabits per second downloads and 2 to 5 Mbps uplinks.

Executives for the satellite TV operator discussed the LTE tests at DirecTV's Dec. 2 investor day presentation in New York.

"[W]e are testing a fixed-line LTE service with Verizon," Paul Guyardo, DirecTV executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a presentation. "We've done technology tests, we've done market research, we've done some user trials, and all of it shows that there is some opportunity there."

Added Guyardo, "But, as we all know, nationwide LTE is still a couple of years away."

The opportunity for DirecTV to sell high-speed Internet service "goes hand-in-hand" with the operator's connected home strategy, he said. Hooking up DirecTV's set-top boxes to broadband service could allow the company to offer as many as 6,000 movies on demand through the DirecTV Cinema service.

In the Pennsylvania trial, an LTE "soup can" transmitter is attached to the DirecTV dish which provides "one-wire distribution" into a subscriber's home, according to DirecTV chief technology officer Rômulo Pontual.

DirecTV chairman and CEO Mike White, also at the company's investor day, cautioned that "we've got to see about caps on data usage, which we've been working with Verizon on. They've got some sensitivities there, too. So, again, I would say it's still very much kind of a pilot right now."

Verizon Telecom has a reseller deal with DirecTV to offer the satellite TV service in areas where the telco does not offer FiOS TV.