Tag Archives | LTE

Verizon’s 4G Network: The Details

Verizon Wireless officially announced the roll-out plans for its 4G LTE high-speed wireless data network today, and none too soon: The LTE era starts this Sunday in thirty-eight metro areas. All Things Digital’s Ina Fried has more specifics, and Greg Kumparak of MobileCrunch lists the launch cities.

The facts that caught my eye:

  • Verizon is charging $50 a month for 5GB of data, and $80 for 10GB; as a current customer of its 3G data service, that strikes me as a decent deal, since I’m paying $60 for 5GB of pokier 3G service.
  • Two USB modems will be available, for $99 each on contract after rebates; they’ll double as 3G modems when 4G service isn’t around.
  • It sounds like 4G phones won’t show up until mid-2011 (there goes any last remaining possibility of a 4G Verizon iPhone in early 2011).

What I really want is a 4G MiFi mobile router that I can use with a laptop, an iPad, a smartphone, and any other Wi-Fi device; I assume that one is in the works. Hope that it arrives before too long–and that there’s a way for me to upgrade from my 3G MiFi without spending a fortune.

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LTE and the Dawn of Tiered Pricing…Ugh

Leave it up to Verizon to be at the forefront of making your wireless data more expensive. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Thursday, Verizon executives said they see the switch to LTE and 4G as a perfect time to introduce speed caps on data services.

This would be similar to what cable and DSL providers have been doing for a long time, although it wasn’t completely clear whether in exchange for these speed caps — and obviously higher prices — would we see the end of caps in bandwidth.

Verizon may be leaning toward making higher bandwidth plans slower and lower bandwidth plans faster, however. “If you want to pay for less speed, you’ll pay for less speed and consume more, or you can pay for high speed and consume less,” chief financial officer Fran Shammo said. CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that unlimted plans will not go away — the company would see what its customers find “fair” and go from there, whatever that means.

Honestly, I find this news troubling — since wireless services are requiring an ever increasing amount of bandwidth and also faster data speeds. What this means is data costs for consumers are likely to skyrocket. I don’t see how this is in any way good for us at all. It more seems as a method to dig deeper into our pockets and leaving us little choice other than to go along with it.

I’m hoping this isn’t a trend in the industry — but knowing the way the carriers operate, it probably will be.


Sprint + T-Mobile? LTE Holds the Key

When rumors of Sprint and T-Mobile first cropped up in March 2008 thanks to Merril Lynch analysts, quite a few pundits out there thought it was a perfect idea to get the carrier on equal footing with its much bigger competitors. There’s a huge problem however with this marriage: cellular technology.

In current form, a Sprint and T-Mobile merger would be a hodgepodge. You’d have a CDMA network (Sprint), an iDEN network (Nextel), and a GSM network (T-Mobile). None of these technologies are really compatible, nor is there a phone out there that could successfully jump from one tower and technology to another.

But of all people, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has started the conversation anew. He told the Financial Times Tuesday that a pairing would have some “logic” to it. How? Pretty simple — Sprint could viably build an LTE network to partner with its WiMAX efforts, and T-Mobile is also on the path to the same technology as well.

(It should be mentioned that within say two to three years, the topic of cellular technology is going to be pretty much moot as all the major carriers save Sprint have considerable LTE plans. Benefit to the consumer? You bet. Manufacturers won’t have to worry about producing two versions of the same phone.)

Sprint is serious about its LTE move: it is already seeking bids to deploy the technology over its network. This is not to say it’s forgetting about WiMAX: the way the FT is reporting, it sounds like that’s part of what Sprint is looking for bidders to do.

No matter what the talk is, the only way T-Mobile would be able to effectively compete with either Verizon or AT&T is through a merger. It’s running short of spectrum — always an issue for the nation’s fourth biggest carrier — and coverage still remains spotty even after nearly a decade on US soil.

In one fell swoop, those problems could be alleviated. But the sticking point still remains the technology. No LTE for Sprint will mean no merger, and I think that’s pretty clear.


AT&T Talks LTE

Anxious to see AT&T improve its wireless network? The long-term solution won’t involve beefing up the company’s current 3G network–it’ll be nailing LTE, the even-higher-speed 4G wireless technology that’ll eventually replace the current network. AT&T announced today that it’s working with equipment manufacturers Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson to begin tests of LTE later this year, with a full rollout in 2011.

LTE isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s promising and I look forward to its arrival. Even though absolutely none of the phones and wireless adapters we own now will be compatible with it…


Department of Misleading Headlines

Scott Moritz, at TheStreet.com:

Um, read the story, and you’ll find it presents no evidence that Apple is contemplating a T-Mobile deal. All you get is an analyst speculating that Verizon isn’t going to get the iPhone soon, and speculating that if Apple wants to end AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity it might logically cut a deal with T-Mobile. But it’s all guesswork.

The analyst says that he expects that a Verizon iPhone will appear only in 2011, and that it’ll use a 4G LTE data connection rather than Verizon’s current EVDO network. Sounds logical enough. If you assume that Verizon’s current spree of iPhone bashing means it’s not going to announce an Apple deal immediately, it feels more and more likely that Apple and Verizon will skip the dead-end technology an EVDO iPhone would bring and jump directly to an LTE model. And it’s going to be 2011 before an LTE iPhone makes sense.

Or so I think. I cheerfully concede that I could be wrong. Which is why this post isn’t titled “No Verizon iPhone Until 2011…”


A Dream Car for Tech Lovers

Is there any part of our lives that’s more backwards from a digital-technology standpoint than the hours we spend in the second homes known as cars? Interesting exceptions such as Ford Sync aside, automobiles seem to routinely run about half a decade behind the rest of the world when it comes to personal technology. (I felt positively triumphant when I recently installed an adapter that lets me listen to my iPhone in the car–woo hoo!)

So the concept car being announced today by nG Connect–a consortium of companies involved in the next-generation LTE wireless broadband standard–is, indeed, a dream machine.  Designed by LTE infrastructure company Alcatel Lucent, Atlantic Records, infogizmo maker Chumby, kid site Kabillion, real-time operating system developer QNX, and Toyota, the modified Prius sports large multiple Net -connected touchscreens (including separate ones for the driver and front passenger) that deliver information services such as GPS navigation, car diagnostics, and home monitoring; music and movies (not to the driver, I assume!); networked games; shopping, and more.

It’s also a rolling hotspot so you can use laptops and Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and other wireless gizmos.

When will we be able to park something like this in our own driveways? Well, LTE should start to matter next year. Judging from past history with network rollouts, I’m assuming it’s going to be awhile until it’s available everywhere I want to drive. (I rode in the passenger’s seat down California’s Highway 1 this weekend, and even plain old EVDO often disappeared on me.) I figure it’s also going to be awhile before car companies build even a fraction of this stuff into real vehicles–and once they do, it’ll be awhile longer before it’s priced for mere humans.

All of which is fine by me. I’m nowhere near ready to retire my trusty 2004 Mazda3, so if it’s a few years before this concept car becomes affordable reality, I can wait.

Does it appeal to you?


LTE vs. WiMAX: The 4G Wireless War

Remember when 3G was the future of wireless data? It’s not even universally available in the U.S. yet, and the race is already well underway to replace it. WiMAX, the 4G network technology that counts Sprint and Intel among its boosters, has a head start. But it’s losing ground to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communications in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video well, and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite.

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies, based on WCDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA, in part because it updates UMTS technology to provide significantly faster data rates for both uploading and downloading, while preserving backwards compatibility with existing handsets based on older standards. Verizon Wireless, has already said that it will support LTE as its 4G technology of choice, abandoning its current CDMA based network.

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AT&T Plans Speed Bump for 3G

att_header_logoIt might not yet have its network issues straightened out, but its moving forward anyway with plans to boost speeds from 3.6MBps to 7.2 MBps. This would likely be a final speed boost before the company moves to evolved 3G and its selected 4G technology, LTE.

Most devices already have the capability to be able to handle the current bandwidth specs. It has begun testing devices on its two 7.2MBps-capable test networks on track to debut the higher speeds in the near future. While the current 3G technologies could theoretically support speeds up to 14.4MBps, AT&T says those higher speeds have been fraught with technical glitches.

Thus, it plans to jump right to HSPA+, which would mean the next jump would take data speeds to 21MBps. With LTE’s commercial rollout expected to happen in 2011, this quick ramp up in speed is likely to happen over the next 18 months or so.

With this new data-centric focus, AT&T’s business is also beginning to change ever so slightly. At CTIA, the company in presentations talked about data-only devices that the carrier will begin to offer. It has even begun to mull pay-as-you-go plans, where the user only pays for the amount of data he/she uses.

While better speed is always great, in the end quality of service is more important. I sure hope AT&T puts that before any speed boost because it won’t mean a hill of beans if you can’t get on the network in the first place!

[Hat tip: Telephony Online]

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Sprint a Little Wishy-Washy on WiMax?

sprint_logo1GigaOM is reporting that Sprint has reportedly begun testing LTE equipment, a move that may suggest it may not be completely confident that WiMax may be its eventual route for 4G.

Sprint owns 51 percent of Clearwire, a company commited to bringing near-nationwide WiMax access by 2010. However, its competitors have all decided that LTE is the way to go for next-generation data, leaving the company as the odd man out, so to speak.

The company is not denying that it is testing out LTE, explaning it as a method “to monitor and assess the competitive landscape and any potential impacts to Sprint’s plans.” But you have to think, being that its the only provider comitted to WiMax that maybe it may be having some second thoughts.

Add this to the fact that Clear’s WiMax equipment was built to be converted later to LTE, and one has to wonder.

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Verizon Wireless Looks to Launch LTE This Year

verizonmainlogoVerizon Wireless will likely lead the charge towards LTE, with the company already testing the technology in the Minneapolis, Columbus, Ohio and Northern New Jersey. This would put it roughly a year ahead of its closest competitor — AT&T — which anticipates launching LTE service in 2011.

Trials will expand throughout the country later this year, and if all goes well, nationwide rollout would begin in 2010 in about 25 to 30 markets. The completion of the rollout is expected in 2015, according to chief technology officer Dick Lynch.

LTE promises super-fast speeds of up to 60MBps, although Verizon cautions that was in field trials and not in real life situations. The technology uses the 700MHz spectrum acquired in an FCC auction last year.

This is the same spectrum being used by analog television signals, so obviously a pushback in the transition to digital is obviously affecting Verizon’s plans (now you see why they were against it!).

If you want to take a look at Lynch’s PowerPoint presentation at 3GSM, Verizon has posted it online.

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