Over 98% of Americans now have access to LTE services, this according to a report on Monday in The Verge. Now to be clear, this isn’t to say that 98% of Americans are using LTE supported phones, but rather that nearly all Americans now live in areas where LTE network support is available.
At a time when wireless carriers are doing away with unlimited data and moving towards shared data plans, U.S. Cellular has announced it is running a special promotion that allow customers to sign up for unlimited 4G LTE data on smartphones for $40 a month with a two-year contract from now until January 31st, 2013. Once the two years are up, customers will then be forced off the LTE all-you-can-eat plan. For an additional $20, U.S. Cellular customers can also add on unlimited 4G LTE tethering. U.S. Cellular recently added 30 new LTE markets to its growing network earlier this month to round out a total of 58 markets with high-speed mobile data. If your area supports U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE network, the deal is a steal.
The future of the wireless industry lies within the LTE technologies a majority of carriers have already turned to for mobile connectivity. These high-speed networks have introduced consumers to speeds that are up to four times faster than comparable 3G networks. The four major wireless providers in the United States are expected to blanket the country with LTE coverage in the coming years and begin to phase out older 3G and 2G technologies. Researchers at Virginia Tech, however, have revealed that these LTE networks may not be as secure as we once thought. More →
Although 4G LTE makes delivering data cheaper on a per-gigabyte basis, many wireless carriers are in no rush to give up their lucrative voice plans in favor of folding their voice services into their LTE data packages. The latest carrier survey from Infonetics Research shows that carriers are increasingly seeing average revenue per user (ARPU) go up as a result of deploying LTE as their data technology, as greater spectral efficiencies on LTE networks are sending data transmission costs downward. However, Infonetics says that roughly one-third of carriers surveyed said they “plan to use their 2G and 3G networks for voice services as long as possible.” So even though LTE gives carriers the ability to deliver voice as a data application and even though LTE is making carriers more profitable, they aren’t willing to give up that voice plan revenue just yet. Surprise, surprise. More →
The days of smartphone users having to pay for buckets of voice minutes each month may be approaching an end. The South Korea IT Times reports that South Korea Telecom will soon start upgrading its customers’ Samsung (005930) Galaxy S III smartphones so they can make voice calls over the carrier’s LTE network. This is significant because it means that voice calls on the SKT customers’ smartphones will become just another data application rather than a separate service requiring its own monthly plan. In the United States, major carriers Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T) and Sprint (S) all plan to deploy their own Voice over LTE services sometime in 2013. Of course, considering the direction data plans have been heading recently, we should all expect carriers to compensate for any potential lost voice plan revenue by raising prices elsewhere.
UPDATE: MetroPCS announced a VoLTE service of its own on Tuesday. More →
A combination of data caps and higher retail prices will significantly hurt demand for tablets equipped with 4G LTE connectivity over the next few years, according to the latest report from research firm CCS Insight. As reported by FierceWireless, the firm found that the share of tablets shipped with cellular-based connectivity will slip to just 37% by 2016, down from 48% in 2011. The reason for this is clear: People want to be able to consume large amounts of data on their tablets without incurring pesky overage fees and thus prefer Wi-Fi for their tablet connections. More →
Sprint’s 4G LTE network is only one day old and it’s already ahead of the game. The nation’s No.3 carrier must have been feeling guilty after releasing its latest flagship smartphone, the EVO “4G LTE,” without a “4G LTE” network to support it — the network went live on Monday in 15 markets instead of just the five that had been previously announced. “Sprint and our vendors have been deploying Network Vision sites all across the country for the last several months and we are thrilled to deliver our new network to our customers today in and around Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, San Antonio and Waco,” said Sprint’s network boss, Bob Azzi. “This new network is performing extremely well and customers should find it consistent, reliable and really fast.” Sprint’s press release follows below. More →
Smartphones with high-speed LTE connectivity are still in the minority of devices currently in use, but probably won’t be the case for long. Per Digitimes, the Taiwanese Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute research firm is projecting that LTE smartphones will total 586 million in 2016, more than nine times the 64 million smartphones projected to ship in 2012. It seems that 2013 will be the real tipping point for LTE smartphones as shipments are expected to nearly triple to 188 million units next year, the highest year-over-year percentage increase in MIC’s projections. Verizon Wireless and AT&T are currently the only major U.S. carriers to offer LTE services, although Sprint is due to launch its LTE network in five cities this month and T-Mobile is slated to start offering its own LTE services in 2013.
Sprint on Tuesday announced that it plans to cease service on its iDEN Nextel network as early as June 30th, 2013. The nation’s third largest wireless provider is looking to migrate business and government customers from the old push-to-talk technology onto Sprint Direct Connect, which operates on the carrier’s 3G CDMA network and offers improved in-building coverage, and increased voice and data capacity. Sprint will begin sending written notices to iDEN customers beginning June 1st, 2012. The dated Nextel spectrum will be reassigned for the carrier’s upcoming LTE network. Sprint’s press release follows below. More →
Verizon on Thursday announced a slew of new locations for the carrier’s high-speed 4G LTE network that will go live on May 17th. The company’s LTE service will roll out in numerous communities along the Jersey Shore including Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach, Belmar, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Atlantic City and Cape May County, along with 26 other markets, the majority of which are located in the Northeast. “The size of our 4G LTE network gives us a significant competitive advantage over competitors as it enables more residents, small businesses and local government to take advantage of the speed and connectivity benefits offered by this advanced technology,” said Verizon Wireless Regional President Mario Turco. “We are committed to continuing the aggressive rollout of our 4G LTE network in 2012.” Verizon’s 4G LTE network currently covers 230 markets nationwide, and is on track to bring LTE to the carrier’s entire 3G footprint by the end of 2013. Verizon’s press release follows below. More →
Apple’s new iPad will be launching in 23 new countries on Friday, May 11th and seven additional markets on Saturday, May 12th. Despite the massive expansion, the Cupertino-based company’s latest tablet PC will still be unavailable in China, where the company is instead promoting the iPad 2. On May 11th the tablet will launch in Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Morocco, Peru, Taiwan, Tunisia, Vietnam. On May 12th the new iPad will be available in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Following this weekend’s expansion, Apple’s newest iPad will be available in nearly 90 countries around the world. More →
T-Mobile has acknowledged internally that Apple’s iPhone offers a “poor customer experience” on its network, but the nation’s No.4 carrier is working as quickly as it can to change that. The company announced this past February that it will be performing upgrades to its network that bring faster data speeds to users who purchase an iPhone on their own and unlock it for use on T-Mobile, and on Tuesday the carrier said the work will be performed ahead of schedule. More →