Verizon flipped on its 4G LTE service back in December 2010 and since then it’s rather quickly spread to 190 million US cities and 118 million major airports, covering more than 200 million Americans. At long last, the time has come for the competition to throw their hats into the ring.
In early September, AT&T launched their 4G LTE service in 5 markets (Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston) to complement its HSPA+ network (also known as “faux-G”). Later in November they expanded to eleven additional markets including Athens, Ga., Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. On January 5, AT&T added another eleven markets to the mix, and they’re big ones: New York City metro area, Austin, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. Ma Bell calculates that this addition makes AT&T 4G LTE available in a total of 26 markets to 74 million consumers. The company expects its 4G LTE deployment to be mostly complete by the end of 2013.
And then there’s Sprint. They’ve been innovating behind Verizon and AT&T, only just announcing their first major markets to receive 4G LTE. Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio will be the first four markets to see the faster speeds in the first half of 2012. Sprint is also working on boosting their 3G speeds as well. They call it Network Vision: “Sprint customers can expect to enjoy ultra-fast data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration providing a more reliable wireless experience…everyone in the upgraded areas is expected to benefit from the advanced 3G/4G LTE network.”
With 4G LTE markets spreading across America like wildfire from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint, consumers can expect new smartphones to release this year that take advantage of the faster voice and data speeds that 4G provides. Rumor has it that the next iPhone will in fact be compatible on VZW, at least. Now that AT&T isn’t allowed to swallow T-Mobile, the network that made popular the Sidekick is going to have to act quickly if they want to remain the race; their speedy HSPA+ network won’t stand a chance once the other three carriers are boasting their expansive 4G LTE ones. Let the games begin.
About one month ago Samsung and mobile operator partners detailed Galaxy Tab offerings. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile put their cards on the table, while U.S. Cellular said it it was coming soon and AT&T remained silent. Today the latter two carriers shared their respective release dates and pricing schemes, so I thought it’d be helpful if I charted out each carrier’s Tab information. So without further ado:
Verizon: $599.99 (no contract required); optional 3G plan- $20/month for 1GB of data; released 11/11
Sprint: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $29.99/month for 2GB or $59.99 for 5GB; releases 11/14
T-Mobile: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $24.99/month for 200MB or $39.99/month for 5GB released 11/10
AT&T: $649.99 (no contract required); $14.99/month for 250GB pay-as-you-go plan or $25/month for 2GB pay-as-you-go plan; $50 Media Hub Movie Rental credit with purchase for a limited time; releases 11/21
U.S. Cellular: $599 (no contract required) or $399 (contract required); $14.99/month for 200MB or $54.99/month for 5GB with tethering enabled; releases 11/19
Been looking for an iPad alternative? This Android (Froyo) based tablet is it. That is, until iPad 2 comes out.
Remember back in June AT&T marked the beginning of the end for “unlimited” data plans for cell phone users? Well direct competitors Verizon and T-Mobile recently jumped onto the tiered data plan bandwagon, so let’s have a look-see. Unlike like AT&T’s data-capped plan that forces new subscribers to choose between 200MB and 2GB options, Big Red and T-Mobile are keeping the unlimited $30 smartphone 3G data plans (for now). What’s changed is the addition of cheaper options for less data-heavy users. The breakdown is fairly simple. VZ subscribers can now choose from the $30 unlimited option and a new $15 150MB/month option with $0.10 per MB overage. T-Mobile subscribers can go unlimited for $30 or pay $15 for 200MB/month. You can pick up the latter option for only $10/month for “a limited time” if you sign a new 2-year contract with it. And that’s about it. What’s interesting here is that VZ and T-Mobile have decided to keep the unlimited option, while AT&T has eliminated it for new customers (if you had it before the changes AT&T let you grandfather it). I’m oh-so curious to follow the journey of the unlimited data plan; with such a big push toward tiered data plans, it’s starting to seem like carriers are moving away from it. Will it survive in a 4G world?
According to The NPD Group, a market research company, Google’s Android smartphone OS has climbed to the #1 spot for most purchased smartphone OS in the U.S. In doing so it pushes past RIM’s Blackberry OS and Apple’s iOS 4. Here’s the official standings for Q2 2010: #1- Android (33%), #2- RIM (28 %), #3- iOS4 (23%). RIM dropped 9 points since the previous quarter and has not been positioned in second place since 2007. And if you’re wondering, Android gained 5 points and Apple picked up a single point over the course of the quarter. The top 5 best-selling Android devices in the second quarter of year are Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC EVO 4G, HTC Hero, and HTC Droid Eris. Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, says that though the recently announced Blackberry 6 will ”offer features that have been popular in recently launched Android handsets,” the first crop of supported devices, namely the Blackberry Torch on AT&T, “lacks the large screen allure that has characterized the best selling Android devices at its price point.” In other words, he is blaming Android’s wild successs on the myriad of Motorola and HTC handsets that feature large screens (ie. Droid & EVO 4G). And if RIM doesn’t start to change their ways with new innovations (Blackberry 6 fails to impress at first glance), it might be a while until they reclaim their old title as the most selling OS in the hotly competitive smartphone market. And how ’bout dem U.S. carriers? #1- Verizon Wireless (33%), #2- AT&T (25%), Sprint (12%), T-Mobile (11%). Full PR is after the break.
According to The NPD Group, a market research company, Google’s Android smartphone OS pushed past Apple to claim second place among smartphone operating systems. Here’s the official standings for Q1 2010: #1-RIM (36%), #2- Android OS (28 %), #3- iPhone OS (21%). Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, shares the reasoning behind the shift in dominance: “As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share. In order to compete with the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer beyond RIM devices to now include all of their smartphones.” And how do the popular US carriers size up, you ask? #1- AT&T (32%), #2- Verizon Wireless (30%), T-Mobile (17%), Sprint (15%). With the recent HP-Palm aquisition and iPhone OS 4, BlackBerry 6, and Windows Phone 7 mobile OS previews, the smartphone market is asking for a healthy shakeup. As a customer and gadget enthusiast, I say bring it on.