Hey everyone welcome to today’s lesson in mobile tech.. I will be your teacher.. lets call me “Mr.Panda” why don’t we.
What I want to talk about today is quite simple.. lets talk 4G shall we?
I know you have seen the commericals with Sprint calling their Clear /Wimax based network “the nations first 4G network” and now Tmobile is calling there GSM Based HSPA+ network 4G as well..
Lets clear all that up and remove the marketing shall we?
Starting with the earliest 4G solution to hit the market..
Sprint has partnered with Clear to introduce wimax which uses the 2.3 GHz freq range.. this is akin to a baby monitor or a home cordless phone.. extremely high and quite limited for building penetration. So on a clear day outside you can expect great speed but once you get inside that will be reduced by environmental factors. It also is very limited as far as the future of WiMax 4g and as such Clear has already stated they are looking at moving to LTE instead of WIMAX2 but dont fret your evo/Epic 4G is fine as your contract will be well up by the time Clear/Sprint change their technology.
Sprint has been touting the improvements they have made to their customer service and from what I can tell they have gotten better which is a long way from the sprint of old that would turn your line off for a .10 cent overage.
Sprint has been aggressive with their pricing and their EVERYTHING plan that gives uses unlimited data/Text and calls is a very popular choice for the power user. Sprint however does charge a 10.00 advance service fee for 4G devices even if your NOT in a 4 G market. Still a all you can eat plan for under 110.00 bucks makes the Evo, Epic 4G and upcoming Shift 4G a very very attractive choice.
Sprint and Clear are aggresively adding new markets and major markets just as Denver and San Fran have been added bringing their covered cities to about 80 so with great pricing and a commitment from the companies to continue expansion I find myself recommending epics and evo’s more then I would have every thought.
Then you get to a bold move from the lil guy that could… Tmobile
Tmobile on the other hand is calling their HSPA+ network (evolved High Speed Packet Access) a 4G network. Its actually a natural progression of their existing GSM network on the AWS 1700mhz specturm. With this enhancement you can reach speeds of 21mbs down.. of course Tmo’s application is hitting about 5 to 6 in most locations so dont go firing up that torrent on your Mytouch 4G just yet. 🙂 the advantages of this is that the rollout for this new access is very fast as it requires minimal updates to existing equipment saving costs and time for the network operator. Tmo is still building out their footprint but are in fact missing 3g in alot of locations due to the 1700mhz band they are on. That AWS band also limits the options for unlockers and such as Europe and Canada carriers use the 1900 and 850 mhz 3G bands. This also means that hardware makers have to make special T mobile only versions of their devices which can delay launches and as well as hinder interoperability with ATT networks for roaming on 3G.
T mobile has long been known as the Value carrier and as such offer great plans for services and data along with very interesting non-contract plans in case you dont want to be locked into a 2 year marriage (although on 1700mhz you kinda have to dance with the data you brought) making this carrier an attractive choice for those in areas that T mobile 4G is available that aren’t looking to break the bank on a phone.
Tmobile is also looking into possibly joining up with another carrier *cough sprint/Clear cough* to fund their move to a true next generation technology such LTE but that is expected to be quite a ways down the path so the last of the big 4 to get 4G maybe the last to get “true” 4G.
I keep a Tmobile sim and account just because they are the network that in the industry practices anything goes.. u want to make a nexus? TMO got u.. Win7? Tmo got you… Iphone… well tmo Germany got you… heh heh heh.
Now lets talk about the LTE 4G network from Verizon… 🙂
its a bucket of sunshine and smiling Pandas for those that have been on Verizon and loved the coverage but envy the blazing 3g speeds of ATT and Tmobile. Verizon has long been the BEST coverage for most but consistently ranked among the slowest in data speed tests. Perhaps what they say is true that slow and steady wins the race but that doesn’t help you while your waiting for Dungeon Defenders on android to download 600mb of game data over Verizon’s 3g network well say no more.. cause they now have SPEED.
Verizon is pushing out LTE on the 700mhz which gives amazing building penetration and range per tower location. To put it simply high vs low freq is like the difference between a tweeter and a subwoofer. The tweeter is fast and sound range is limited where the sub will penetrate and shake the walls and who doesn’t want Deeper Penetration!?
As verizon has been planning/working and building out this network for years they have done alot to prepare for this rollout. The early devices are usb modems and other data only devices and speeds are impressive to say the least. Users are reporting 20+mbps and uploads of 10+ during field trials in the early launch cities. Verizon is also reported to be rolling out several handsets using dual LTE/CDMA data including handset makers like HTC, Motorola, Samsung and LG to showcase this new shiny network but there are some perils to consider before you run out to your Verizon Wireless story.
Verizon has launched LTE in 30+ major markets and is providing coverage in several major airports.
But what do you do when you are living in bumbutt indiana? Answer: welcome back to the same 3G cdma data you have today while possibly paying for 4G you can’t use…
mayhaps you should look at some of the upcoming great 3g devices like the follow ups to the DroidX and Droid incredible lineups.
How about you Mr.World traveler? Wanna take your shiny new Thunderbolt with you to Brussels? Sorry… ain’t happening.. make sure you keep that droid 2 global handy for activation before you board because early units wont support European 3g GSM bands out the gate and Voda and the like haven’t got LTE in Europe done just yet.
Verizon is pushing hard to make this the “4G” that all others are measured by but is this push enough to focus users on it if there are so many “must haves” that are still listed as “coming soon?”
And although they say that the recession is over but based on MY pockets it may not be the case. People are still struggling to make ends meet and can Mom n Pop america afford to pay for these advanced services? What happens when lil Johhny finds the movie streaming service in the android market and runs up 15 gbs of data on his line? Can you say overage on family plan?
Users of verizons 3G network are used to unlimited data but early indications are that a tiered system will be used for Vzw’s new network. Ask a heavy ATT Iphone 4 user who was forced into a tiered data plan the meaning of “bill shock”. Can verizon customer service handle the angry calls?
And while we are speaking of the IPHONE… rumors have it that it maybe coming to Verizon in CDMA only trim do you really wanna see what happened when an aging CDMA network gets hammered with all those shiny jail broken beauties.. ask ATT its not pretty, so that means that Verizon will have to maintain BOTH CDMA and LTE networks from a long time and while I am sure they will it may delay some LTE rollouts.
Now the Elephant in the corner….
Att has already announced that their next wireless upgrade path will in fact be the same LTE technology and 700mhz freq that Verizon is building their network around. The house that APPLE built have however been rather mum on the exact date for the roll out but has made a 2 billion (yea that BILLION with a B) investment in additional blocks of 700mhz freq from Qualcomm into their 4G network to ensure that they will have coverage to compete with Verizon in the upcoming Map War 2.
In the meantime Ma Bell is actually 4G already if you believe the T mobile hype, as they have already upgraded a large portion of their network to HSPA+ (yep the same standard as Tmo 4G) but as yet they have not announced any handsets that make use of this new speed and are currently offering data only devices. With Att long rumored 🙂 to be losing their IPHONE exclusive agreement with Apple perhaps the late arrival to the 4G wars will be used by the network to introduce killer services and devices.
But the big question on ATT customers is “how much” Att customers were the first to be introduced to data tiers and dispute worries by heavy users, subscriber numbers continue to grow and data services are much improved due to increased wifi usage from fugal consumers. Being the last to the 4G party also allows ATT to observe reaction from their major competition Verizon and launch with services and possibly prices that make them an attractive choice for the user that needs Nationwide coverage but doesn’t wanna pay the “Verizon tax”. With loads of cash and 90 million customers awaiting their next move it will be an interesting time for Big Blue.
As always the market will determine how successful these carriers are with the 4G networks but I caution those looking into this bright new age of mobile to mind the pitfalls.
as always the opinions are my own.. the Pants are provided by dockers….