MetroPCS Communications has activated its 4G LTE network in Las Vegas, along with a Samsung-built 4G LTE smartphone. Verizon and AT&T are currently planning 4G LTE networks in the United States.
MetroPCS Communications has activated its 4G LTE network in Las
Vegas, with plans to extend coverage to the company's
other cities within the next year. As part of that activation, MetroPCS is
offering the Samsung Craft, which it claims is the world's first commercially
available 4G LTE handset.
The Samsung Craft features a 3.3-inch AMOLED touch screen, a slide-out
QWERTY keyboard, WiFi capability and a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash.
By launching its 4G LTE network, MetroPCS has effectively beaten larger
carriers Verizon and AT&T to the proverbial punch. However, it is the
second carrier to offer 4G after Sprint, which has already launched its own
service using WiMax technology. MetroPCS built its Las
Vegas 4G network in partnership with Samsung
"More than half of our customers use their handset as their primary
access to the Web," Roger Linquist, CEO
of MetroPCS, is quoted as saying in a Sept. 21 Wall
Street Journal article
. "What we needed
is a better experience."
Other carriers have been making forays into 4G, with much debate over
whether to embrace WiMax or LTE as the technological backbone for their
service. In an April report, analysts from research firm IDC
suggested that more than 100 mobile operators around the world are supporting
LTE technology, which will effectively push it past WiMax.
"The world is coalescing around the LTE standard as a result of its
promise to increase speed and capacity to address the exploding growth in
mobile data traffic," IDC
analyst Godfrey Chua wrote in an April statement
. "LTE is an important
part of the portfolio of technology solutions that will enable mobile operators
to cost-effectively deliver more innovative and robust data applications and
services over the mobile network."
Nonetheless, some carriers have made the decision to embrace WiMax.
During his March 24 keynote address at the CTIA conference, Sprint CEO
Dan Hesse suggested that a time factor lay behind his company's decision to
invest in WiMax for its 4G network. "WiMax was a tried, true, tested 4G
technology," he told the audience. "LTE will likely be the larger of
the two 4G standards, but for us, we couldn't wait. Because of our spectrum
position, we have the option to add other technologies later, but this allows
us to get into the technology quickly."
Sprint is betting that its growing collection of 4G phones, including the HTC
Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G, will give it a marketplace advantage. The carrier
offers 4G capability in 27 markets, with plans to expand to Houston;
D.C.; New York;
and San Francisco by the end of
2010. However, that build-out represents something of a substantial bet for the
company, which has invested more than $1 billion in WiMax technology despite
steady customer and revenue erosion over the past few quarters.
Verizon plans to launch
its own 4G LTE service in 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2010
, with the rest
of the nation apparently to follow by 2013. However, the carrier remains
tight-lipped about the specific cities targeted in the initial rollout. Once
activated, Verizon's 4G network will supposedly accommodate download speeds of
5M bps to 12M bps with upload speeds of 2M bps to 5M bps, and latency of 30 to
150 milliseconds. Those numbers are comparable to those posted by Sprint for
its own WiMax 4G network.