Verizon's just revealed its going to have Long Term Evolution (LTE) handsets ready for mid-2011, which is six months earlier than it had previously said it would be available. It looks like the big carriers are making the first moves to snatch the next-gen mobile market.
The company will have infrastructure installed in some locations by the end of 2010, but it'll take up to six months for suitably equipped 4G (also known as 3GPP) mobile devices to arrive. At first these will most likely be dual-chipped devices, that can hop on to super-fast LTE networks when they're in range and fall back on 3G tech for the moments when 4G signals are patchy. Which they will be at first. While cell phone handsets will be the things that consumers will be keen to get their hands on, many of the first 4G applications will probably be 4G data dongles for laptops, since using a laptop in a static location will result in less 4G drop-outs, and thus a better consumer experience (which networks like Verizon will be keen to promote.)
But Verizon's CTO, Anthony Melone, also had things to say about how 4G is going to cost us, when interviewed on the subject by the Wall Street Journal, and his words are a good indicator of how the whole mobile industry is going to work in the future. The main point that concerns users is that all you can eat plans, delivering unlimited 4G data for a fixed monthly fee, aren't going to happen. This is "the big issue that has to change" according to Malone. It won't be a restrictive move, and consumers shouldn't worry, Malone also noted--Verizon doesn't want users to sit there concerned with questions like "'Can I stream this radio?'"
Looking at the disastrous PR that's hit AT&T thanks to the explosion in mobile data traffic caused by Apple's invention of the iPhone, as well as the trend toward ever-smarter mobile cell phone tech and large-screen mobile Net devices like the iPad and its upcoming host of competitors, this is inevitable. And it's even been echoed by other industry players. The key reason is obvious: It's going to cost Verizon, AT&T and all the other network providers around the world a huge pile of cash to get 4G up and running, and the companies have to recoup that cost somehow. What this does make clear, though, is that we're all going to have to think differently about how we pay for our mobile calls and data payment plans in the future--and we'll have to get our minds around the matter sooner than we may have anticipated.
[Via Wall Street Journal]
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