An unnamed source at Boy Genius Report today provided a tip that Verizon is planning to begin its 4G LTE network rollout in 25 markets on November 15th, 2010. Some interesting details emerged from the tip - most of them good. To summarize:
- 4G LTE data plans will be tiered by data caps, but will not add a premium to your bill. Presumably this means the caps will be combined 3G/4G usage (you listening, Sprint/EVO/$10?).
- The 25 markets scheduled for coverage will encompass over 100 million potential subscribers.
- A “slew” of 4G phones will be released on Black Friday, November 26th.
Interesting news indeed. Hopefully a few phones from this “slew” will make some less than covert public appearances in the next few months!
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is rolling out its HSPA+ network, which will be capable of speeds up to 21Mbps (In the future, speeds of 84Mbps are thought to be theoretically possible), to 185 million customers by the end of the year. This HSPA+ network will be compatible with existing HSDPA devices (existing devices will not, however, benefit beyond the 7.2Mbps HSDPA speed cap; though they will reap the huge benefits of increased network bandwidth)
Sprint, the first to market with a 4G network in the US, has continued expanding their network in recent weeks, and has promised significant increases in 4G coverage by the end of the year. Sprint does appear the odd man out in one regard in the 4G-scape: pricing premiums.
T-Mobile and Sprint are relying on the all-you-can-eat data philosophy to differentiate themselves from AT&T (and soon, Verizon) in terms of next-gen data networks. The strategy is a risky one; as Sprint and T-Mobile have isolated themselves in terms of next-gen hardware. The difficulty in cross-platforming from LTE to Sprint’s CDMA/4G or T-Mobile’s HSPA+ in terms of development cost is something handset manufacturers have yet to comment on, though it seems an issue that is inevitably going to arise.
Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon together represent nearly half of all wireless customers in the US (47.4%, Credit: BillShrink). T-Mobile and Sprint together represent 35.1% of that market; but AT&T and Verizon will soon be running (presumably) interchangeable 4G LTE handsets. AT&T remains eerily quiet about its 4G aspirations. Aside from confirmation that they will be running on the LTE standard, little else has been heard.
Whatever happens, T-Mobile and Sprint need to move quickly to provide more next-gen handsets and data coverage to consumers before the Verizon and AT&T LTE behemoth arrives on the 4G scene.