It's that time again. AT&T has been busy adding and upgrading several markets with high-speed LTE. This round of upgrades seems to focus a bit more attention to the Northeast, particularly in the New York and New Jersey areas. Still, quite a few other locations are popping up around the country. With most new spots checking in with populations below 100,000 people, and some below the 10k mark, AT&T is closing in on its target to finish covering the United States with LTE by the end of this year.
There's a place in every carrier's line up for a mid-range phone, and that's what the Sprint Vital is. We got the early details on this device back in March when it was known as the ZTE Quantum, and the official announcement jives with the leak pretty well. This phone has a few notable features, but the hardware is a bit lackluster.
Perhaps you've noticed tantalizing flickers of AT&T 4G LTE on your handset in recent weeks. That's a sure sign something about to break loose, and now it has. AT&T is firing up LTE in 22 new markets and expanding coverage in 10 others. Most of the new markets are mid-size cities, which really tells you how far along AT&T is in its rollout.
AT&T's upgraded LTE network has finally expanded enough that it can generally be counted on in most major metropolitan areas, but the lion's share of the coverage area is still rocking ye olde HSPA (AKA "just 4G"). For residents of Dover, Salem, Asheville, Roanoke, and a few other midsized cities and towns, AT&T has flipped the Long Term Evolution switch. Here's the full list of 11 new markets:
- Ocean City
- Port Townsend/North Whidbey Island/Camano Island
AT&T is also expanding LTE coverage areas in Casa Grande, Arizona, Albany, New York, Calvert county, Maryland, Linglestown, Pennsylvania, and both Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, Virginia.
Verizon managed to gobble up national licenses to a wide swath of the 700MHz Block C spectrum a few years back, and it is this slice of electromagnetism the carrier used to deploy its 4G LTE network. That's not Verizon's only plan of attack, though. It has also been putting together a second spectrum range running on AWS. Well, this space is almost ready, and the Galaxy S4 is going to be the first device to access it.
Since their announcement last month, we haven't heard too much about the Galaxy Mega 5.8 and 6.3 (barring rumors of a delayed release). That doesn't mean Samsung plans on breaking its pattern of timely (or early, depending on your perspective) kernel source code releases. Keeping with form, Samsung has released kernel source for the 6.3" Mega's I9205 (LTE) variant.
There's no sign of the Mega's I9200 version (or the Mega 5.8) just yet, but given Samsung's track record, we can expect it any time now.
Most mobile users these days are happy to get LTE service (and a few of us just wish we could get 3G reliably) but there is already a surprising push towards the next big thing in wireless speeds. Samsung thinks it has the solution, or at least what might become one: expanding existing LTE networks into the super-high 28GHz range, the lower part of what's known as the millimeter wave bands.
When I reviewed the First, I realized it was much, much more than just a Facebook experience device. Sure, it's sporting Home out of the box, flashes a Facebook logo during the boot process, and is adorned with that same logo on the back, but it's not just about Facebook. This little diamond in the rough is running stock Android 4.1.2 beneath Facebook Home, so you're quite literally three (or so) taps away from a Nexus-like experience.
AT&T continues to pursue an aggressive 4G LTE rollout strategy, activating towers in Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina over the past couple of days for a total of 16 new markets. It's all part of the carrier's larger plan to reach 250 million Americans with LTE coverage by the end of this year. AT&T's LTE network currently covers almost 200 million.
Here's a list of cities graced with AT&T's fastest this week: