Right on time, Sprint has just announced that it has entered into a 15-year agreement with LightSquared to provide 4G LTE capabilities on its network. According to Sprint's press release, "LightSquared will make payments to Sprint of approximately $9 billion in cash for spectrum hosting and network services as well as LTE and satellite purchase credits which are currently estimated to be valued at approximately $4.5 billion".
With this deal going ahead, LightSquared expects nationwide 4G to cover 260 million people in the USA by 2014 - one year ahead of the FCC mandate of 2015.
“This spectrum hosting agreement with LightSquared allows Sprint to more efficiently use its Network Vision platform,” said Steve Elfman, president of Network Operations and Wholesale for Sprint.
If you purchase the Thunderbolt with a new Verizon account, you can get a taste of the carrier's first 4G device for just $59.99 - almost half the price of the previous deal we saw a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that the Thunderbolt still runs Froyo, this is a great deal for those of you yet to buy in to 4G handsets.
Just in time for the release of the HTC myTouch 4G Slide, T-Mobile USA has announced its new Value plans, which will be available from July 24 with up to 10GB of high speed data to make smartphones more affordable for the masses and less confusing for customers.
If you sign up to a two-year agreement with the network, you will be able to choose a plan which offers a selection of talk options, unlimited texting and unlimited data. That unlimited data doesn't have any fair usage policies attached, but it will only be high speed for the first 2GB, 5GB or 10GB that you use, depending on your plan.
The upcoming Motorola Photon 4G for the Sprint network has been made available for pre-order on Wirefly. While a ship date isn't listed, we know the Photon is being released on the 31st - meaning you can probably expect to receive yours on or a little before that date, if you opt for overnight shipping. $180 will get you on the list for the Photon, but you'll have to be a new Sprint customer to swing that deal.
The Photon 4G is basically a reworked version of the Motorola ATRIX 4G, with a larger display and access to Sprint's WiMAX network.
T-Mobile's faux 4G network, also known as 3G HSPA+, is receiving a major update today in 56 more markets, which should double the maximum theoretical data throughput from 21MBps to 42MBps for compatible HSPA+ devices.
In addition to increasing connection speeds, T-Mobile is promising improved network capacity and reliability in the upgraded areas.
From a manufacturer standpoint, 4G (for the purposes of this post I mean LTE and WiMax, not 3G+) is a bit of a nightmare. The immaturity of the technology means that chips are expensive and bulky, and realistically offer benefit to only a small portion of consumers. (Compounding the issue, "4G" has become yet another buzzword that consumers don't understand but think they need anyway... but I digress.)
Consider a diminutive device such as the Samsung Galaxy S II. It's thin and light, but could a 4G chip be integrated without expanding the dimensions in one or more directions?
The Amazon Appstore's 'Wi-Fi Only' tag on certain large apps (read: Plants Vs. Zombies) has been a frustration for those with consistent access to 4G while they're on the go. I mean, come on Amazon, if I really want to download that 75MB PopCap game, it's my data connection! I'm sure there's some reasoning for this (like reducing the active # of connections on the Appstore's servers), but when you're on 4G, it only makes sense that you should be able to do the things you would on Wi-Fi.
Over the last few days we've heard from a number of people claiming the Appstore now allows Wi-Fi Only downloads over 4G, and we tested it out, sure enough, it works:
Now, we've also heard it doesn't yet work on Verizon 4G LTE - but Sprint's WiMAX is a definite go.
Stay tuned - this is a multi-part "Deal Alert," everyone. First on our list: the HTC Thunderbolt. If you open a new Verizon account (sorry, additional lines and renewals aren't eligible) today, you can pick up an HTC Thunderbolt from Wirefly for just $100. Not shabby. The Thunderbolt was Verizon's debut 4G LTE device, and it has enjoyed substantial popularity since launch. It's also probably the best 4G handset on Verizon presently, though its battery life and lack of a Gingerbread update have put off many owners.
The Thunderbolt packs a 1GHz single-core next-gen Qualcomm processor, 768MB RAM, and a 4.3-inch SLCD display (with Gorilla Glass).
I'm not sure how well this 4G-ified Tab 10.1 is going to do in terms of sales, but it's coming nonetheless. And in four flavors! And by that, I mean there's two storage options (16GB or 32GB) and two color options (grey or white):
These prices are, of course, subsidized with a new 2-year data contract. How subsidized? Try $100 off (yes, that's all). Sounds like Verizon is super confident about this thing, too. I think we can all agree, until carriers actually start giving these mobile data-enabled tablets meaningful contract discounts (or better data plans), there's next to no incentive for consumers to purchase them.
Update: According to two separate Verizon memos intercepted by Droid-life, existing Verizon customers can keep their existing data plan pricing when renewing or upgrading. Unfortunately, as with all offers of this type, just how long it will last remains to be seen. But, given that the BIONIC is coming some time soon-ish, it seems very likely that existing Verizon customers will be able to get the device without being forced into tiered data.
This should sate a lot of potentially angry current Verizon customers, but will definitely punish those coming over from AT&T for the iPhone 5 later this year.