6:00 PM -- It looks like a price war is already on for Long Term Evolution (LTE) devices, but 4G data plans remain stubbornly expensive for most smartphone users.
Consider: Sprint Nextel Corp. has just announced its first LTE phone -- the LG Electronics Inc. Viper -- priced at $100 with a contract. AT&T Inc., meanwhile, is pinning its early LTE smartphone hopes to its $100 Nokia Corp. Lumia 900 Windows phone.
Yet there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for trying to undercut the competition on the pricing that really counts: the data plan.
Sprint is -- at least -- sticking with its unlimited data plan for the foreseeable future. It starts at $69.99 and runs up to $99.99 for "Everything" data plans with various levels of voice minutes, but tacks on a $10 monthly up-charge for smartphones with data plans.
AT&T will charge you $20 for a 300MB data plan, $30 for 3GB or $50 for 5GB. That's before you add voice and any overage charges.
Even MetroPCS Inc. has just increased the cost of its unlimited LTE plan to $70.
I know that all the carriers are spending big on deploying 4G; that's to be expected. But, wasn't one of the selling points of LTE that it reduced the "cost-per-bit" for delivering data to users? My impression is that we're just looking at business-as-usual -- or worse -- from the operators with regards to 4G data plans.
You know things are a little off when Verizon Wireless looks like one of the better bargains in LTE with its limited-time offer to double up data plans with 4GB for $30, 10GB for $50 or 20GB for $80.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile