AT&T's LTE Plans Provide Clue to iPhone 5 Launch

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) plans to launch its next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) network around the same time as the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 5 is likely to become available to buy.

AT&T said Wednesday that it will have markets up and running in mid-to-late 2011, with handsets and devices ready to go. "Once customers get to see the mobile broadband strategy that AT&T has, where you get a great LTE experience with these new devices, but then you fall back to our HSPA+ capability, so that the transition from the high speed of LTE to high speed HSPA+ is almost seamless, it's something they're going to love ... it puts us in an even better position than in this quarter," AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said on the operator's first-quarter earnings call. (See AT&T Looks From iPhone to LTE to Increase Subs.)

This timeline fits with previous reporting on how a dual-mode 3G and LTE iPhone could potentially be available later in 2011 for both AT&T and Verizon Wireless . Apple is now widely rumored to be unveiling the next version of the iPhone in September.

They say
Reuters is quoting "three people with direct knowledge of the company's supply chain" that say that Apple will start to ship the iPhone 5 in September. This likely means that the phone will go on sale sometime in the fall.

Eric Zeman at our sister publication, InformationWeek , notes that Apple already has a ready-made platform to launch the iPhone 5 if it deviates from its normal June launch pattern. "Apple generally holds a music-related event in early September," he writes. "Though the September event is usually slated for new iPods, it's not a stretch to add the iPhone, as it is a highly capable media player in its own right and will likely share features with the next-generation iPod Touch."

The Mobot blog notes that analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities is claiming that the iPhone 5 will have "modest" design updates with the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 onboard and an upgrade to an 8-megapixel camera.

Kuo is instead predicting a major technological overhaul with the iPhone 6, which would arrive in sometime in the first half of 2012, MacRumors notes.

Apple, however, must be looking at the sales of the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Thunderbolt LTE phone on the Verizon network with interest. The New York Post reports that the HTC smartphone "briefly overtook" the iPhone 4 as the top-selling device for Verizon in late March.

Nonetheless, Apple is expected to report sales of 16 to 17 million iPhones this quarter when it reports results late Wednesday.

We say
Dig into our iPhone 5 coverage below:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:07:03 PM
re: AT&T's LTE Plans Provide Clue to iPhone 5 Launch

LTE iPhone available to buy October at earliest. Timing is key for Apple and they have to keep both AT&T and Verizon happy with launch timing.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:07:03 PM
re: AT&T's LTE Plans Provide Clue to iPhone 5 Launch

Just spotted that Karl Bode at DSL Reports has posted a piece on the delays being down to LTE too. Check it out.



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