CTIA 2010: The LTE Smartphone Scramble

LAS VEGAS -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 -- Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) could deliver the first Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphone in the US for MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) in the second half of 2010, if the vendor sticks to a schedule that allows the phone to be out months before Verizon Wireless has a next-gen device available. (See Samsung: Early Leader in LTE Devices?)

Samsung has signed to deploy LTE infrastructure for MetroPCS in the metropolitan Las Vegas area in the second half of this year, as well as supply handsets. MetroPCS already has Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) on its books as the other infrastructure provider. (See Samsung Unveils LTE Handset.) Samsung announced the SCH-r900 here at the show, saying it will be one of the first commercially available LTE handsets. The phone will operate in MetroPCS's advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum allotment for LTE in Vegas and also support CDMA. (See Samsung Unveils LTE Handset.)

Verizon, meanwhile, is still telling us to expect its first LTE-capable handset in the first half of 2011. "Some of the vendors are more aggressive than that.... But I don't like to over-promise," Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone told Light Reading Mobile.

Verizon will introduce data cards and dongles first on its LTE network, which is due to start to come online by the end of 2010. Melone says that handsets will follow soon after. "We’re looking at a quarter maybe of difference in time," he explained.

It is entirely possible that Samsung could also be a key device supplier for LTE on Verizon. The firm is already supplying hardware for the carrier's test sites in Boston and Seattle. (See Samsung Plays Broadband Device 'Leapfrog' .)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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