New research from Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI) today reinforces what Unstrung has already been hearing from different chip firms and other analysts like The Linley Group and Heavy Reading: Mass-market handsets, capable of supporting VOIP calls, will probably start to ship in volume in 2012. (See 'Millions' of LTE Handsets by 2012?, MetroPCS Gets to Work on LTE Phones, and LTE Phones Will Lag Behind Networks .)
Information Gatekeepers breaks it down like this:
- Data-only devices will support LTE networks in 2010, the earliest gizmos being data cards and USB devices.
- Mobile Internet devices, notebooks with embedded LTE and -- possibly -- data-only handsets will follow in 2011.
- Voice-centric LTE handsets are expected by 2012.
As Eran Eshed, co-founder and vice president of marketing and business development at Altair Semiconductor , told us this week, phone makers are still working out the kinks on issues like handovers between base stations on LTE devices. He is predicting that silicon from his startup will appear in production LTE handsets for network testing in the second half of 2010.
Unsurprisingly, Information Gatekeeper is expecting LTE devices to be "more costly devices compared to previous 3G technologies in the short to medium term." Price reductions should start to happen as the chips underpinning the devices get more integrated.
Operators and vendors may also look at getting a variety of consumer electronics gadgets unwired on LTE networks so as to add to their data revenues while they wait for mass-market handsets to kick in.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung