LTE's Uphill Climb

Light Reading's 2012 Mobile Life Survey is full of small surprises, especially since most of the survey respondents make their living in the telecom business.

I tried to see if iPhone users in our survey were likely to own a Long Term Evolution (LTE) device already or if they had plans to buy one soon.

Nearly 80 percent of the folks who say they are iPhone users (they identified their smartphone OS as Apple's iOS) do not currently own an LTE device.

About 68 percent of that same group (iPhone owners who own no LTE devices now) say they have no plans to purchase an LTE-powered device this year.

Android users, the other big group of mobile users in our survey, weren't all that different. Seventy-four percent of the Android users we surveyed say they do not own an LTE-powered device.

About 66 percent of the Android users that took our survey and do not currently own an LTE device say they have no plans to purchase an LTE-powered device this year.

For some reason I thought the Android users would have a stronger intent to purchase something LTE-related. I'm not sure why I thought that, but they weren't that much more likely to buy anything LTE as the iPhone users we surveyed.

So, most folks surveyed who aren't LTE device owners aren't looking to change that in the near future. What could the industry do to change that? Should those intentions be viewed as pessimistic, or should we assume that these numbers mean nothing but upside for LTE device makers?

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:38:40 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

It's weird, too, that they didn't price LTE more attractively. Lower rates to get people started and easy-to-understand pricing as usage ramps up. I'm tempted to think that from the way things are priced and marketed that the carriers don't want LTE to take off too quickly, so they're really sticking it to the early adopters.

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:38:40 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

If we start seeing more stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal this morning, I suspect it will be difficult to get people excited about LTE.

The reporter talked to several people who had already used up all or a large part of their monthly data allotment since Friday when the LTE iPads went on sale.

The hitch is that LTE data essentially isn't any cheaper than 3G data-- it just takes less time to use it up.

Perhaps early adopters are power users and more average users will see their data plans last longer. But I think people will be wary until there is some evidence of that.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:38:39 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

So the operators are the ones that are sticking it to consumers -- as opposed to the company that is selling a device that operates at the equvalent of 1.6 miles per gallon.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:38:38 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

I'm guessing that the device testing and approval process for mobile networks is about as rigorous as the old concussion test in football: How many fingers am I holding up? Three? Close enough.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:38:38 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

Ha! There's probably some truth to that. The iPhone 4's new design and antenna placement was obviously shrugged off or rubber stamped by AT&T. Again, the carrier that has the most money and the most customers cares the most about one and the least about the other.

marjsdad 12/5/2012 | 5:38:38 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

I personally am very leary of jumping into LTE because of bandwidth caps. Even though I'm a Sprint customer, which has unlimited data on smart phones, I think I'm correct in saying Sprint doesn't have unlimited data for other devices. So what does LTE on a tablet get me? Not much at this point, I'm thinking.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:38:38 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

The device makers bear some responsibility, too. But the network operators have the most control over pricing for services and they're supposed to be testing and approving devices before allowing them to ride the network.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:38:37 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

That's right. Sprint doesn't offer unlimited on tablets. When I spoke to them at CTIA in the fall I got the impression they were actually worried about the ability of an LTE tablet to chew through megabits of data, even as they were looking for 10-Mbit/s out of LTE-Advanced to support 4G tablets. That's some catch, that Catch 22!

desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 5:38:36 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb

Every industry has its shortcuts.  You really don't want to know what happens behind the scenes in the restaurant business, do you?


sgan201 12/5/2012 | 5:38:35 PM
re: LTE's Uphill Climb


I think I am missing something here that does not make any sense to me.  Now, if Verizon will only release LTE capable smart phone for the rest of the year, the user will get LTE capable phone when they renew their contract.  So, whether the user INTEND to get LTE capable phone or not is irrelevant.  It will be there.  It might be the same for AT&T and Sprint to a certain degree..

What do I miss here??


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