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4G/3G/WiFi

In Search of LTE’s Killer App

5:20 AM Wireless operators need to find the one app that convinces consumers they have to buy an LTE smartphone

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sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:49:50 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

Verizon did sell 1.4 million LTE phones in the third quarter, but I wonder if that's more because they were Android phones than LTE specifically. http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=213743

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:49:49 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

1.4 million LTE phones in a quarter is phenomenal. VZW is way ahead of everybody else in LTE.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:49:49 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

The is reminiscent of the "what's 3G's killer app?" question that was asked way back when. 


There were *lots* of doubters, but now 3G is successful and doing pretty much what it was expected to do. LTE is the natural path forward.


Your point is good one, though. I spoke to a CTO the other day who said that 3G performance can be as good, or sometimes better, than LTE at certain locations in their network. This is also good: you can have a consistent service-set across 3G and LTE and gradually introduce higher-performance apps over LTE as the market migrates in that direction.

jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:49:48 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

I tend to agree with Sarah.  LTE is nice and it will certainly be on my next phone, but it's not a driver for me (who is typically an early adopter) to upgrade.  Likewise, it will be ubiquitous shortly mostly because it will win by attrition, but I only stream video/download large files with access to WiFi and web pages load quickly enough (faster couldn't hurt, of course).  Data caps on new plans also are slowing down the ability to create apps that use the amounts of bandwidth LTE can provide.


VZW has made noises regarding IPv6 and LTE.  Currently their 3G network is behind a NAT which makes peer-to-peer communications difficult without a third party server involved.  Perhaps this easier P2P over IPv6 will be the "killer app" for LTE?  Sure, initially it will just be LTE phones (and even then, we'd need to see if carriers will make the IPv6 address space routeable) that can talk to each other but as ISPs push IPv6 to the landline end users the power grows (and for those of us who use tunneling services like SIXXS we're already there).  If I had the ability to just access the SSH port on my phone that would be a fantastic way for me to be able to access my phone if it's lost or stolen, for a more typical user this enables lower latency and more scaleable video and gaming without needing the application provider to use their own bandwidth or reroute traffic.


On the flip side, unfettered IPv6 support means that your phone now needs a firewall but a simple ufw-style set of iptables rules should be easy for at least Unix-like phones (Android/iDevices) to implement.  Android at least already has an app for that but you need to be rooted to use it.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:49:48 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

I agree that eventually everyone will own LTE phones and have no doubt on the value. But, right now, it's not being communicated well to consumers. I think one app that only works on LTE, or works in a dramatically improved way, will help with the marketing and selling of LTE phones. 


Verizon's growth is impressive, too. Even if LTE isn't the main/only driver, consumers still want the latest and greatest phones.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:49:47 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

The last part of miar70's comment is pretty interesting -- and you already see it happening, with Verizon significantly reducing out-the-door prices on formerly expensive handsets like the Thunderbolt. By itself I don't see 4G as a compelling reason to get people to buy one phone over another.


Sprint, which actually is selling more 4G phones than Verizon, appears to be giving up the 4G ghost for the time being in order to concetrate on the iPhone. Right now the device seems to matter more than the network, and without an app or service that only works on any flavor of 4G it will probably remain that way for the next year or so.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:49:47 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

The last part of miar70's comment is pretty interesting -- and you already see it happening, with Verizon significantly reducing out-the-door prices on formerly expensive handsets like the Thunderbolt. By itself I don't see 4G as a compelling reason to get people to buy one phone over another.


Sprint, which actually is selling more 4G phones than Verizon, appears to be giving up the 4G ghost for the time being in order to concetrate on the iPhone. Right now the device seems to matter more than the network, and without an app or service that only works on any flavor of 4G it will probably remain that way for the next year or so.

miar70 12/5/2012 | 4:49:47 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

The key question is what can LTE do that 3G (including HSPA+/DC variants etc) can't? Lower latency and possibly more sustainable throughput are the major items, but that is not really enough to distinguish for consumers. As previously noted, that just makes things work a bit better, which is not enough incentive to bother testing the resolve of the ETF. On a refresh it makes sense to upgrade to the newer technology, but I don't see the arrival of a killer app that will necesitate an upgrade. Low latency video confernecing/sharing from the handset might be interesting, but probably does not have enough mass market appeal. If CSPs want consumers to upgrade to reduce OPEX then price incentives is tried and tested...

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:49:47 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

Agreed that WiFi is a "4G experience". I'd like that more places.

jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:49:46 PM
re: In Search of LTE’s Killer App

Sprint is also in a weird position, they can't sell 4G handsets and keep people happy.  They can sell WiMAX for a network that smart money says may not last the life of the contract let alone slow upgraders or they can sell LTE for a network they don't have yet.  Seems like concentrating on 3G is the right thing to Sprint to do regardless of killer app status.  As for Thunderbolt pricing, that's just a natural progression to the new flagships of RAZR, Rezound and Galazy Nexus (although I'm curious to see how they handle the last one from a marketing perspective).  However, the Pantech Breakout at $100 and Charge at $150 (both subsidized) are definitely competitive with 3G counterparts.

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