LTE Watch: The CTIA & '4G'

The context for this week's CTIA show may be wireless business and applications, but the subtext is definitely the emergence of Long Term Evolution (LTE) and other forms of mobile broadband in the US. (See CTIA: Business Is in the Air.)

So, here's a rundown of some of the LTE news expected at the show and making the headlines now:

  • Verizon Wireless is expected to talk a lot about its LTE plans at the show. CEO Lowell McAdam is on hand to give a keynote Wednesday morning. The wireless boss, who is due to take the helm at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) next year, will be chatting about the operator's "4G" plans, which involve having up to 30 cities live with the faster mobile data technology by the end of the year.

    New leaks suggest that, as expected, Verizon could be planning a tablet amongst its first devices on the new network. Softpedia is suggesting that Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) will have a "Stingray" Android 3.0 tablet, which will arrive in the first quarter and be upgradable to LTE. Other devices on the roadmap include 3 USB dongles and "MiFi" style personal routers from Novatel Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: NVTL) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See The Tablet Tide Starts to Rise.)

  • MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS), of course, has the first LTE network in the US with the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) Craft LTE phone. PhoneScoop, however, finds in its first encounter with the phone that it may not be the fastest thing on the airwaves right now:

  • Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) CEO Dan Hesse, meanwhile, will be at the CTIA show to talk about how the operator will be "making mobile more meaningful for business users and consumers." A spokesman for chipmaker Beceem Communications Inc. suggests that, long term, this could play out in a dual-mode WiMax and LTE strategy for the operator. The TD-LTE technology that Sprint plans to test would take the place of Sprint's current iDEN data and "walkie-talkie" technology. This could be a happy outcome for the vendor, which makes such dual-mode chips, but much -- no doubt -- depends on what happens between Sprint and Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) in the near future. (See What's Really Behind Clearwire's Board Reshuffling?)

  • Possible Clearwire suitor T-Mobile US Inc. still isn't rushing to "4G," however, preferring to continue with its High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) upgrades to its 3G network for now. Neville Ray, T-Mobile USA’s chief network officer, tells Bloomberg that WiMax is a "niche play" and the operator can wait for the LTE ecosystem to mature before jumping on the bandwagon.

  • CTIA host city, San Francisco, meanwhile, is expected to get LTE by year's end, according to GigaOm.

    — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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