Google's Nexus 7 to Traverse US LTE Networks
Google's new Nexus 7 tablet will carry the distinction of being the first to run on the LTE networks of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile in the same model.
The Asus-built tablet won't, however, support Sprint Corp.'s flavor of LTE bands, which aren't compatible with its U.S. peers.
Google unveiled the new tablet on Wednesday in a breakfast in San Francisco hosted by Sundar Pitchai, who leads up Google's Android and Chrome ambitions. It's a thinner, lighter and more high-resolution version of its Nexus predecessor and features Google's latest OS, Android 4.3.
Whereas most tablet makers, like Apple Inc. with the iPad, build multiple SKUs to accommodate different operators' LTE networks, Google's able to bake in support for all three by selling the device unlocked. That means it won't come up with a carrier subsidy, but it will work anywhere the three operators' have 4G service in the U.S.
Why this matters
To date, LTE hasn't been a big seller in tablets, with most consumer preferring cheaper Wi-Fi alternatives. Google, for example, will begin selling the 32GB LTE version of the Nexus 7 "in the coming weeks" for $349 compared to the 32GB Wi-Fi-only version at $269.
The new Nexus 7 will be a good test of whether cross-carrier LTE support can make 4G tablets more appealing. It will also be a test of Google's strategy of selling directly to consumers in the U.S. Most are accustomed to carrier discounts and contracts here, although the tides are certainly changing as the operators shake up their business models and offer unsubsidized devices.