Samsung's LTE-Advanced Bravado Is Premature

Samsung is planning an advanced 4G version of its Galaxy S4 smartphone, but any proclamation that LTE-Advanced is officially here is a bit premature. J.K. Shin, the company's co-CEO, told Reuters that Samsung will "be the first with the commercial launch of the advanced 4G version of the smartphone." It plans to begin selling the phone in South Korea as early as this month. Shin reportedly told the site that the phone will use LTE-Advanced technology, powered by Qualcomm Inc.chips, to achieve data rates twice the normal 4G speed. Here's the thing: For one, as Mashable points out, Qualcomm's chips supports speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s, which is about half of the minimum standard for LTE-Advanced, as defined by the 3GPP. Even if it did technically qualify, however, it doesn't have any networks to choose from yet, and pickings will remain slim throughout this year. Only Yota in Russia is piloting LTE-Advanced today. Both SK Telecom and AT&T plan to upgrade their networks this year, while others have only copped to testing the tech for future deployment. (See Carriers are a Mixed Bag on LTE-Advanced and AT&T Plans LTE-Advanced in 2H13.) Samsung is a repeat offender on marketing hyperbole, but you can bet it won't be the only one to jump on the LTE-Advanced marketing train. The faster speeds are impressive to boast about, but they are only one feature of the many that LTE-Advanced includes. What Samsung is actually talking about is carrier aggregation, the ability to combine radio channels from any frequency band to bolster the bandwidth, thus increasing the data rate and enabling faster speeds. (See Samsung: Inching Towards 5G? and Why You Should Care About LTE-Advanced (Eventually).) It's one of the most important LTE-Advanced features, but it's certainly not the only one. Does carrier aggregation make a device LTE-Advanced? That probably depends on how you spin it, but, either way, Samsung's new advanced Galaxy S4s will be stuck on plain-ol' LTE for awhile. — Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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