New mobile phones

New mobile phones announcements

First LTE Phones coming From Samsung and MetroPCS

And the first 4G LTE phone in the United States will come from … MetroPCS! MetroPCS and Samsung on Wednesday announced a partnership that includes the first CDMA/LTE phone in America, the SCH-r900, which will come in the second half of 2010.
“MetroPCS will be building a network in the Las Vegas metro area in the second half of this year and they will be partnering with Samsung for a complete solution,” said Tom Jasny, Samsung’s Telecommunications America vice president of wireless and broadband networks.

LTE is the global 4G technology which will replace 3G for Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile in the coming years. Verizon Wireless has started testing LTE in Boston and Seattle, and the company plans to roll out the LTE network to 20 to 30 cities by the end of this year. However, Verizon hasn’t announced any supporting phones.
Sprint, of course, actually made the first 4G phone announcement yesterday with the HTC Evo 4G “super phone.” But the Evo runs on WiMAX, a technology that only Sprint uses of all the major carriers.

MetroPCS, with 6.7 million customers, largely skipped 3G. The company is jumping straight to LTE, which can provide speeds up to 30 megabits/sec down on a 5-MHz channel – ten times the speed of 3G. The new 4G network will allow for “real time video, much faster internet browsing, and higher download speeds for multimedia, music and other information services,” Jasny said.

MetroPCS and Samsung didn’t release any other public information about the phone, including whether or not it’s a smartphone. MetroPCS chief operating officer Tom Keys did confirm that his company is focused on providing phones and handhelds, not USB modems or laptops.

There’s one big question about MetroPCS’ LTE rollout. Unlike Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS is stuck in relatively narrow bands of spectrum in most cities. The company can deploy 1.4-MHz, 5-MHz or 10-MHz LTE channels. If MetroPCS stick to 1.4 MHz, the company will maintain much of their existing 2G voice capacity, but their LTE network will run at basically 3G speeds of 3 megabits/sec or so. But if MetroPCS uses wider channels, the company risks crowding out existing 2G users.

MetroPCS has various ways to approach that problem, executives said. The company could potentially switch over to Qualcomm’s 1X Advanced 2G technology, which can pack more voice calls into less spectrum, thereby leaving room for LTE. Or it could aggressively move their customers onto voice-over-IP, LTE based services, reducing the congestion on the 2G side.

We’ll hear more about MetroPCS’ LTE plans in the coming months.


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