As expected Verizon Wireless is going full throttle with consumer plans for its next generation 4G LTE network.
The company unveiled a suite of 10 consumer-oriented LTE (Long Term Evolution) devices at a CES press conference, including smartphones from HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, two tablets from Motorola and Samsung and two mobile pocket hotspots from Novatel Wireless (MiFi) and Samsung and notebooks from HP and Compaq. All the devices will launch by the middle of 2011, some as early as March, Verizon says.
Verizon launched its 4G network in 38 markets just over a month ago, but at the time people could only take advantage of zippier speeds on their laptops by using one of two USB modems. Verizon expects to add 140 markets this year in places such as Little Rock and Detroit; it plans to blanket its entire 3G coverage area in 36 months. Among the executives joining Verizon’s team on stage was Skype CEO Tony Bates; Skype video calling will be made available on the 4G devices and Bates says the application will always run in the background so you can connect with friends and family with no delay. “You no longer have to make an appointment or stand by your computer,” he says. An especially enthusiastic Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, said he’s already using the upcoming HTC Thunderbolt smartphone as his personal device. “It’s blazing fast,” he says.
I certainly experienced blazing fast speeds myself last month when I tested LTE on a laptop via an LG modem. Speeds often topped Verizon’s estimates for average download use of 5 to 12 megabits per second and 2 to 5 Mbps uploads, though relatively few people were using the network at that time. The company is sticking by those numbers, even as more people glom onto the network. Verizon Chief Technology Officer Tony Melone says “we were realistic…[and] speed bumps are few and far between.”
But high speeds potentially come at a high cost for data hungry users, with a two-year data plan costing $50 for 5 gigabytes or $80 for 10 gigs with an additional $10 charge for each gig over your allowance.
Verizon didn’t reveal the cost of any of the upcoming devices or the cost of using them on the network.Verizon didn’t comment on specifics about the ability to take advantage of what techies refer to as “simultaneous voice and data” but the expectation is that it will work on some devices, not all.
There are still questions that will play out over time, including how well battery life will fare on the various devices, something Sprint struggled with on early smartphones that work on its rival 4G WiMax network.
Verizon also competes in the speedier space against T-Mobile, and AT&T, which yesterday, announced build-out plans for its own LTE network.
There was no mention of the much-rumored Apple iPhone, much less whether such a device would run on the LTE network. “LTE could bring great capabilities but could require tradeoffs in battery life and thinness,” says NPD analyst Ross Rubin, areas Apple pays a great deal of attention to. He points out that Apple initially ditched 3G in the first iPhone because of concerns over the battery.
I’m especially keen on checking out the Motorola Xoon tablet when it appears–it will run Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, which Google demonstrated earlier in the day during a keynote from Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenbeg. An LTE version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is also coming.
Executives from LG, Electronic Arts and Samsung Mobile also appeared at the news conference.
“When Sprint launched (WiMax) they had one device, and then two,” says Current Analysis Research Director Avi Greengart. “Verizon is pretty strong out of the gate.”
Here’s a full list of the devices Verizon mentioned, and their descriptions from a release. 4G LTE devices available from Verizon Wireless by the middle of 2011 include:
- HTC ThunderBolt (exclusive to Verizon Wireless) – HTC Sense 2.0, Skype mobile with video, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 4.3″ WVGA display, Dolby surround sound, 8-megapixel camera and HD video recording, wireless DLNA capability.
- LG Revolution – HD support for streaming, playing and recording video, large 4.3-inch touch screen, Android 2.2, video telephony support with front-facing camera and mobile hotspot capability to share a 4G connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
- DROID Bionic 4G – Android with Adobe Flash and HTML5, front-facing VGA camera and See What I See video feature, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera, 4.3-inch HD quality screen, HDMI connectivity, dual-core 1GHz processor, 512 DDR2 RAM.
- Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone – Android 2.2, Google Mobile services, including Google Search, Google Maps and Gmail, YouTube, brilliant 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touch screen display, powerful 1GHz application processor, HTML5 Web browser, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera with LED flash and front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera to support video chat capabilities, Samsung Social Hub and Media Hub.
- Motorola XOOM – 10.1-inch HD 4G LTE upgradable tablet, Android Honeycomb, 1080p HD video, Adobe Flash Player, front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video chats and 5-megapixel camera to capture video in 720P HD. Mobile hotspot capability provides connection for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
- 4G LTE-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab – 7-inch enhanced TFT display with 1024 x 600 WSVGA resolution, Android 2.2, Adobe Flash 10.1, 1.2GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird application processor, rear-facing 5-megapixel camera and front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder enable video chat capabilities.
MiFi and Mobile Hotspot
- Novatel MiFi 4510L Intelligent Mobile Hotspot – Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, share Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE and 3G networks with up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
- Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot – Dual-mode device works as a wireless access point to connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE or 3G networks.
- Compaq CQ10-688nr – 10.1-inch diagonal anti-glare widescreen LED display, Intel Atom N455 processor, up to 8.5 hours of battery life, multi-format digital media card reader, webcam and multiple connectivity options.
- HP Pavilion dm1-3010nr – 11.6-inches, HP CoolSense Technology, HD 1080p, VISION Technology from AMD, up to 10.75 hours of battery life, 320 GB of storage, full-size, island-style keyboard, multi-format digital media card reader, HDMI port, Dolby Advanced Audio and GPS for mapping and navigation
- HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola Xoom may arrive February 14 (electronista.com)
- Verizon Showcases 4G LTE Devices and Software (mashable.com)
- Verizon’s LTE Network Getting 10 Devices by June (gigaom.com)
- Verizon launching 10 LTE devices, promises 175 markets by 2012 (thenextweb.com)
- SlingPlayer hitting Verizon 4G LTE smartphones (intomobile.com)
- Verizon Pumps 10 Devices Into 4-G LTE Network (wired.com)
- Verizon Shows off 10 LTE Devices (pcworld.com)
- The Daily Slash: January 20 2011 (slashgear.com)
- Verizon reveals new 4G tablets, smartphones, notebooks & MiFi (agentgenius.com)
- HTC Thunderbolt 4G could be Verizon LTE phone (intomobile.com)