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Summary:

As the iPhone has shown, carriers are going to have to upgrade their mobile networks to handle the increasing amount of data traffic that will come from users surfing social networks, YouTube and heaven knows what else while on the go. Just please don’t do it […]

As the iPhone has shown, carriers are going to have to upgrade their mobile networks to handle the increasing amount of data traffic that will come from users surfing social networks, YouTube and heaven knows what else while on the go. Just please don’t do it while driving. So for those reading about the promise of 4G networks such as LTE or mobile WiMAX, here’s a look at each carrier’s launch plans and when (or if) you can expect to see up to 100 Mbps down on your mobile network.

  • AT&T: The nation’s largest network in terms of subscribers, AT&T plans to use LTE to upgrade to 4G, but not for a long, long time. For now it’s content with its current 3G network. A spokesman wrote via email, “Our HSPA network has the potential to hit theoretical peak speeds more than five times faster than AT&T’s current 3G speed ranges.” When it does upgrade, it will be to HSPA+ in 2009 and 2010. Eventually it will go to LTE, but won’t begin testing until 2010 or 2011 with full deployment coming after that.
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon is already testing LTE equipment from several vendors, with plans to roll out the network in 2010 and have most of the country covered by 2012; Verizon’s would likely be the first full U.S. deployment of the LTE technology.
  • Sprint-Nextel: The outlier in the whole transition to 4G, Sprint is going with WiMAX rather than LTE. After a number of delays, the company is set to launch its network in September. By the end of the year it will join with Clearwire to operate a nationwide WiMAX network under the Clearwire brand.
  • T-Mobile: T-Mobile is still launching its 3G coverage, so its 4G networks may take a while to come to fruition. The carrier’s German parent appears to favor LTE, but T-Mobile USA could not be reached for comment.
  • Metro PCS: This budget carrier plans to use LTE, according to its statements on an earnings call last week, but it doesn’t yet have a time frame for deployment, pointing out that its customers aren’t heavy data users yet.
  • U.S. Cellular: The company is unsure of its deployment plans, but Mark Steinkrauss, a spokesman for the carrier, said it would likely choose to follow the rest of the industry with LTE. As for deployment, the time frame isn’t set. “Traditionally we have not been the first to roll out new technologies and would be more of a smart follower, carefully deploying the new technology to ensure that we always offer the very best network experience,” Steinkrauss says.
  • Leap Wireless: Didn’t return my emails for comment, but recently said it had not made a decision or public comment about its 4G plans.

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  1. Stacey

    This analysis on focuses on the US. What are the EU up to? Given that GSM is by far the largest mobile community wouldn’t that be relevant?

    1. GSM maybe the most widely used but CDMA has by far the best ability to adapt and go faster then what its capability already has.

  2. @Stacey

    Things are moving fast in this field but I doubt we can mention LTE or Wimax as 4G (IMT-Advanced) technologies. Maybe LTE-Advanced and Wimax 802.16m but clearly not LTE nor Wimax (802.16e).

    The ITU-R group has published some details on the whole submission & evaluation process for 4G technologies (link http://tinyurl.com/56g68t).

    @Paul

    I think most of the european operators will go the LTE and/or LTE-Advanced way. Little chance for them not to go LTE way.

  3. Stacey Higginbotham Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Paul, it is U.S. only, but perhaps I’ll look across the Atlantic after a few days of R&R. Europe appears to be mostly LTE, although Vodafone was planning on using HSPA+ for a while before upgrading. Not sure about WiMax in Eastern Europe, though.

  4. Thanks for this post Stacey..but again it is only for US :)

  5. vinnie mirchandani Thursday, August 14, 2008

    sure would be nice of the operators to provide more consistent 3G coverage across the country in meantime …4G will be nice but it’s a bit like vaporware in software when existing version is buggy…

  6. Adrian Hall, Bytemobile Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Unlimited data plans, the iPhone, the proliferation of mobile internet applications, on-the-go accessibility of sites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace — these and other factors have created 10-15% monthly growth in data traffic for many tier-one wireless networks. It seems that carriers consider the upgrade to 4G networks as the ultimate solution for their bandwidth management issues. This view is tenuous at best. Using dynamic, adaptive optimization technology will enable carriers to scale capacity and performance on any network, ensuring a positive user experience, driving data usage and increasing ARPU, while enhancing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of network operations.

  7. nerdd.net | news and opinion Friday, August 15, 2008

    Countdown to 4G Networks: Whos Doing What, and When | nerdd.net…

    \r\nfor those reading about the promise of 4G networks such as LTE or mobile WiMAX, heres a look at…

  8. LOL, Dude I cannot wait. This is going to like totalyl ROCK this year!

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  9. @ Stacey:

    Your information is not correct, AT&T is not the largest subscriber base in the US, that position is held by Verizon, as they purchased Altel months ago. Altel is also involved in the LTE conversion, as they run on the Verizon network Natively, and use smaller networks as you get into more rural areas where Verizon’s coverage does not reach.

  10. BESComputers Blog » Blog Archive » Countdown to 4G Networks: Who’s Doing What, and When Friday, August 15, 2008

    [...] launch plans and when (or if) you can expect to see up to 100 Mbps down on your mobile network.read more | digg [...]

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