CTIA Updates: Sprint — The Uneasy Leader of 4G?

March 28, 2011

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse at CTIA. Credit: Sidecut Reports

You knew Dan Hesse was taking this chairman of CTIA thing seriously when he showed up in Orlando last week wearing black dress shoes instead of his surfer-casual Vans. But Dan’s plans for another blockbuster CTIA were waylaid by the AT&T-T-Mobile takeover announcement, an industry-shattering news event that put a big stink on Sprint’s plans to show itself as a cellular leader.

Without a doubt, Sprint still had the coolio introduction of the show in the mind-bending HTC EVO 3D phone alongside a true 4G tablet, also from HTC. In its usual cutting-edge hip fashion Sprint paid to slice off a largish amount of the show floor to stage its 3D press event, with a small media stage and a whole bunch of nightclubby couches intermixed with gratutitous food stations and even an open bar serving up martinis just after lunchtime on Tuesday.

But even though media types and regular boothgoers crowded the Sprint stations to get a hands-on demo of the eye-popping 3D phone (you really have to see one to experience the coolness of the device) the whole week felt like AT&T had just set off a big stink-bomb at the Sprint party, because every appearance, every panel session and just about every hallway conversation revolved around the new new question: How the heck will Sprint be able to compete as an incredibly distant No. 3 in the U.S. cellular market?

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AT&T Quietly Launches HSPA+ 4G: LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Dallas Make the List

March 2, 2011

When AT&T announced the availability of the HTC Inspire last month I thought it was kinda funny that nobody picked up on the fact that AT&T was selling what it called a “4G smartphone” but wouldn’t tell anyone where the company’s “4G” HSPA+ service was up and running. Without any fanfare, press release or even a list, all that has apparently changed now since AT&T’s 4G promo page now lets you drill down to see very detailed network-coverage maps showing live HSPA+ services in several big cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Boston, among a few others.

AT&T 4G coverage map screenshot, showing a live market in San Francisco.

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Verizon’s LTE Price Combos Could be… Very Interesting

March 1, 2011

As the tech-reporting world spins another batch of headlines that basically say “keep waiting to hear more about Verizon LTE service pricing,” it’s worthwhile to start guessing what might be the most attractive of Big Red’s 4G LTE pricing, device and plan options. While LTE-powered smartphones like the HTC Thunderbolt (hey wasn’t that supposed to be on the shelves already? Or should we not believe the so-called exclusive confirmations?) might look like a good all-in-one purchase (smartphone, hotspot), what about the possibility of a bundle that includes a LTE standalone mobile hotspot and a Verizon iPhone?

The latter would combine the world’s most popular smartphone platform with theoretically the fastest commercial network in the U.S.; is that more of a draw than an all-in-one Android combination? Especially if the Android phone in question is $250 or $299 as rumored and an iPhone can be had for $200? If the 4G pocketspots are under $100, isn’t the idea of a future-proof 4G connection (the mobile hotspot) and the best-supported smartphone (the iPhone) as compelling as an all-in-one 4G phone with Android?

While we admire the marketing machinery that lets Verizon score headlines for not really saying anything at all about pricing — other than that someday, sometime, it will actually offer LTE services for sale — maybe the coyness is because Verizon knows that once it releases an official set of prices and plans for any one of its forthcoming 10 LTE devices the permutations like the one above will start in real time.