LTE News Wrap: MetroPCS Ships LTE Smartphone, Verizon Talks VoLTE

February 9, 2011

We are in the middle of working on one of our famed in-depth Sidecut Reports so pardon the lack of posts… for your reading pleasure some links to mobile headlines in the news and our instant analysis of same, starting with MetroPCS making good on its pledge to ship the “first” LTE smartphone in the U.S.

The fine folks at Engadget have a good hands-on review and all the news, including the pricing which is $399 for the device and $50 a month for 1 GB of data, or $60 a month for unlimited data. While MetroPCS’s devices and plans aren’t meant for the top end of the market I think the company’s strategy of offering more horsepower to the prepaid crowd is a smart one. With more full-featured phones like this Samsung Galaxy Indulge MetroPCS can go a long way toward satisfying an audience that may not ever need or want a PC, laptop or any other Internet device.

While some folks may try to equate MetroPCS’s network with Verizon’s because they use the same base technology, Long Term Evolution or LTE, don’t be confused — MetroPCS is not in the big-bits game that Verizon is playing in, and as such its plans won’t ever truly compete with Verizon (or AT&T, or Sprint’s) ability to provide much faster download speeds. Though MetroPCS uses LTE it also uses small spectral “channels” which means you might see faster than 2G speeds but you won’t see anything close to Verizon’s advertised 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps or Sprint/Clearwire’s 2 Mbps to 6 Mbps for their WiMAX network.

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Is the Pay-as-you-go Cellular Future Already Here?

October 14, 2010

In the course of our discussion yesterday that was part of her column on new cellular pre-paid plans, financial wiz Jean Chatzky asked me a great question: Why would anyone need a 2-year contract plan anymore? As her post (and stories like the one I recently wrote for PC World) points out, with better phones entering the pre-paid arena, the allure of the “discounted” phone that you get with most 2-year contract plans may be rapidly fading.

Though big carriers like AT&T and Verizon love the postpaid plans (because they lock customers in to a predictable revenue stream) you may see the larger providers offer even more flexible pricing plans in the near future, especially as they roll out their newer, faster “4G” networks. While the big boys may not be able to match their upstart competitors on price, at least customers will have more chances to switch between providers when not locked in to a long-term deal. For most everyone who can survive without an iPhone, that’s good news.

Next week at 4G World in Chicago we are scheduled to meet with both Clearwire and MetroPCS, both of which have pre-paid plans already using their respective 4G networks. It will be interesting to hear from the companies how the 4G prepaid plans are doing so far, and if there are more in the works for the near future.

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Bonus LTE Coverage: We Test-Drive the MetroPCS LTE Phone

September 23, 2010

By sheer coincidence, Sidecut Reports was on the scene Tuesday when MetroPCS launched the first-ever commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the United States of America. We took some time out of our busy schedule to do a quick test-drive on the Samsung Craft LTE phone — check out our review over at PC World, and note the nice photos!