The first 4G LTE handset, the Craft, has been launched by Samsung as MetroPCS began the first commercial LTE service. Samsung provided the LTE infrastructure for the MetroPCS network in Las Vegas. MetroPCS is offering new applications and features with the Samsung Craft. Clearwire also offers 4G, and Verizon and AT&T are getting ready.
LTE next-generation wireless is here. On Tuesday, Samsung announced the launch of the first 4G LTE handset, the Craft, and MetroPCS Communications became the first mobile carrier to launch commercial LTE service, in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Craft works on both CDMA and LTE networks. It features a 3.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen, a sliding QWERTY keyboard, a built-in 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, a camcorder with autofocus, Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth, and a music player. A 2GB microSD card comes preloaded with the recent Star Trek movie, and the handset can handle microSD cards up to 32GB.
'Desktop-Like Web Experience'
Samsung supplied the LTE infrastructure for MetroPCS's Las Vegas launch. The company said its products leverage years of experience with 4G orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) commercial networks in the 1.4- to 20-MHz range. The network infrastructure supports a variety of rack types, remote radio heads, picocells, femtocells and distributed-antenna-system hosts.
The Dallas, Texas-based MetroPCS said it will expand its no-contract LTE service to other cities it covers throughout this year and next. Two service plans are offered, priced at $55 and $60 monthly. To take advantage of the additional speed, the carrier is offering several new applications and features, including the RealNetworks-powered MetroSTUDIO, which gives access to full-track downloads, ringtones and ring-back tones, and premium video content from NBC Universal, Black Entertainment Television, and Univision.
A new social-networking and IM aggregation application from MetroPCS combines notifications, friends and content from Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as from AIM, MSN and Yahoo IM clients, into a single interface. An updated MetroNavigator has voice-activated GPS and turn-by-turn directions.
MetroPCS COO Tom Keys said the new LTE phone and service offers customers "a desktop -like web experience."
Second To Offer 4G
Unlike other carriers, MetroPCS chose to skip 3G and move directly to LTE. While it's the first to offer commercial LTE, it's actually the second carrier to offer 4G. The first 4G carrier -- also in Las Vegas -- is Clearwire and its majority owner, Sprint Nextel, is using the competing WiMAX technology .
The other major carriers are moving quickly to offer 4G. Verizon Wireless expects to light up its LTE network in 30 U.S. cities by year's end, and the rest of the country by 2013, although initially it has indicated it will focus on data cards for laptops, rather than handsets. AT&T currently has LTE trials under way in Baltimore, Md., and Dallas, with a launch scheduled for the middle of 2011.
Verizon has said it expects download speeds of five to 12 megabits per second, uploads of two to five Mbps, and very low latency. In a later phase, those speeds are expected to increase, and the other 4G carriers are expected to offer similar speeds.The transmission rate will allow wireless devices to more easily handle bandwidth-intensive files and apps, including movies, medical imagery, and collaborative games. New technologies, such as traffic sensors, appliances with embedded intelligence, and smart electrical grids, are expected to get a boost.