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Cellphones Patents United States Wireless Networking

FCC Gives Thumbs-Up To First LTE Phone 42

eagledck tips news that the FCC has "finally approved the first 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) phone for sale in the US." The Samsung device will use MetroPCS as a carrier, but tech specs, software details and a launch timetable are still uncertain. Meanwhile, Verizon is ramping up testing of their own LTE infrastructure, hoping to launch in 25 to 30 markets by the end of the year. An anonymous reader notes that LTE rollouts could be hampered by a confused and conflicted patent situation. "It is impossible to know where all the patents are but we have identified more than 60 companies holding essential patents. It is a very large landscape and fragmented. If there was one major patent pool and a handful of individual companies to deal with, that would be possible. But signing license deals with 40 plus [entities] is not. A unified patent pool is best," said a representative for one of three patent pool organizations trying to accomplish that.
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FCC Gives Thumbs-Up To First LTE Phone

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  • Makes me skeptical of the coverage and reliability they will be able to provide for 4G but I dunno.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      LTE means a new infrastructure. I would expect a lot of carriers that don't have yet a 3G network to just skip 3G and do LTE.

      • Actually China Telecom is pouring billions of yuan into expanding their 3G network across as much as China as possible. 4G equipment is currently much more expensive than 3G. Not to mention LTE's ecosystem must still develop before smaller carriers will make the jump.

        Another problem is that providing backhaul for 4G can be difficult. For example over 90% of AT&T's towers are still currently served by T1s. I foresee several smaller carriers remaining on 3G for at least a few more years.

    • by sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @08:57PM (#33091852)
      Well Verizon's 4G will be on the 700 MHz band, which allows for deep penetration of thick walls and extremely long distances. Unfortunately for them they only have 20 MHz in that band, so caps will be a must. If I recall they plan on selling "buckets" of data. Don't see that working out too well in the face of Clear's capless 4G however.

      Interestingly, I'm typing this out on an uncapped 4G WiMAX connection in Nagasaki, Japan. I download hundreds of gigabytes a month while paying $50/month. It's quite fun actually. I get approximately 5/.5 mbps international and 110 ms ping.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        (1) No doubt this is why Verizon ATT and others want to kill-off TV channels 25 through 51 --- so they can expand that 10 megahertz to 170 megahertz worth of cellphone spectrum.

        (2) $50 a month sounds like a ripoff, especially considering I'm only paying $15 here in the US. Of course my connection is wired not wireless, but I'm okay with that. It's not a limitation for me.

        • Really 5/.5 mbps for $15? Which ISP is that? I would switch in a heartbeat if it were available in my city!
          • I would MOVE to that city!
          • >>>Really 5/.5 mbps for $15?

            I assume that's down/up speed. That level costs $35. My current $15 service only gives 1 Mbit/s (and I'm okay with that). I've never paid more than $19 for internet and see no reason to start now.

      • Hmm... seems that Japan is not that advanced after all. Most of Finland has HSPA 3G network with 14.4mbps theoretical maximum for 14€/month uncapped for your phone with secondary data SIM and extra included USB data stick. Realistic rate is 6mbps/1mbps and 100+ms ping. I'm typing this using exactly that HSPA 3G connection, closest shop is 10 miles away and nearest city is 20 miles away. No wired or cable services available at all, only electricity line is coming to the edge of the property.

        Here are spe

    • I worked for a local metroPCS retailer in the Philadelphia market about a year ago. I know the landscape has changed drastically(they got their first 2 "smartphones" right before i quit) in such a short time, but i really dont see how they could be a player in the 4G market at all. The infrastructure here could barely support the EDGE service. Voice quality was hit and miss most of the time, let alone trying to use any sort of data. I do have to give it up to them for having cheap "all you can eat" plans th
  • What is LTE? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 )

    What is an "LTE" phone? Google is not helping me find an answer.

    Does it come with the bigger GBs?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Nimloth ( 704789 )
      Long-Term Evolution is the name given to the 4G successor to HS(D)PA networks.
      • I know it means Long-Term Evolution, but what are the practical benefits? I read the wikipedia article [] but, not being a telecom engineer, I don't understand much of it. What benefits will an LTE phone provide over existing phones?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          It go fast.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          LTE is a 3.9G technology, faster than current 3G technologies employed by most carriers worldwide. With an LTE phone you'll manage speeds of 5-12 mbps down/2-5 mbps up. Battery life will probably be a bit of an issue though.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          If you had RTFA (instead of googling), you'd know what LTE is. It's basically the same speed as 3G, but with 1/4 as much latency for VOIP, online gaminng, and such.


          • OH and it's a wideband technology (width equal to two TV channels), so each tower can handle lots and lots of people at the same time.

        • by MrZilla ( 682337 )

          Currently means a theoretical top speed of 150Mbps in the downlink, actual field speed here in Stockholm have been measured at ~60Mbps (but I think 30Mbps is more common, always depends on radio conditions and cell usage). Currently work is ongoing to reach 1Gpbs theoretical top speed.

          The big thing I think is the reduced latency. For HSPA type technologies you typically end up with 80 - 120 ms latency added from the packets trip trough the Radio Access Network (RAN) and Packet Core networks. For LTE, the sp

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hitmark ( 640295 )

            Another thing is that LTE, like wimax, uses TCP/IP rather then some custom package protocol (that then again carries TCP/IP if one use the mobile network to access the internet). This turns any phone into a voip device from day one. It also means that rather then using UMTS or EVDO to carry TCP/IP, one can use TCP/IP to carry UMTS or EVDO. This means that LTE is a potential upgrade path for either of the major global 3G networks (and why your seeing companies like verizon going LTE, even tho its a GSM relat

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm hoping 'long term evolution' does not mean an absence of intelligent design.

  • as long as I control it."

    • Yeah. WTF?

      Is a "patent pool organization" kind of like an ASCAP or RIAA or MPAA, but for patents? Gee. I can't imagine how that might go wrong.

  • by Kumiorava ( 95318 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @09:16PM (#33091984)

    LTE or no LTE doesn't matter as long as the data plans in US are as horrible as they are now. LTE can be useful if the operator somehow enables tethering, secondary data line, or other ways to use the fast data connection. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have to pay close to $50/month to get LTE/3G data connection with restricted data usage via tethering, or $10-30/month if you want to use data just on your mobile phone, or both if you want LTE/3G usb data stick + data on your mobile.

    This obscene pricing for data is holding back any real breakthrough in wireless data market in US. When comparing that to current prices in Finland the difference is huge. Currently operators are offering up to 14.4mbit/sec 3.5G (HSPA) data line for 14€/month. The plan includes data for your mobile phone + USB data stick for your computer with secondary SIM without data usage restrictions. Both data connections will work simultaneously and use the same phone number, secondary SIM doesn't receive text messages otherwise it's identical to primary SIM.

    The result of such pricing scheme in Finland is that many families have several high speed internet connections at their disposal. Surprisingly telcos are quite profitable and have been able to offset the declining revenue in fixed line business with new wireless services.

    • Why is it cheaper? After all Finland has the same celltower installation costs that we have in the US. Are the costs subsidized by taxpayers?

      Also what is the typical cost for a "14.4mbit/sec 3.5G (HSPA) data line" when you look at the EU taken as a whole?

      • I doubt that Finland is less expensive per capita to build and/or operate a mobile network. The cost is not subsidized directly by tax payers. I would say Finnish telcos are less subsidized than the US telcos.

        I suspect that it's cheaper because of strong competition among telcos. Regulation plays huge part in that. Phone subsidy is separated by law from the service contract. Meaning that subsidized phone must be priced separately and service must be provided without phone itself. This regulation gives the c

  • Taxpayer money? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how many taxpayer-funded subsidies were given to the telecom companies to develop LTE, just so we can get soaked again on our monthly bill to pay the patent royalties on technology we already paid once to develop.

  • Long-Term Evolution? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xamindar ( 533756 )
    Long-Term Evolution, so does that mean all carriers and phones are going to be using the same frequencies so that I can use my phone with whatever carrier I want?
  • I'd rather have an long term infrastructure with intelligent design.

  • Infrastructure (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There's only so much a user would want to do with a phone, even with the extra bandwidth. You can stream a movie perhaps but the inevitable trend towards usage caps all but eliminates that fantasy. What's more interesting here is the infrastructure. More bandwidth means more devices can be supported, such as laptops as TFA mentions. Bona fide ISPs can be built on LTE, so the possible availability of alternate internet services is something to look forward to.

  • Wake me up when they approve an FTL phone!
  • No, ablution of patents is best. Many proponents of patents have stated how important patents are to innovation, but where are the economics studies supporting this? While a number of economics studies [] have concluded there are negative impacts of patents, where are those that claim there are positive impacts? As noted in Ars technica's article Study: free markets superior to patent monopolies [] the debate has made it's way to Science magazine. To cite one example, in The Patent Paradox Revisited: An Empir []

  • MetroPCS is not going to launch their own 4G network.

    Read up on the wholesale LTE network LightSquared [] is contracting Nokia Siemens to build ($7 Billion contract). This is the main reason Nokia Siemens is in the process of buying the Motorola infrastructure division.
    I'm surprised this hasn't been on Slashdot already.

  • HSPA+ that T-Mobile USA has launched 21 megabits/sec today. I have seen 10meg peaks on it myself

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