The 4G March Continues - and Not Just for the Giants

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Confusion and Skepticism May Impede 4G Adoption

With so many potential 4G customers expressing concerns about cost and performance providers may be in for some disappointment.

The inexorable march of 4G Long Term Evolution across the horizon is not just for the big carriers. Others - i.e., all carriers not named Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile - also are on the move, albeit a bit more quietly.


Twice reports that U.S. Cellular said that it will roll out LTE services during the first quarter of 2012, though notes that the timing represents a delay from previous statements. Twice says that the rollouts will be in Wisconsin (including Milwaukee, Madison and Racine), Iowa (including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport), Maine (including Portland and Bangor), North Carolina (including Greenville), Texas and Oklahoma. The story said that the rollout is being conducted in conjunction with King Street Wireless.


Another service provider without a sky-high profile that is not letting the 4G bandwagon pass is Leap Wireless, which is a brand of Cricket Wireless. Last week, Engadget reported that the company, which provides prepaid services, will begin testing services in Tucson by the end of the year and plans to cover two-thirds of its network "within the next two or three years." The story notes that the company has a roaming agreement in place with LightSquared.


The big players, of course, are leading the way. InformationWeek reports that AT&T on Nov. 6 launched in Baltimore; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Athens, Ga. The total for the carrier now is nine markets. The story reports that the company says that service in New York City will launch soon. The goal for the end of 2011 is 15 markets and 70 million to 75 million points of presence (PoPs), which, essentially, are subscribers.


The champion to this point, however, remains Verizon Wireless. The carrier had promised to have markets cover 185 million people by the end of 2011, according to TFTS. The site ports that the company is about at that goal - with a couple of months to spare. A good chunk of that number came on Oct. 20, when the company announced 22 new markets. Thirteen more are coming on Nov. 17, the story says. At that point, Verizon Wireless will have 178 markets on line. The piece adds that December may bring more new markets.


It's obvious that the 4G revolution is well under way. The bulk of the nation will soon be covered by one or more carriers. Indeed, just summing up the markets in the announcements reviewed in this post would seem to blanket the nation. It's good to see the smaller and prepaid carriers getting involved. If history is a guide, some of the more interesting and innovative twists will come from them - though Verizon's temporary doubling of data limits is a good start.

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