MetroPCS: the first LTE mobile network launched in the USA
Beating the large carriers by a few months, the small carrier MetroPCS is the first to launch a very high speed LTE network in the United States, even if it does only cover a few communities.
The first installation of an LTE ( Long Term Evolution ) network in the United States hasn’t been completed by a large carrier but rather a regional player, MetroPCS, who has announced as planned the launch of the first commercial very high speed LTE network in North America.
While this will be followed at the end of the year by Verizon Wireless, who will launch a national network, MetroPCS is the first mobile carrier in the world to offer an LTE compatible telephone. The North European carrier TeliaSonera, the first in the world to launch an LTE network, only had LTE USB dongles and PC Cards.
The regional carrier has the Samsung Craft available to them, a handset which we have already spoken about in these news pages. The device was initially known as the Samsung SCH-R900, before being rebadged for its commercial release.
It is a dual band CDMA2000 EV-DO/LTE handset with 3.3" capacitive AMOLED display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and a 3.2 mega pixel camera lens on the back. It comes with 165 MB of useable internal memory which can be extended by the microSD port (2 GB card provided, with the Star Trek film pre-installed).
WiFi and Bluetooth compatible, and with an A-GPS module, the phone doesn’t appear to be a Smartphone but rather a mobile with Samsung’s proprietary OS and TouchWiz interface.
A modest first step for LTE in the USA
The Samsung Craft comes with a range of services provided by MetroPCS and a selection of social network widgets. With its 1300 mAh battery, it provides up to 6 hours of battery life in CDMA communication and up to 200 hours in standby, although use of the LTE network reduces productive time to 2 hours.
The Samsung Craft handset will be sold for 299 dollars with a contract costing 55 dollars per month (voice, SMS, unlimited Web) or 60 dollars per month (MetroStudio service, with 4G VOD and 14 TV channels streaming).
To take advantage of MetroPCS’ very high speed LTE network, you have to be in the heart of Las Vegas… And although the carrier is planning on deploying their LTE network to other areas (like Dallas), the coverage remains very limited.
We will have to wait for the release of Verizon Wireless, and later AT&T’s networks to finally be able to access a national LTE network. In the meantime, the carrier Sprint Nextel, who has backed a competing technology, WiMAX, is able to provide users with very high speed mobile connections with a few compatible handsets available like the HTC EVO 4G and Samsung Epic 4G.
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