A recent job posting by AT&T hinted at at the future of the iPhone, LTE. It’s no surprise because AT&T chose LTE as its 4G technology for the future. The time table for an LTE iPhone isn’t entirely known because LTE hasn’t been launched in the U.S. and AT&T lags behind Verizon when it comes to being at the forefront of LTE.
AT&T has an exclusive contract to offer the iPhone exclusively, that ends in 2011. AT&T pays for a lot of the cost of building each phone by requiring users to sign up for a 2 year contract and making them pay for a data plan. This backfires on AT&T because heavy iPhone users take up a lot of spectrum space because of the data. It’s on two different frequencies, the voice and data services.
It doesn’t help that AT&T blasted Verizon for attempting to roll out LTE networks in the U.S. too early. AT&T contested that Verizon is moving too fast and that the technology isn’t standardized yet. There have been some standardizing bodies that are looking to make the process more uniform, but it’s goign to take a few months. Different upload/download speeds on LTE networks have been reported by different operators.
Customers would win if the exclusivity contract runs out with AT&T because the cost would come down. iPhone’s lead the way in the smart phone market. Sprint uses the iPhone in their latest advertising for their WiMAX/4G network. It’s a bold move to showcase the latest in wireless broadband but it doesn’t make the mobile hot spot seem like a competitor of the iPhone.
Sprint released the closest thing to competition for iPhone, the HTC EVO 4G. It’ a phone, has 4G connectivity and works as a hot spot to connect other WiFi-enabled devices, like the iPhone. It’s not available yet, but it’s capabilities extend to connect to the 3G Sprint network when 4G’s not available.
Another rumor that popped up again was that Palm will release a 4G phone sometime this year too. Palm’s sales have sputtered after the release of the Pre and Pixi. It would be a boost if Palm does release a 4G phone, but don’t expect it to have all the add ons that the HTC EVO does.
It’s a device that works well and should take some sales away from the iPhone, but only in the markets where Sprint’s 4G service is deployed, not in most parts of the country. AT&T plans on updating its data networks for 2010, as a reaction to Verizon’s map commercials.
The LTE iPhone is a possibility, it’s the natural progression of the product, but it’s not going to happen in 2010. Expect to see a LTE iPhone on shelves during the second half of 2011.
Photo Courtesy of shapeshift via Flickr