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Droid Charge still unavailable, 12 days after LTE outage fixed

Matt Hamblen, Computerworld | May 9, 2011
As of Monday, Verizon Wireless was 12 days late with the start of sales for its second LTE smartphone, the Droid Charge from Samsung, which was originally supposed to be available on April 28.

Also in March, AT&T said its Samsung Infuse 4G will run on the HSUPA network when it launches. That launch is now set for May 15, and the Infuse will be priced at $199.99 with a two-year contract, AT&T and Samsung announced last week.

Advertised speeds available on AT&T's HSPA+ and Verizon's LTE are roughly similar: about 5Mbps to 12Mbps for downloads, with uploads of 2Mbps to 5Mbps.

Gold and Gartner analyst Phillip Redman both questioned whether very many customers are demanding 4G performance, despite all the hype and television advertising.

"Frankly, I'm not sure how big the demand is for LTE or HSPA+," Gold said. "No one seems to be addressing what LTE means to battery life and the weight of the new devices, aside from whether I can make calls." (The LTE outage didn't affect voice calls, just data service, since LTE only is a data-only network.)

"I'm sure any of the delays can be attributed to using new network technology," Redman said. "What's the rush?"

Redman said AT&T's HSPA service requires fiber-optic cable backhaul connections from each cell tower to a switching center, and he noted that AT&T is in a transitional period when it comes to setting up that network infrastructure.

Regarding Verizon's LTE service and the Droid Charge, Redman said he doesn't have any specific information on the delays, but he noted that they could be attributed to the new network technology.

For its part, Sprint has had its 4G WiMax network in place longer than either Verizon or AT&T have had their 4G networks up and running. All three networks offer roughly the same speeds. Sprint began selling the new Nexus S 4G on Sunday for $199.99.

Sprint has been able to roll out WiMax phones without experiencing major network-related service problems, because it took a gradual approach to expanding the number of cities where WiMax is available. However, the HTC Evo 4G smartphone, which first shipped in May 2010, did suffer supply problems, because of a global shortage of displays.

Customer complaints to carriers about delays in Android smartphone software updates outnumber complaints about 4G network service problems.

 

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