updated 05:30 pm EDT, Fri July 24, 2009
Verizon Rushing 4G
Verizon is accelerating the launch of its 4G network for an unknown purpose that might involve Apple, a leak maintains. Although the provider has officially postponed its Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network to the second half of 2010, a purported veteran source of TechCrunch now says the network build out is being accelerated with an early 2010 release once again in mind. The accelerated schedule supposedly involves at least one "non-dongle" device, most likely meaning a handheld.
The same tipster also "definitely" says there is some credibility to the revived rumors of an Apple tablet and implies that the touchscreen device would support LTE, giving it a much faster link to the Internet. It would skirt around the still-ongoing iPhone exclusivity deal as it wouldn't include an option for phone calls and may not have a microphone at all. Speculation also exists that Apple may try to avoid subsidies, which would force it to link the tablet to a two-year contract. The data-only nature would, however, mean that monthly rates would be much lower.
Whether this exact model will go through is uncertain. The latest tablet rumor points to the tablet using noticeably slower 3G, not 4G. However, many early 4G handhelds and network adapters are expected to be mixed-mode devices that support some form of 3G. The move would let Apple guarantee national coverage immediately and promise better speeds as 4G expands.
Whether or not it would support only Verizon is also a mystery: although AT&T will eventually move to LTE, any 3G modem in the tablet would have to support both EVDO and HSPA at the same time. Qualcomm's Gobi chip can fulfill this role but doesn't support 4G, which would force a second LTE component.
LTE once it deploys in the real world should give download speeds of about 12Mbps, or several times faster than either EVDO- or HSPA-based 3G. Many carriers expect this to allow HD video downloads and two-way video calls. [image via AppleInsider]