updated 11:15 pm EST, Thu January 5, 2012
Regional US carriers talk new LTE plans
Two US regional carriers saw contrasting results for their LTE rolluts on Thursday. C Spire had set a goal of having LTE-based 4G on its network by the end of 2011, but in a response to FierceWireless declined to say what adjusted schedule it might have. The former Cellular South may have been counting on rules requiring LTE interoperability from AT&T devices that weren't granted with the Qualcomm spectrum handover in December.
Speculation has also raised the possibility that C Spire's deal with Apple for the iPhone may have been costly. Apple typically asks for a heavy subsidy and, if popular, can have a financial impact. Given the cost of deploying LTE versus cellphones, though, this isn't as likely.
US Cellular said the same day that it was on a more definitive track. The carrier's first LTE tablet should be available in March and will be followed a month later by a smartphone. Neither device has been identified.
Most US networks have a strong incentive to go to LTE beyond just speed claims. Along with a somewhat better chance at getting roaming support, it ensures access to a common pool of hardware. Android is a key concern for some, but Apple is believed to be preparing LTE iOS devices and avoids building special-run models for individual carriers.