LTE, The iPhone 4G, and Verizon

October 3, 2009

This is a note I just sent to Engadget Mobile podcast hosts Chris Ziegler and Sean Cooper. They seem to know as much as anyone I’ve listened to in mobile tech about LTE, so hopefully they’ll indulge my inquiries below during their next podcast……

Dear Engadget Mobile Professors Ziegler and Cooper,

Please bear with me and make 3 large assumptions so I can pose 4 larger questions?
Assumption 1: The US exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T will end between now and the release of the next iPhone model
Assumption 2: Since CDMA as a voice standard will remain a reality for at least the next few years, and voice standard(s) for LTE will not emerge any sooner than that, Apple could and should devote the engineering effort to build a CDMA capable iPhone (and if HTC and Palm can do it fairly quickly with their most recent devices, why in the world would it be that difficult for Apple?)
Assumption 3: Verizon will indeed launch LTE simultaneously in as many markets as they possibly can in 2010, and phones that have both CDMA and LTE radios will be commercialized by Verizon by late 2010.
Question 1: Would Apple then wait to launch the “iPhone 4G” on Verizon when they can perfect CDMA/LTE radio hardware and network handoffs, and is it conceivable that Apple and Verizon engineers are currently commingling in secret to pull this off?
Question 2: It’s clear that the story of the iPhone’s evolution is international though and could they also pull off the creation of a HSPA/LTE iPhone 4G for the rest of the world for launch in late 2010, early 2011?
Question 3: If Apple and Verizon are the first companies to bring the promise of LTE to fruition, what impact will this have on Europe where it seems LTA deployments are much less imminent? Would it speed things up such that a coalescing of consensus around a voice standard for LTE would be abandoned by carriers who are anxious to sell the iPhone 4G? (thereby making it more logical for Apple to invest in creating both CDMA/LTE and HSPA/LTE models)
Question 4: What bands will be used for LTE in America, Europe and Asia? I know Verizon intends to use recently purchased 700mhz, but will AT&T and T-Mobile also utilize this band or will they eventually convert their usage of bands 850, 1900, 1700, and 2100 to LTE? Will this also occur in Europe on their version of 2100 mhz, or like Finland with their allocation of 1800mhz for LTE, will it be a mix? And will the term “unlocked phone” therefore become anachronistic one day? 😦

3 Responses to “LTE, The iPhone 4G, and Verizon”

  1. Jon Says:

    Another question is if voice will ever be over LTE. With verizons 700 spectrum for LTE only, there is no need for voice to ever be on it (leave it on CDMA).

    I doubt the first version of the verizon iPhone will include LTE. LTE would still be very new if the Verizon iPhone comes out in 2010. There is such a pent up demand for a Verizon iPhone that Apple really does not need to include it in their first version.

    It is very possible that the second generation Verizon iPhone would include LTE.

  2. John Says:

    Jon I think you're right on every front, other than will voice just be done via VOIP because the data connectivity is so solid and pervasive? But now having seen Verizon's recents ads mocking the AT&T/Apple relationship with the tag line “there's a map for that”, I think the Verizon iPhone dream now seems unlikely to be realized anytime soon….

  3. John Says:

    An update on whether my question was addressed in the latest Engadget Mobile podcast: it wasn't but the podcast focused on CTIA was nice and short and interesting:

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