While other telecoms continue to roll out their initial LTE coverage in the United States, Verizon Wireless is preparing to roll out what has been described as “Phase 2” of its 4G network in the second half of this year.
The LTE network currently available to Verizon customers operates in what is known as Band 13, or the 700 MHz C Band. This spectrum of frequencies is advantageous for Verizon because its relatively low frequency let the radio waves from its cell towers travel farther for the same amount of energy. Using this band has let Verizon cover a greater area with LTE service with less work than other networks.
This move by Verizon has certainly paid off for both the company and its users – as Verizon CTO Nicola Palmer noted in this interview with Fierce Wireless back in March, the company has managed to blanket 90 percent of the United States with LTE service.
But the company isn’t stopping there. Last August, the company purchased a large swath of spectrum in Band 4, known as Advanced Wireless Services (AWS), from cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable for $3.6 billion. Then in January, Verizon announced a deal between itself and AT&T in which the company traded a small number of its licenses to the 700 MHz band for $1.9 billion and AWS licenses in certain western markets, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno and Portland.
This spectrum gives Verizon several advantages. Most notable for users in urban areas, the high-frequency of the spectrum will allow radio waves to better penetrate the walls of buildings, meaning that users of AWS-compatible phones will have better LTE service indoors than they have in the past. In addition, all users of AWS devices will be sure to notice a jump in the speed of their data conenctions. According to GigaOm analyst Kevin Fitchard, Verizon owns enough AWS spectrum to more than double its LTE capacity. In fact, east of the Mississippi, it has enough to triple it.
Most Verizon customers won’t notice this switch right away because the 4G chipsets in the majority of the devices on its network don’t support the AWS spectrum. Users who upgraded to Samsung’s recent Galaxy S4, however, will: as Scott Moritz pointed out over at Bloomberg yesterday, the flagship supports the spectrum and owners of the device will have their data speeds “more than double” after an Over-The-Air software update when Verizon switches on its AWS cell sites in the second half of this year.
Engadget: Samsung Galaxy Mega is official and comes in 6.3- and 5.8-inch sizes.
Neither of those is very big for a Megazord. What the hell Samsung, I thought you were leading the push for bigger electronics?
Oh, this isn’t a Megazord. It’s a phone with a name that would have been cool in the 90s.
Anyways, Ubergizmo got a look at the phone. Here’s how they addressed where the Galaxy Mega fits in to Samsung’s lineup:
The Galaxy Mega is not meant as being the new high-end specs performer. Instead, it is a smartphone that was designed to maximize the utilization comfort and the productivity of key visual apps that can run very well on a dual-core processor (like email, web pages, reading, typing, photos).
You get worse performance in exchange for a bigger screen. Don’t think I could make that trade-off.
From (hahahaha) The Wall Street Journal:
“The panacea is to transform the industry with a revolutionary design,” Mr. Mawston said. Until then “you have to do the traditional business school implementations like manage costs and move quicker than rivals.”
I’ve never heard of an analyst saying that Apple should act more like a traditional company. I bet Mr. Mawston is right: if Apple would just act like everyone else, it would have no problem maintaining its current position of making more money than everyone else combined. Nope, no problem with that logic.
But hey, maybe we should look at how Apple manages cost. My favorite example is flash memory: Apple has so much leverage with NAND suppliers that for every $392 they spent on flash memory in 2011, they made over $2,000 in profit:
As far as acting faster than its competitors, Apple doesn’t really seem to have a timing problem at all. There were about 11 months between the release of the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5, and 11 months between the release of the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S4 (and people complain about Apple’s numbering system?). The only difference is that Samsung releases their flagship in the middle of the iPhone’s life cycle, so that they can say they have the newest phone just as excitement for the iPhone begins to wane. Last year the S III beat the iPhone 4S in sales before the iPhone 5 came out – I bet the same thing happens again this year. What analysts want is for Apple to release two rounds of flagships per year, and thus not act like everyone else.
(Everyone else who is doing well, at least. Right now that only really means Samsung.)
Today Engadget noted that the HTC One is going to start at $250 at AT&T.
Last week we found out that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 will start at the same price on the same network.
I figure that there are three potential reasons for HTC and Samsung to release their flagships at a higher price than Apple’s iPhone 5, which starts at a subsidized price of $199 on most carriers and $99 on T-Mobile:
- The carriers won’t give them the same subsidies as they give Apple. Apple has significant leverage with carriers when it comes to subsidies – remember Sprint’s $20 billion deal with Apple to get the iPhone 5? Yeah, that was basically a giant preorder guaranteeing Apple a $500 subsidy per phone.
- HTC and Samsung are hoping that by offering bigger screens, more (gimmicky) features, and the general performance enhancements that come with being newer, they can charge more than Apple does and thus make higher margins.
- Expecting a bigger and more expensive iPhone later this year, they’re betting that they can raise the price of their flagship devices and still undercut Apple.
Edit: Well, fuck me. Turns out HTC is launching the One for $199.