Samsung claims first LTE phone, for MetroPCS
Hot on the heels of the first WiMAX phone, but will chips be ready for an LTE handsets this year?
Published: 26 March, 2010
Not to be outdone by the US' first WiMAX phone, the HTC EVO, which launched at CTIA Wireless, the LTE community announced their own device, the Samsung SCH-r900, just a day later.
The multimode phone will not have a network to run on yet of course, but aims to be the first LTE handset in the US market - but not with Verizon Wireless, but smaller carrier MetroPCS. The operator plans to go live with CDMA/LTE services in a few locations, notably Las Vegas, by the end of this year and Samsung says the phone will be available from the start, even though most carriers will rely on data devices such as dongles for at least the first year of commercial LTE service. Verizon Wireless does not expect to offer handsets until mid-2011 and there will be little silicon available before that stage, though it seems Samsung it using its own designs for the r900.
Samsung is often the first vendor to provide devices for a new technology. It came out with an early LTE modem last fall, and had a WiMAX smartphone three years ago for the Korean WiBro network. Details of the SCH-r900 are sparse, but it looks very similar to the firm's Windows Mobile workhorse, the Omnia, with full touchscreen and HTML browser.
The vendor said it could support channel sizes from 1.4MHz to 20 MHz standards. This is significant because MetroPCS has only narrow bands of spectrum in most cities and is overlaying LTE on CDMA in its AWS frequencies, whereas Verizon has new spectrum for LTE. Depending on the situation, can deploy 1.4MHz, 5MHz or 10MHz LTE channels. At 1.4MHz, LTE would not deliver data rates beyond 3G levels, about 2-3Mbps, but at 10MHz, CDMA voice quality and capacity could suffer.
MetroPCS has also given Samsung a rare LTE infrastructure win. The Korean firm is hardly visible in the first wave of LTE trials, despite its experience and success in the other OFDMA mobile broadband standard, WiMAX. Ericsson is also supplying MetroPCS.