Verizon vs. Sprint: The Race to Produce America’s First Poorly Functioning 4G Device is On!

by Matt Klassen on February 23, 2010

It’s times like this that I really appreciate the benefits of a true capitalist spirit; when two companies go head-to-head in a battle to bring the consumers the best products available in the shortest amount of time. While early reports had Verizon set to release its newest 4G capable handset near the end of 2010, new information now suggests that in response to Sprint’s plan to be the first American carrier to release a 4G phone by summer, Verizon has picked up the pace.

Sprint’s goal, with its proposed summer release of what would be the first American 4G handset, is to separate themselves from their larger rivals, hoping to turn their recent struggles in the mobile market into instant success. With the development of their fourth-generation technology, known as WiMax, Sprint intends to produce phones capable of sending data faster than their competitors’ current 3G networks. However, their moment in the sun may be very short-lived.

Last week Verizon Wireless’ chief technology officer Dick Lynch hinted that handsets utilizing Verizon’s own 4G technology, known as their LTE (long-term evolution) service, will be available substantially ahead of schedule.

However, before we all get too excited about this 4G race, we should remember that early rollouts and new technologies almost never deliver as intended. Considering that Sprint will release its 4G handsets with significant, ozone-layer sized gaps in their WiMax network, users will be disappointed to find that linking to the 4G network will be available to only a select few in the larger metropolitan centres across the US.

Further, reports are already stating that Verizon is getting ahead of itself in this race, as they haven’t even completed initial rounds of testing, and, as Lynch noted, “getting voice to work over LTE has been particularly challenging,” a service, I would wager, that many would probably still want to see on any new 4G handset.

Regardless, if there was ever any motivation to get your ass in gear to produce reliable 4G capable devices, it’s knowing that your competitor might do it first. So while I remain sceptical over the quality of these devices once they are released, only good things can come from a little healthy telecom competition.

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