Categories: Carriers

Carrier Wrap: Verizon Wireless’ LTE network nears CDMA parity; Galaxy expands

Editor’s Note: Wireless operators are a busy bunch, and as such RCR Wireless News will attempt to gather some of the important announcements that may slip through the cracks from the world’s largest carriers in a weekly wrap-up. Enjoy!

–Verizon Wireless continued to inch its way towards LTE coverage parity with its legacy CDMA network, announcing the launch of commercial LTE services in a half-dozen new markets, including Durango, Colo.; Corbin and Madisonville, Ky.; Adrian and Mount Pleasant, Mich.; and Marietta, Ohio. The launches push the carrier’s LTE coverage to 497 markets and more than 287 million potential customers covered, with the network now covering 95% of its CDMA footprint.

Verizon Wireless has said it plans to have CDMA parity with its LTE network by mid-year and full network build out by the end of 2013.

–Telefonica UK tapped Tekelec to provide policy and charging rules functions for the carrier’s 3G and LTE network in the United Kingdom. The PCRF will work with Tekelec’s subscriber profile repository to help the carrier create and implement new rate plans and services.

–Sprint Nextel prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA plan to begin offering Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphone next month tapping into Sprint Nextel’s 3G and LTE networks. The LTE connectivity will be available across 88 markets with further expansion planned as Sprint Nextel extends coverage.

Pricing for the device was not announced.

No-contract rival Leap Wireless announced this week that it would begin offering Samsung’s latest Galaxy S4 next month for $600, with LTE roaming enabled through an agreement with Sprint Nextel.

In a separate announcement, Boost Mobile unveiled its Mobile Wallet service that will allow customers using smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system to use the device as a “cash-based vehicle for accessing cost-effective financial services.”

Boost Mobile noted the offering will allow customers to load cash to the wallet account at Boost Mobile authorized retail locations; send money to more than 135 countries; pay more than 3,500 “billers” nationwide; top-up domestic and international prepaid wireless accounts; transfer funds instantly between accounts; and eventually to load checks directly from the mobile phone using the embedded camera with instant access to approved funds.

Boost Mobile will charge service fees for various functions.

–Speaking of the Galaxy S4, rural operator C Spire said it has begun accepting pre-orders for the device with plans to bring it to market “this summer.” The device is selling for $200 with a qualifying two-year contract, or about $50 less than what many larger operators are charging for the device on a postpaid basis. The C Spire model will be compatible with the carrier’s LTE network.

–Regional wireless operator U.S. Cellular said it has launched Kyocera’s latest ruggedized smartphone dubbed the HydraXTRM. The device sports a 1.2 GHz, dual-core processor, runs Google’s Android 4.1 OS and is compatible with the carrier’s LTE network. Kyocera added that the device has Military Standard 810G certification for shock and drops and carries IP57 certification for protection against dust and immersion in up to 3.28-feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

U.S. Cellular is selling the device for $30 after rebates and with a two-year, postpaid contract.

–Canadian operator Telus Mobility said it has partnered with Boston-based Apperian to launch a mobile application management service designed to help Canadian businesses manage corporate mobile applications. Specifically, Telus said the offering will use Apperian’s cloud-based platform to distribute corporate mobile apps to field workers without requiring the installation of additional software; and securely deploy and update enterprise app stores that IT has control over.

–The United Arab Emirates Telecommunications Regulatory Authority released a band plan for 700 MHz spectrum and released spectrum in the 800 MHz band for mobile broadband services.

The 700 MHz band plan takes its model from the Asia Pacific model utilizing the “lower duplexer of the APT700 (2 X 30 megahertz) as a base line with the possibility for additional 2 x 10 megahertz for more spectral efficiency and for public protection and disaster relief applications.” The government authority added that 5 megahertz has also been considered for “direct mode operation to cater for the same purpose.”

“By maximizing the spectrum for mobile broadband in harmony with the growing economies of scale for both bands, the TRA decision will enable nearly global interoperability and roaming,” explained H.E. Majed Al Mesmar, deputy director general for the country’s telecommunications sector. “The UAE is predicting a rising demand for global harmonization of the APT 700 MHz band benefiting in the growing ecosystem of devices from Asia Pacific across the Middle East and Africa, through to Latin America.”

Additional carrier news can be found on the RCR Wireless News “Carriers” page.

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