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#TBT: Trends for 2014; Curved screens, connected cars at CES; LTE gathers steam … this week in 2014

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

CES 2014: Curved screens, wearables and connected cars
Curved screens, connected cars, and wearable tech are three of the biggest trends so far this year at CES. Since the human face is curved, why shouldn’t a smartphone follow that shape? That’s the apparent thinking behind LG’s G Flex, which the company calls the world’s first curved, flexible smartphone. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are set to get the LG G Flex before summer. The G Flex is not the first smartphone to use curved glass. Samsung launched its the Galaxy Round last year, but in the U.S. it is only available from third party retailers and the price is above $1,000. … Read more

Six trends for 2014
Editor’s Note: With 2014 now upon us, RCR Wireless News has gathered predictions from leading industry analysts and executives on what they expect to see in the new year. It’s that time of year again – time to hop into our DeLoreans and make the short leap forward to 2014. What will the coming year bring for telecom? What technologies will make waves and leave a lasting impression on consumers? Following is a list of six trends we expect to see in the year ahead and what you can look forward to as the telecom industry continues to evolve. Small cells will find its time to shine in the coming year. This technology, which can be used to handle local coverage and capacity issues arising from rapid growth in mobile data consumption, will enjoy major deployment in 2014 – enough for consumers to notice. With small cells, consumers can expect to get better and faster service in crowded areas such as sports stadiums, subways and shopping malls. There will be fewer frustrations when it comes to data download and upload, and more reliable mobile service overall – all thanks to small cells’ ability to boost coverage and user experience in busy and hard-to-reach locations. The mobile world will become sharper, more seamless and higher quality – just imagine the difference between an old analog television and high-definition TV – this is exactly what it will feel like with small cells in the game. … Read more

LTE momentum continues
As of today, there are 263 Long Term Evolution commercial networks globally, according to the latest update from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. More than 100 LTE networks were launched during 2013, bringing the total as of Dec. 31 to 260; three more have been added so far this month. The GSA expects that there will be at least 350 LTE networks commercially launched by the end of 2014, and says there are 508 operators who are investing in LTE in 144 countries, with 456 firm commitments to build out networks. “Key trends this year include more deployments of carrier aggregation and other LTE-Advanced features, growth in voice services enabled by VoLTE, and a significant expansion of international LTE roaming services,” said GSA President Alan Hadden in a statement. … Read more

T-Mo targets family plan switchers
LAS VEGAS – If 2013 was the fight against service contracts and device subsidies, 2014 is shaping up as the battle over family plans across domestic mobile operators. The latest to join the fight is T-Mobile US, which announced it would provide up to $650 in credits per line to customers switching family plan lines from rival operators. T-Mobile US’ offer targets current customers of its three larger rivals – Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint – offering first up to $300 in instant credit for the trade in of their current device. The remainder of the eligible credit comes once the customer receives their early-termination fee from their current carrier, with T-Mobile US offering to pay up to $350 per transferred line. Carriers currently charge up to $350 in ETFs for customers that break a contract that supported a subsidized smartphone, though those charges are also pro-rated based on the term of the remaining contract. To secure the ETF reimbursement, customers need to mail or upload the final bill from the carrier they are leaving. T-Mobile US noted the move is a “quick way to escape carrier contracts.” … Read more

Sprint expands Spark
LAS VEGAS – Sprint is looking to keep the momentum of last year’s Spark network announcement going, noting at the CES event that it has expanded the enhanced service to six new markets, pushing total penetration to 11 markets. The new market launches are heavily Texas-centric, including Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio as well as Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The carrier had previously began offering the service in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Tampa, Fla. Sprint noted it plans to cover 100 million potential customers with the tri-band network by the end of 2014 and 100 markets within three years. Sprint announced its Spark initiative last October, looking to tie together its 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings to power its LTE service. The carrier noted at the time that Spark consumers accessing its deep 2.5 GHz spectrum band would see network speeds of up to 60 megabits per second. … Read more

Agilent preps for Keysight spin-off
Agilent Technologies will name its spin-off electronic measurement company Keysight Technologies. The separation of the company’s test and measurement business is expected in early November. Keysight will be headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., and have about 9,500 employees in 30 countries. Agilent has struggled with profits in recent quarters, and is splitting the company into two businesses: Keysight to focus on test and measurement, and the remaining Agilent operations will continue the company’s work in life sciences, diagnostics and applied markets. Agilent also announced that AT4 Wireless has chosen its test equipment to provide certification testing for LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation. As part of the deal, AT4 is upgrading its T4000S series conformance test system from Agilent to support carrier aggregation, and the two companies have also extended their test system validation agreements; AT4 will continue to provide carrier-aggregation validation services to Agilent. … Read more

802.11ac is hot at CES
The increasing momentum of the new 802.11ac standard was evident in the Wi-Fi-related product launches this week at CES 2014. Here’s a look at some of the new products: Netgear unveiled two new Wi-Fi range extenders that support a/b/g/n devices as well as the new 802.11ac standard. Both garnered CES awards for outstanding design and exceptional engineering in home networking. Netgear said that the AC750 range extender is an industry-first, providing speeds of up to 750 megabits per second for 802.11ac with a wall-plug form factor. Its AC1200 high-power extender sports even faster 802.11ac speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps with a dual-core processor. Both are designed to eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones in the home and providing lag-free gaming and video streaming. SMC Networks launched a new 24×8 channel data gateway capable of downstream data rates of up to 990 Mbps, the latest addition to its Veloxite family of cable modems, EMTAs and wireless gateways for cable providers to use in residential small office and SMB markets. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.


Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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