Owners of Google's Nexus 4 tablet will have to make do without LTE

In a surprise move for the industry, smartphone player Google has launched its latest handset, the Nexus 4, without support for LTE. Instead customer will have to make do with HSPA+.

LTE networks are have begun to be widely deployed throughout the world with 35 million active subscribers across the world, nearly 19m of which are in the Google’s home market of the US, according to Informa WCIS stats.

The UK’s first LTE network, running on EE’s 1800MHz network has launched today, while next week sees LTE arrive on Italy’s Telecom Italia.

However, in an interview with US tech site The Verge, Andy Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of Mobile, hinted that concerns over battery life as the reason for the omission of LTE due to the requirement to support multiple networks.

“A lot of the networks that have deployed LTE haven’t scaled completely yet — they’re hybrid networks [...] which means the devices need both radios built into them,” he said. “When we did the Galaxy Nexus with LTE we had to do just that, and it just wasn’t a great user experience.”

The Verge also hints that tough networks access requirements on LTE networks such as Verizon would make offering a compatible phone less appealing for Google. Verizon requires that any device be approved and tested by the network before firmware updates can be pushed to any device running on its network. This would prevent the Nexus 4 from receiving Google’s frequent Android OS updates in a timely fashion, thus negating one of the primary reasons to go for Google’s own-brand unlocked handsets.

The Google Nexus 4 has been launched along side the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets and all run Google latest mobile OS, Android 4.2 Jellybean. The smartphone is manufactured by LG, has a 4.7in display and is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, which the firm claims is the faster mobile phone processor on the market. It features NFC and a wireless charging dock, two technologies notably absent from Apple’s recently launched iPhone 5.

Google also faces competition from Microsoft, which launched its latest salvo in the fierce smartphone battle with the release of Windows Phone 8, which is due to appear on forthcoming handsets from HTC and Nokia and Samsung.

Google’s head of Americas Business partner division, Adam Massey, will be attending the upcoming LTE North America 2012 conference in Dallas, where he will be discussing how cloud computing, and applications and services have changed the business landscape. Reflecting the massive increase in LTE usage in the US and worldwide, the LTE North America conference has seen a 77 per cent increase in attendance since last year, and nearly 50 per cent of all US carriers will be at the show.

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