Operators jockey for 4G positioning

Despite the typical press conferences and meetings that feature wireless executives saying a whole lot without really saying anything, this year's CTIA Wireless 2010 conference had an interesting flavor to it now that next-generation rollouts are either in progress or coming to fruition.

Here a few of my highlights of the week:

Let the operator bashing begin. Clearwire touted its spectrum position over competitors as the average mobile user consumes 7 GB per month and home users consume double that. CEO Bill Morrow said Clearwire can easily support doubling of that consumption and remain profitable.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile's Neville Ray, senior vice president of engineering and operations, in laying out plans for a massive upgrade to HSPA+, said network tests in Philly, the only HSPA+ market it has rolled out, put HSPA+ ahead of WiMAX operator Clearwire and its 3G competitors, but didn't give any numbers to support the claim, only saying to expect speeds three to five times faster than 3G networks. He also declined to give speeds achieved in New York, where sites are now live. However, he did note that the data stick demos during the show were performing at rates between 10 and 12 Mbps. T-Mobile has coverage of the convention center and the strip.

Everything is apparently hunky dory with Verizon's LTE rollout plans. According to CTO Tony Melone, the company's progress in rolling out LTE is in line with its internal expectations. A year ago, he was most concerned with how fast Verizon would be able to line up the fiber backhaul and required tower assets it needs to enable LTE. "We're actually ahead of where we expected to be at this time," he said during FierceWireless' co-located event, The Path to 4G. While AT&T CTO John Donovan earlier this week predicted that Verizon's new CDMA/LTE would look like bricks and drain battery life, Melone said that simply wasn't true because what handset vendor would want to come to market with a brick phone!

While Verizon says LTE handsets won't be ready until the first half of 2011, MetroPCS announced that it will launch its first market in Las Vegas in the second half of this year, complete with a device from Samsung. However, a Samsung spokesperson said the company is not providing pictures of the Samsung SCH-r900.

Tune in for more thoughts next week when my attention deficit disorder subsides.--Lynnette