Now that the 4G technology wars are over and LTE is the de facto standard for virtually all next-generation wireless networks, it appears that operators are gearing up for another battle that involves making their 4G service stand apart from the competition.
Over the past year we've seen the U.S. Tier 1 operators embark on "4G" marketing wars, with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile USA all claiming to have the largest 4G network in the country. AT&T argues that its combination of LTE and HSPA+ along with enhanced backhaul make it the winner. Meanwhile Verizon notes that its LTE network covers 196 markets and more than 200 POPs, more than any other LTE network in the world. And T-Mobile claims it's in the top spot because it has an HSPA+21 network covering 217 markets and more than 200 million POPs and an HSPA+42 network covering 175 markets and 184 million POPs.
We will be delving into the latest developments in the 4G battle for superiority during the FierceWireless "Path to 4G" event on May 8. Held in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless 2012 conference in New Orleans, the Path to 4G event will feature a keynote presentation from Kris Rinne, senior vice president of architecture and planning at AT&T, and a fireside chat with T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray. I'll be asking Ray all about T-Mobile's latest plans to deploy LTE in its AWS spectrum.
But that's not all. The one-day event will also feature panels on such hot-button topics as deploying VoLTE, building a better backhaul network and using small cells to manage and strengthen network coverage.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for operators to differentiate their offerings will be through pricing. So far we haven't seen a lot of innovation in pricing of 4G services beyond the limited vs. unlimited debate. However, MVNOs such as FreedomPop are entering the 4G mix promising free data (with conditions) and the option of paying for an upgrade. We will be discussing these ramifications and more during our "Selling 4G to the Consumer" panel.
Check out the full Path to 4G agenda here. To register, click here. I hope to see you there. --Sue