updated 03:00 am EST, Wed March 7, 2012
Said to be selected for widest '4G' network
A new rumor augments tips from last month that Verizon contractors had been upgrading the network infrastructure at flagship Apple retail locations, and says the carrier is hard at work finishing upgrade to as many Apple retail stores as possible to LTE networks so that the allegedly LTE-capable new iPad will be able to be demonstrated in-store. Verizon itself has teased a possible tie-in announcement with an e-mail signup ad.
If the rumor is true, at least the "showcase" Apple Stores across the US should be ready to show off LTE speeds in the iPad 3 as soon as they arrive in stores. Verizon is said to have been picked due to its having the largest LTE network thus far, reaching some 200 million customers, reports AppleInsider. AT&T has also built an LTE network, but has not achieved the same level of coverage, currently reaching about 74 million customers.
An LTE network femtocell in-store would provide a speedy and reliable network connection on which to demonstrate the '4G' capabilities of both the expected LTE-capable iPad 3 as well as a future LTE-capable iPhone model (widely expected to debut this fall). The term '4G' is something of a marketing-led misnomer, as current devices and networks do not reach the full potential of true 4G cellular data speeds, but are still up to ten times faster than current 3G speeds.
If Apple has opted to add LTE capability to the next iPad, it is likely to confirm Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu's claim that the company has made "notable progress" on solving the battery-drain issues that have plagued '4G' model smartphones and tablets from competitors, many of which are already on the market but have not found great favor with consumers because of battery issues. Qualcomm and other companies have produced or are working on more energy-efficient LTE chipsets that should help resolve the issues.
Verizon has posted a teaser on its website saying "something is coming" and encouraging customers to sign up for e-mail announcements. AT&T as posted a similar teaser. Whether this has anything to do with Apple, LTE or the next iPad isn't known, but the timing would suggest some deliberate tie-in, as many other tech companies are purposefully delaying or postponing announcements this week, fearful of getting lost in Apple's spotlight. [via AppleInsider]