Ina Fried

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Verizon Wireless Touts 4G Network, Shows Off Devices

Well, we didn’t learn much new about Verizon Wireless’s new network or devices at the Ivan Seidenberg keynote on Thursday, but he did say that the company would have a preview of its LTE device lineup at this afternoon’s press conference.

Here’s hoping there are a few surprises here beyond the previously announced Motorola Atrix and Xoom.

The event is set to kick off shortly and Mobilized will have live coverage here.

1:05 pm: Well, despite timely warnings to get in our seats beginning at 12:45, it’s now five minutes after and the techno is still pumping.

1:11 pm: Okay. Getting started. Loud music gets louder. Cue video.

Tony Melone and Marni Walden take the stage and CEO Daniel Mead (at least I think it is Mead) is doing an intro.

1:15 pm: Another video now playing with partners. Since HTC CEO Peter Chou is in there, I think it is probably safe to say their oft-rumored LTE smartphone will make an appearance.

1:16 pm: Samsung and Ericsson execs also in the video.

1:17 pm: Verizon exec now touting the advantages of its 4G network including its spectrum, which it says will give it the best in-building coverage.

Also talking about how it is sharing its spectrum with rural service providers.

1:18 pm: Mead: “We’re very pleased to be part of bringing broadband to rural America.”

1:21 pm: Mead hands off to CTO Tony Melone to talk 4G and LTE.

Melone says that the company knows there is a lot of skepticism of the company’s move to go straight to LTE but that the bet is paying off with more networks and running faster than planned.

“The customer feedback we are getting is everything we had hoped for and then some,” Melone says.

Melone talks about 4G LTE plans.

Thirty-six months from now we will have the nation covered with LTE, Melone says. Two-thirds of the population will be covered in 2012. This year alone, he says, Verizon will add 140 new markets, including places like Little Rock, Detroit and Sioux Falls.

1:26 pm: On to devices.

Ten devices coming by mid-year being shown on stage: Four smartphones, two tablets, two notebooks and two mobile hotspots.

1:33 pm: LG CEO shows off the LG Revolution, what appears to be a slimmish smartphone.

Next up, Skype’s CEO talks about a new partnership that will allow for Skype to be always on and integrated into the address book of all of Verizon’s LTE smartphones,

1:34 pm: He’s followed by HTC CEO Peter Chou, who introduces the HTC Thunderbolt.

Chou says he’s been personally testing and using the Thunderbolt, which features the new Skype video chatting along with HTC’s Sense user interface.

“Let me tell you, it’s blazing fast,” Chou says.

Other features include a built-in 4G hotspot and a 4.3-inch Super LCD screen.

1:37 pm: He thanks Qualcomm and Google engineers that worked together to create the device, so guessing this one isn’t using Nvidia’s Tegra chip.

Next up is Electronic Arts VP Travis Boatman. EA’s mobile games lineup ranges from Monopoly and Tetris to Need for Speed and the FIFA 11 soccer game.

The new mobile version of Rock Band for Verizon’s LTE network lets people form a band and remotely jam over the network.

Samsung executive goes onstage to show off three devices for the LTE network, One is a mobile hotspot, one is a smartphone and the other is a 4G version of the Galaxy Tab.

Phone packs 4.3-inch Super Amoled Plus display, which is said to boost colors and offer improved display. It’s got an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with HD video and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.

The tablet has a 1.2GHz processor developed by Samsung, while the hotspots provide connections to up to five users at a time.

Most impressive is the fact that the Samsung executive pulled all three devices out of various pockets.

Marni Walden shows off the remaining devices–a Novatel MiFi hotpot that works with both 3G and 4G networks.

There is also a Compaq Netbook, an HP notebook, as well as the previously announced Motorola Xoom and Motorola Droid Bionic.

1:47 pm: On to Q&A (hoping laptop No. 2 holds out through the end of question time.)

First question has to do with LTE speeds, which often exceed the 5- to 12-megabit speeds promised. Mead says that the company’s goal is to meet the promised speed range once the network is fully loaded, something that is not the case today.

Next question is on battery life. Melone says the company believes it will be able to meet customer expectations in that regard.

The company says it won’t announce pricing or rate plans for the 4G products, beyond noting its current prices for 4G laptop cards and service.

As for simultaneous voice and data, Walden says the company intends that at least some of its 4G launch devices will support talking and accessing data at the same time.

“It could be on some devices and not all,” Walden says.

Walden also confirms all the phones it showed Thursday are running Android.

1:55 pm: Asked about net neutrality, Mead says that what the industry needs is “unfettered development.”

“We think the free market system works very well, and we don’t need a lot of heavy intervention.”


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