Americans Unclear About 4G and Smartphones
A survey released by research firm Compete revealed a gap between 4G service perception and reality. More than half (59 percent) of U.S. smartphone users believe 4G phones are available for sale here in the U.S. and 16 percent believe their carrier offers 4G service.
The reality is there are no 4G smartphones available in the U.S. and the only 4G technology of any kind currently available is the Sprint WiMax service for laptop and PC internet access, which is limited to certain cities.
Smartphone users (70 percent) do know 4G offers faster data downloads than 3G, so it's not a simple case of muddling the numbers.
Eighty-two percent know their carrier offers 3G, 84 percent know that 3G is currently available on some smartphones, and 66 percent know that 3G is currently available nationwide.
Compete analysts suggest their results are an indication that people are not basing smartphone purchase decisions on data service speeds since they believe 4G phones exist and know that 4G offers faster service. Or perhaps they just haven't visited a wireless store lately.
It won't be long before 4G cellphones are available, though. At CTIA wireless convention last month, HTC unveiled the first 4G smartphone for the U.S. market, the HTC Evo , scheduled to be available from Sprint this summer, and MetroPCS announced a 4G phone venture with Samsung Mobile.
While all of the major providers have plans to upgrade service to 4G, significant 4G coverage is expected to take several years. AT&T is still in the process of building out its 3G network and has stated that there will be no 4G until 2011. Verizon Wireless said its 4G service could be in 25 to 30 major cities before the end of this year, and budget carrier MetroPCS plans to launch 4G in Las Vegas later this year.
Spotty coverage and only one confirmed phone for 2010―No wonder Americans are confused by 4G. Just wait until they hear it will most likely come with a significantly higher price tag. That may be when Compete's question will ring true: Is 4G worth the price?