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Ericsson demos super-fast LTE Advanced; Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G available for pre-order

by Phil Hornshaw

If you’ve been following smartphones and tablets with any kind of consistency, you’ve likely heard all this kerfuffle about the major mobile carriers’ upcoming switch to 4G service. The “4G” part refers to “fourth generation,” and to hear the ads tell it, it’s an incredible leap from 3G service to 4G service, offering better voice reception and blisteringly fast data speeds.

The truth isn’t quite as rosy as the ads, though. A lack of regulation from the Federal Communication Commission has meant a loose requirement for the definition of 4G: basically, it’s better than 3G, although by how much is largely left up to the carrier selling it. And while 4G will be some kind of improvement, especially depending on the carrier, it sounds less and less like it will be a revolution in mobile technology in many cases.

But that might change if mobile manufacturer Ericsson has anything to say about it. The company, a big proponent of 4G “LTE” technology (one of the higher-speed technologies that falls under the 4G designation), recently demoed new gear it is creating that uses LTE Advanced, a technology capable of pulling down mobile data speeds as high as 1GB per second. The demo hit speeds that are 10 times what’s currently possible on existing 4G LTE networks.

GigaOM has the story, which details how Ericsson hopes to have the components for sale ready by as early as 2013. The Advanced LTE system used commercial hardware for the demo, which was shown to the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency in Kista, Sweden – meaning Ericsson was showing off those super-fast speeds on mobile devices that are already available.

In theory, this means that LTE Advanced speeds are compatible with the existing 4G LTE network being built across the country by telecom companies such as Verizon. Ericsson’s LTE Advanced cellular radios could be added to new phones relatively easily, and since the network already exists, it would just be a matter of paying for all that data.

There’s one other drawback, as well: the Ericsson used 60MHz of bandwidth spectrum, which is a whole lot more than is currently available to mobile users. Increasing the amount of bandwidth available for mobile use in general would probably be a necessary step here, and that requires buying that spectrum from the Federal Communication Commission, which regulates it.

Preorder a 4G Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Verizon

Speaking of 4G devices, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G is available for pre-order right now on Verizon’s website, although it’s probably going to take a while for the device to show up.

According to a story from Slash Gear, the new Galaxy Tab will start at $529 for the 4G 16GB version, $100 less than the $629 asking price that customers will get without a two-year data contract with Verizon.

Verizon’s website says it’ll be four to six weeks for the tab to be shipped out to consumers. As for that 4G data plan, the rates start at $20 per month for 1GB of data. Three gigabytes a month runs at $35, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for $10GB.

We rather enjoyed the Wi-Fi-only version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 when we demoed it earlier this month, although despite its powerful hardware, Samsung’s Android Honeycomb tab isn’t well-supported yet in the app department. Still, if 4G is what you’re looking for, the Galaxy Tab is one of the stronger Android offerings on the market.