Samsung may introduce LTE Advanced version of Galaxy S4 in June

Samsung's new variation of the Galaxy S4 will access the LTE Advanced network that eventually will deliver download speeds as high as 1 gbps

From our nationwide LTE survey.

From our nationwide LTE survey.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 was only introduced in March and the company has already rolled out Mini and Active variants of its flagship smartphone. Not content with just three basic models, Samsung plans on rolling out a speedier version of the Galaxy S4 in South Korea by the end of June, one report says.

The newest iteration of Samsung's Galaxy S4 will be designed for so-called LTE Advanced data networks promising double the transmission speeds of current LTE phones, according to Reuters.

"We'll be the first with the commercial launch of the advanced 4G version of the smartphone," Samsung's mobile chief J.K. Shin told the news service on Monday. The company has not yet responded to TechHive's request for comment.

LTE Advanced is the next great leap in wireless connectivity ultimately promising peak download speeds of 1 gigabit per second. Initially, however, promised download speeds are expected to be closer to 100 mbps.

Even that might be a stretch when it comes to real world experience. When we released our annual survey of wireless broadband performance in May, we found that the fastest average LTE speeds were hovering around 16 to 22 mbps in certain cities--T-Mobile's LTE speeds in San Jose even reached 31 mbps.

Using the Reuters report that the Galaxy S4 Advanced would see double the transmission speeds, then perhaps we'd see average top speeds of 30-40 mbps in well covered urban areas. But that is just speculation.

American-style LTE

Samsung has yet to announce when a so-called Galaxy S4 "Advanced" would arrive on American shores, but it probably won't be anytime soon. Largely because U.S. carriers are still busy rolling out plain vanilla LTE connectivity across their networks.

Sprint just announced on Monday that it had rolled out LTE to another 22 cities across the U.S.--bringing its LTE city count to just over 100. AT&T last Wednesday added another 17 markets to its LTE network. T-Mobile's LTE network is available in select cities and the company plans to build the bulk of its LTE coverage during 2013.

Verizon in May said its LTE network was 95 percent complete. In May, we reported that 25 percent of American cellular subscribers  have LTE service.

Even with the LTE rollout still underway, LTE Advanced may arrive relatively soon. AT&T and Verizon are expected to be the first carriers to work on LTE Advanced in 2013 with other carriers upgrading in 2014, telecom market research firm Technology Business Research said in December. LTE Advanced won't require a lot of new hardware and is largely a software upgrade, according to TBR.

When you ask the carriers, however, they aren't ready to commit to LTE Advanced just yet. "We are actively involved with our technology partners on LTE-Advanced," a Verizon spokesperson told TechHive.

"When LTE-Advanced is ready for prime time, we will lead the deployment charge, as we have done with 4G LTE." T-Mobile declined to comment on its deployment plans for LTE Advanced; however, Yasmin Karimli, head of T-Mobile's radio network evolution and strategy, told Venture Beat in April that it would be able to move more quickly than other carriers to LTE Advanced.

TechHive has also reached out to AT&T and Sprint for comment about their LTE Advanced plans, and we will update this story should the companies respond.

Advancing the gun

Even in Samsung's home country, a June introduction of the GS4 Advanced seems a bit premature. In December, South Korea's largest mobile carrier, SK Telecom said it would introduce LTE Advanced in 2013.

Current expectations are that SK Telecom's LTE Advanced network would debut in September with transmissions speeds double that of the company's current LTE network.

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Ian Paul

TechHive (US)
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