Microsoft's first LTE wireless Surface tablet gets closer to launch

Microsoft's first LTE wireless Surface tablet gets closer to launch

Summary: A device that looks like an AT&T LTE-enabled Surface 2 has received FCC approval. Maybe the promised ARM-based Surface with built-in wireless is close to announcement.


Last fall, Microsoft officials said to expect the company to make available an LTE-enabled version of the Surface 2 in early 2014.


It looks like that product may be getting closer to availability -- though given Microsoft's spotty availability of its Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices, maybe I should say "announcement."

A "portable computing device" that sure looks like a 10-inch Surface with AT&T-native LTE and HSPA data support has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval.

Last fall, Microsoft execs said to expect an LTE-enabled Surface 2 to debut on AT&T and Vodafone. They made it clear at that time that it would be an ARM-based device, not an Intel-based one, that would get LTE wireless connectivity. Nokia's Lumia 2520 ARM-based tablet already has LTE support and is available on Verizon and AT&T both.

Microsoft officals recently declined to comment on when the promised LTE-enabled Surface 2 would be available.

Microsoft also is still believed to be readying a Surface mini-tablet with a screen size between 7 and 8 inches. Last I heard from my sources (last year), the target date for availability of the Mini was spring 2014. There's no word, at least from my contacts, as to whether the Surface Mini will be LTE-enabled. I had heard Microsoft was planning to make ARM the processor inside the Surface Mini, but others have reported that they believe the device will be Intel-based.

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Tablets, ARM, Microsoft Surface


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I will bet a beer of your choosing that the Surface Mini

    Will have an Intel Atom processor. If MS was smart, that Atom would be the 64 bit version. That would give MS a marketing edge over similar 8 inch mini Win 8 tablets already on the market.
    • Also hoping for a 4:3 ratio - not holding my breath tho

      If only Microsoft could lead the way on how to build a proper 4:3 ratio tablet. One that was actually made for portrait orientation rather than the ridiculous 16:9 displays that have a ratio closer to a Popsicle stick when held in portrait.
      • Not 4:3 but 16:10

        4:3 ratio is too.. well, almost square. 16:9 is too skinny lets push for a 16:10 ratio. Its my favorite screen ratio.
        • I agree

          I love my original Surface RT, and I prefer the screen dimension over my HP Touchpad, but another inch of width would be an improvement.
        • Nope

          16:10 is great for a widescreen monitor -- which is always viewed in landscape -- but not for a tablet in portrait mode. The 4:3 ratio is closest to a sheet of paper, which is ideal for reading.

          Of course, I'm not talking out of my hat here. I'm also referring to the screen ratio of the iPad -- the most popular tablet on the planet by a huge stretch.
      • Problem with 4:3

        When you snap two Windows side by side, 4:3 makes them both skinny.

        I would be fine if they make the Surface Mini 4:3 but if you put a kickstand on it, place it so it stands in landscape as portrait mode would be very unuseful (and yes, I know you can stand a Surface in portrait mode but it does not angle well that way).
        Rann Xeroxx
  • What would be great in an 8 inch Surface

    Would be an active Stylus. I'm not sure I really want to run legacy Windows apps on an 8 inch device. The exception to that statement would be OneNote.
    • Stylus would improve RY

      I agree on this idea. I've said all along that RT is great for a tablet especially with the desktop and despite the lack of legacy apps. I don't miss legacy apps on my OSRT because it has the legacy apps I use the most already (Office), and it allows me to use them in desktop mode. The only thing I envy the pro version for is the active wacom stylus and digitizer. Hell, if android can include this feature on an arm device surely Microsoft can.
      I've been holding out on upgrading my Lumia 920 in hopes that they will build a 1520esque note 3 competitor with digital stylus support and multi-input options that include handwriting like in windows 8's onscreen keyboard. That would be the ultimate for me.
    • Only if..

      If they can keep the price low while adding the stylus. If it adds too much expense to an already expensive device then they would be better off leaving it out.

      I hear that after the updates, the digitizer on the Dell Venue line improved. That used a Symantic one and was cheap.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • What about the pro?

    I was going to purchase a surface pro 2 today but one thing killed the sale, It needs inbuilt 4G LTE! If Microsoft releases the surface pro with mobile broadband they have my money. What use is a tablet that you cant even browse the web on when mobile.
    • LTE/GSM long ago needed

      Welcome onboard, Steven!
      I've been bringing this point up for years. And you know what? Instead of MAKING things happen, MS - and other OEMs as well - finds EXCUSES, like you don't need that (because there are Starbucks everywhere), you can allways use USB GSM, etc.
      PS: I am not an Android or iOS fan here; my statement is quite objective.
    • The reason is...

      This is just so little market for a laptop (that is really what the Pro is) with LTE, thats why there are so few laptop like devices with it. If MS could make money hand over fist, they would have had it in the first iteration but its still a very niche need.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • but ipad for office first?

    another fail: launch new surface, fail to release office touch.
  • Surface still not a mobile device without a GPS

    My Nokia Lumia 2520 Tablet is much prettier than the industrial Surface 2 brick, and it already has LTE and GPS, making it a truely mobile device.

    Microsoft simply do not understand the mobile environment, when they fail to appreciate the need for GPS in their tablets. They should just give up now.
    • Agreed

      Even cheap $200 devices have GPS in them, I have no idea why this is left out as its just not that expensive to put in.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • Moving too slow.

    I actually thought this latest Surface Gens already had LTE. But then again, when your mobile strategy is based around protecting "Windows" against all these post-PC devices, I guess I could see how things like LTE and GPS are afterthoughts. The Surface products are pitched more like an extension of their desktop Windows than their Windows Phone. The Surface 2 is a new generation Netbook and Pro is full blown windows Notebook. Not tablets.
  • GPS and Phone

    I can't be the only person in the world who expects their tablet to be their navigator when they are in the car. Including phone service so when my phone rings my tablet turns off the music and I can answer the call with my blue tooth would just be icing on the cake.
  • The Pro might be worth a look

    Otherwise, Lumia 2520 would be my choice. Now if only it was 64gb.