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Without 4G pronto, Nokia's Windows Phones are hampered in U.S.

The buying calculus for Nokia Windows Phones would change dramatically if there was only LTE support.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

Nokia is working with Verizon and AT&T on a 4G Long-Term Evolution Lumia 800, but Microsoft's inability to support it with Windows Phone is a significant hurdle.

CNET News' Roger Cheng reports that Nokia is testing a Lumia 800 smartphone that can work on LTE. The problem: Windows Phone doesn't support LTE yet.

This phone would be a lot more interesting with LTE.

The bright side here is that Nokia realizes that time to market is critical and anything it can do to speed up an eventual LTE handset is critical. Today, all LTE phones are powered by Android. At Verizon, which has the most developed 4G LTE network,  anyone who wants speedy service has to stay with Android. Many of us---my Verizon contract just ended---want LTE and would gladly consider another option. In my view, the iPhone would be a no-brainer with LTE, but in the meantime I'd bump Android.

Here's how the buying calculus works for Nokia Windows Phones today vs. LTE.

Today:

  • Nice phone.
  • No. 2 OS in terms of quality, but market share small.
  • Do I want a two year contract on Microsoft's platform and a smartphone maker that has been unknown in the U.S.?
  • App selection.
  • 3G network.

Choice today: I have no interest in being a first mover with a Nokia Windows Phone and don't feel like being on 3G only for two years.

Today if Nokia had LTE:

  • Nice phone.
  • No. 2 OS in terms of quality, but market share small.
  • Fast LTE service.
  • Do I want a two year contract on Microsoft's platform and a smartphone maker that has been unknown in the U.S.? Maybe if it has the features I want.
  • App selection.

Choice with LTE: If both Android and Windows Phone supported LTE then the buying decision resembles those old Coke-Pepsi bake-off challenges. Windows Phone would win its share after a few force closes from Android. App selection is an issue, but Microsoft has enough (but would really need the SiriusXM app to win me over).

Microsoft hasn't officially said much about LTE support timing, but the day it launches Nokia better be there with a device on Verizon and AT&T. After all, the clock is ticking. Once Apple hits the market with a LTE iPhone it's game over and entrenched Android-iOS duopoly for years.

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