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NPD Reports Rise in 4G Device Sales for 4Q 2011

The market research company NPD recently released the findings of a study it made regarding the sales of 4G devices in the market. The study revealed that the sales of 4G devices grew during the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to sales posted during the fourth quarter of 2010.

NPD reported that about 35 percent of smartphones that have been sold during 2011 4Q period were equipped with 4G capabilities. NPD clarified however that 22 percent of the smartphones sold for the period also includes devices that connects with HSPA+, which is not considered a true 4G technology like WiMax or LTE.

NPD says that the upsurge in the sales of 4G smartphones could be attributed to the popularity of Apple’s iPhone 4S, which can access AT&T’s HSPA+ network. Another factor is the rise in sales of devices that can access T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. AT&T is now beginning to deploy its LTE based 4G service while Verizon Wireless is also preparing its own LTE network. NPD reports that the LTE devices that Verizon sells accounts for seven percent of the smartphone sales recorded during the fourth quarter of 2011. The numbers just surpasses the number of WiMax devices that Sprint has sold, which accounts for six percent of sales of 4G devices for the same period.

The NPD report illustrates one key problem right now, agreeing on what 4G technology actually includes. What some carriers sell as 4G is nothing more than a refined 3G technology, which some call 3.5G.

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