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>> Tom Merritt: Hey, I'm Tom Merritt. I've snagged Kent German here, CNET's cell phone expert, to give us a preview of spring CTIA. CTIA is the biggest cell phone event of the year, at least here in the United States. And it gets underway in Las Vegas March 23rd. Alright, you're going. This'll be your tenth one?
>> Kent German: Just about, yeah.
>> Tom Merritt: 'Cause they happen twice a year.
>> They happen twice a year.
>> This is the bigger one, here in the spring. What's the theme, and can you name it in two characters?
>> I can. We think the theme should be 4G. It's really gonna be what it's all about at this show.
>> So what are we gonna see? 4G, of course, being the faster internet over 3G, right?
>> Yeah. It's just a basically way to deliver faster data over 3G. But actually, it delivers voice as well, which 3G doesn't necessarily do. So it's a little bit of a new way to think about how cell phones work as well.
>> Now, who has 4G and who doesn't so far?
>> Well, right now, Sprint is the only carrier that has an active 4G network. It's out in 27 cities. They use a version of 4G called WiMAX. And it's expected -- well, it's kind of the worst-kept secret that we will see some Sprint 4G phones at this event.
>> Okay, so they have 4G service already in WiMAX, but they don't have any phones for it. They only have the laptop cards. Will we see one phone? Two phones? How many?
>> Not really sure. But I think there'll be more than one, definitely. 'Cause they're really making a big push of this. They're actually launching more WiMAX networks this year. They're coming out to the big cities like New York, San Francisco, LA. So I really think they'll try to have a couple different hardware types, couple different feature sets just to give people a variety.
>> Now, that's probably what we'll hear from Sprint, mostly; that's what we expect. What do we expect from the other carriers?
>> Well, we think that they'll have some sort of announcements, or at least talk about their 4G networks. We know that Verizon, they're testing their network right now. They used another version of 4G called LTE. They will have their networks active later this year. Sprint actually -- or, I'm sorry -- AT&T won't actually have its network active until next year: 2011. So we'll probably see some, maybe, just more information about their networks, maybe when they have actual announce dates. But don't expect any phones from them.
>> Okay, so we won't see any phones from them. Any other notable announcements? Any other devices, phones that we're gonna see from these carriers? Whether they're 4G or not.
>> Well, we know that Samsung is gonna have a LTE showcase event. I don't really know exactly what's gonna go on there. Expect to have some of their LTE phones, whether those things will be available later in the US, we'll have to see. But it's good to see these devices. We've been talking about 4G for a while, and -- especially on the Sprint side -- it gives people something to put in their hands and really use.
>> I heard a rumor HTC's gonna have some big announcement as well.
>> Yeah. We expect to see phones like the Incredible, some of the stuff that we saw at Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona. Maybe see some US announcements there about that time. The HD2, which I know a lot of people have been waiting for. That's gonna land at T-Mobile as well, so... Bonnie Cha will be going to that. She'll tell us all about what's going on at HTC.
>> Now, last year we expected Android everything, and got the Nexus -- well, we didn't even get the Nexus One until this year. So what are we gonna see from Android? There's starting to be a bunch of phones.
>> Yeah, last year was funny, 'cause we were supposed to see Android at CES, Mobile World Congress, CTIA, and it didn't happen at any of them. This year, definitely. Android has been a big hit at the two previous shows, and will be at this one. So we know that AT&T, of course, just got its first Android phone: the Backflip by Motorola. Probably see maybe one more phone for them. Certainly T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon. Android will continue to be a big hit, so we see a lot of announcements for sure.
>> Those are all high-end phones that we've been talking about. There's other just kind of feature phones out that we'll be seeing as well, right?
>> Yeah. A lot of people don't know what a feature phone is, but that's a phone that's not quite a smartphone. It has maybe a full QWERTY keyboard for messaging, it has HTML browser, music, so can do a lot, but just doesn't have the third-party operating system. They were a big theme last year. They were a big theme at Mobile World Congress all throughout the last couple years. So we expect to see more of those phones.
>> Any big surprises that we expect to see?
>> You know, I'm not counting on anything big. CTIA's never been a show that really shocks us. That's a little more like Mobile World Congress, CES, where it's bigger, more people and kind of the whole tech world's there. This show, we sort of know what's gonna happen and it's never anything that really shocks us.
>> But it's real stuff; we'll actually see these phones in the stores fairly soon, right?
>> Oh yeah, yeah. CTIA's good about that. Usually by the time they get to CTIA, they're almost ready to be here. Phones that usually come out at CTIA we'll probably see in the next couple months. Some of those Sprint devices, it's been rumored that we'll see them in the summer, those WiMAX devices. So, that's not very far off. So usually when they land here, they're very close to market.
>> Alright. Thanks, Kent. You can find out what actually happens at CTIA. Kent and the whole team will be there blogging, they'll bring you photos, video coverage. All of that will be at cnet.com/ctia. See you there.
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