US carriers plan 4G tablets

4G transmitter

Tablets with 4G internet connections could go on sale as soon as early next year in the US, say reports.

Sprint Nextel, which operates a WiMax-based network in the United States, and the US arm of T-Mobile are both expected to bring out tablets with faster cellular connections, according to the Wall Street Journal.

T-Mobile, has said it will launch an "aggressive 4G product lineup in 2011, including 4G tablets". T-Mobile has been selling the 3G Samsung Galaxy Tab in the US since November.

Sprint already has an extensive 4G network, and sells two 4G-compatible smart phones, as well as cellular dongles. A 4G tablet would round out the carrier's product range.

Neither mobile operator would confirm which manufacturers they are working with, to develop 4G devices. Although a number of telecoms companies are running 4G trials in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, most of the systems are based on LTE technology. This could make it harder for operators to deploy devices designed for WiMax networks, such as Sprint's, here as the tablets would need different radio interfaces.

None the less, analysts predict that 4G-ready devices will form an important part of the market. Juniper Research recently predicted that 4G tablets and netbooks would make up 20 per cent of LTE subscriptions by 2015.