If Nokia’s going to make a true comeback in the United States, it will need support from both AT&T and Verizon. Together, the wireless carrier’s account for about 200 million wireless subscribers in the US and soon they’ll be the only major carriers with LTE, the true next-generation high-speed network. It seems that Nokia knows this. Despite Windows Phone not yet supporting LTE, CNET reports that Nokia has 4G LTE-enabled Lumia 800 at both Verizon and AT&T for testing and approval.
Carriers often test devices that never come to market, so the fact that Nokia Lumia 800s are in testing does not necessarily indicate a launch, but it does show that Nokia is taking the needs of the US market, and its domineering carriers, seriously. Compared to much of the world, wireless carriers in the US have a huge amount of control over the devices sold for their networks and the marketing surrounding them. For proof of this, look no further than the debacle surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, chronicled here.
Years back, AT&T and T-Mobile were Nokia’s best partners in the US, with an emphasis on AT&T. However, despite several attempts to market high-end Nokia phones with Symbian OS on them, no carrier seemed willing to fully leap on board. Verizon’s release lists have been especially cold to the Finnish handset maker. We cannot remember the last time Verizon gave Nokia the time of day, though the carrier has released some gimmicky Nokia feature phones in the past. Things may be looking up. T-Mobile, which took a chance on Nokia earlier this year with the C7, will be launching one of the manufacturer’s new Windows Phones soon. Nokia and T-Mobile have an event planned tomorrow (Wednesday) to launch a Nokia phone, which we suspect is the Lumia 710.
Nokia still has its work cut out. According to CNET, neither carrier considers the Lumia 800 a flagship device, meaning they won’t put much marketing or retail muscle behind it, should it launch. This is a problem. Nokia needs a device that will attract strong interest from the carriers so that it, and Windows Phone, can get a strong push. Nokia has put all its eggs into Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. If it is to make a comeback here in the US, it’s going to need to sell the struggling platform to users.
We also didn’t make a big point of it, but this is a good sign that Microsoft will introduce LTE support for Windows Phone very soon, perhaps at CES in January.