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LTE-Optimized Surface Pro Devices To Ship Next Month

Microsoft this week said it will begin shipping its Surface Pro laptop with Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced connectivity in December.

LTE Advanced is a 4G wireless technology that uses multiple antennas to improve the bit rate of Internet connections. Theoretical peak data rates for downloads are approximately 3Gbps, with uploads of 1.5Gbps, according to a description of LTE Advanced technology by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) telecom standards group.

The fanless Surface Pro LTE Advanced machine has download capability of 450Mbps max, making it "the fastest LTE-enabled laptop of its class," according to Microsoft's announcement. It uses a Cat 9 modem, namely the Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, to get its speed capacity.

Depending on the wireless network used, the Surface Pro can support "20 cellular bands." It has an option to use an embedded SIM card (eSIM), which permits end users to subscribe to available service providers by going through the Windows Store.

To add the multiple antennas for LTE Advanced, Microsoft redesigned its Surface Pro device under the bezel (see illustration). It took that approach instead of using off-the-shelf LTE Advanced equipment to keep the machine's weight down. The new Surface Pro LTE Advanced machine uses seven custom antennas, which operate in a low-power state, according to a Microsoft Mechanics video description.

[Click on image for larger view.] Seven antennas in the Surface Pro LTE Advanced laptop. (Source: Microsoft TechNet blog post.)

Microsoft is billing this machine as enabling end users to roam and stay connected. The Surface Pro LTE Advanced laptop "switches between Wi-Fi and LTE networks automatically almost anywhere," Microsoft's announcement claimed. Microsoft is also promising a 13.5 hour battery lifespan, which represents a 50-percent increase over the previous model, the Surface Pro 4.

Wireless carrier Verizon has claimed in a FAQ that users with LTE Advanced devices will get a 50 percent peak speed increase. Verizon's LTE Advanced service is available across "more than 450" U.S. cities.

Pricing for the coming Surface Pro LTE Advanced laptop wasn't announced, but Surface Pro devices currently range in price from about $799 to $2,699 at retail outlets. Likely the Surface Pro LTE Advanced model will be priced at the higher end of that range.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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