Facebook Phone…Again?

Pocket Lint says the Facebook phone is back, and in development. The mysterious device may have popped up in a benchmark test, as the HTC Opera UL. A Facebook phone could embed its social network and an “app store.”

Mark Zuckerberg famously claimed that “a phone just doesn’t make any sense“. However, Pocket-lint says their reliable source has confirmed that the HTC Opera UL is an OEM product. “It is the Facebook phone, made for Facebook.”

PocketLint says the phone is powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus with Adreno 305 graphics and sports an HD display. It’s currently running on Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. The HTC One XL can operate on 1800MHz and 2600MHz. Perhaps the “UL” would be made for the 700/800 Mhz networks in the United States.

That makes it an LTE “world phone”. But could you sell it for $199 in 2013?

SOFTBANK Japan has demoed circuit switch fall back (CSFB) voice calls between the 2.6 GHz LTE TDD network and a UMTS network using Huawei gear. Huawei’s STREAM 201HW phone supports both LTE TDD and UMTS. When an LTE handset makes or receives a voice call, the device ‘falls back’ to a UMTS network to complete the call. This feature is necessary if the LTE network does not support VoLTE calls.

The Nokia 920T may support 2.6 GHz TD-LTE next year. China Mobile has began testing 20,000 4G base stations in China, and it expects to see 200,000 up and running by the end of 2013.

Google (with Google+), Microsoft (with Skype) and Apple (with Facetime) as well as Facebook and Amazon might increase app sales and advertising revenues with a low cost ($10-$20/mo) data package, as a Mobile virtual network operator. Spectrum from T-Mobile and Sprint is available.

But the 2.6 GHz band will be limited to spotty urban core service. Voice fallback and roaming would require big telco support. A Facebook phone (or Amazon phone) would have limited benefit if they’re unable to get a good wholesale price on spectrum and deliver real value. It would be a niche product at phone stores. Maybe a Firefox OS mobile phone will make HTML5 “apps” universal.

If Google, Microsoft and Apple bought TV-band 600 MHz spectrum in 2014, and delivered Voice over LTE at 2.6 GHz, it could create a competitive environment — with roaming — in a Multi-verse of standards. M-theory.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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