LTE and HSPA+ models of the BlackBerry Playbook stroll through the FCC

HSPA PlayBook
By Jared DiPane on 14 Mar 2012 12:11 pm EDT

Just over a year ago RIM announced that they would be adding a LTE and HSPA+ version of the BlackBerry PlayBook into the mix along with the WiFi one. We saw Sprint decide to go against the Wi-Max version and many thought RIM would do the same with these. Earlier this year however the leaked roadmap revealed the HSPA+ version again, and now it has strolled its way right through the FCC. Unfortunately not much new information is carried along with it, but if rumors are true we could potentially see NFC and a 1.5GHz processor packed onto the HSPA+ version.

Is an HSPA+ PlayBook something you'd be interested in? Would you rather your PlayBook have its own data connection or is wifi working fine for you? Sound off in the comments!

Update: And with the blink of an eye the LTE model has hit the FCC as well.  Judging by the bands this shows support for AT&T in the US or any of the big three Canadian carriers.

Source: FCC(1) (2); via: Engadet

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
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Reader comments

LTE and HSPA+ models of the BlackBerry Playbook stroll through the FCC


Its good news, but i would not pay for a data plan when i could us the bridge app. This will work for those that don't have a BB.

You have hit the nail on the head. RIM is well into bed with the carriers. Carriers hate phones and other devices. They want to sell you minutes and megabytes. For a carrier, the phone or tablet is just a means to an end.

We have already seen US carriers force smartphone users into data plans and my guess with this new iteration is that it will soon become hard to buy a PlayBook from a carrier (subsidised) without also buying some sort of data plan to go with it.

I surmise that you will still be able to buy a PlayBook of any type at full price from Best Buy, etc. without a data plan.

What will happen if you do this and later decide that 3G/4G access would now be nice is anyone's guess.

Yeah same here. I bridge it with my bold so no use either for 3 or 4G connectivity on a playbook.

I think I will no upgrade my table for at least a full more year I think I paid 480€ for my 32GB and I intend to amortize it over a two years span or a bit more. Since I bought in June last year shortly after it has been released in Europe I dont think I'll upgrade before September 2013.

Honestly it really doesn't matter to me. The 1.5GHz and the NFC is more appealing to me than on board data. I am currently running 7.1 on my BB, so I have my Mobile hotspot. This is just my take on it.

BTW- This is my First, first!


Same for me. I couldn't care less about WWAN connectivity, but 1,5GHz and NFC is pretty sweet. Up the ante by adding a higher-res screen (looking at you, other fruit related company!) and I would totally be buying one.

Personally I think they are both extremely relavent. For myself a model with WiFi and Bridging would be ideal as my travel buddy is strictly my 9900.

However, I would think a 7" tablet with HSPA+ that can replace both a phone and a laptop would be an extremely useful tool for a lot of people in the buisness world.

Will calling and or video conferencing be possible? Isn't this simular to the "Whatchacallit" Samsung is working on?

I doubt it, unless RIM wants to be the first one in the tablet market to take this step. Currently, all 3G models of tablets are only capable of going online and Skype and such, but they aren't replacements for smartphones by any stretch.


While the PlayBook would be a difficult smart phone replacement, you can easily make telephone calls on it if you have the 3G/4G/HSPA/LTE models.

ePhone turns the PlayBook into a phone. Using your bluetooth headphone (or corded) you can privately hear the person calling you and the PlayBook mic picks up your voice.

I am really tempted to keep my wife on her dumb phone plan and get the HSPA one for her.

Will there be a WiFi only version with the 1.5GHz processor? Anyone with a BB already won't need this, because why pay more for the same connection you can get for free just by bridging? HSPA+ is HSPA+ whether it's from the device itself or through the bridge.


In one word, YES!

IMHO opinion the Playbook could do with more ram, preferably 2gb. Would love to see RIM up the specs for the HSPA+ version to make it more future proof.

Torch 9810 (OS; Playbook 64GB (OS 2.0)

I would not pay extra for the 4G or HSPA. The benefit of having a PB is that I can Bridge it to my phone and work off of that data! I had a Samsung Galaxy before they released the PB and its such a relief to not have to pay the extra $ for data on my tablet. Plus I have Sprint so I have unlimited data! Yay

I'll second that, unlimited Sprint data for me is better for my needs that faster limited data from other carriers. :)
Boldly sent from my 9930

When are you ever without your cell phone? There's no need for a dedicated 3g+ version unless your too lazy to tether

When are you ever without your cell phone? There's no need for a dedicated 3g+ version unless your too lazy to tether

Any one know if with either the 4G or LTE version the PlayBook can connect to a VPN setting? I have my PlayBook bridged to my Bold so I wouldn't care for a data version of the PlayBook unless it would help me to connect to my office without having to search for a wifi spot...

Why couldn't they make one tablet with both HSPA+ and LTE instead of two separate ones? I don't see the reasoning behind that..

The reason that there is a model that is just HSPA+ is simply that most companies couldn't get away with passing on the costs to carriers outside NA for an LTE radio that would be utterly useless to them.

The title of this article alone just made me wonder about how awesome it would be if RIM launches some sort of BlackBerry Playbook exchange program when the LTE / HSPA+ model of the Playbook actually launches so it makes it a little less painful of a process for those interested and have an existing WiFi only model to get an LTE version of the Playbook.

That would be slightly idiotic if it did happen since at this point, the playbooks are clearly stepping stones to bb10 that happen to have some sales connected to them, but given the media and analysts need to be down on Rim it will probably happen.

I really can't see what market rim is looking to target with this. At the moment the playbook is seen as the poor mans tablet, (I know that it isn't but that's the general view of it, and does hold some truth) 4G data plans are expensive and the 1.5ghz cpu bump and NFC doesn't seem to justify buying a new tablet, NFC is great in a phone form factor but in a tablet its a bit silly.

Why anyone would buy a 4G playbook over a 4G ipad/android is beyond me, especially with bridge on the playbook.

They should have spent the money on getting skype and other big name app support. If they really wanted to launch another tablet to one up apples release then it should of had double the ram, addable storage, some incredible TAT apps higher megapixel front facing camera + autofocus and a few other features im sure i could think of.

LTE and HSPA+. very interesting versions. One at a discount. Without fragementing the platform. Very smart...

Will I be able to make phonecalls on these tablets?

This is an updated version of the playbook. Its nothing special which I feel was a really bad decision by RIM. Hopefully there is more too it but I looks like it could be another flop.

RIM doesn't have the cult following that Apple does so it can simply put out an updated model and sell millions. Will it sell better if its at the current sale price? Yes but then RIM is taking a hit and losing money unless they made the playbook with cheaper materials.

If I was RIM, I would have added NFC (which the did), A native multi-platform video chat app, better camera if anything make them both 5MP, 1.5 GHz processor, 1.5 GB RAM, Stretched the screen out to make it bigger and increased the pixel resolution, All do this in the same form factor (reduce the size of the bezel swipes), add things that OS 2.0 doesn't have, put a couple other fun things in to make Playbook 1 owners want to spend the money.

They also need to market better and push things and keep marketing down the roads and build less so they don't have to take such a big financial hit later on.

I hope this works for RIM but it looks like they simply just boosted the speed a little and this was a good opportunity for them to hit Apple in there market share because the new 'Ipad' is a better screen pretty much.

I think you are overestimating what they intend to do with this playbook, it is not meant to be a completely new model, more a complement to the original playbook that is more appealing to carriers while at the same time help to iron out some of the potential issues that would also affect bb10 devices.

this is something i can pass on, but hoping a new playbook comes out late this year or early next.
playbook was one of the first to have the omap 4 chips inside, with omap 5 on the horizon, maybe RIM will be one of the first again :D

I Really hope they go LTE there's no Reason to go HSPA+. Blackberry always does this shit. Pick up Old School technology when the New Technology is already available

Currently LTE is generally only available in the larger centres (cities), while HSPA+ has a much larger rural service area. As someone who does not live in a large city, HSPA+ is the only game in town, so as much as I'd love to go for an LTE Playbook, that will have to wait until the carriers expand the service area. Unless, of course, the LTE model will function well in HSPA+ service areas.

Are shared plans not available in the US?

Is it just a Canadian thing? I will be seriously considering the new PB later this year.....add it to my shared data package.
I'd love to SMS and BBM from a PB (without the aid of an app).

Are shared plans not available in the US?

Is it just a Canadian thing? I will be seriously considering the new PB later this year.....add it to my shared data package.
I'd love to SMS and BBM from a PB (without the aid of an app).

Depends on whether Video Chat is going to be like Facetime. If Video Chat will work from data to Wi-Fi instead of Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi only, I'd consider it... especially since my 9860 is company owned. Of course, the hardware upgrade is good, too. But, I think the Video Chat would be the deal breaker for me at this time.

Video chat work now.

If you tether your PlayBook or use HotSpot you can VideoChat. I have done it on my 9700 (albeit no long) but the 9860 with HotSpot does it beautifully (so I'm told).

Yes, but I meant if I don't have to go through HotSpot to Video Chat (carrying another device around). I'm hoping it does go directly from HPSA+/4G to WiFi; because if the recipient is on WiFi and I'm on 4G and it works, then I'll definitely be signing up for one so that I won't have to use the corporate issued device. Having HotSpot capability is nice, but I don't want to mix work/personal if I don't have to. :)

I'd only want if it can be included within my current data plan so that I wasn't paying much more per month. Otherwise, I'm quite happy hosting a hotspot on my 9900 if I really need to use my PlayBook outside of a WiFi zone - which is rare as it is.

Everyone is missing TWO key things behind this version, maybe three.
1. With a data plan, there is an incentive for carriers to market it, or even subsidise it. Remember it will need a data package and little or no talk minutes so it may be a cheaper 'package'. So far the PB has had to carry itself and it's naive (all things considered) to claim it did shabbily. Any idea which tablet is second behind the ipad?
2. Radio has been integrated on QNX/BB10 for the first time. Which is more significant than most people here actually realise. The test drive is (nearly) complete.
3. With radio, BES, BIS and BBM has also arrived on QNX/BB10.
Lastly how come you all seem to miss the fact that the processor is clocked at a 50% higher rate? It is no slouch even now, can you imagine what it does now?
There has been strong indications NFC is also on board so do not rush to discount it just yet.
Lastly remember RIM is not from the specs for the sake of specs world of Android.
The biggest worry is the pricing might still not be kind to RIM itself but picking holes in the device itself is demonstrating a complex we've long feared most people have.

Some good points:

2) Definitely a milestone, the integration of the radio stack (LTE, no less).

3) BBM works now over wifi on the phones... I'm not 100% convinced that we will see BBM on the PlayBook by May. It will happen; just a matter of time, because it has to be part of the BBOS 10 launch.

Some people would have you believe that a 50% speed bump won't make any difference:

I say, lets wait for the side-by-side comparison.

Why would I wanna waste my money and subscribe for another data plan when I can so conviniencely, easily, hassle free, bridging and tethering with my BlackBerry smartphone.the bridging and tethering are really cool.The Internet speed is fast and smooth eventhouh it is just a Bluetooth link with my BlackBerry smartphone. Great job RIM.

sent via playbook.

I imagine with updated specs this will be at a higher price point than the current PlayBook. Unless they market the sh!t out of it, nobody will buy it if a 16GB model is $199. Unless the PlayBook 2 is subsidized with a data plan.

Can't see consumers needing much more than a Wi-Fi only model when you have a smartphone that can already connect you to data. A second dataplan is just to much of a cost for most folks.

I can see businesses using 4G for real-time transactions out in the field like signing for packages and making payments. For shipping companies you could do GPS map tracking and with video chat or some other communication app there would be no need for issuing cell phones . You could also go paperless, although I think a lot of companies are already paperless?

Not everybody owns a blackberry phone.
If you were talking about the blackberry phone bridge with the pb.
I know two friends own blackberry pb both don't own blackberry phones. HTC & Sony Ericsson.

I was thinking of either a blackberry or a smartphone that has Wi-Fi hotspot. I have set my mother-in-laws PB to connect to her iPhone 4's Wi-Fi hotspot. From talking to a few friends with Android's a lot of them also have the Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Not sure if this feature costs extra money depending on which carrier you are on. In Canada I believe it is a free service.

When I first purchased my PB I thought having it's own data would be a feature I'd jump on. Using 4G data from my phone as a wifi server works fantastic, doesn't seem like a feature I would really use anymore.

Maybe not, but the time it takes to write a comment, you could have clicked on the FCC source link.

Still don't believe it?

LTE will be far faster than current Bridge over 3G. If you want streaming or work with large files or intensive apps like Citrix, you will want to consider the 4G/LTE model.
I have and love the PB with Bridge to my Verizon 9850. I also have Wifi hotspot so multiple options to get online. Works great for most applications, but streaming and large data use is restricted by the slower 3G speeds. I will be looking at the pricing for the LTE model and data, and then weigh the value proposition.
The other advantage to LTE on the PlayBook is I retain the best xcellent battery life on my 3G 9850 and direct the heavy data load to the device with the higher battery capacity. Again, will weigh the value vs cost for my use case, which may not be the same as you.

Personally the Wi-Fi version is fine for me, I have Wi-Fi at home and school, and data on my BB.

BUT I think they definitely need an LTE and HSPA+ version to be competitive.

Agreed, that would be dumb for RIM to only release a Wi-Fi only PlayBook when iOS and Android both have data plan versions.

I think it would be kinda awkward using your tablet for phone calls, holding that gigantic thing to your face as you talk, it would look ridiculous. I'm still definitely going to get a new PlayBook, just for the NFC, which is unprecedented in tablets. I also want one so I can videochat with family.

It is risky for RIM to release another playbook into the market but "when you fall and still have the energy to get back up do it!"

With the growing adoption of LTE networks globally, it's very comforting to know that RIM products will have the advantage of Paratek's AIMM technology snuggly embedded in their devices. Having a truely global cell phone, or tablet, will be a major competitive advantage over it's rivals. I so look forward to the BB10 phones and tablets. Bravo RIM, Bravo...

Too early to release a new playbook model..
I say hold back for another year and release at end of Q3.
or at lease have a whole new Os3 out for these new PB.

I travel internationally a lot, international tethering plans are very expensive so when wifi isn't around, or a hotel allows only one device to connect (based on room number) to their wifi I need to pull out my 3G iPad, I would prefer to stick with my PB, then I can get rid of my iPad and have only one device.

Yes I would buy one in a heart beat if it had 4G speed.

Where I would love my PB to have it's own net connection that is another data plan that I must pay for. I will stick with the wifi even though the bridge drains both batteries. I can charge my batteries without having to come out of pocket!

I think in Canada we can share data plans. If I can get the 4G playbook without having to pay an extra monthly fee, then I am in. I am planning to buy a second PlayBook for the house and am waiting to see what this one has to offer. I think more RAM would be more important than the faster processor, but I would guess, the 1.5 is a same-cost replacement for manufacturing where the RAM would cost more. NFC on the PB may come in handy too.

LTE Playbook isn't anything new. Wasn't there a Crackberry user who accidently bought an LTE off of E-Bay? I wonder what happened to that unit..

I'm all for it - hooray for RIM!
But I'm loving the wifi. No running up data plans, no carrier dependency, phone works as a hot spot if you need it.
Brilliant! But some can't live without another data plan, so now, here's the option!

People also have to realize that business users don't care about bridging or tethering their playbook to a blackberry or any other device. They would prefer a standalone device. Every manager/vp at my computer that has an ipad, has a 3G version. In order to compete, RIM needs to release a standalone connected device.

Over here in South Africa open wifi networks are very scarce, only one big coffee chain I know of offers a hour free wifi per day. Also the tablet users over here will very likely be roaming, so I think a HSDPA+ playbook might actually sell over here. Now for RIM to just release it and our carriers to get of their asses and get over the disaster the playbook was locally and give it another try!

A second data plan is not something I'm interested in having as I driving my PlayBook with my 9900, and locally with wi-fi. This said others entering the tablet computer market without a smartphone would benefit (in areas with no wi-fi).

I agree with the earlier comment - carriers sell air time. Tablet computers should get a sales boost if there are benefits to the carriers.

All I know is that on the PlayBook 2 they better add full size SDXC card support, USB hosting and DLNA cause I'm tired of waiting for a dock with those features for my current PB!

I wonder about all the comments mentioning a second data plan. Over here in Germany you have the possibility to simply order a second sim card for your existing data plan from your carrier. So you have two (or even three, four) sim cards to use with all your devices.

I would like to have a hspa+ model to use it without bb bridge.

two reasons this is interesting and one reverse perspective... first the limitations of the bridge is your bluetooth data transfer rate which will not grant you full 4G speed that your 9900/9930 is capable of. Also by bridging we all know that you cannot access app world or use video chat which should be available on the 4G model although vid chat might be questionable. On the flipside with 7.1 out though the hotspot remedies this problem so at the end of the day there are two ways to look at this but 1.5 ghz and NFC is enough for me to trade in my current 64gb wifi for a 4G and perhaps have a Pay as you go SIM running in it and keep things cheap