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9/29/2011
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Motorola, Verizon Begin Xoom LTE Upgrade

Good news Xoom owners: Verizon Wireless and Motorola are finally ready to upgrade the Android tablet to Long Term Evolution 4G.

Months later than expected, Motorola and Verizon Wireless are providing the Long Term Evolution 4G upgrade for the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom, which was the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet to ship way back in February, came with a CDMA-EVDO 3G radio and a LTE 4G promise from Motorola and Verizon. The Xoom was supposed to receive the LTE upgrade by summer. That didn't happen.

Starting Thursday, owners of the Xoom should receive emails from Motorola and Verizon Wireless on how to proceed with the upgrade. The free radio swap requires customers to send their Xoom tablets to Motorola, which will install the new radio and then return it. Motorola says customers can expect a turn around of about six business days.

Customers will not need to change their data plan to take advantage of the Xoom's new 4G surfing powers. The data plans available to the Xoom run $30 per month for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB, and $80 for 10 GB. Overage charges run $10 per GB.

With the 4G radio on board, Xoom owners should see a dramatic performance boost in the tablet's mobile broadband powers. Verizon currently advertises LTE download speeds between 5 Mbps and 12 Mbps, and upload speeds of 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps.

Verizon's LTE network has spread rapidly since it first launched in December 2010. It is now in 143 markets and covers approximately 160 million people. If you live in a major U.S. city, chances are that you have access to the LTE 4G network.

Verizon and Motorola provide detailed instructions on what steps Xoom owners need to take before sending their unit in. First, users are urged to copy all content off the tablet onto a computer. Second, users should back up all their Google account (and by default, Xoom) settings--whether the backup is stored on Google's sites or on a PC. Last, Motorola and Verizon also recommend that users encrypt their data--or remove it completely--before sending the tablet in.

Any business that has deployed Xooms to its workforce should be sure to follow these steps--especially the encryption suggestion--before sending units in for the upgrade. The cellular radio swap should not impact users' data or settings, but it is far better to play safe than to be sorry.

Verizon also offers a helpful FAQ to answer general questions about the upgrade process.

If you haven't bought a Xoom yet, Verizon Wireless and Motorola are making a new version available with the LTE radio already built in. It goes on sale October 13 and costs $499.99 with a new agreement. Aside from the upgraded radio, it doesn't appear that this new version of the Xoom offers anything different from the original.

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