Xoom 4G update won't be easy

Posted by Mark Raby

Aside from the fact that the Xoom is the first device to run Android 3.0, the big deal with the Motorola tablet is that even though it only ships with 3G connectivity, it will be "upgradeable" to 4G. But if you look at the details, it's not going to be an easy process.

Verizon has just posted information about the upgrade process, and the first thing that sticks out is that it's not possible to do it over-the-air. Those who want to kick up their Xoom to the next level will actually have to send it in to Verizon.

The Xoom, as it is now, is physically incapable of tapping into a 4G network. It's in the hardware. So Verizon will actually need to tweak the device, install new hardware, and ship it back to customers.

Verizon says the turnaround time for this process will be six business days. That's just the amount of time from when the company receives the package to when it ships it back out. Tack on shipping time to the facility, shipping time back to the customer, and weekends, and it could be as much as two weeks between the time it leaves the user's home to when it comes back with 4G capabilities.

However, there's a silver lining in all of this, which is that once the device gets upgraded to 4G, nothing will change in the user's data plan. So even though someone buying a new 4G device later this year may have to pay a higher fee, Xoom owners will get their 3G rates grandfathered in.

There's still no word on when the upgrade will become available. Verizon is still saying "shortly after launching" the device, which has happened. So hopefully it won't take too much time.