A new study published by PCMag on Monday found that AT&T has the fastest 4G LTE network in the United States. The website used eight identical Samsung smartphones to test the networks of all four major carriers in the U.S. across 30 cities. AT&T’s 4G LTE was found to be the fastest, although Verizon’s network was on the whole more reliable. T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network “looked great,” although its availability was scarce, while Sprint was said to be on an “upward trend” as it continues to debut new LTE markets. More →
While it’s good to hear that the National Security Agency’s dragnet of Verizon customer telephone records doesn’t include audio recordings or transcriptions of calls, that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for alarm. As The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports, the metadata that the government is collecting includes a lot of potentially sensitive information that most citizens probably don’t want in the hands of federal officials. Mathematician and former Sun Microsystems engineer Susan Landau tells Mayer that such data can actually be “much more intrusive” than recording the calls themselves if you can track whom people call from what locations and at what times of day then “you know exactly what is happening.” More →
AT&T drew the ire of many wireless customers recently when it tacked on a $0.61 “mobility administrative fee” to the end of every bill that analysts have estimated will give the company around $500 million in added revenue per year. CNET’s Maggie Reardon did some digging around, however, and found that such sneaky, vaguely explained fees are staples on wireless bills for all major American wireless carriers. More →
Revelations that the National Security Agency has been collecting call records for tens of millions of Verizon customers under a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) sparked an instant backlash on Thursday from civil liberties groups. The NSA’s data collection practices, first reported by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, require Verizon “to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries” on a daily basis. While the NSA’s sweeping collections do not include audio recordings of actual telephone calls, they do include “the numbers of both parties on a call” along with “location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls.” More →
Verizon subscribers itching to get their hands on the HTC One don’t have much longer to wait. Verizon Wireless announced on its Twitter feed on Monday that the HTC One would be available on its LTE network “later this summer.” The carrier didn’t give a specific release date or pricing details but it’s unlikely that it would make any official announcement unless it planned to start selling the device in the near future. HTC, for its part, said that it doesn’t have any further details to add.
Verizon will release its second BlackBerry 10 smartphone next week. Not to be outdone by T-Mobile, which also announced a launch date for the Q10 this week, Verizon on Thursday opened preorders for the new QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry smartphone. In addition to BlackBerry’s signature keyboard, the handset features a 3.1-inch Super AMOLED 720 x 720 pixel resolution display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The smartphone also includes 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, NFC, a microSD slot and a 2,100 mAh battery. BGR recently reviewed the Q10 and found it to be a decent option for those users who still require a full physical keyboard. The BlackBerry Q10 will be available from Verizon on June 6th for $199 with a new two-year agreement.
Samsung’s flagship smartphone will be faster on Verizon than any other network in the United States. Mike Haberman, vice president of network support for Verizon, confirmed to Bloomberg that the Galaxy S4 will be the first device to support the carrier’s Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum, which will more than double the smartphone’s data speeds. The AWS frequency won’t be supported at launch, however, and will require a software update to enable it. Verizon is using existing AWS airwaves and those it acquired from cable companies last year to build its next-generation network in major markets such as New York over the next few months. The expansion will help increase capacity of its existing LTE network and allow supported devices to access faster data speeds. The Galaxy S4 is available now from Verizon for $199 with a new two-year agreement.
American consumers are sleepwalking into being permanently locked to ever-rising phone bills from monolithic incumbents. This is exactly the scenario that the government tried to avoid when it broke AT&T into seven Baby Bells in 1982. In France, the average mobile bill is now dropping by $7 a year. In America, the average bills from AT&T and Verizon Wireless keep rising as operators force consumers into texting bundles and sneak in new monthly charges. European incumbent operators are facing a consumer revolt as millions of Europeans switch to cheap challenger operators every month. American incumbents have no fear; AT&T and Verizon have locked in 75% of the smartphone market and keep growing. More →
Simpsons fans will likely recall the classic episode in which Homer Simpson gets tossed out of an “all-you-can-eat” seafood restaurant after he devours not only its entire supply of shrimp but two of its decorative plastic lobsters. Ars Technica reports that an IT professional in California did something similar with his unlimited FiOS plan after he used up a whopping 77TB of data over the span of just one month. If you’re wondering how one human being could use that much data in just a month, consider that he had been using his home FiOS connection to deliver friends and family dedicated video streaming, VPN support and peer-to-peer file sharing while “running a rack of seven servers with 209TB of raw storage… in his house.” More →
Wireless carriers’ data collection and selling practices are increasingly setting off alarm bells among privacy advocates, The Wall Street Journal reports. In particular, the Journal notes that there’s heightened anxiety about Verizon’s Precision Market Insights product that collects, stores and sells information about users’ web browsing habits, their locations and their demographic backgrounds. Verizon insists that it’s anonymizing the data it shows to third parties and is only selling data on large groups of customers broken down by geography and other demographics. The carrier also says that it has always collected this sort of data and has always been willing to hand it over to law enforcement officials if compelled by a search warrant. More →
When it comes to U.S. carriers, just about everyone dreads the thought of having to call customer service to resolve an issue. Some carriers are certainly worse than others, of course, and the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index survey found that Verizon Wireless once again was ranked highest in customer service quality by subscribers. The company scored 73 points out of a possible 100, up 3 points from 2012. Sprint was flat in the No.2 spot with 71 points while AT&T gained a point to hit 70. T-Mobile remained the lowest-ranked major carrier as its score slid to 68 in 2013 from 69 last year. The full press release follows below. More →
The rumored X Phone being developed by Google and Motorola unit is headed to AT&T later this year. A recent filing with the Federal Communication Commission revealed that the device, which carried the codename Motorola XT1058, will support AT&T’s LTE and HSPA+ networks. The smartphone didn’t include CDMA radios for Verizon and Sprint’s networks, however a new leak suggests a CDMA model is also in the works. A configuration file reportedly from a leaked Motorola USB driver that was obtained by Droid-Life revealed a device with the codename XT1060, similar to the recently leaked AT&T model. The file also confirmed that the smartphone will be equipped with a dual-core Snapdragon 4 Pro processor and support for CDMA networks, although it isn’t clear if it will be compatible with Verizon, Sprint or perhaps both carriers.
Consumers have begun to move away from two-year contracts and embrace the prepaid smartphone market. In response to this growing user base, Verizon Wireless this week announced that it is increasing its data allowance for prepaid customers. The carrier’s new plans offer unlimited talk and text with 2GB of data, up from 500MB, for $60 a month. There is also a plan with 4GB of data, up from 2GB, for $70 per month. The increased data allowance is available now to current customers, and will be available to new customers beginning June 6th. AT&T also recently announced a new prepaid service in select markets, known as Aio Wireless, which offers unlimited talk and text with 2GB of data for $55 per month, or 7GB of data for $70 per month.