How do you put your company in the best possible position to grow when you’ve seemingly squeezed customers as much as they can possibly be squeezed? Squeeze them some more. As smartphone sales begin to peak and service revenue growth slows among top U.S. carriers, these giants have no choice but to look elsewhere for growth. In some cases, they’ll turn to fees. AT&T, for example, recently found a way to milk subscribers for an extra $500 million each year by adding a $0.61 “administrative fee” to every bill. As we have previously noted, consumers should expect to see more tiny fees pile up in the coming months and years. Now, carriers have found some new tricks to bolster revenue growth by promoting handset trade-in programs and by convincing users to upgrade their devices more frequently. More →
T-Mobile last week announced a new program that allows customers to upgrade their smartphones more often. The JUMP initiative, which stands for Just Upgrade My Phone, is the company’s latest attempt to differentiate itself from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. While rival carriers only allow contract customers to upgrade to new smartphones once every 24 months, T-Mobile’s plan allows subscribers who pay an extra $10 per month to trade in their devices and upgrade to a new smartphone up to two times per year for the same price as new subscribers. A new leak suggests, however, that at least one other carrier may follow in T-Mobile’s footsteps. More →
Verizon has been awfully quiet about exactly when it plans to release the HTC One on its network, but a purported Verizon product roadmap obtained by PhoneArena suggests that both the HTC One and the upcoming Motorola Moto X could both launch by the start of September. Specifically, the document supposedly shows that the HTC One will launch on August 1st while the Moto X will be released on August 23rd, which means both devices would be available in time for back-to-school shoppers. Earlier rumors indicated that Verizon wouldn’t have the HTC One on its network until September 5th so it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that the carrier might be supporting the device a little bit sooner.
Anyone waiting for the HTC One to arrive on Verizon might have a bit longer to wait. The carrier previously confirmed that it plans to offer HTC’s flagship smartphone later this year, however a specific date was never announced. But now a leaked press image published by @evleaks suggests that the HTC One may launch on Verizon on September 5th. The date is displayed on the smartphone’s calendar, similar to how a leaked image of the HTC One from earlier this year displayed the date of February 19th, which just happened to be the phone’s original launch date. More →
Verizon previously confirmed that it was exploring opportunities in Canada’s wireless market. According to a report from Reuters, the company has made a bid for Canadian wireless provider Wind Mobile. Verizon is said to have presented the carrier with a tentative offer of between $600 million to $800 million. The final price will be decided upon after the company completes its due diligence. Verizon is also reportedly in talks to acquire rival wireless startup Mobilicity. The Canadian government previously denied domestic wireless carrier Teleus’s bid to license Mobilicity spectrum. Officials will likely welcome Verizon’s proposal because it would increase competition in the Canadian wireless market.
Verizon seems to have heard enough about studies showing that AT&T’s LTE network is the fastest in the United States. Bloomberg reports that Verizon “is planning a sweeping upgrade of its network this year after surging congestion and deteriorating speed allowed AT&T to close the gap on service quality.” The report notes that Verizon is in some ways a victim of its own success since the carrier’s biggest problem is the congestion that has come from being the most popular wireless carrier in the U.S. To that end, the company is looking to aggressively expand capacity on its network by using the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum that it acquired from several cable companies last year to effectively double the speeds of its current services.
Noted mobile analyst Chetan Sharma has released his latest U.S. Wireless Market Update. It’s a grim road map to rising smartphone ownership costs for most Americans. AT&T and Verizon Wireless now hold 65% of the U.S. mobile subscribers. Since 2009, Verizon has added about 15 million new contract subscribers, while AT&T gained about 8 million. Sprint and T-Mobile have lost roughly 5 million contract subscribers each over the same period. This is why you will wake up one beautiful morning next autumn and discover yet another new surcharge or rate hike by the Big Two — their power continues to wax. More →
There had been reports earlier this week that suggested Verizon was interested in entering the Canadian wireless market. Fran Shammo, the company’s chief financial officer, confirmed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the wireless provider is “looking at the opportunity.” It had previously been reported that Verizon was interested in acquiring Canadian wireless provider Wind Mobile. The executive wouldn’t confirm talks with the wireless provider and would only say that the company’s plans are in the early stages. Shammo also explained that there could be some regulatory complications that could delay the carrier’s plans for entering the country, so it doesn’t seem like a move up north is likely to happen anytime soon.
Verizon seems to have found itself in a fresh net neutrality controversy. GigaOM reported earlier this week that bandwidth provider Cogent Communications accused Verizon of “allowing the peer connections” between the two companies “to degrade,” which results in slower wireline traffic for end users. Cogent CEO Dave Schaffer told GigaOM that Verizon says that it’s not adding more ports to its peer connections with Cogent because it’s moving traffic for an unspecified video provider that Schaffer believes to be Netflix. More →
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 →