Verizon Wireless has confirmed to BGR that it will eliminate the option to sign on for a 1-year contract beginning on April 17th. “The reason behind the change is the greater majority of customers sign up for a 2 year contract and take advantage of the discounted (promotion) price,” a Verizon Wireless spokesperson told BGR in an email. “Customers will still have the option of choosing month to month, prepaid or service with a two year contract.” Verizon’s one-year contract option allowed subscribers to halve the length of their contracts by paying a price with a lower subsidy than the fully-subsidized two-year price. After April 17th, a customer purchasing a new device must either sign a two-year agreement and pay the standard advertised price, or pay the full cost of a handset, which is typically several hundred dollars above advertised two-year contract pricing.
T-Mobile on Tuesday announced that its 4G HSPA+ network is now available in 10 new markets including Ames, Iowa; Anderson, Indiana; Battle Creek, Benton Harbor and Jackson, Michigan; Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado; Lawrence and Manhattan, Kansas; Springfield, Illinois and Wichita Falls, Texas. T-Mobile also reaffirmed that it will soon double the speed of its 4G network from 21Mbps to a theoretical download speed of 42Mbps in Las Vegas, New York and Orlando. Chicago, Long Island, N.Y. and Northern New Jersey are scheduled to get the speed boost shortly after, and the carrier says it hopes to deliver those speeds to more than 140 million Americans in 25 markets by mid-year. T-Mobile’s 4G network now covers 167 U.S. markets and more than 200 million people nationwide. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has already expressed his concerns about AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telecom, but today Sprint officially announced its opposition to the deal in a press release. Sprint states that the transaction will create a carrier that’s roughly three times its size — in terms of revenue — and “reverse nearly three decades of actions by the U.S. government.” Sprint noted that AT&T and Verizon Wireless would dominate the U.S. wireless postpaid market and be firmly in control of the availability and price of key inputs, such as backhaul, should the deal go through. “Sprint urges the United States government to block this anti-competitive acquisition,” writes Sprint’s senior vice president of government affairs, Vonya McCann “This transaction will harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it.” If it’s any consolation to Sprint, one FCC official believes that the deal won’t be rubber stamped, and could be a “steep climb at least.” Hit the jump to read the full release. More →
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that its first major Windows Phone update — dubbed NoDo — is being pushed to users’ handsets. Sixteen Windows Phone devices from over a dozen countries have, or will have, the update — which finally brings copy & paste functionality — in the coming days. Users in the United States, however, still have a bit of waiting to do. According to a new status page setup by the company, T-Mobile’s pair of Windows Phones — the Dell Venue Pro and HTC HD7 — are currently in the “scheduling” phase. This procedure typically takes “10 days or less,” according to Microsoft, at which point the update will begin rolling out to handsets. AT&T’s trio of Windows Phones — the Samsung Focus, the LG Quantum, and HTC Surround — are currently in the “testing” stage. Microsoft explains that phones with this distinction are “undergoing mobile operator network and quality tests,” but does not provide an estimated time of completion for this step. Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, at one point championed the fact that updates to the Windows Phone operating system would be delivered by his company, not wireless carriers. While Microsoft may be the one delivering the bits, it looks like U.S. mobile operators are still finding ways to slow things down. The waiting continues… More →
Despite the fact that Canadian wireless provider Bell Mobility will be rolling out LTE in the near future, it — like many of its peers — has decided to play the name game when it comes to “4G.” In an internal memo to employees, Bell explains that its high-speed HSPA+ network will henceforth be known as 4G. “Given the significant improvements in performance and quality the wireless carriers have made to their networks, the ITU has reassessed the definition of 4G standards,” reads the note. “This re-classification allows Bell to promote the HSPA+ network as 4G.” The changes take effect today, though there’s no word on how Bell’s marketing department will differentiate its 4G LTE network from its 4G HSPA network. Hit the jump to check out the full memo.
Verizon’s Home Phone Connect service just went live on the carrier’s website, though the link for the service is down at the moment. The new offering will let you connect your home phone to Verizon’s wireless network, and it uses a base station that merges your landline phone and Verizon’s cellular network. For $19.99/month, you get unlimited calling or $9.99/month to add your home landline to your existing wireless family plan. Not a bad deal at all, and it’s a pretty interesting concept, especially since it doesn’t use your existing broadband connection. The service was trialed in New York and Connecticut previously, but it looks like general availability starts now.
Thanks, Henry! More →
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple, Inc. is working on a smaller, cheaper iPhone model to compete with the army of affordable handsets currently utilizing Google’s Android operating system. The report cites several anonymous sources “briefed on the matter” and claims that the company is looking to sell this new device for around $200 unsubsidized. The article also notes that Apple could be working on “technology that makes it easier to use the iPhone on multiple wireless networks”; we presume this is the SIM-less iPhone that was rumored months ago. A $200, carrier agnostic iPhone? It doesn’t sound all that much like Apple, but then again… if the iMaker wants to thwart the mighty Android, they’re going to have to think different. More →
Here’s a head scratcher. During a speech today in New York City, Deutsche Telecom CEO, Rene Obermann, told investors that T-Mobile USA would consider “selling nonstrategic assets such as its broadcast cellular towers in order to raise additional funds for capital spending.” We were under the distinct impression that cellular towers were, in fact, capital assets (especially for a wireless provider). It is also a little disconcerting that the towers were referred to as “nonstrategic.”
“We’re definitely not in a rush,” said Olbermann, “the financials [would have to] work out.”
T-Mobile USA’s CEO, Phillip Humm, promised investors $3 billion in revenue growth over the next few years; T-Mobile’s revenues have been, for the most part, flat over the past two years. More →
Earlier this morning, dev-team member MuscleNerd tweeted that he, and his gang of merry men, have successfully tweaked their ultrasn0w iPhone unlocking tool to working on Apple’s latest mobile iOS iteration, 4.2.1. If you read further down the twitter timeline, it looks like — for the time being — ultrasn0w is only working on iPhone 3G/3GS handsets with a baseband of 05.15.04; the iPhone 4 uses a different baseband and still needs more work. Despite not having a one-stop unlock for all iPhones, the dev-team will release the working version of ultrasn0w for the iPhone 3G/3GS in the very near future — they will not make users of said handset wait until the iPhone 4 exploit is completed. Hit the jump for the two read links. More →
Picture this: you are at the base camp of Mount Everest, only to realize it’s your girlfriends birthday and you forgot to send flowers; what do you do? Grab your cell phone and call the florist of course, as Ncell, Nepal’s mobile operator, now has you covered. The carrier has announced its first 3G base station on the the world’s tallest mountain, allowing users to make calls and connect to the internets from GSM enabled phones. Previously, mountaineers and adventurers had to resort to expensive satellite phones to make calls. Ncell is a joint venture between private investors and Sweden’s Telia Sonera, and currently cover one-third of Nepal. Ncell tested their latest base station by placing the world’s highest video call at 17,388 feet. Telia Sonera’s CEO had the following to say: “This achievement is as mighty as the altitude, as 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services to the people living in the Khumbu Valley, trekkers, and climbers alike.” More →
If we know one thing about Apple it is this: they like control… and this latest rumor seems to reaffirm that creed. Blog GigaOM is reporting that Apple is planning to release an iPhone with an integrated SIM that can be used on any wireless carrier — partnered with Apple — in the EU. A universal iPhone if you will. As the report explains:
Sources inside European carriers have reported that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a special SIM card that would allow consumers in Europe to buy a phone via the web or at the Apple Store and get the phones working using Apple’s App Store.
This special SIM would have an upgradeable flash component as well as a ROM component. The article goes on to explain:
The ROM area contains data provided by Gemalto with everything related to IT and network security, except for the carrier-related information. The flash component will receive the carrier related data via a local connection which could be the PC or a dedicated device, so it can be activated on the network. Gemalto will provide the back-end infrastructure that allows service and number provisioning on the carrier network.
This would be yet another way that Apple can control the end-user experience — and potentially the distribution — of its popular smartphone device. For us, one of the benefits of using a SIM-based device is having the luxury of popping the little plastic card into virtually any compatible, GSM device you choose. What do you think? More →
Now this is more like it! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung product executive, Hankil Yoon, informed them that the Galaxy Tab tablet would retail for somewhere between $200 and $400 in the United States. Yoon did say that the final price of the device would vary depending on carrier subsidies; hopefully the two to four hundred dollar figure is unsubsidized. Sammy is predicting to ship over 10 million Tab’s next year and would like to grab at least ten percent of the tablet market share. The report is good news, as earlier rumors had the Galaxy Tab selling in Germany for upwards of $1,000 for the 32 GB model. Mr. Yoon also said that his company is in talks with “multiple U.S. carriers.” More →
If you recently purchased — or have plans to purchase — a phone in the Samsung Galaxy S line, the folks over a xda-developers have a pretty interesting tutorial up on their forums. The instructions detail how to carrier-unlock your Galaxy S phone (e.g. Captivate, Vibrant, etc.) without the need to pay for a SIM unlocking service. The process is four steps long and looks to be a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the difficulty scale. Hit up the read link if you want to give this one a shot… and do let us know if you have any success. More →