GigaOM is reporting that T-Mobile is testing a completely solar-powered cell phone tower here in the States. The single tower — located in Chalfont, PA — generates enough power to keep the site off the grid and, at times, feed power back into the country’s aging electrical system. Pike Research estimates that 4.5% of all cellular stations worldwide will use solar or wind energy by 2014. The report indicates that although the tower does cost 2 to 3 times more than the standard, grid-powered equivalent, savings in the long run — in electricity, tax benefits, and initial setup costs — could very well make up for the difference over the life of the tower. Hit the read link for the full report. More →
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that mobile location company Skyhook Wireless is suing Google, alleging that the search giant “interfered with a contract, announced in April, to put its location technology on Motorola Inc. phones.” Skyhook, for those not familiar, is a company that created a system — call XPS — that uses GPS, cellular, and Wi-Fi data to help triangulate the location of a device quickly. The company’s technologies were in previous iterations of iOS and currently are in dozens of mobile devices. The WSJ writes, “Google called Motorola several times to put “stop ship” orders on products containing Skyhook technology and insisted that its own location technology run side-by-side on devices using Skyhook. The result, the complaint states, is that Motorola shipped a device in mid-July without Skyhook technology.” Skyhook says the sour deal cost the company tens of millions of dollars; Motorola has yet to comment on the report. We’ll keep you updated as this one develops.
[Via PhoneScoop] More →
AT&T may want to be the darling of the US wireless carriers, but some of its policies are seemingly designed to turn a customer into an enemy and not an ally. Such is the case with its 3G MicroCell which is promoted as being a solution for those with cellular coverage issues. For those unaware, the 3G Microcell is a hardware device that lets customers use their broadband Internet connection to make and receive phone calls and, in the case of AT&T’s 3G-enabled MicroCell, to utilize the 3G data capabilities of their phone. On the surface, this sounds like a win-win solution with customers receiving solid 3G cellular coverage and AT&T offering a solution for customers with coverage issues. Unfortunately, AT&T seems destined to shoot itself in its foot by instituting a data usage policy that counts data used through the MicroCell against your cellular data allotment. Seems a bit counter-intuitive that AT&T is charging for data used through the MicroCell when the bulk of the data transmission is carried by your broadband Internet provider, no? More →
Motorola is reportedly ditching Android’s built-in location services on much of its Android handset lineup and replacing it with the location service code from Skyhook Wireless — a location services company out of Boston, MA. With its less than accurate positioning data, Google’s built-in system has been the bane of handset manufacturers and Android app developers alike. Rather than wait for Google to improve its location services, Motorola is turning to Skyhook, whose service uses a combination of Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation, cell tower triangulation, and GPS information to provide fast and accurate location information. With Skyhook on board, both built-in and third party apps like Twidroid, Yelp, and Foursquare will be able to report your location with pin-point accuracy. The technology is already in use by Apple in iPhones, iPads, iPod Touchs, and Mac OS X. Great news for all those stalkers location-based app users out there. More →
Following the failed launch of Pivot, a joint venture with cable providers Comcast, Time Warner and others, the Wall Street Journal is reporting Cox has plans to build and launch a new cellular network on its own. In a market dominated by four major players surrounded by various regional carriers and MVNOs snatching up crumbs at their feet, Cox is planning to enter a highly competitive space that is historically a tough nut to crack. Beyond that, it will be a very expensive endeavor — according to the report, Cox’s network will operate on a portion of the spectrum it purchased along with other Cable providers back in 2006. In other words, we’re not just looking at a series of licensing deals with established carriers.
As far as differentiating factors that could lead to success, Cox seems to be eying mobile TV (not a great idea), an app store (better idea) and service bundles (excellent idea) as strong sales tools when launch time comes. As the third largest cable provider in the country, Cox will presumably offer its customers discounted wireless service alongside TV, broadband internet and VoIP services. Forget the triple play offers you’re spammed with now… Apparently it’s quadruple play time. The WSJ article lines up with earlier reports of Cox’s interest in a solo cellular venture that surfaced back in October of last year, so it looks like we could be seeing movement from Cox pretty soon. The more the merrier, we suppose.
Skype announced on Thursday the availability of a new Skype Mobile beta that is compatible with Android-powered phones and over 100 Java-enabled phones from LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. The new lite version of Skype includes the following Skype features:
- Make Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world
- Send/receive instant messages to/from individuals or groups
- Make Skype calls at low rates to people on landlines or mobile phones
- Receive calls to your online personal phone number on Skype
- See when your Skype contacts are online/available to chat
The lite version of Skype uses both airtime minutes and cellular data connection to make/receive calls, update contact list, etc. While that might be less than optimal, it is now available worldwide and can be used to make calls to the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Brazil (Rio and Sao Paolo), Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand. Skype users with compatible mobile phones can go to http://www.skype.com/m using their phone’s mobile browser or http://www.skype.com/download/skype/mobile from a computer for additional information and download instructions. Hit the jump for a table of compatible Java-enabled mobile phones.
For better or for worse, the Australian Communications and Media Authority is proposing an amendment to the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition that would permit cell phone use on domestic and international flights. An 18-month long trial of the pico cell technology used for in-flight cellular communications was deemed successful with no reported complaints of interference to either the plane’s avionics system or ground cellular networks. Both Qantas and V Australia have each announced plans to offer in-flight SMS and GPRS services and are anxiously awaiting these rule changes so they can expand the technology from a single test airplane to fleet-wide deployment. Bravo to Australia for pushing this technology forward and kudos to Qantas and V Australia for offering only SMS and data services. We like getting SMS and GPRS but don’t fancy listening to the bloke next to us telling his mate how he was as full as a boot while watching some aerial ping pong and spent the whole night liquid laughing. What a dill!
Sure, you probably want to put Chad and his wizard friend through a wall just like us, but it’s hard to deny that Alltel has a pretty solid wireless offering. Its My Circle calling feature in fact is likely one of the most attractive plan enhancements on the market here in the US. Now Alltel has upped the ante with the addition of My Circle messaging packs that can be added to any My Circle plan. My Circle messaging is indeed exactly what you would imagine is; unlimited SMS and MMS messaging to anyone in your circle. There are two flavors of My Circle messaging packs available. The first is $7.99 and includes an additional 400 SMS / MMS per month for people outside of your Circle and the second is $12.99 while includes 1,000 SMS / MMS. Beyond these new additions, Alltel still offers unlimited messaging and mobile web for $20 per month. Chief Marketing Officer Frank O’Mara’s snippet:
Alltel’s ‘My Circle’ provides customers the ultimate in choice and value by giving them the ability to call or text any five, 10 or 20 numbers. Whether talking or texting, our new “My Circle” message packs provide customers the most cost-effective plans for staying in touch with friends, families and business associates.