Sprint is known for its unlimited data plans and it is currently the only major carrier that doesn’t throttle excessive data use. Following the announcement that Sprint planned to discontinue its WiMAX buildout and switch to the more widely used LTE standard, however, the company never mentioned whether its upcoming LTE network would continue to offer unlimited data plans. To clarify the issue, Sprint on Tuesday confirmed to TechHog that its 4G LTE devices “will be available on Sprint’s network featuring unlimited data.” While the carrier’s initial 4G LTE rollout will be limited, data-hungry users who are not pleased with AT&T and Verizon’s 2GB and 5GB plans may be tempted to switch to Sprint when the carrier’s LTE services begin to go live in the coming weeks and months. More →
While speaking at the Competitive Carriers Global Expo, Sprint’s senior vice president of networks Bob Azzi said that while the company has experienced success with its WiMAX handsets, it will not launch any additional WiMAX devices. The announcement comes after Sprint previously confirmed that it would continue to offer 4G WiMAX devices through 2012 and support the service through 2015. Instead, the company plans to focus on its Network Vision project and upcoming 4G LTE netowrk, Fierce Wireless reported on Thursday. “We are wrapping up final field integration tests,” Azzi said. “The technology works and delivers more benefits than we expected.” The executive noted that the company’s Network Vision project will result in a 50% reduction in cost-per-gigabyte to deliver data and cost-per-minute to deliver voice. “This is a huge benefit to us,” he said, adding that there are between 5,000 to 6,000 people devoted to the project, which is slated to be completed by the end of 2013. More →
The United States Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Tuesday announced that the federal government has repurposed 95MHz of “prime spectrum” within the 1755-1850MHz band. As per President Obama’s request, the NTIA has been collaborating with the FCC in an effort to make 500MHz of spectrum available for commercial use over the next 10 years, nearly doubling the amount currently available. “Today’s report sets a path for putting prime spectrum into commercial wireless broadband use, in support of the Obama Administration’s goal to encourage investment and innovation while enhancing America’s economic competitiveness,” said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. The NTIA has previously recommended the reallocation of 115 MHz of spectrum, and with today’s announcement, federal agencies have contributed 40% of spectrum to the President’s goal. “Spectrum is a finite resource in growing demand, and we need to focus on new ways to maximize its use,” said Strickling. “By working with the FCC, other federal agencies, and the industry, we can make more spectrum available to fuel innovation and preserve America’s technological leadership while protecting vital government missions.” Read on for the NTIA’s press release. More →
Executive assistant director of the FBI Shawn Henry, who after more than two decades is preparing to leave the bureau, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that computer criminals are too talented and current defensive measures are too weak to stop them. “We’re not winning,” he said, claiming that the current public and private approach to fighting off hackers is “unsustainable.” Congress is currently considering two competing bills that are designed to strengthen critical U.S. infrastructures such as power plants and nuclear reactors. Henry believes that companies must make major changes in the way they use computer networks to avoid further damage to national security and the economy, however. He said too many companies don’t recognize the financial and legal risks they are taking by operating vulnerable networks. “I don’t see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior, because with the status quo, it’s an unsustainable model,” Henry said. “Unsustainable in that you never get ahead, never become secure, never have a reasonable expectation of privacy or security.” More →
According to a purported T-Mobile memo obtained by TmoNews, the nation’s No.4 carrier may be looking to increase the price of its premium 5GB and ultra 10GB unlimited data packages. The change could go into effect as early as April 4th and would add an additional $5 to the cost each plan. The 5GB plan will jump from $35 to $40 per month and the 10GB plan will increase from $65 to $70. T-Mobile’s Value Plan pricing will remain unchanged. The premium and ultra plan increases will only apply to customers who sign up for service after the effective date, however. The price increase comes as the carrier is looking to restructure and in doing so, will also cut 5% of its workforce and close seven call centers over the next three months. A second leaked T-Mobile image can be found after the break. More →
Shares of Sprint stock fell 4.5% Monday morning after an analyst said there is an increasing risk that the nation’s third largest wireless carrier could file for bankruptcy. The company is facing increased competition, growing debt and steep costs, with flops in Clearwire’s WiMAX technology, a failed LightSquared partnership and a risky $15.5 billion gamble on Apple’s iPhone further complicating its position. Read on for more. More →
Philip Falcone’s startup LightSquared planned to deploy a nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States. The firm’s service was found to cause interference with spectrum used by various GPS navigation and tracking solutions, however, forcing the Federal Communications Commission to block the network’s launch. Dish Network is looking to build a similar network and is currently awaiting government approval. Executives and analysts have said that Dish will probably avoid the interference concerns that killed LightSquared’s network, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The satellite company’s frequencies, which are above 2GHz, are far away from those used by GPS devices and Lightsquared’s 1600Mhz band, and are less likely to interfere. “It’s not as close to GPS, so it’s unlikely to interfere,” said Matthew Desch, chief executive officer of Iridium Communications, which operates more than 60 satellites. “But the approval is going to take some time. The FCC is going to make sure they don’t have another LightSquared problem on their hands.” Bryan Kraft, an analyst at Evercore Partners, believes that Dish will gain FCC approval in 6 to 12 months. More →
Sprint on Friday announced that it has terminated its agreement with LightSquared. The two companies agreed last June to an 11-year deal that would share network expansion costs and equipment if LightSquared could secure regulatory approval for its 4G LTE network build-out. “Sprint has been and continues to be supportive of LightSquared’s business plans and appreciates the company’s efforts to find a resolution to the interference issues impacting its ability to offer service on the 1.6 GHz spectrum,” the company said in a press release. “However, due to these unresolved issues, and subject to the provisions of the agreement, Sprint has elected to exercise its right to terminate the agreement announced last summer. We remain open to considering future spectrum hosting agreements with LightSquared, should they resolve these interference issues, as well as other interested spectrum holders.” The FCC blocked LightSquared’s LTE network in February due to concerns that it was interfering with GPS systems. Sprint then gave the company until March 15th to gain approval — which it did not. “Per the terms of the agreement, Sprint has returned $65 million in prepayments LightSquared made to cover costs that were not ultimately incurred by Sprint,” the company said. Read on for Sprint’s press release. More →
Verizon Wireless on Wednesday announced it will add seven new markets to its nationwide 4G LTE network and expand the service in 17 current markets on March 15th. The company’s 200th LTE market will be Dothan, Alabama, where customers will soon be able to take advantage of the high-speed network. Other markets include Enterprise, Ala.; Naples, Fla.; Greenville, N.C.; Altus and Durant, Okla.; and Longview/Marshall, Texas. Verizon currently offers more than 20 4G LTE devices and plans to double the number of its 4G LTE markets to 400 by the end of the year. “Our plans to double our 4G LTE network coverage from the end of 2011 to the end of 2012 align with the aggressive and rapid deployment strategy we have taken with our 4G LTE network,” said David Small, Verizon’s chief technical officer. “Our commitment to expanding and enhancing our 4G LTE network is enabling more customers across the country to enjoy the benefits of the most popular wireless devices. We will continue investing in our 4G LTE network and working with key partners to ensure our customers have access to the best products and services available.” Read on for Verizon’s press release. More →
Sprint is reportedly planning to walk away from its planned network-sharing deal with LightSquared as early as next week, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. Sprint and LightSquared in June agreed to an 11-year deal that would share network expansion costs and equipment if LightSquared could secure regulatory approval for its 4G LTE network build-out. The carrier first gave LightSquared until the end of 2011 to receive FCC approval, and then extended the deadline to March 15th. The FCC blocked LightSquared’s LTE network in February, however, due to concerns that it was interfering with GPS systems. Meanwhile, LightSquared repeatedly claimed that the blame lies with the GPS industry. According to the Bloomberg’s sources, Sprint has no plans to extend the March 15th deadline and will instead kill its deal with LightSquared. Sprint is expected to return $74 million of the $310 million it has collected from LightSquared so far once the deal is terminated. More →
AT&T is preparing a service that will let mobile app developers pay for the mobile data used by their applications, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. AT&T’s network and technology head John Donovan compared the service to toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world. “A feature that we’re hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage,” said Donovan. Customers are now more concerned than ever when it comes to monthly data allowances, and they might be more likely to purchase an app or a movie if the content provider covered the price of the data associated with using the app or streaming content. “It’d be like freight included,” Donovan noted. More →
T-Mobile will have 10 LTE devices available by the end of 2013, and it will also roll out “4G” service that is compatible with Apple’s iPhone. The carrier’s 4G LTE network will span across 50 markets and utilize the 10MHz spectrum to support speeds up to 72Mbps, according to SlashGear. “Our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone” CTO Neville Ray said on Thursday, although he wasn’t clear on whether he was referring to HSPA+ “4G,” which might be compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and future iPhone handsets, or 4G LTE. The carrier will be shifting its HSPA+ network to the 1900MHz bands, however, which should increase compatibility with HSPA+ devices used on AT&T’s network including the iPhone. T-Mobile reported earnings for the fourth quarter on Thursday, during which the carrier shed 802,000 contract customers, a stat the carrier blamed on Apple’s iPhone.
We have received a number of reports this morning from Verizon Wireless customers complaining that the carrier’s 4G LTE network was down in various parts of the country. The carrier’s support forums have also been flooded with complaints from irate users who claim the service is down across the country, and Verizon customers service representatives have reportedly confirmed the outage to a number of subscribers. Verizon customers have suffered from data problems before — the carrier recently had three massive outages in a single month.
UPDATE: Verizon says all issues have been resolved and its 4G LTE network came back up around 1:00 p.m. Eastern.