Staying connected while traveling abroad is a painful endeavor, at best. Roaming with your U.S.-based wireless device can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and sourcing local handsets or foreign SIMs for an unlocked phone is often a hassle. Travelers heading to Europe now have a new option that could potentially keep them connected for a fraction of the price of more common solutions. More →
Deutsche Telekom recently detailed the breakup terms AT&T agreed to following the deterioration of its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA. Deutsche Telekom will receive $3 billion in cash and T-Mobile USA will benefit from fresh AWS spectrum as well as a new 7-year 3G roaming deal with AT&T. “As part of the break-up fee, T-Mobile USA will receive a large package of AWS mobile spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), including 12 of the top 20 markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle),” Deutsche Telekom said in a statement. “The UMTS roaming agreement for the U.S. in T-Mobile USA’s favor has a term of over seven years and will allow the company to improve its footprint significantly among the U.S. population and offer its customers better broadband coverage for mobile communications services in the future.” The company also said that T-Mobile USA’s 3G network will grow from blanketing 230 million potential customers to covering 280 million people. Deutsche Telekom’s full press release follows below. More →
Beginning on September 18th, AT&T will offer a new $25 GoPhone prepaid plan that will include 250 minutes and unlimited messaging. Starting on the same day, customers can opt to sign up for a new $10 international long distance plan that offers 250 minutes of calling to more than 50 countries. The minutes for both plans expire after 30 days. GoPhone customers will also be able to roam in Canada at a rate of $0.39 per minute. Text messages in Canada will cost $0.25 per message sent and $0.20 per message received. AT&T currently offers thirty different GoPhone devices ranging from basic handsets to more advanced Android or Windows Phone-powered smartphones. The plans do not require a contract and unsubsidized phone prices range from $19.99 on the low-end to $500 on the high-end. More →
Verizon Wireless announced on Tuesday that it will offer the BlackBerry Torch 9850 on September 8th for $199.99 with a new two-year contract. The Torch 9850 offers a full 3.7-inch touchscreen display with an 800 x 480-pixel resolution, a 1.2GHz processor, support for global roaming in more than 200 countries, a 5-megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video and 16GB of storage. The Torch 9850 was first unveiled during a RIM event in Toronto on August 3rd where we published hands-on impressions of the phone. It is the best full-touchscreen smartphone RIM has sold and its browser is much improved, but the BlackBerry 7 operating still feels stale in comparison to Android, Windows Phone and iOS. Read on for the full press release from Verizon Wireless. More →
FedEx just buzzed by and dropped off Sprint’s latest QWERTY Android smartphones, the Motorola XPRT. The XPRT reminds us a lot of the DROID Pro on Verizon Wireless, but it feels just a bit cheaper, which likely explains the lower price tag. It lacks the polished finished of the DROID Pro and it feels much more plasticky. That said, the keyboard feels pretty stellar so far and we are already whizzing away while typing emails and other messages. The big selling point for the XPRT is that it also supports international roaming on GSM networks and it’s the first from Sprint to feature enterprise-class security — that means it should be attractive to corporate users. Under the hood, the XPRT is powered by a 1GHz processor and it runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) with MOTOBLUR painted on top. The phone’s 3.1-inch touchscreen display is large enough, but the 480 x 320 resolution definitely makes things look a bit pixelated. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and support for Adobe Flash 10. We’ll be taking a deeper dive into the Motorola XPRT, which launched on June 5th for $129.99 with a contract, so stay tuned for our upcoming review. In the meantime, be sure to check out our gallery!
It’s more like a pre-prenuptial agreement, but you get the idea. T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telecom, has confirmed that it stands to receive a $6 billion settlement from AT&T should the companies’ proposed merger fall through. According to DT, a $3 billion cash payment would be made along with additional spectrum and a national roaming agreement. While the exact valuation of the spectrum and roaming agreement was not disclosed, Reuters appraises the two intangibles at close to $3 billion. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice are all scrutinizing the proposed deal, which would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the United States. There are sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way, but once thing is certain: a large sum of money is going to be debited from AT&T’s coffers no matter the regulatory outcome. More →
Sprint, which owns the majority stake of Clearwire, has agreed to pay the company at least $1 billion through 2012 for fees associated with the use of its 4G WiMAX network. Sprint and Clearwire entered arbitration late last year after Sprint argued that it shouldn’t have to pay a fee for 4G handsets that exist where Clearwire’s 4G WiMAX network isn’t available. Sprint charges its customers an extra $10 monthly for the option to run on 4G networks and Clearwire charges an estimated $4.46 per 4G-handset owner. According to the Associated Press, Sprint will pay Clearwire $300 million this year and $550 million in 2012. Sprint will also reportedly pay an additional $175 million in a prepaid agreement to use the 4G WiMAX network this year and in the future. Sprint’s CEO, Dan Hesse, told the AP that his company is pleased to have reached a settlement. More →
Verizon Wireless has taken a beating over the years because its CDMA network is very prohibitive for international travelers. As such, the carrier has released some new resources in an effort to remind subscribers that they’re free to roam the world with their Verizon phones in hand — it might cost an arm, a leg and a few vital organs in some regions, but it can be done. According to the carrier’s new release, there are about 35 countries that use CDMA and have roaming agreements with Verizon. While that figure pales in comparison to the number of countries that support GSM phones, travelers will find that roaming charges for voice calling and even data usage in those countries can be surprisingly reasonable. Then, if you happen to have one of Verizon’s dual-mode world phones that support GSM, you can use the device while roaming in more than 200 countries around the world. You should probably make sure you take your entire Accounts Payable department out to lunch before submitting those expenses, though. Hit the break for Verizon Wireless’ full release and a quick video about international roaming. More →
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor of a new set of rules that will force larger cellular carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T to provide roaming access to their data networks at prices set by the FCC. The move will allow smaller regional carriers to take advantage of the large investments made by national carriers at a mere fraction of the cost of building out their own data networks. Immediately following the FCC’s vote, Verizon Wireless’ executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications Tom Tauke issued a statement. “Today’s action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention in the wireless marketplace,” Tauke said. “By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, today’s order discourages network investment in less profitable areas. That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and the development of facilities-based competition and potential job creation. Therefore, it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition.” Hit the jump for Tauke’s full statement. More →
WIND Telecom SpA announced on Thursday that the shareholders of Russian mobile operator VimpelCom have voted to approve the acquisition of WIND Telecom for $6 billion. VimpelCom said regulators approved the acquisition as well. The deal covers all of WIND Telecom’s assets, which includes Orascom Telecom, a major WIND Mobile shareholder, and VimpelCom will add nine new markets including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Italy and Canada to the eleven it already covers. When finalized, the purchase will make VimpelCom the world’s fifth largest mobile Teleco with more than 173 million subscribers. “This is great news for us. Our partner, Orascom, will be even larger and stronger as a financial partner. This gives us more leverage and increased scale with telecom network equipment manufacturers and more importantly, for devices including handsets and tablets,” said Anthony Lacavera, WIND Mobile’s chairman, adding that the purchase will give WIND more access to long distance roaming services. Lacavera said he would provide more information as new details on the acquisition emerge.
While the debate over domestic data limits — 2GB versus 5GB versus truly unlimited — continues, another, more controversial smartphone bandwidth topic is slowly coming to a boil: international data. For those of you who frequently venture out of the confines of these United States, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t yet made your way out of the country in the smartphone era, you’re in for a rude awakening. Exorbitant costs, pathetic data allowances, and little recourse… it wasn’t always as bad as it is now. But, like all things in the cellular industry these days, carriers seem to be charging more for less. Are you the kind of person who always has your passport and smartphone with you when you travel abroad? Are you sick of being raked over the coals? Read on for our thoughts. More →
While this isn’t the most comprehensive global-roaming agreement you will ever see, it’s a start. Via a short press release, the U.S.’s third largest wireless provider — Sprint — has announced a global-roaming deal that will allow its WiMAX customers to operate on the Digicel and Global Mobile networks in Jamaica and Taiwan respectively. Sprint users traveling to the aforementioned areas with WiMAX-enabled devices will be able to purchase an unlimited, 24-hour data pass for $14.99.
“Over the years, we’ve built a robust ecosystem of partners that dwarves any other 4G ecosystem available today and as the first U.S. wireless carrier to launch international 4G roaming we’ve clearly demonstrated our leadership,” said Todd Rowley, the company’s vice-president of 4G.
While $14.99 per day seems a bit steep, the pricing is actually quite reasonable. AT&T’s closest offering to a an unlimited international data-bucket is its 200MB monthly plan (daily or weekly plans are not available), which retails for $199.99 — 5 days of unlimited WiMAX data at $14.99 per day would cost just $74.95. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
Sixteen WiMAX operators from around the world convened in Taipei this week to draft an international roaming agreement for their 4G networks. The WiMAX Forum Global Operator Summit, as it is being called, had just shy of seventy representatives working on the deal. Global roaming is projected to be a $67 billion business by 2015.
“The WiMAX Forum Global Operator Summit was created to specifically address overcoming both business and consumer perceptions that data roaming is expensive, and to explore ways to help operators grow revenue,” said Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum. “WiMAX has an established ecosystem with nearly 600 deployments around the world. The opportunity for operators to offer their customers roaming is there, and it is an excellent way for operators to add another viable revenue stream and earn returns on their 4G network investments.”
Representatives from both Sprint Nextel and Clearwire attended the event. Full press release is after the break. More →