AT&T recently decided to offer a promotion that provides double the data allotment -- but only if you sign up for shared data plans of 15 GB or higher
, making the offer uninteresting for many users (and really more about upselling users than saving them money). Not to be outdone, Sprint has decided to one up AT&T with a similar promotion of their own, effectively doubling AT&T's packages and offering 60GB per month for $130, 80 GB for $160, and 120 GB for $225.
According to the Sprint announcement
, the offer is available for new and existing customers until October 31.
“This is yet another example of Sprint standing behind its commitment to offer the best value in wireless,” said Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO.
But is it really? The vast majority of both Sprint and AT&T users are on plans that are 10 GB or lower, so these promotions only really offer value if you were a heavy user and already planning to consume more than 15-30 GB per month. Again, the effort is primarily aimed at upselling you to more expensive plans, making these latest promotions more about theatrics than serious price competition. T-Mobile CEO John Legere would seem to agree:
See update at bottom. Just a reminder that if you're a grandfathered Verizon LTE customer, you're going to possibly find your connection throttled starting today. story continues..
We've discussed how while the fifth generation (5G) standard isn't even finalized yet, we're already subject to the hype insisting that the standard will cure cancer and save the world
, even though nobody's quite sure what it is yet. In an announcement about their October agenda
, the FCC says they'll start laying the groundwork next month for a shift to 5G by examining the possibility of operating networks in extremely high-band spectrum frequencies above 24 GHz. "Early studies show that these new technologies – what some are calling “5G” – can ultimately facilitate a throughput of up to 10 Gigabits/second, a speed that is orders of magnitude greater than that available today," notes FCC boss Tom Wheeler in a blog post
AT&T is running a new promotion that doubles the data allotments for Mobile Share Value Plan customers -- but only if you buy buckets of data 15 GB in size or larger. According to the AT&T announcement
, the promotion runs from yesterday, September 28, to October 31. While a limited time promotion, users who sign up for the double data allotment promo will be able to keep that usage plan for the life of the plan. "With these new double data plans, and smartphones for $0 down with AT&T Next, there’s never been a more affordable time to be with AT&T," insists the company -- even though the lion's share of users concerned about cost will be on plans significantly smaller than 15 GB per month.
Consumer Reports, who you'll recall was all over Apple for the company's flawed antenna design of the iPhone 4
, has issued a report stating that the bending issues related to the new iPhone 6 Plus have been overblown. The organization conducted a series of exhaustive stress tests
on the device to ultimately conclude that the phone is "not as bendy as believed." The accompanying video
illustrates they used a "three-point flexural test," to test the device's integrity, and found that it was on par with other leading devices including the HTC One (M8).
It has been interested to see lately how Apple and Google have effectively started competing on privacy -- both companies announcing recently
that new encryption standards used on their latest OS's and devices mean they'll no longer unlock devices at the behest of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Not too surprisingly this shift has annoyed the FBI; the agency's James Comey not so subtly insisting that both Google and Apple are putting people's lives at risks with the shift
"What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law," Comey said. At another point, he said he feared a moment when “when people with tears in their eyes look at me and say, ‘What do you mean you can’t?"' Comey said he was gathering more information about the issue and would have more to say about it later.
Granted the FBI might not have found itself in this position if its collection of consumer data had been a little more reasonable in the first place, and the agency hadn't spent a good chunk of the last decade over-reaching and finding creative ways to dodge the law
In the midst of bendgate
comes the news that Apple's latest iOS 8 patch came with numerous bugs, including one that caused problems with the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, and another that disrupted cellular functionality. After Apple's forums filled with complaints
and users struggled to roll back the update
, Apple wound up pulling the patch entirely. "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update," Apple said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal
. "We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”
Dish announced in May of last year
that the company would be offering fixed LTE services in a new partnership with nTelos. At the time, the companies stated they'd be ultimately offering the service in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky -- though hard details on the plan were hard to come by.
Back in May Verizon proclaimed
that when they did finally launch voice over LTE (VoLTE), the higher-quality voice service would arrive on a "robust" assortment of handsets. This week Verizon announced
that VoLTE, or what they're calling Advanced Calling 1.0
has launched, though for now it's only available on two phones
Virgin Atlantic has chosen GoGo to provide in-flight broadband connectivity, the two companies have announced. According to the press release
, GoGo will retrofit Virgin Atlantic's entire fleet with GoGo's 2Ku connectivity solution, which should be commercially launched sometime in 2015. When GoGo unveiled the new tech last year
, the company noted the technology fuses satellite and Air to Ground (ATG) cellular network technology to provide up to 70 Mbps per plane (when GoGo started, it was around 3 Mbps). GoGo says they're working on advancements that should bump throughput to around 100 Mbps per plane.
Following on the heels of Apple's announcement that moving forward they won't unlock devices for law enforcement or intelligence agencies
, Google has stated that they too will soon leave devices encrypted regardless of law enforcement requests and warrants. The new functionality is coming as part of Google's next operation system, which has been in the works for months. "For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” Google told the Washington Post
. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on.”
and the company's new iOS 8 operating system.
In a new blog post
Verizon hopes to somehow assure consumers and the public that they really are great lovers of an open Internet, despite a very long and clear history of proving the exact opposite. Verizon has spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009, and successfully sued to overturn FCC neutrality rules they themselves helped write
just in case the FCC ever seriously decided to help consumers.
T-Mobile has announced that as part of their "uncarrier 7.0" announcement, they'll be expanding the company's Wi-Fi calling initiative, offering a program called "Wi-Fi Unleashed" to nudge more users toward the feature. According to a T-Mobile announcement
, the company is enabling Wi-Fi calling and texting for every Simple Choice customer on every new smartphone sold by the company.
When the FCC's original neutrality rules were first created, they were based on draft language provided by Verizon, AT&T and Google. As an unsurprising result, they included all manner of loopholes including the premise that you can engage in all manner of anti-competitive behavior
, just as long as you pretend it's for the security and integrity of the network and provide some faux-technical justifications for your policies (right, Verizon Wireless?
Piggybacking on the launch of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Sprint has announced that they'll be offering owners of the new phones the options to pay $50 for unlimited voice, text and data. According to the Sprint website
, customers who take Sprint up on the offer will need pay for their new iPhone in monthly installments via Sprint's Easy pay program.
Sprint's also offering an "iPhone for Life" program whereby users can pay $20 per month for 24 months for a 16 GB iPhone 6 (normally $30 under their financing program), after which users can trade in the device for a new iPhone.
The iPhone 6 Plus will run users $25 a month under this program, compared to $35 per month via normal Sprint phone financing (see breakdown, left).
Sprint's also offering customers of AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon a $350 card if they're willing to switch to Sprint.
A combination of uninteresting gimmicks and AT&T exclusivity has resulted in Amazon's new Fire smartphone not selling very well
. Now just two months after launching the phone at the fairly-standard $200 (plus two year contract) price point, Amazon is dropping the price of the device to just one dollar. An Amazon announcement
obviously doesn't specifically address why the dramatic price reduction, only saying the phone is "another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers." There remains no word on when AT&T's exclusivity arrangement with Amazon is set to expire.
Dish Network recently reached out to T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom to discuss a potential acquisition of T-Mobile, notes Bloomberg
. According to the report, Dish boss Charlie Ergen approached the company after Sprint's acquisition plan fell apart due to regulatory concerns, though Dish hasn't yet made a formal offer to acquire the company. Dish's interest may become more serious after a November spectrum auction is completed, the report claims -- though Dish has yet to hire the aid of any banks to advise it on the logistics of any deal.
September of last year wireless operator C Spire issued a rather surprising announcement
saying they were going to start deploying fixed-line broadband networks capable of 1 Gbps in several markets within their (mostly Southern) footprint. C Spire's initial focus will primarily be on Mississippi, where nine cities are currently in the running to be the first to get the speedier service.
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