One thing of particular note to our readers during Apple's unveiling of new iPads
yesterday is the new Apple SIM, which Apple didn't mention at all -- yet most analysts believe has a real chance to disrupt the industry. Installed on iPads with embedded Wi-Fi and cellular radios, Apple notes
their new Apple SIM allows users to float between carriers without having to replace the SIM card. States Apple:
The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.
The embedded chipset supports all of the global LTE bands as well as GSM and CDMA networks, though the exact way the Apple SIM will work as users switch between domestic or international carriers still isn't entirely clear. As it stands the functionality will work for AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- but not Verizon.
Executives at all four major carriers are likely eager that Apple doesn't push this technology onto iPhones, since it would make it easier to switch carriers and only intensify competition for your data dollar. It seems more than likely Apple failed to mention the Apple SIM at yesterday's presentation -- because carriers likely demanded Apple avoid marketing the concept too heavily.
With the Sprint deal dead due to skeptical regulators and the Iliad deal now dead
, can T-Mobile now finally just focus on being the best wireless competitor they can be? While Deutsche Telekom has expressed interest in offloading the US carrier for much of the last decade, company board members are starting to wonder if it's a good idea to offload that company's only growing asset
. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has also stated he's "sick and tired" about M&A speculation.
While everybody was busy speculating on who would be buying the under-performing T-Mobile, the company slowly but surely stopped under-performing, and while still facing plenty of challenges, is starting to pose a more serious challenge to incumbents AT&T and Verizon
“Now that you’ve flushed out that M&A speculation, the stock is actually attractive now on fundamentals,” Kevin Smithen, an analyst at Macquarie Securities USA Inc., said in a phone interview yesterday. “They’re doing very, very well in the current environment.” T-Mobile has done a good job understanding what consumers are looking for, including more simplified pricing plans, said Smithen, who has the equivalent of a buy rating on the stock and expects it to reach $34.
Legere seems ok with that:
“The company is doing extremely well so I can do whatever the f--- I want,” Legere said, when asked about his relationship with Deutsche Telekom.
Acquisition speculation isn't entirely
dead given Dish's supposed interest in acquiring a stake in T-Mobile. However, after years of speculation about Charlie Ergen's intentions it's still hard to tell if Dish is serious about wireless -- or if the company is just making a lot of noise to inflate the value of Dish spectrum ahead of a sale.
On the heels of T-Mobile's announcement last week
that they've started a heavy push toward Wi-Fi calling, AT&T says they'll also be offering Wi-Fi calling starting in 2015. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega stated last week the company will be offering it next year, but hasn't been in a rush because, they claim, their network coverage is good enough (unlike T-Mobile's, the CEO implied).
Back in July French telco Iliad lobbed a rather underwhelming softball offer
of acquisition at T-Mobile, offering $15 billion in cash to acquire 56.6 percent of T-Mobile. Deutsche Telekom wasn't impressed, though reports suggest that the company is still very much open to a deal to sell the freshly-disruptive US carrier, which the company has been trying to offload since 2011 or before. Reuters
indicates that Iliad is preparing to make an improved offer, "but has set specific limits on how much money it would raise to fund any deal." Deutsche Telekom spent a year negotiating a T-Mobile sale to Sprint, only to have it scrapped on fears that regulators would block the deal.
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.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile's Isis NFC-based mobile payment service was already struggling, with many users either simply not interested in the idea of using their smartphone as a debit card, already using other services, or simply never having heard of it
. Now things are more complicated, with the service suddenly sharing its name with a violent iraqi uprising dominating the newswires (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS).
T-Mobile has announced that the company will be pushing MetroPCS 10 new markets across the country this fall. According to a company press release
, since acquiring the prepaid carrier, T-Mobile has taken MetroPCS from just over 6,000 points of sale in 15 metropolitan markets to nearly 11,000 points of sale in 55 metropolitan areas. This latest market expansion includes Chattanooga, Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick and Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News.
Popular Science serves up an interesting read
about the discovery of fake "towers" that are being used to surreptitiously intercept cell phone traffic. ESD America offers a product they call the GSMK Cryptophone 500, which is essentially a Galaxy S III running modified hardware and a modified, more-secure version of Android -- which the company states purges 468 vulnerabilities from the traditional Android build.
Back in June T-Mobile announced the company would be exempting music services from the company's bandwidth caps
, though users would need to vote on their favorite music service to get it added to T-Mobile's white list. This week T-Mobile added six more music services to that exemption list
: AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio and Songza. Google Play Music was the top-voted service, and T-Mobile states they'll be adding that "later this year." While well-intentioned, consumer advocates have criticized T-Mobile's cap exemption for music services (and speed tests
), arguing it creates an unlevel playing field for smaller companies trying to gain recognition.
California this week became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring that cell phones include so-called "kill switch" functionality to deter theft, enabled by default (the full law is here
, pdf). Minnesota passed a similar law earlier this year, but in that version of the law, the functionality is turned off by default.
T-Mobile continues to tinker with data allotments and pricing in the face of a freshly ambitious Sprint
, quadrupling the data allotment on the company's "Simple Starter" plan. According to a T-Mobile announcement
, the company's Simple Starter plan will now provide unlimited talk and text and cost $45 ($5 more) but will deliver 2 GB of data as opposed to the previous 500 MB. On Simple Starter, once you've reached the 2 GB your service is suspended and you'll need to buy a one day, 500 MB day pass for $5, or a 7-day, 1 GB pass for $10. This new higher-allotment version of the plan will be available September 3.
T-Mobile took a shot at Sprint, AT&T and Verizon today with a new promotion that gives the company's Simple Choice plan users unlimited LTE data for a year if they bring another user over to T-Mobile. If the Simple Choice plan users already have unlimited data, users will receive a $10-per-month credit for a year. story continues..
A new report by RootMetrics
effectively declares Verizon the king when it comes to mobile network coverage, reliability, speed, and overall performance. The study, which collected data from 5.6 million test samples while driving some 234,000 miles across the country, gave the crown to Verizon for all metrics except text message performance, which Verizon closely lost to AT&T.
It was just last week that we noted how Sprint CEO Dan Hesse seemed terrified of cutting prices to compete with T-Mobile
, expressing concern that if the company reduces prices -- they by proxy reduce revenues necessary to get the company's LTE network up to snuff. Hesse of course has since been informed he'll be fired from the new CEO spot
, with Sprint also announcing their intention to give up their pursuit of T-Mobile.
Last month we noted
that Sprint and T-Mobile were hoping to join forces and bid under a joint venture company in the FCC's 2015 incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum. That may not float for the FCC, who in a blog post
stated that the agency is circulating a proposal that would bar such a play.
T-Mobile has announced that the company's implementation of higher-call-quality VoLTE services has been deployed nationwide. According to a company announcement
, the nationwide availability comes just two months after T-Mobile announced their first VoLTE market (Seattle) in May. The company states it is also busy deploying LTE on spectrum acquired from Verizon Wireless earlier this year. "The team has also been aggressively rolling out Wideband LTE, upgrading our remaining 2G footprint to 4G LTE and starting to roll out our new low-band 700 MHz A-Block spectrum," notes Legere. "In fact, in the three months since we got hold of this spectrum, we’ve already begun equipping sites with 700 MHz gear."
Sprint and SoftBank's plan to acquire T-Mobile just got somewhat more complicated on the news that French telco Iliad has made their own counter-offer to acquire the telco. Iliad today announced the company has made a $15 billion cash offer to purchase 56.6 percent of T-Mobile. story continues..
Last month Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
(pdf), which aims to make unlocking one's cell phone technically legal again, even if it doesn't fully address the myriad of problems with the DMCA. In January of last year unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list.
T-Mobile states that they've turned on "wideband" 15x15 MHz channels in Las Vegas, making the city one of seventeen markets where the improved capacity and faster speeds are now available. "We have more capacity per customer than any other major national U.S. wireless carrier plus we continue to offer the fastest nationwide 4G LTE in the U.S. and deliver the most consistent LTE speeds," crows the uncarrier in a press release
. For these markets T-Mobile combines their AWS spectrum acquired from MetroPCS to offer theoretical peak download speeds up to 110 Mbps and theoretical peak upload speeds of 38 Mbps.
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