#carriers

Chris Welch: 

Verizon has officially announced XLTE. Rather than a new wireless technology, XLTE is basically just a consumer-friendly buzz term for speed and capacity improvements that Verizon has made to its network with the help of AWS spectrum.

After I announced my intention to ditch Verizon’s shitty network for AT&T’s slightly-less-shitty one, a bunch of folks suggested I should wait and pointed to XLTE as the future.

Yeah, there was zero chance I was going to change my mind over marketing bullshit. ”XLTE” is essentially the Verizon version of what AT&T did with “4G” in the past. “4G” was really just a slightly pumped up “3G”.

More from Zach Epstein on Amazon’s forthcoming smartphone:

Prime Data could be a special plan tied to Amazon’s smartphones that gives users a certain amount of free access to streaming movies, TV shows, music and other Amazon services over cellular data networks.

I’ve long wondered if it wouldn’t make more sense to think of this Amazon phone as an “Amazon Prime Phone” — and it’s looking like it may be just that. And this make a lot of sense given what Amazon has done with the carriers in the past to subsidize data for the Kindles. 

Ryan Knutson and Shalini Ramachandran on the “WifiForward” coalition:

Last year, mobile users in North America consumed an average of about 1.4 gigabytes of data a month, and that number is expected to grow to 9 gigabytes a month by 2018, according to Cisco Systems Inc.

Even more growth is expected over Wi-Fi. About 57% of all mobile data traffic in North America is currently carried by Wi-Fi, and by 2018 that figure is expected to increase to 64%, according to Cisco. All that data congests Wi-Fi networks, too, one of the reasons why WifiForward wants to free up more spectrum.

Did not realize the Wi-Fi numbers were so high — and rising.

Verizon Has A Funny Definition Of “Global”

Yesterday, as I landed in a foreign country, I did my normal routine: switched off airplane mode on my phone, waited for signal to kick in, repeat, repeat, repeat.1 Once I connected, in poured the push notifications, the first of which is usually a text from the foreign carrier I just connected to warning me that I’m roaming and threatening to take my first child for every MB of data used. Yesterday, the message was a little different.

It was actually a text message from my U.S. carrier, Verizon, notifying me to turn data services off or use WiFi to avoid data charges. I thought nothing of this since I had the global data plan already enabled on my phone. Next, in came the foreign carrier text telling me the current take-your-first-child rates: $20.48 per MB of data used. Not even one minute later (I checked the time stamps), a third message came in, this time from Verizon again, alerting me that I’ve “exceeded $50 in global data charges.”

Again, I didn’t think too much of this because I knew my global data plan was enabled. That plan allows you to pay $25 for each 100MB of data usage when traveling abroad — still a rip-off, yes, but a relative steal compared to the aforementioned take-your-first-child rates normally associated with international data roaming. Because I had been in another country a few weeks prior, I thought such a message might just be a residual warning from data usage on that trip.

Nope.

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I popped into a Three store on a recent trip to the UK. Within minutes, I had a SIM card in my phone with an unlimited data on it for the month. It cost me some ridiculously small amount of money. 

I wish the U.S. had a carrier like this. T-Mobile is trying, but only because they’re in a distant fourth place in a four team race. Otherwise, I’m certain they’d be just as awful as Verizon and AT&T.

Tom Warren:

After over a year in the making, Microsoft is finally launching its Windows Phone Preview for developers. The program will provide registered developers with early access to Windows Phone 8 updates, bypassing the complex and lengthy carrier testing process. Microsoft is specifically targeting developers with this program, but for $19 a year any Windows Phone 8 user can sign up and get early access to updates. Even registered Windows Phone App Studio developers will be able to get early access.

There’s a lot of chatter today about how Microsoft is “bypassing” the carriers to get these updates to consumers, but make no mistake: this is simply the exact same thing as Apple releasing iOS betas to developers (though it’s more expensive to sign up for an iOS dev account — $99 a year). This is not the same thing as pushing these updates to consumers. While anyone can sign up for a developer account, the vast majority of “regular” users will never do that. Those users will still be beholden to the carriers.

David Chartier:

For all the incredibleness of the MacBook Air’s new battery, the device is still dependent on WiFi hotspots and, let’s face it, the internet is an essential ingredient these days for getting most things done. Now, keep in mind that adding 4G radios to the MacBook Air likely poses its own share of challenges that Apple has clearly decided to avoid for the Mac, at least so far. In general, it seems like 3G/4G radios have never been very popular in notebooks for some reason. Plus, a 4G radio would add weight to the MacBook Air—renowned for its thin and light design—and, of course, affect that incredible 12-hour battery or, in PCMag’s case, 15-hour battery.

I do wonder if we’re to the point where an LTE option for a MacBook might make sense. Weight and design were and are certainly issues, but battery life was undoubtedly another key which is probably moot now with these insane battery times.

Yes, it’s a pain dealing with carriers (just in the U.S., let alone the world), but a lot of plans already offer shared data, so this could be just another device. 

Update: As many of you have noted, OS X would have to be tailored so as to not do things like download OS updates when using the data connection. Seems like an easy enough thing to implement.

Steve Kovach of Business Insider did the math on T-Mobile’s new “un-carrier" plan for the iPhone:

Now compare that to the $2,020 two-year cost of owning an iPhone 5 on T-Mobile. You’re saving $580 in most cases. (Sprint comes close with its 450 minute plan, but keep in mind you still get unlimited minutes with T-Mobile. If you talk a lot on your phone, you’re still getting a better deal with T-Mobile.)

He takes into account not only the cost of the phone (after T-Mobile’s non-subsidy subsidy) but the cost of the plans as well. It’s not exactly cheap, but T-Mobile is the clear winner here from a pricing perspective. From a coverage perspective, that’s another matter…

This is the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Do you have any idea how much you’re paying?

T-Mobile CEO John Legere at an event today where he unveiled the iPhone on his network (FINALLY) as well as the company’s “un-carrier” plans.

It seems that Legere was full of good quotes — “Stop the bullshit" being another. And while I think this is a smart approach to take in an age where almost all Americans hate their carriers, I still find it a little odd that Legere went on and on about the end of subsidies and contracts then offered up his phones with a sort of newfangled subsidy (pay $20 a month until the phone is paid off — plus your contract, of course).

I mean, I get it, you have to pay for the very expensive phone somehow, and most people aren’t going to pay for it all upfront (even if it does save them money in the long run), I just think the messaging here is a little muddled.

Also, I think we all recognize that T-Mobile would be just fine with the status quo if they weren’t in fourth place in the carrier race… Still, again, a smart thing for T-Mobile to try.

vivekpreddy asked:

If your wish comes true and T-mobile's way (no phone subsidies) becomes the norm, won't that severely cut into Apple's profits for the iPhone? The Nexus 4, a comparable phone in most regards is literally HALF the price of an iPhone5 without subsidies. Is there any way that Apple (Samsung, HTC and the others as well) won't suffer a huge cut in profits if the unsubsidized plan becomes the norm?

Well if the phone was sold at the full price, profits should be about the same (with the money coming directly from the customers, rather than the carriers). Same is true if it were financed (not sure if T-Mobile would pay that difference to Apple up front, but I assume so).

But you’re right that a move to this non-subsidized model could force prices to come down from that full price. And yes, that could severely cut Apple’s profits were that the case.

If I were an Apple shareholder, this hypothetical would probably worry me. But I’m not, so I’m all for it. The U.S. carriers have held everyone hostage with the subsidies and long, expensive contracts for far too long.

Matthew Panzarino also calls a spade a spade:

I do not think that the writers at The Verge are being intentionally apologist. I have too much respect for the staff there and neither Bohn nor Patel has a history of that kind of thing. However, the article as written is nowhere near as hard enough on Google for not delivering LTE in the Nexus 4 as it should be. And it manages to almost completely avoid what should have been the big elephant in the room: Apple has managed to ship a flagship phone with almost no carrier compromises and LTE, so why can’t Google?

The answer is in there, but it’s sort of obfuscated (as Rubin clearly intended). This is why.