AT&T to begin national rollout of 3G MicroCell device in April

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Date: Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News

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After months of promotion, AT&T announced that the company will begin the formal national rollout of its 3G MicroCell service next month.

Per AppleInsider, the company announced that there would be no additional costs, other than the purchase of the 3G MicroCell device, for using the 3G MicroCell service, as minutes used through the hardware affect the account of the phone making the call. Individual or Family talk subscribers can pay US$19.99 per month to make unlimited calls through the special femtocell hardware device.

The 3G MicroCell hardware itself will retail for US$149.99, but comes with a US$100 mail in rebate for customers who select a MicroCell calling plan. In addition, customers who purchase a new line of broadband service with AT&T are also eligible for a US$50 mail-in rebate. Those who select both could receive the hardware for free.

The hardware blankets a 5,000 square foot area, about a 40 foot radius from the device, to provide voice, data and text service coverage in areas that might otherwise be a “dead zone” for cell phone reception. The hardware supports up to four users making simultaneous calls, and up to 10 on 3G standby available for incoming calls and messages.

Last September, Charlotte, North Carolina served as the first test market for the femtocell device, which provides 3.2Mbit/sec 3G service from the home. In order to support that bandwidth, the device must be connected to an appropriately fast broadband connection.

AT&T was expected to expand its 3G MicroCell service to other markets in 2009, but until this week availability was limited to Charlotte. In that test, the device was said to cost US $150 and carried no monthly fees.

In February, AT&T expanded its trial of the 3G MicroCell service to five markets, adding select counties in Georgia, South Carolina, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Jobs to keep iPad out of AT&T stores; for now

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Date: Wednesday, March 24th, 2010, 06:16
Category: News

With April 3rd only a handful of days away it’s time to dig through the Steve Jobs mail bag for some additional answers.

Per AppleInsider, a recent e-mail from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs stated the forthcoming iPad will initially be sold only in Apple retail and online stores, as well as Best Buy and not AT&T retail outlets.

A response from Jobs regarding iPad sales was brief and addressed an inquiry as to whether the iPad would be available for purchase with Apple’s authorized resellers.

“Initially at Apple Retail and online stores and Best Buy,” Jobs replied via e-mail. A copy was provided to AppleInsider.

In February, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook revealed that the iPad would be available at Best Buy and other assisted locations. He said that other retail outlets will be added in time.

iPad users who opt for the 3G-capable hardware, which carries a US$130 premium, can add AT&T service to their device at any time without signing a contract. The carrier will offer data for US$15 per month for 250MB, or US$30 per month for unlimited access.

Other Jobs e-mails:
In addition to the comment on retail stores, Jobs has allegedly sent a number of other e-mails in recent days that have generated publicity.

In one note, Jobs was asked if there was a way to get documents onto the iPad through iWork.com or the iDisk. Jobs responded: “Yes.”

As noted around the Web, Apple has targeted business users as potential iPad customers, adding features designed to make the device attractive to the enterprise market. The iPad will sync documents with iTunes, just like the iPhone currently does, and will also access cloud, Web, and local file shares.

Stick around for additional details as they become available.

Opera Mobile web browser submitted to App Store for approval

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Date: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010, 04:41
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Opera on Tuesday revealed that the company had submitted its Opera mobile web browser, which uses server-side compression to offer faster mobile Web browsing, to the App Store.

Per AppleInsider, the app is now awaiting Apple’s review.

“The Opera Mini for iPhone sneak peek during MWC told us that we have something special,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera Software. “Opera has put every effort into creating a customized, stylized, feature-rich and highly responsive browser that masterfully combines iPhone capabilities with Opera’s renowned Web experience, and the result is a high performing browser for the iPhone.”

The company has advertised that its server-side rendering allows compression of data by up to 90%.

Nick Bilton of The New York Times used the latest version of Opera Mini for iPhone, and reported Tuesday that the browser “loaded pages extremely quickly.” He also said the browser offers features unavailable in Apple’s own Mobile Safari, including the ability to search the content of a Web page.

Still, Opera Mobile apparently lacks one defining feature of the iPhone: pinch-to-zoom capabilities. The feature could reportedly be added in a future release of the software provided Apple allows this.

Last month, Opera began touting the speed of its mobile browser, which uses a special form of compression to render Web pages more quickly. Before its official unveiling, talk of Opera Mini for iPhone occurred soon after the App Store opened in 2008.

Until now, Apple has rejected any browsers that are not based on the WebKit engine built into the iPhone OS. The company has not indicated that it has changed its policies, suggesting that Apple could reject Opera’s submission.

Officials with Opera have said they believe there is no reason for Apple to reject the Opera Mini browser from the App Store. Opera’s mobile browser is not based on the WebKit open source project.

Opera’s iPhone browser reportedly achieves speeds up to six times faster than Apple’s Safari when running over 3G. The alleged superior speeds are achieved through compression technology used by the company that allows less data transfer by using the company’s servers.

Either way it sounds cool and good luck to Opera, it’d be nice to have a choice of web browsers on the iPhone.

AT&T Exec Defends Company Decision to Remain with 3G Until Next Year

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Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010, 04:47
Category: iPhone, News

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In a conference call hosted by the GSM Association Thursday, Kris Rinne, AT&T senior vice president of architecture and planning, said the company is content to sit back and wait until 2011 to start offering LTE. The reason, she said, is because the carrier wants to wait until there are more LTE-capable devices on the market. LTE is the GSM-based wireless data standard that has been adopted by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as their choice for 4G wireless technology.

Per Macworld, Rinne also said that AT&T’s 3G network, which the carrier has been aggressively upgrading over the past year, would be strong enough to handle data demand until it was ready to roll out 4G next year.

“Our underlying GSM and HSPA networks will be able to upgrade their capabilities… while laying the groundwork for LTE,” she said. “By improving our current HSPA capabilities, we can add more devices to our 3G portfolio while also growing our LTE portfolio.”

Over the past year AT&T has been upgrading its 3G network to the HSPA 7.2 protocol which the company expects will cover 90% of the 3G network by the end of 2011. HSPA 7.2 is a variation of the GSM-based HSPA technology that has a peak speed of 7.2Mbps, although AT&T cautions that most users are unlikely to see data rates approaching theoretical peak speeds.

Rinne said that users can initially expect that AT&T LTE services will deliver the same applications that AT&T 3G customers currently enjoy and that the applications delivered over 4G will be faster and more reliable. In particular users would see significant differences for enhanced video and mobile gaming systems, as well as eventually voice services.

Both the GSMA and several mobile carriers are working on finalizing a voice standard for LTE that can be used in mobile devices released next year. Earlier this year, the GSMA decided to adopt a profile for voice-over-LTE in an effort to avoid fragmentation of LTE voice standards before the technology becomes more widely deployed. The association said that it embraced the VoLTE Initiative’s IMS-based approach since IMS “supports all voice call service features such as call waiting, call hold and call barring.”

iPad Preorders Accepted as of 8:30 A.M. EST

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Date: Friday, March 12th, 2010, 05:10
Category: iPad, News

Apple has begun taking preorders for its long-awaited iPad tablet at 8:30 a.m. eastern standard time and 5:30 a.m. pacific standard time.

According to The Loop, preorders for the Wi-Fi-only iPad will begin first-thing Friday morning. The Wi-Fi iPad is set to launch in the U.S. on April 3, with the 3G capable model coming later that month.

In addition, both the Wi-Fi and 3G models will be available in the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland in late April.

The iPad starts at US$499 for the 16GB model with Wi-Fi, going up to US$599 for 32GB and US$699 for the 64GB model. The models with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, compatible only with AT&T in the U.S., carry a US$130 premium.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to Release Wi-Fi iPad on April 3rd, 3G-Capable Models to Arrive in Late April

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Date: Friday, March 5th, 2010, 08:46
Category: iPad, News

Apple finally announced that it will release the Wi-Fi version of its long-awaited iPad on Saturday, April 3rd (full press release available here) in the U.S. with 3G-capable units arriving in late April. All models of the device will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK come late April.

Users will be able to pre-order both the Wi-Fi and the 3G-capable units from Apple’s online store come March 12th or reserve a Wi-Fi model to pick up on Saturday, April 3, at an Apple retail store.

Prices are slotted at US$499 for the 16GB unit, US$599 for the 32GB unit US$699 for 64GB unit. The Wi-Fi + 3G models will be available in late April for a suggested retail price of US$629 for 16GB, US$729 for 32GB and US$829 for 64GB.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know if you plan to snag an iPad at launch or wait a bit…

AT&T CEO Confirms Tiered Plan Pricing to Be Inevitable, Company Will Retain 3G Network for Time Being

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Date: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, 05:25
Category: News

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AT&T executives stated recently that the wireless industry will likely eventually charge bandwidth-heavy users more for their data plans than those customers who use networks more sparingly, but added that the company in no rush to roll out its next-generation technology.

Per MarketWatch, the comments came as part of a broad presentation by AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson to investors attending a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, in which he stated his belief that most early adopters of Apple’s soon-to-ship iPad device will largely rely on WiFi instead of purchasing another 3G wireless plan.

It’s going to be “interesting to see the customer reaction to the iPad,” he said, answering investors’ concerns that yet another popular Apple device could further strain its 3G network in congested major metropolitan cities like New York. “We think it’s going to be a largely WiFi-driven product.”

Stephenson reemphasized AT&T’s commitment to continue strengthening its 3G network by pouring millions into backend technology in regions where customers have experienced the most problems. He added, however, that another safeguard against over-saturation could see the carrier eventually adopt a new metered pricing model that will charge its bandwidth-guzzling customers more than those who make more modest use of its network.

In an update on AppleInsider, AT&T spokesman James Carracher clarified Stephenson’s comments, which were meant to portray where the CEO thinks the wireless industry as a whole is headed and offered the following:

“For the industry, we will progressively move towards more of what I call variable pricing. The heavy consumers will pay different than the lower consumers.”

The remarks could rekindle speculation that tiered iPhone 3G data plans may be on the horizon. Rumors to that end first surfaced in an research report from Kaufman Bros last February but only gained widespread attention when AT&T consumer services chief Ralph de la Vega later seconded the notion during a UBS investment conference in December.

More specifically, he cited statistics as revealing that 40% of AT&T’s network capacity is used by just 3% of smartphone users, adding that it’s inevitable that those high-bandwidth users will be charged for what they use. Following public outcry over the matter, AT&T spent the next week attempting to cool rumors of tiered iPhone data pricing, with de la Vega clarify his comments to suggest the carrier would instead begin offering incentives to users to “reduce or modify their usage.”

In other revelations Tuesday, Stephenson confirmed that the iPhone will remain a staple of AT&T’s business for “quite some time,” but stopped short ruling out the possibility that rival carriers could also begin carrying the device stateside. He also said AT&T is in no hurry to push out its 4G network, which is based on technology referred to as LTE or Long Term Evolution.

Although its LTE network will greatly broaden its wireless pipelines and provide customers with much faster download and upload speeds, the carrier reportedly believes its existing 3G network is ‘sufficient to handle data traffic for the next few years.’

“We’re not in a tremendous hurry on LTE,” he said. Instead, the carrier doesn’t plan to begin rolling out the next-gen technology until 2011, before taking it mainstream in 2012.

Rumor: iPad to Hit on March 26th

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Date: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, 04:32
Category: iPad, Rumor

Because the rumors make life interesting.

A recent rumor has suggested that Apple Store employees will get their first hands-on experience with the iPad and begin training on Wednesday, March 10th, while consumers could be able to purchase one Friday, March 26th.

According to The Examiner, an unnamed Apple Store manager in Southern California stated Tuesday evening that the definitive release date has not yet been determined, but the March 26th date is “very likely.” As was announced at its unveiling, the 3G-enabled models will arrive about a month later.

While employees will begin training on March 10th, commercials will allegedly begin to air on TV starting March 15th. Those TV spots are expected to emphasize the e-book capabilities of the device.

Finally, the report claimed that those who camp out for the iPad will receive a “special gift.”

If accurate, the report would suggest that an alleged “manufacturing bottleneck” will not delay the launch of Apple’s new multi-touch device. However, initial supplies could still be constrained, as rumors of an “unspecified production problem” have surfaced from Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn.

Initial demand for the iPad is predicted to be strong, with most analysts on Wall Street forecasting first-year sales of between 1 million and 5 million.

Apple Improves 27″ iMac Ship Time, Raises Cap on 3G Downloads

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:33
Category: iMac, iPhone, News

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Following Apple’s recent troubles with its 27″ iMac and a wait time of up to three weeks, AppleInsider is reporting that the company has dropped the ship time to five to seven days, suggesting that the company has managed to address the video issues that haunted the desktops. The change applies to both the Core 2 Duo and Core i5 powered versions of the computer.

Early adopters of the big-screen iMac have seen a number of hardware issues pertaining to the screen, with reports of flickering and yellow discoloration. The company released two software updates to fix the issues, and also reportedly offered some customers a 15 percent refund for their troubles.

Supplies of the 27-inch iMac have been constrained for months, with Apple in December even apologizing for delays, citing considerable demand form consumers. When it first launched in October, the new iMac was the best-selling desktop machine for the month. The 21.5″ iMac came in first place, while the 27-inch iMac took third in overall sales.

In other news, Apple quietly doubled the download limit for files from the iPhone App Store and iTunes via 3G. Users can now download files up to 20MB in size from a wireless carrier’s data network. The previous cap was 10MB for “over the air” downloads.

In addition to applications, the new limit also applies to multimedia files, such as podcasts available through iTunes. The update expands beyond AT&T in the U.S., with international reports stating the 10MB cap has also been lifted.

If you’ve played around with the new limit, let us know.

Battery-Powered Wi-Reach Classic Converts 3G/4G Cards Into Wi-Fi Hotspot

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Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 08:18
Category: News

This could be nifty.

Per Business Wire, Connect One‘s battery powered Wi-Reach Classic allows users to insert a 3G or 4G USB card to create a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can allow up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to the Internet. The device will support the WiMax and LTE protocols after a future firmware update and car reportedly run for up to five hours on a full charge as well as recharge over a USB connection.

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The Wi-Reach Classic is available now for US$99.