Verizon to begin shared data plans starting June 28th

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Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News

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Maybe shared data plans will come into vogue this year.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon has announced that it will be initiating shared data plans later this month, making it the first of the “big-three” U.S. telecoms to offer such a program.

The company announced the new “Share Everything” option on Tuesday, which includes unlimited talk, text and tiered shared data plans for both smartphones and tablets as well as data-only plans, is slated to start on June 28.

Up to ten devices can share data under the new plan with varying pricing for device type. For example, line access for a smartphone like Apple’s iPhone is US$40 per month while a tablet adds on US$10. Mobile hotspots are also included in the Share Anything plan and can be added for an additional US$20 per month.

The carrier is introducing a number of new data tiers to its existing one-line offerings, and shared data users can now select one of six levels ranging from US$50 per month for 1GB of bandwidth to US$100 per month for 10GB. Data overage is still in place and looks to be US$15 per gigabyte across the board but users can opt to up their data plans in 2GB intervals before reaching their limit.

As an example, Verizon offers a US$180 access plan that includes two smartphones at US$40 each, one feature phone at US$30 and 4GB worth of shared data which carries a cost of US$70 per month.

Data-only customers have four tiers to work with starting at US$30 per month for 4GB and topping out at US$60 per month for 10GB. Mobile hotspots and tablets with mobile hotspot functionality are included in this pricing model.

The new Share Anything plan is a step in the direction of what many believe is the future of wireless in the U.S. In an early June report, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said that his company was also working on rolling out a shared data plan, though that plan has been in the works for over a year.

Verizon was recently the target of a media blitz when CFO Fran Shammo said “when [customers] migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share,” which caused a fracas because many thought the company would forcibly move unlimited data users to more profitable tiered pricing. The issue was quickly clarified in a Verizon statement that said only customers who choose to take carrier subsidies when upgrading to another smartphone will be forced out of out of their unlimited plans. In either case, it is clear that the telecom is pushing for tiered pricing, a trend that has become increasingly popular as wireless providers acknowledge the profitability of soaring data use.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cricket Wireless to offer contract-free iPhone 4S, will sell units for $500

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Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 10:57
Category: iPhone, News

It’s not the highest end wireless carrier in the world, but if it carries contract-free iPhones, who’s to criticize?

Per AppleInsider, on June 22, Cricket Wireless will become America’s first fully prepaid wireless carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone, with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

Cricket Wireless is a prepaid subsidiary of Leap Wireless, which offers “unlimited” data plans under a “fair usage policy” of 2.3 gigabytes per month. The small carrier with 6.2 million customers announced on Thursday that it will become the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to offer the iPhone to its customers.

On June 22, Cricket will sell the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S contract-free for US$500, in addition to the 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for US$400. Both will be compatible with the carrier’s “unlimited” US$55-per-month talk, text and data plan.

Customers will be able to buy both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in Cricket company-owned stores and select dealers in nearly 60 markets. The iPhone will also be available for sale on the company’s official website, and over the phone at 800-853-7682.

Cricket offers wireless voice and mobile data services over 4G LTE and 3G CDMA wireless networks. Its parent company, Leap, is the owner of the seventh largest wireless telecommunications network in the U.S. with coverage in all 50 states.

Cricket is the latest regional wireless carrier to receive the iPhone, as Apple has been aggressively expanding the presence of its smartphone to smaller carriers in the U.S. Earlier this month, Apple added Kentucky’s Bluegrass Cellular, California’s Golden State Cellular, and Kansas’ Nex-Tech Wireless to its list of official carrier partners.

In April a total of five carriers began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4: Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos. And last October, the iPhone also launched on C Spire Wireless, a regional U.S. carrier with about 900,000 customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

China regulatory officials approve sale of 3G third-generation iPad

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iPad, News

Give it time and the regulators will eventually say yes…

Per MarketWatch, regulators in China have approved the 3G version of Apple’s third-generation iPad for sale in that market, signaling that the new iPad could soon become available in another major market.

The approval of the new iPad model compatible with the China Unicom 3G network was noted on Wednesday, China’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center giving Apple the OK to begin selling its latest iPad with model number “A1430.”

The arrival of the new iPad in China is an important event for Apple, as the nation of over a billion people has become the second-largest market in the world for the company, behind the U.S. The new iPad is already available for sale in most developed countries around the world.

Wednesday’s report suggested the slow release in China could be a result of an ongoing trademark dispute between Apple and Proview, a company that is the original owner of the “iPAD” name in China. Lawsuits from Proview’s Shenzehen-based operation have accused Apple of acting “with oppression, fraud and/or malice” when it used a U.K.-based proxy company named IP Application Development, Ltd., to buy the rights to the “iPAD” name.

Regulatory approval for the Wi-Fi-only version of the new iPad was granted by the proper authorities in late March. However, that device has yet to go on sale in China.

Outside of mainland China, Hong Kong was one of ten places the new iPad went on sale when it launched on March 16. It joined the U.S, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Last year, the iPad 2 saw a much quicker debut in China, launching there on May 6, 2011. The launch of the iPad 2 drew large crowds, as well as scalpers who offered to resell the device for a markup of 200 yuan, or US$30 U.S.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS messaging hints at prospect of FaceTime over 3G connections

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 12:04
Category: iOS, News, Software

Because FaceTime should be on just about every type of connection, no matter what the throughput.

Per Romanian website iDevice, warnings contained in the latest version of iOS suggest that Apple plans to bring support for 3G wireless data connections to its FaceTime video chat feature.

When a FaceTime call is active over Wi-Fi on an iPhone running iOS 5.1.1, and a user turns off the “Enable 3G” option in the Settings application, the operating system presents users with a warning message: “Disabling 3G may end FaceTime. Are you sure you want to disable 3G?”

Despite the warning, FaceTime video calls will continue over Wi-Fi uninterrupted, even after 3G has been turned off or on, which has suggested to some that Apple is planning to bring 3G support to FaceTime.

Tests have confirmed that the warning message does, in fact, display when the iPhone’s 3G is disabled during a FaceTime call. In addition, iOS also displays another message when a user attempts to turn 3G back on: “Enabling 3G will end your phone call. Are you sure you want to enable 3G?” Neither enabling or disabling 3G interrupted any FaceTime calls.

Apple first introduced FaceTime video chat in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4. Since then, it has been brought to the Mac, and the addition of forward-facing cameras to the iPod touch and iPad have also allowed FaceTime with those iOS-based devices.

Since its launch, FaceTime has only been available to use over Wi-Fi. Users who attempt to connect a FaceTime call over 3G are met with an error message telling them the service is not available.

When he introduced FaceTime in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs explained that the video chat feature was not available over wireless cellular networks at the request of mobile carriers. Jobs said that Apple needed to “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of offering FaceTime over 3G.

If Apple does enable FaceTime over 3G, it’s possible that some carriers could opt to block or restrict the functionality on their own networks. For example, though tethering was enabled on the iPhone with iOS 3.0, U.S. carrier AT&T blocked the feature until a year later, with the release of iOS 4.0.

If you’ve seen the warning on your end, please let us know and we’ll have additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone to incorporate larger display, part of Steve Jobs’ final effort

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:29
Category: iPhone, Rumor

This whole thing about the next-gen iPhone containing a larger screen? It might be what Steve Jobs would have wanted.

According to Bloomberg, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs “worked closely on” the upcoming iPhone before he died. According to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the Cupertino, Calif., company has ordered from suppliers screens that are “bigger than the 3.5-inch size” that the iPhone has sported since its debut in 2007.

“Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death in October,” the report noted one person as saying. Another source said that Jobs had played a “key role in developing” Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

If Apple were to perform a major redesign of the iPhone, it would be the device’s first since the iPhone 4 arrived in mid-2010. The previous design, that of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, was also kept for two years before the current form factor was introduced.

With three mainstream media outlets reporting similar claims in the same week, the likelihood that Apple will expand the screen on its best-selling handset appears high. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal said that LG Display, Sharp and the newly-created Japan Display are readying production lines for 4-inch displays bound for Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone. Reuters then noted that production of the new screens could begin as soon as next month, ahead of full production of the next-generation iPhone in August.

Pundits have suggested that Apple’s interest in a larger-screen iPhone comes in response to pressure from ever-increasing screen sizes of competing Android handsets. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S II, the most popular Android phone according to one recent study, has a 4.8-inch screen. The Galaxy Note, also by Samsung, is a hybrid smartphone and tablet with its 5.3-inch display.

Apple is widely expected to bring a new iPhone to market this fall, roughly one year after the iPhone 4S went on sale. Sources have disagreed, however, on whether the device’s launch will come in September or October.

Multiple reports have also suggested that the 2012 iPhone could make the jump to 4G LTE. Apple is expected to make use of new LTE chipsets from Qualcomm with improvements to power consumption over the previous generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon issues follow-up clarifying statement on unlimited data/upgrade announcement

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:18
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes things require additional explanation.

Per an email sent to the New York Times, Verizon on Thursday issued a statement clarifying the position it will take with customers who currently have grandfathered unlimited data plans, reiterating that the all-you-can-eat option will only terminate when upgrading to a new subsidized smartphone.

The statement quelled specious reports that claimed current unlimited data subscribers would be forcibly moved to the upcoming capped shared data plans expected to launch this summer.

Customers with unlimited plans will continue to be grandfathered in to the new pricing model that allows multiple users to share data on a single contract. Once the new plans debut, subscribers who choose to take advantage of subsidized phone pricing when upgrading will no longer have the option to continue their all-you-can-eat service.

The emailed statement:
– Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.

– When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.

– Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.

– The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4G LTE smartphones.

Contrary to erroneous reports around the web, it will likely take years to phase out unlimited data plans, though Verizon is definitely urging customers away from that model.

On Wednesday, the carrier’s CFO Fran Shammo caused confusion by saying, “when [customers] “migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share.” While this might be true in some cases, the company’s stated policy clearly allows for the continuation of unlimited data access if customers pay full price for new handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to end unlimited data plans in migration to 4G LTE, move towards shared data plans

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Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, News

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You might not like this.

Per Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced on Wednesday that the company will discontinue existing unlimited data plans when users move to the carrier’s faster 4G LTE network, pushing current 3G subscribers toward data share plans expected to launch later this summer.

At the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Shammo said that current unlimited users, whose data plans were grandfathered in when Verizon made the switch to tiered plans in July 2011, would lose the all-you-can-eat option if and when they move to 4G.

Verizon is leveraging its speedier 4G LTE network to attract customers away from their US$30 per month unlimited plans to new data-sharing tiers which are scheduled for a mid-summer rollout.

“A lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” Shammo said. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share. That is beneficial to us.”

In their quest to garner the highest possible revenue per user, carriers have quickly moved away from the unlimited data plan, which was first introduced as an enticement to enter the then-nascent smartphone market. With the rise of data-hungry handsets like the iPhone, wireless companies found that a capped and tiered pricing model was the most lucrative solution.

Currently, unlimited customers pay US$30 per month on Verizon’s network, identical to the price paid by grandfathered users on other networks like AT&T.

Unlike Verizon, AT&T extended its legacy plan to 4G LTE customers, but at the same time instituted speed throttling for users who pass a “threshold” of 3GB and 5 GB each month for 3G and 4G users, respectively. Earlier in May, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that he wishes his company never offered unlimited data.

Verizon’s upcoming data share plans are meant to streamline the management and offer an attractive price structure to contract owners who own multiple smartphones, such as small businesses or families. Shammo noted that the industry has crippled the smartphone market by restricting data usage to individual devices.

“If I can add as many devices as I want, that is more efficient from a family perspective and a small business perspective,” Shammo said.

Carriers have promised shared data plans for nearly a year, though the nation’s top providers only recently firmed up strategies and possible launch windows.

Shammo noted that as carriers implement shared plans, they will have to move from studying average revenue per user metrics to average revenue per account.

Pricing for Verizon’s data share plans have yet to be announced, but Shammo made it clear that the company is pushing hard for the new model.

“Everyone will be on data share,” Shammo said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

- Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

- Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

- Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

- Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback whatsoever, please let us know in the comments.

Third-generation iPad to arrive in 12 additional countries this Friday

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Date: Monday, April 16th, 2012, 10:54
Category: iPad, News

There’s only a few certainties in this world. Death and taxes are the discouraging ones, but the likelihood of the iPad 3 arriving in your country is the third (and more upbeat) one.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will launch its new third-generation iPad in a total of 12 countries this Friday, April 20, while even more countries, including India, will get the new iPad a week later.

The full list of countries where the new iPad will debut this Friday is Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia, Panama, South Korea, St. Maarten, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In addition, a week later, on Friday, April 27, the new iPad will also become available in Colombia, Estonia, India, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, South Africa, and Thailand.

The new iPad will be available starting at a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only model. Apple will also sell the 16-gigabite Wi-Fi iPad 2 for US$399.

The new iPad also comes available in a model with 4G LTE high-speed wireless Internet. However, customers in the latest launch countries will be restricted to slower 3G speeds, as the new iPad is only compatible with 4G LTE networks in the U.S. and Canada.

The third-generation iPad has seen the fastest international roll-out of any Apple product ever. It originally debuted in mid-March in the U.S. and nine other countries, while an additional 25 countries and territories gained the new iPad just a week later.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

nTelos regional wireless carrier to carry iPhone 4, 4S units

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 07:33
Category: iPhone, News

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based wireless company with more than 400,000 subscribers, will become the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Apple’s iPhone when it launches on April 20.

Per AppleInsider, nTelos is the second regional carrier to partner with Apple, as the company began expanding to smaller U.S. carriers last October when it struck a deal with C Spire Wireless, which has about 900,000 customers.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will be available through nTelos for US$50, while the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S can be had for US$150, 32 gigabytes for US$250, and 64 gigabytes for US$350. Those contract-subsidized prices are all US$50 cheaper than the offerings from the company’s competitors.

nTelos offers unlimited voice, text and data for one line for US$100 per month. Two lines can be purchased for US$140 per month, and additional lines after that cost US$50 each.

Availability of the iPhone to nTelos is possible because the carrier relies on a CDMA network, similar to the technology that powers Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks.

As of Wednesday, the iPhone 4S is listed as “coming soon” on the nTelos Wireless website. Sales will officially begin at 7 a.m. on April 20 through nTelos retail stores, at the company’s website, or by calling 1-888-427-8858.

nTelos offers nationwide voice and data coverage for subscribers based in Virginia and West Virginia, along with portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.

When the iPhone launches with nTelos, it will join AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and C Spire as one of five official U.S. carriers. The one glaring omission from the list of official Apple partners is T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 34 million customers.

T-Mobile’s lack of access to the iPhone is a result of the company’s 3G service relying on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, which are not supported by Apple’s smartphone. Users who operate an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network are restricted to much slower “EDGE” speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.