Rumor: AT&T blocks vacation days in mid-October, hinting towards iPhone 5 release

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 27th, 2011, 12:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

attlogo

It’s when companies stop employee vacation time that things get interesting.

Per the cool cats at Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly blocked its employees from taking vacation days in mid-October as the carrier gears up for the launch of Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Employees at AT&T retail locations have allegedly been blocked from taking vacations during the first two weeks of October, BGR reported on Tuesday. Employees have reportedly been told they cannot request time off between Monday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 14.

In addition, it was said that AT&T’s internal inventory system lists a total of six new product placeholders. The entries are said to be “most likely holding space” for the iPhone models Apple is expected to announce at its event next Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Reports emerged last week that Apple has begun blacking out vacation days for retail employees at some of its stores during the second week of October. Specifically, Apple employees in some locations are said to have been barred from taking time off work Oct. 9 through 12, and Oct. 14 and 15.

Earlier this month, it was said that Sprint also began blacking out staff vacations for the first half of October. The iPhone is currently exclusive to AT&T and Verizon, but Sprint is widely expected to offer Apple’s next iPhone at launch.

As of yet there has not been any word of Verizon employees being barred from vacation time in October. Rumors have pointed toward a sale date of Friday, Oct. 14 for Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

Apple’s fifth-generation handset is expected to become the first iPhone to launch on multiple carriers simultaneously in the U.S. Last June, when the iPhone 4 launched on AT&T alone in America, the carrier was forced to suspend preorders after experiencing demand ten times greater than for its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.

Verizon eventually gained access to the iPhone 4 more than six months later, in February of this year. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray said on Tuesday he expects that demand for the so-called “iPhone 5″ will be large at Verizon, as a recent poll conducted by his investment firm found that 74 percent of Verizon iPhone buyers said they are waiting for Apple’s next model rather than buying the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked town hall meeting notes point toward T-Mobile not receiving iPhone 5 in 2011

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 09:26
Category: iPhone, News

It’s turning into a weird year for T-Mobile.

Per TmoNews, an image has surfaced from an internal news posting with T-Mobile USA sharing word from Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman that the carrier will not be offering the iPhone 5 this year. Brodman’s comment apparently came as part of a September 15th company town hall meeting.

“Our business is working very hard to improve performance over the last couple of years and we’ve had some great success,” said Brodman. New products and value plans are fueling customer response, he added, and Brodman expects the excitement to continue into the holiday season as T-Mobile introduces two new smartphones. Note: “We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman said.
Brodman’s comment does not eliminate the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone 5 at some point in the future, but it seems that the carrier will not be a launch partner for the device.

Several mainstream media reports have claimed that Sprint will become the third major U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone with the debut of the iPhone 5 next month, but the fate of the iPhone on T-Mobile USA has been less clear. Despite a few claims of a T-Mobile iPhone coming this year and evidence of prototypes for testing on the carrier’s network, there had yet to be any solid reports of an launch from mainstream sources.

T-Mobile’s status is of course complicated by AT&T’s efforts to acquire the carrier, and effort that is being opposed by the U.S. government, Sprint, and a number of other groups.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News

verizonlogo.jpg

After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

GoPhone:
AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Rumor: Alleged Sprint leak points to blackout dates, possible iPhone 5 launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 12th, 2011, 05:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The good news: Further evidence has accumulated that Spring will be joining the iPhone cell carrier network.

The bad news: The company has always been about as exciting as watching a sack of hammers lay in the corner of the room.

Per SprintFeed, an allegedly leaked internal memo has surfaced announcing a temporary vacation ban due to the “possibility of a major phone launch.”

The leaked document mentions that the blackout extends from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15, though it neglects to mention the “major phone” by name. The timeframe surrounds an Oct. 7 “Strategy Update” presentation from the company that was announced late last month.

Recent reports have indicated that Sprint will launch Apple’s next iPhone in mid-October. Responding directly to claim, the carrier issued an internal memo advising its employees not to discuss the possibility of a fifth-generation iPhone launch with inquiring customers.

The carrier then announced plans to raise its contract early termination fee for “advanced devices,” including smartphones, to US$350 starting Sept. 9. The new ETF, which would match AT&T’s and Verizon’s own cancellation fees for similar devices, is meant to prevent customers from ditching the carrier after acquiring new devices for subsidized prices. The move has been perceived by some as an indication that a Sprint iPhone launch is near.

A subsequent report claimed Sprint cellular repeaters are being installed in and around Apple stores, further suggesting Sprint iPhone testing and pointing to the possibility of an imminent iPhone launch.

On Monday, the company sued AT&T and its partners to block the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. The wording of certain complaints made in the court filings has prompted further speculation that Sprint will soon begin selling the iPhone.

Finally, on Friday, Sprint was rumored to continue offering unlimited data plans to its subscribers even after the expected iPhone 5 launch. Comparatively, the other two mobile operators that will carry the device, AT&T and Verizon, will offer tiered, capped data plans to their subscribers.

Weighing in on reports suggesting Apple would partner with the nation’s third-largest carrier to sell the iPhone, analysts estimated the carrier would sell 1.2 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of the year with Sprint iPhone sales growing up to 6 million in 2012.

Apple is expected to announce the fifth-generation iPhone at an as-yet unconfirmed media event this fall with iPhone 5 sales believed, according to some reports, to begin in early- to mid-October. The device is believed to sport the A5 processor found in the iPad 2 and an 8-megapixel camera, up from the current 5-megapixel shooter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4 ship times extend ahead of iPhone 5 launch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 9th, 2011, 02:23
Category: iPhone, News

This might be a bit unexpected, depending on your point of view.

According to AppleInsider, all new iPhone 4 orders in the U.S. now take one to three business days to ship through Apple, a sign that the company is running low on inventory ahead of introducing its fifth-generation model.

Previously, orders of the iPhone 4 for both AT&T and Verizon shipped within 24 hours. That fast turnaround applied to both black and white models, in capacities of 16GB and 32GB on both carriers.

On Thursday, it was discovered that the iPhone 4 now takes one to three days to ship direct from Apple, for all colors, capacities and carriers.

Similarly, the US$49, 8GB iPhone 3GS, only available through AT&T in the U.S., also takes one to three business days to ship. The same applies for those who want to buy the unlocked GSM iPhone 4.

Lengthening shipping times are often an indication that Apple is running low on inventory ahead of a product refresh. For example, in February MacBook Pro shipments slipped to three to five days immediately before new models were introduced.

However, while shipping times for the iPhone 4 have slowed in the U.S., abroad they still have a 24-hour turnaround time. For example, in the U.K. and France, new orders still ship within a day of being placed.

Last year, the iPhone 4 debuted in the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Japan, before quickly expanding to other countries. In its first three days of availability, the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units.

This year’s introduction of a fifth-generation iPhone will come with a later-than-usual launch date, as Apple in years past has released a new iPhone in the months of June or July. Apple is widely expected to host an event in the coming weeks to introduce the so-called “iPhone 5″ ahead of an anticipated October launch.

The updated handset is expected to include a new, higher resolution 8 megapixel camera, as well as the high-speed A5 mobile processor currently found in the iPad 2. Rumors have been split as to whether the fifth-generation iPhone will sport an all-new design or one similar to the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Sprint to be added to U.S. iPhone carriers this October

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 03:33
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Apple is expected to start selling the iPhone 5 simultaneously with three of the Big Four mobile operators in the USA, Sprint being reported to join AT&T and Verizon for a mid-October launch.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Sprint, the number 3 carrier in the US, will start selling the fifth-generation iPhone this fall, giving Apple access to an important new channel for selling its iconic device in America. Sprint currently has just over 52 million subscribers compared to Verizon’s 106 million and AT&T’s 99 million.

Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, Apple has slowly shifted its policy regarding its carrier partners both nationally and internationally, replacing exclusive iPhone carrier deals with partnerships with multiple mobile operators in various markets around the world.

America was the last market to lose carrier exclusivity. In the U.S., the iPhone was originally available only from AT&T until Verizon started selling a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 in February of this year. Rumors have suggested that Sprint and T-Mobile would be next in line to carry the iPhone, with a recent job posting revealing Apple’s specific interest in a future collaboration with Sprint.

Like Verizon, Sprint would require a CDMA version of iPhone 5, although a number of reports have provided evidence that Apple’s next-gen smartphone will come with “World Phone” capabilities. A dual-mode GSM/CDMA iPhone 5 running iOS 5 has already been noticed in app usage logs by developers, for instance. Sprint is also said to begin carrying a CDMA iPhone 4 starting with the same date.

In the quarter ending in June, Sprint has posted a loss of subscribers on comparison with its main rivals, AT&T and Verizon, which gained more customers partly due to their strong iPhone sales. However the addition of the iPhone to Sprint’s lineup will not have any impact on the company’s fiscal fourth quarter ending in September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

4G LTE network code located in iOS 5 beta code

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 22nd, 2011, 04:10
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you were hankering for 4G LTE speeds on the upcoming iPhone 5, your wish might come true.

Per MacRumors, evidence has surfaced that Apple has built 4G Long-Term Evolution testing code into beta builds of iOS 5, prompting further speculation that the iPhone maker will adopt the standard in future versions of its mobile devices.

Recently, a rumor emerged that Apple’s carrier partners have begun testing an iPhone prototype with LTE, based in part on code reportedly from an internal iOS test build that was sent to “one of Apple’s major carrier partners.” That code has now been found in recent builds of iOS 5 issued to developers.

The GSM iPhone 4 and CDMA iPad 2 builds of iOS 5 apparently contain an LTE.plist file with a “key” tag for a “Connected mode LTE Intra-frequency Measurement.” However, the file is not found in other “counterpart” versions of iOS 5 and has only been located in “at least the last couple” of beta builds of the forthcoming upgrade.

LTE is the 4G network standard of choice for carriers such as Verizon and AT&T, with real-world data rates of between 5 and 12 megabits per second downstream, and 2 to 5 Mbps up. Verizon launched its network first late last year, while AT&T plans to reach 70 million customers in 15 markets by the end of 2011.

Though rumors have suggested that Apple’s partners are testing LTE iOS devices, separate reports claim LTE technologies will not be ready for Apple to mass produce until at least 2012. Qualcomm’s LTE chips are said to be experiencing problems with “yield rates” that will prevent Apple from implementing them this year.

Last week, spy shots allegedly showing LTE equipment being installed at a “major” Apple Store followed on the heels of the rumor that Apple’s carrier partners have been testing an LTE-capable iPhone. The leaked photos drew speculation that Apple was improving LTE signals in its stores ahead of the release of some kind of LTE-compatible device from the company.

It should be noted that there has yet to emerge any strong evidence that Apple will include LTE in the fifth-generation iPhone, which is expected this fall. Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said in April that “the first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset,” some of which the company is unwilling to make.

Executives from Verizon and China Mobile have hinted that Apple is planning an LTE iPhone, but have been unable to provide further details.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 to launch in early October

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 10:08
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per Boy Genius Report, the iPhone 5 is likely to be unveiled in a matter of weeks before hitting the market sometime in early October, a high-ranking AT&T official is reported to have told staffers of the U.S wireless carrier.

Citing one of its “high-level AT&T sources,” the article claims that the iPhone 5 is slated to launch in early October following an introduction at a media event sometime later next month. “Expect things to get really, really busy in the next 35-50 days, so prepare your teams accordingly,” the executive is reported to have said.

While the report offers no further details, the timeframe is consistent with a rumor that stated last week that its sources have indicated that Friday, October 7th is currently tracking as day Apple hopes to begin shipping the device.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to switch to unlimited and pay-per-use text messaging plans on August 21st

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 03:36
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

Well, at least this chunk of your AT&T bill might become a bit more reasonable…

Per AppleInsider, beginning August 21, new AT&T customers will only be able to choose between unlimited text messaging plans starting at US$20, or pay 20 cents for each text message and 30 cents for a picture or video message.

AT&T confirmed on Thursday that existing customers with other text messaging plans, such as US$10-per-month for 1,000 messages, will be grandfathered in. Customers who switch to a new phone will also be able to retain their old text messaging plan.

The carrier also confirmed that new AT&T customers who buy an unlimited plan starting at US$20-per-month will still receive unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes to any other U.S. cellphone customer. The “Mobile to Any Mobile” offer launched in February, coinciding with the launch of the Verizon iPhone.

For those who opt to not buy an unlimited messaging plan, AT&T charges 20 cents per text message sent, while picture and video messages run 30 cents on a pay-per-use pricing system.

The last major change to AT&T’s plans came in 2010 just before the iPhone 4 launched. The carrier began capping new data plans at 2GB for US$25 per month, though like with the upcoming text messaging change, legacy customers with unlimited plans have been grandfathered in.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.