AT&T revises calling plans, announces tethering for iPhone OS 4.0

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 05:54
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T will be transitioning away from unlimited data plans beginning June 7th according to AppleInsider, the company introducing tethering, iPad 3G data plans capped at 2GB per month and slightly lower pricing.

The company announced this week that a new data plan for iPhone owners, dubbed “DataPro,” will be offered starting June 7th, providing 2GB of data for US$25 per month. Tethering will be available for an additional US$20 per month, and lets customers use their handset to share Internet connectivity with another device, such as a laptop. Tethering will be available this summer when iPhone OS 4.0 is released.

AT&T will also offer a less expensive data plan, called “DataPlus,” which offers 200MB for US$15 per month. The carrier noted in its press release that 65% of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB per month, while 98% use less than 2GB per month.

Customers who near their cap for the month will be sent a text message notifying them when they reach a certain usage level. For customers who exceed the cap, an extra 1GB in the DataPro plan costs US$10, and an extra 200MB in the DataPlus plan runs US$15.

Current AT&T customers are not required to switch to the new plans and sacrifice their unlimited data, but can do so without a contract extension.

AT&T also announced that it would discontinue its existing US$29.99-per-month unlimited 3G data plans for the iPad for new customers. This plan will be replaced by a no-contract plan that runs US$25 a month for 2GB of data. Customers who have the existing unlimited plan are not required to change.

Plans for voice and texting through AT&T will remain unchanged after June 7.

AT&T has long hinted that changes to its unlimited data plans were coming, as the company has faced network issues and bandwidth problems. The carrier has sought ways to encourage the heaviest bandwidth consumers to reduce or modify their usage of the AT&T network.

Last December, one AT&T executive said he believed it was inevitable that users who utilize more bandwidth than their share will have to pay more than the rest. At the time, the company said that 40% of the network capacity for AT&T is used by just 3% of smartphone users. Other reports have alleged that the average iPhone user consumes 10 times the bandwidth of a typical smartphone user.

Stay tuned for additional details and let us know what you make of this in the comments.

AT&T revises employee work schedules, fourth-gen iPhone expected

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Date: Thursday, May 27th, 2010, 03:56
Category: iPhone, News

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It’s all falling together as it has in years past. Per Boy Genius Report, AT&T employees have been informed that the phone is actually coming, and may in fact be on sale in the month of June.

The announcement matches employee vacations for June affecting the cell carrier and back at the end of April, it was hinted that the fourth generation iPhone might go on sale during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference itself.

Even so, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has stated that he doesn’t expect to see the new iPhone anytime in the immediate future.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

AT&T raises early termination fee to $350, Verizon rumors abound

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Date: Monday, May 24th, 2010, 03:13
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T appreciates your business.

And just made it that much pricier to leave early to do business with anyone else.

Per the Dow Jones Newswire, beginning June 1st, new AT&T iPhone customers who wish to cancel their contract with the wireless carrier will need to pay a US$325 early termination fee, up from the existing US$175 fee.

The new fee will apply to all smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, as well as connected netbooks. For feature and messaging phones, the fees will drop to US$150.

Though change comes on the heels of speculation that AT&T could lose exclusivity of Apple’s iPhone over the next year, though an AT&T spokesperson reportedly said that the increase in the early termination fee to US$325 was not related to one specific device.

“The changes come amid increased regulatory scrutiny and class-action lawsuits over the issue,” the report said. “The Federal Communications Commission has expressed concern that onerous fees make it difficult for consumers to switch their service. Wireless carriers argue the fees are necessary to recoup the costs incurred by the subsidies they provide to lower the initial cost of the handset.”

The change follows a previous move by competitor Verizon, which began charging a $350 early termination fee for smartphone users. Google and T-Mobile also charged a combined US$550 fee for those who canceled their contract on the Nexus One. Both of those recent developments have brought early termination fees under scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T and Apple offer the iPhone at a subsidized rate, starting at US$99 for the iPhone 3G, with a two-year contract for the device. Starting in March, Apple began selling contract-free iPhones at a much higher price, as it has done in previous years, to help clear out inventory before the launch of new hardware.

In addition to recouping lost money from a canceled contract, the fees are also designed to deter customers from jumping to another network. The timing of the early termination fee increase will undoubtedly result in speculation about the potential of the iPhone becoming available on a carrier other than AT&T.

Apple is expected to introduce its next-generation iPhone when it kicks off the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on June 7th while rumors of a Verizon iPhone have been persistent since March.

iPhone OS 4.0 beta 4 released, incorporates AT&T tethering features

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Date: Wednesday, May 19th, 2010, 05:03
Category: iPhone, News

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On Tuesday, Apple released the fourth beta of its iPhone OS 4.0 operating system, pushing Apple towards a final release that’s expected to coincide with its WWDC event next month.

Per Gizmodo, the new release appears to invoke tethering options for AT&T in the US. iPhone OS 3.0 introduced tethering support in software, but AT&T has been among the carriers failing to support the feature.

A new configuration panel appears to indicate that AT&T has worked out its issues related to refusing to support tethering on the iPhone (it supports tethering with other phones, but apparently fears that iPhone users would overwhelm its network) and will have a billing program in place by the time iPhone OS 4 ships.

The new Internet Tethering setup panel directs users to call AT&T or visit its website to setup tethering on their account.

Other new features spotted by beta testers include the ability to view photo Camera Rolls in landscape, more useful wallpaper images, an option to turn off group MMS messaging, and a generally faster interface throughout, ranging from call dialing to Maps.

Apple awards CDMA iPhone contract to Pegatron

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Date: Thursday, May 13th, 2010, 04:19
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple has apparently awarded a contract for building a CDMA iPhone to Pegatron Technologies.

The news arrives from Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes, which back in February announced that the company had won the contract for building the expected next generation UMTS iPhone 4. Previous iPhones have been built by Foxconn, which also builds Apple’s Mac mini, iPods and the iPad, and is the company’s main supplier.

Rumors surrounding the possibly of a CDMA iPhone model that Apple could sell through Verizon and Sprint have regularly surfaced throughout the iPhone’s entire history, and have recently blossomed as speculation about the end of AT&T’s exclusive contract in the U.S. has reached a fevered pitch.

Pegatron is a three year old Taiwanese company formed during a restructuring of Asustek, which resulted in a split between Asustek’s own Asus-branded products, its PC-related manufacturing performed under the Unihan name, and contract manufacturing under the Pegatron name.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T advances upgrade dates for some iPhone customers in anticipation of fourth-gen handset

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Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 10:58
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T wants to sell some iPhones.

And they’re taking steps to do so.

Per MobileCrunch, AT&T has begun modifying some customers’ upgrade dates, shortening them in some cases by months to allow customers to buy a new, subsidized, fourth-generation handset in June.

This week, a reader contacted MobileCrunch to say that his upgrade date was moved from Nov. 21st, 2010, to June 21st, 2010. The reader said they bought an iPhone 3GS in 2009 on the device’s launch day.

“As a valued AT&T customer, we can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price, along with a 2-year commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” the customer’s account profile reads. “Please proceed with the online upgrade process for pricing details. You may qualify for a full discount on a standard iPhone upgrade on 6/21/2010.”

The same changes have appeared for some other customers as well. AT&T has revealed in the past that generally speaking, the more a customer spends with AT&T, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than US$99-a-month per line are generally eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.

The revised dates will likely pave the way for AT&T to offer some customers reduced prices on Apple’s fourth-gen iPhone, expected to be announced in June. AT&T also took the same approach last year when the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same US$199 and US$299 price points as new customers.

In years past, Apple has introduced its annual iPhone upgrade at the Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, WWDC 2010 will be held June 7th through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Tickets for the event sold out just eight days after Apple announced the dates.

Another rumor has suggested Apple could sell the next-generation iPhone as soon as it is announced on June 7th. That approach would be a change from years prior, when a new handset was announced a few weeks before its sale date. AT&T has also blacked out the month of June for its employees, preventing them from taking vacation days.

Court documents confirm Apple/AT&T exclusive five year deal, questions surface over contract renegotiations

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Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 05:51
Category: iPhone, News

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With additional chatter surrounding the idea of Apple extending the iPhone to Verizon this year, the exact specifics of Apple’s five-year exclusive contract with AT&T have never really been published. Fortunately, the cool cats at Engadget managed to uncover the following:

An ongoing California class-action lawsuit filed in 2007 claims that Apple and AT&T illegally exerted a monopoly over iPhone service by telling customers the iPhone’s required service contract was two years long when the Apple / AT&T exclusivity deal was actually for five years. Per the case, this required buyers to re-up with AT&T for three years if they wanted to keep using the iPhone. Within Apple’s response to these allegations, and in addition to arguing that no one was ever promised an unlocked iPhone after two years, the company’s lawyers repeatedly confirm the existence of the five-year agreement while noting it was publicly reported in USA Today.

Select quotes include the following:
“The duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not ‘secret’ either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone’s release – stating, “AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world.”

“[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T's] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years… Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power…”

Since this case occurred in October of 2008 and has gone relatively off the record, the real question is whether or not the exclusivity deal is still on the books. Even given that the case is ongoing and many of its relevant bits have been under seal since 2009, contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached in many ways, especially given AT&T’s track record and the explosion of the iPhone market. In addition, the two companies obviously hit the negotiating table again to hammer out the iPad’s pricing plans, and there’s no way of knowing whether that deal involves the iPhone as well.

AT&T holds back on data tethering for iPhone, cites potential traffic spikes

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve wanted data tethering on your iPhone for years now.

And AT&T may one day provide this.

Per MacRumors, Engadget received a comment from AT&T stating that installing data tethering could create high traffic usage that could hamper network performance:

“iPhone tethering has the potential to exponentially increase traffic, and we need to ensure that we’re able to deliver excellent performance for the feature –over and above the increases in data traffic we’re already seeing – before we will offer the feature.”

Tethering is the process of using your iPhone as a wireless internet modem for your other devices such as your laptop.

Feel free to hurl your two cents in on this one.

Apple pushes iPad 3G pre-order ship date back to May 7th, ships camera kit

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 06:32
Category: iPad, News

Right, this is NOT going to make you happy.

Over the weekend, Apple began e-mailing customers to tell them that their iPad 3G orders had been pushed back to May 7th to reassure them that their hardware will ship on schedule in late April. In addition, the company has also begun shipping the iPad camera connection kit to some who ordered.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s online store has been updated to reflect that new orders of the iPad with both 3G and Wi-Fi will not ship until May 7th. But while those ordering new iPads with 3G connectivity will not get their device until a few weeks later, original preorders are still on track for a late April release. To confirm this, Apple began sending the following e-mails to customers who already ordered:

“To Our Valued Apple Customer:

Thank you for your recent order of the magical and revolutionary iPad 3G.

We would like to confirm that your order will be shipped in late April as communicated at the time you placed your order. You will receive a confirmation notice when your order has shipped.

You can get up-to-date information about your order, including shipping status and tracking number, at http://www.apple.com/orderstatus

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Sincerely,
The Apple Store Team”

The 3G-enabled iPad models carry a US$130 premium and offer wireless connectivity with the AT&T 3G network in the U.S. No-contract data plans are available for US$15 per month for 250MB of data, and US$30 a month for unlimited access.

Though U.S. orders remain on track to ship on time, last week Apple announced that international customers will have to wait, as a shortage of devices caused the launch to be delayed until the end of May. Apple shipped more than a half-million Wi-Fi only iPads in its first week of availability in the U.S. alone.

In the U.S., online orders of the Wi-Fi-only iPad ship in five to seven business days. All orders remain limited to just two per customer.

Finally, some who preordered the camera connection kit for the iPad have been notified that their order has finally shipped. Apple first gave the connection kit a shipping date of late April on its Web site at the end of March.

Apple “rejiggers” iPhone to ease load on AT&T network

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Date: Wednesday, March 31st, 2010, 05:25
Category: iPhone, News

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A new report profiling AT&T’s bandwidth troubles posed by millions of iPhone units reveals that AT&T had Apple modify the handset to ease strain on the company’s network. Per the Wall Street Journal, AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan said he and other executives flew to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus to give the handset maker a “crash course in wireless networking.” With regular return meetings at Apple, AT&T employees helped the iPhone designers create new technologies to limit the strain on the wireless provider.

“Apple rejiggered how its phones communicate with AT&T’s towers,” the report said. “As a result, the phones now put less of a load on the network for such simple tasks as finding the closest tower or checking for available text messages.”

Donovan told the Journal that Apple’s designers are now “in a Master’s class” on networking, having learned the basics and worked with AT&T to improve the iPhone dramatically. Exactly what changes were made, and whether they were hardware or software based, were not revealed.

The article also revealed that AT&T executives set up a 100-day play in December of 2009 to improve the company’s network in large cities where users most commonly experience dropped calls. A random performance test released in February found that AT&T’s 3G network speeds had improved by 84%.

But the Journal also noted Tuesday that AT&T is still “racing” to improve its network as Apple is rumored to be working on a CDMA capable iPhone that could be headed to the Verizon network as soon as this year.