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

Posted by:
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.

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.

Jobs Confirms That iPad Won’t Offer Tethering Functionality

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Date: Monday, March 8th, 2010, 06:55
Category: iPad, News

You’ve got to love Steve Jobs for one reason alone: he gets to the point.

Per 9 to 5 Mac, Apple CEO Steve Jobs answered a customer question on Friday, his reply making it quite clear that the iPad will not support tethering to the iPhone.

A Swedish Mac user emailed Jobs directly to ask whether or not he could tether a Wi-Fi only iPad to his iPhone to provide an Internet connection. Jobs simply replied, “No.”

On some jailbroken iPhones it is possible to create a Wi-Fi network, allowing other devices to connect and use the 3G data plan. This option isn’t available unless the phone is jailbroken.

Tethering is something that AT&T users have long desired that the company has never delivered on. A possible reason is that AT&T is worried about tethering bringing its network down. The company’s network has been brought down in major cities around the U.S. before, so this may be a likely concern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.

Apple Discussing iPad Data Plans with U.K. Carrier O2

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 09:19
Category: iPad, News

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The iPad is en route, never forget that.

Per the mighty City AM, wireless carrier O2 is apparently negotiating with Apple for a U.K. 3G wireless data deal for the device. The 3G-compatible version of the iPad will ship as an unlocked device so users can pick their favorite carrier, although Apple is working with vendors to set up incentives and special deals.

Apple’s deal with AT&T offers tiers in which users receive 250MB of 3G data access per month for US$14.99, or unlimited 3G wireless data for US$29.99 a month. Both plans include unlimited Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots, and users can sign up for and cancel the service on a monthly basis without incurring extra fees.

Apple plans to start shipping the Wi-Fi version of the iPad in March, and the Wi-Fi plus 3G models should begin shipping about 30 days later.

Rumor: AT&T Apparently Outbid Verizon for iPad Data Plan

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 07:25
Category: iPad, Rumor

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While many were surprised to see AT&T offer a pay-as-you-go option for the recently-released iPad, others were shocked to see a lack of a Verizon option.

Per FoxNews.com, AT&T apparently offered a better price on a no-contract plan that sealed the deal.

According to the article, reporter Clayton Morris stated that both companies are “still talking,” despite the fact that Apple went out of its way to defend AT&T last week, and also introduced the wireless carrier as the sole 3G partner for the iPad in the U.S.

Last week, when Apple introduced the iPad, it also announced no-contract data plans from AT&T, running US$15 per month for 250MB of data, or US$30 per month for unlimited access. The plans will also offer free access to AT&T’s nationwide hotspots. Typically, cell phone companies charge US$60 per month for their mobile data-only plans.

As a contract-free purchase, users can buy a 3G-enabled version of the iPad starting at US$629. The AT&T network access can be purchased and later canceled at any time directly from the iPad. Though the device ships unlocked, due to hardware limitations it will only have access to AT&T’s 3G data network in the U.S.

Prior to last week’s iPad unveiling, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook defended AT&T in his company’s quarterly earnings conference call. He called AT&T a “great partner,” and said most customers have had a positive experience with the carrier.

SlingPlayer to Function Over AT&T 3G Network Connections

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Date: Thursday, February 4th, 2010, 07:27
Category: iPhone, Software

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Wireless carrier AT&T has announced that the company will allow the SlingPlayer app for the iPhone to stream live TV over 3G network connections.

Per the New York Times, AT&T has worked with Sling to optimize the app in order to minimize network congestion. “Since mid-December 2009, AT&T has been testing the app and has recently notified Sling Media, as well as Apple, that the optimized app can run on its 3G network,” AT&T said in a press release.

Sling Media’s SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch was originally launched in May 2009 without the ability to stream over 3G, a limitation AT&T admitted to putting in place due to fears that the app “would use large amounts of wireless network capacity” and “could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network.”

AT&T Formally Admits to Poor Coverage in New York City

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Date: Friday, January 29th, 2010, 10:27
Category: iPhone, News

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If you live in New York and have an iPhone, you probably saw this coming.

Wireless carrier AT&T has formally admitted that its New York City iPhone service is below par per a presentation slide published on Tom’s Guide noting that the company’s 3G Voice Composite Quality in the New York metro area—particularly in Manhattan—is below its performance objective.

Recently, the company explained that 3G service has suffered in New York due to “better than average iPhone penetration,” meaning “AT&T has been too successful in selling the iPhone, to the point where the network has been severely strained.” The company even briefly stopped selling iPhones online in New York City because the area didn’t “have enough towers to handle the phone.”

The slide does contain some good news for AT&T subscribers. Apparently, AT&T has had “three consecutive months of improvement” and it is doing “change-outs” of Radio Network Controllers among other upgrades.

If you live in New York and have noticed a difference, let us know.