AT&T updates carrier settings, pushes Wireless Emergency Alerts

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software, wireless

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This was a weird thing that popped up, but it’s hard to argue with the Emergency Alert System.

Per The Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T began pushing an update to iPhone users over the weekend that adds support for Wireless Emergency Alerts. The WEA system sends text messages to smartphone owners alerting them to physical threats like earthquakes and tornados, man-made disasters, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential alerts.


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The update is being pushed to the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, and doesn’t require any action on the user’s part since it’s delivered over the air. Once installed, alerts will appear as special text messages and are delivered based on your location. For example, if an AMBER alert is issued for a missing child and you’re in the same city, you’ll see the notification.

The update is free, and since it’s a carrier-supplied update, it won’t appear in iOS 6′s built-in Software Update feature.

Developer locates data speed-throttling code in iOS for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint devices

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Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013, 06:49
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

You might not like this.

Per Joseph Brown’s iTweakiOS and Cult of Mac, specialized code exists on iPhones and iPads operating on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which limits the devices’ network settings to effectively caps data bandwidth.

Brown took snapshots of the iOS code managing the three carriers’ network settings as applied to an iPhone 5, all of which appear to hamstring the handset’s cellular data capabilities. For example, an AT&T iPhone 5 was limited to HSDPA “Category 10,” which tops out at 14.4Mbps. The second-largest U.S. carrier’s network is capable of supporting up to HSDPA+ speeds that reach 21.1Mbps.

As for Verizon, Brown found throttling code on the telecom’s versions of the iPhone and iPad relating to its 4G LTE network. Sprint, it seems, does not have such limitations enabled for its high-speed data offerings. Apple devices running on the 3G networks owned by both Verizon and Sprint, however, are also affected by similar limitations.

Because Apple is in complete control of the code running all of its devices, it can be posited that the company instituted the bandwidth caps at the behest of its partner carriers.

“[…] from previous statements released by AT&T and many tech orginizations [sic], iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS,” Brown writes. “The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to ‘even out’ the network, even if it means Galaxy users out perform Apple devices by such large scales.”

In his testing, Brown did not find evidence of throttling on devices operating on T-Mobile’s network.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T expands 4G LTE network to 16 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 13:04
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T may drive you nuts at times, but they DO work on having a decent network…

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has announced its continued expansion of its 4G LTE network for customers in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. This latest rollout is part of a larger effort on the part of AT&T to expand its network to 79 new markets over the course of the summer.

AT&T’s 4G LTE network provides data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. In recent tests, PC World found AT&T’s network, which covers 288 million people across the United States, to be the fastest among all providers in terms of download speeds.

The markets now able to access 4G LTE connections are as follows:
- Asheville, N.C.

- Casa Grande, Ariz.

- Culpepper, Va.

- Dover, Del.

- Fredericksburg, Va.

- Goldsboro, N.C.

- Leonardtown, Md.

- Linglestown, Pa.

- Longview, Wash.

- Ocean City, Md.

- Port Townsend-North Whidbey Island-Camano Island, Wash.

- Prince Frederick and Calvert County, Md.

- Roanoke, Va.

- Salem, Ore.

- Schenectady, N.Y.

- Shelton, Wash.

If you’re in any one of these areas and have noticed AT&T 4G LTE access on your iPhone, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

AT&T to offer FaceTime connections over cellular for all LTE-compatible iPhones by end of 2013

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Date: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013, 06:59
Category: iPhone, News

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This could prove useful.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and The Verge, wireless carrier AT&T has indicated that all iPhone subscribers will be able to use FaceTime via a cellular connection by the end of 2013, as stated below:

“For video chat apps that come pre-loaded on devices, we currently give all OS and device makers the ability for those apps to work over cellular for our customers who are on Mobile Share or Tiered plans. Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry have chosen to enable this for their pre-loaded video chat apps. And by mid-June, we’ll have enabled those apps over cellular for our unlimited plan customers who have LTE devices from those three manufacturers. Throughout the second half of this year, we plan to enable pre-loaded video chat apps over cellular for all our customers, regardless of data plan or device; that work is expected to be complete by year end. Today, all of our customers can use any mobile video chat app that they download from the internet, such as Skype.”

AT&T was initially reluctant to enable FaceTime over cellular connection due to bandwidth concerns.

This past January, AT&T announced that it was enabling FaceTime over cellular to subscribers of its tiered data plans. Now, with its most recent announcement, iPhone users on AT&T who have grandfathered-in unlimited data plans will also be able to FaceTime to their hearts content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

ESPN expresses interest in subsidizing mobile data plans, looks to keep users watching streaming video

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Date: Friday, May 10th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, iPhone, News

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ESPN wants you watching streaming video, even if they have to pick up part of the check…

Per the Wall Street Journal and AppleInsider, cable sports network ESPN has expressed interest in potentially subsidizing those data plans to allow users to stream video without worrying about overage fees.

ESPN has allegedly had discussions with at least one major U.S. carrier about the plan. The two largest carriers in America, Verizon and AT&T, both carry the iPhone and both restrict new customers with capped data plans.

The concept proposed by ESPN could guarantee that content streamed from the network would not result in data plan overage charges. The network has reportedly expressed interest in either paying carriers outright, or giving them a share of advertising revenue.

But the alleged deal isn’t imminent, the report said, as questions remain about the economics, and the fact that any agreements could run afoul of government regulators.

Carriers such as Verizon and AT&T are said to be interested in content deals as a way of increasing revenue without raising fees for subscribers.

ESPN has aggressively pursued mobile streaming capabilities as smartphones and tablets have gained in popularity. The network’s WatchESPN application allows users with participating cable subscribers to stream live sporting events from the ESPN family of networks.

Content available on WatchESPN includes the NBA regular season and playoffs, major golf tournaments like The Masters and U.S. Open, college football and basketball, and thousands of other live events. The service also streams original ESPN shows like SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption, and Mike and Mike in the Morning.

But smartphone users might be reluctant to use live streaming video services like WatchESPN on the go because of restrictive mobile data plan caps in place via wireless carriers. Both Verizon and AT&T charge customers a US$15 fee for each gigabyte consumed in excess of their data plan cap.

Watching low-quality video for one hour uses about 200 megabytes of data. For an hour of high-definition video, a user might expect to see 400 megabytes of usage on their mobile data plan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile boosts incentives prior to iPhone launch, begins trade-in program for iPhone 4, 4S users

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Date: Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 07:08
Category: iPhone, News

When in doubt, offer all the incentives you can.

Per 9to5Mac, T-Mobile USA announced the latest move in their continuing initiative to lure iPhone users to their network, which currently boasts the smallest subscriber base in the country. The new iPhone trade-in program allows subscribers switching to T-Mo from other carriers to recieve deep discounts on the iPhone 5 by swapping out their older model.

According to a press release from the magenta-branded company, the down payment on the iPhone 5 will completely vanish when customers trade in an iPhone 4 or 4S, and a US$120 credit will be applied to the monthly payment for the phone, essentially cutting the price down to only US$15 a month for the remainder of the two-year don’t-call-it-a-contract “agreement.”

The iPhone 5 doesn’t officially hit T-Mobile until April 12th, but pre-orders have been open since last Friday. Some early buyers may be disappointed to learn that they could have saved quite a bit of money if only they had waited an extra seven days.

The press release specifically lists the 4 and 4S models as being tradeable, which may mean iPhone 5 owners on AT&T won’t be able to get in on the savings by trading in their current-generation devices for the updated versions that work on T-Mobile’s AWS bands. That means those customers will have to stick to their existing handsets with the latest carrier software, which will enable LTE speeds, but will not allow use of T-Mobile’s “4G” network. Instead these models will be forced to use slower speeds due to hardware differences.

If you’ve pre-ordered an iPhone from T-Mobile or want to hurl your two cents in, let us know what you make of this in the comments.

iPhone 5 now available for pre-order through T-Mobile

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, News, retail

There’s nothing wrong with a good pre-order via an upcoming iPhone carrier.

Per 9to5Mac, customers will be able to order the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s newly revamped “un-carrier” unlimited plans for a carrier-exclusive low price.

Along with the low down payment on the pre-order comes a two-year financing plan that totals US$579.99, which is US$70 cheaper than purchasing the phone unlocked. Plans start at US$50 per month for 500MB of high-speed data and throttled data afterward, while US$70 per month gets unlimited high-speed data.

Following the pre-orders this week, all models of the iPhone will be available for immediate purchase on April 12. Customers who purchase a new iPhone 5 through Apple or T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s speedy LTE network in markets where it is available, but those who use older AT&T or unlocked iPhone 5 models will need to install an over-the-air update to do so (and won’t get all the AWS HSPA bands without new hardware). T-Mobile also announced that the updated iPhone 5 will receive HD Voice service in a future software upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to introduce HD Voice later this year, iPhone 5 users rejoice

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 06:02
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re an iPhone 5 user, your call quality with AT&T should improve this year.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and AllThingsD, when Apple introduced the iPhone 5 last year, Apple’s Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller explained that Apple updated the iPhone 5′s entire audio system. In addition to the inclusion of three microphones and an improved speaker design, Schiller also boasted that the iPhone 5 featured a technology dubbed wideband audio, otherwise known as HD Voice technology.

Phil Schiller said the technology was capable of delivering amazing sound performance and described it thusly:

In a typical cellphone call, this is what it looks like. The frequency of the data in your voice is compressed around the midrange to help make that call sound more intelligible, but it doesn’t sound entirely natural all the time. So with wideband audio we can fill up more of the frequency spectrum and make your voice sound even more natural.

In order to take advantage of the much improved call quality, however, the technology must be supported by the carrier and both devices on a particular call.

When Apple first introduced the iPhone 5, Schiller said that 20 cellphone carriers worldwide would be ready to support the iPhone 5′s wideband audio technology at launch. Notably, no US carriers were part of that original grouping of 20.

But that’s all poised to change.

According to statements made by AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne on Tuesday at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit indicating that Ma Bell is planning to roll out support for wideband audio later this year.

“HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy,” Rinne explained.

Of course, this is welcome news for AT&T subscribers who have long complained of subpar call quality measured against other US carriers like Sprint and Verizon.

Rinne also added that AT&T is taking other measures to improve call quality on its network.

Rinne, who oversees network technologies for the carrier, said that the carrier will also begin work on so-called advanced LTE which does things to reduce interference and bond together traffic from various frequencies.

Sprint is reportedly interested in supporting HD Voice as well, though a timetable for such support wasn’t specified.

So, if you ever felt your iPhone 5′s call quality was just slightly short of stellar, this should help. Verizon users, on the other hand, will have to wait until 2014 for HD Voice support.

T-Mobile iPhone 5 to feature Advanced Wireless Services feature, arrive unlocked

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Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 05:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The T-Mobile iPhone 5 will ship on April 12th and feature something different.

Per Engadget, the handset is being reworked straight from the factory to take advantage of the carrier’s Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bandwidths, a modification that reportedly cannot be done with a simple software update.

Apple confirmed to the web site on Tuesday that the T-Mobile version of the iPhone 5 carries the same A1428 model number as the AT&T iteration, but has AWS enabled thanks to a factory tweak. The change can’t be duplicated by a firmware update, meaning current AT&T iPhone 5 owners must buy the newest version if they want AWS functionality.

As a consolation, the new A1428 model will be factory unlocked when it ships on April 12, the same day as T-Mobile’s launch date for the device. Apple will reportedly be selling the unit at full MSRP prices in a “SIM-in unlocked fashion.” While the handset has been customized for T-Mobile’s AWS bands in the U.S., AT&T customers will be able to take advantage of the slightly revamped model on their 4G LTE network.

The publication goes on to say that Apple is phasing out the older A1428 model in favor of the T-Mobile-compatible version, suggesting that AT&T iPhone 5 units sold after April 12 will support AWS.

T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it will be offering the iPhone 5 as part of the company’s unsubsidized payment plan, which allows users to pay a low US$99 up front fee for a 16GB version of the smartphone, with the remainder of the unit’s cost spread out across 20 additional monthly payments of US$20.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile to offer iPhone 5 on April 12th, will incorporate $99 upfront payment plan

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Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 08:33
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The day T-Mobile customers have been waiting for has arrived.

And you’ll be able to snag an iPhone via T-Mobile on April 12th.

Per AppleInsider, customers of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., will get long awaited access to Apple’s iPhone when the iPhone 5 launches on the carrier’s network April 12.

The announcement was made Tuesday by T-Mobile as part of the company’s “Uncarrier” branding, which seeks to differentiate the carrier from competing providers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint — all of which already carry the iPhone.

In standing out from the others, T-Mobile is offering a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 for US$99 up front, with 20 additional monthly payments of US$20. With an April 12 sale date in T-Mobile’s retail stores, preorders will begin April 5.

Joining the iPhone 5 will be the remainder of Apple’s current smartphone lineup: the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. As with other carriers, only the iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s new 4G LTE high-speed data network.

T-Mobile officially announced its new LTE network at Tuesday’s event as well, available in a total of seven U.S. markets: Kansas City, Kan., Houston, Tex., Las Vegas, Nev., Phoenix, Ariz., San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile’s new data plans include 500 megabytes of high-speed online data and unlimited calls and texts for US$50. For an extra US$10 per month, users get 2.5 gigabytes of high-speed data, while unlimited 4G access runs US$70 per month. In addition, users are simply throttled, not penalized, when they go over their data cap.

Bringing Apple’s iPhone to T-Mobile with full support has been no small task. While the carrier counts some two million iPhone customers among its base — with about 100,000 added per month — T-Mobile’s reliance on the 1700MHz frequency for its 3G HSPA+ network proved an obstacle for T-Mobile with regard to Apple’s bestselling smartphone.

The 1700MHz frequency, branded as “4G” but not “LTE”, is unique to T-Mobile among carriers, and allows iPhone users only very slow 2G connectivity. Given T-Mobile’s relatively small customer base, Apple never moved to support T-Mobile’s standard. Instead, T-Mobile has been working to switch much of its network to 1900MHz in order to allow iPhone connectivity. The company will be repurposing its 1700MHz band for 4G LTE.

T-Mobile last year announced a deal with Apple to begin selling Apple products in 2013. Executives from the carrier said in January of this year that customers could expect Apple products on T-Mobile sooner rather than later, floating the possibility of “three to four months” rather than “six to nine.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.