AT&T to enable FaceTime for tiered customers with compatible iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 08:00
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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Nothing like a little competition to get the wireless carriers to try to beat each other’s offerings.

That and the FCC yelling at you to do it sort of helps.

Per the company’s blog, AT&T announced on Wednesday it will enable FaceTime over cellular at no extra cost to any customers with a tiered data plan and compatible iOS device.

The announcement was made on the carrier’s website by Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products. The change means that iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T network.

“We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks,” Collins wrote. “Customers do not need to do anything — the update will be applied automatically over the next few months.”

FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that’s because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections — a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

Previously, AT&T had restricted FaceTime over cellular to customers who had switched to its Mobile Share plans, as well as those with an LTE device, such as the iPhone 5 or latest iPad, on a tiered plan.

AT&T came under fire for its initial decision, and the company was compelled to defend itself in a statement claiming its plan complied with Federal Communications Commissions that prohibit carriers from blocking services that compete with their own. The carrier argued that its decision was in compliance because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

AT&T began quietly activating FaceTime over cellular for more subscribers in November. At the time, some users who had grandfathered unlimited data plans said they too were able to use FaceTime. However, Wednesday’s announcement indicated the ability will only extend to customers who have tiered data plans.

If you get a chance to try FaceTime over AT&T’s cellular connections and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T activates additional 4G LTE networks in 24 U.S. cities

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Date: Friday, December 21st, 2012, 08:51
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News

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Some speedy new 4G LTE networks are in place around the U.S.

Which is never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T this week announced that its high-speed 4G LTE network — compatible with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, iPad and iPad mini — has launched in 15 new markets, and also expanded coverage in a handful of other locations.

A total of 10 new locations with 4G LTE reception were announced by AT&T on Friday:
- Boise, Idaho

- Boulder, Colo.

- Bowling Green, Ky.

- Harrisburg, Pa.

- Hartford, Conn.

- Lancaster, Pa.

- Lexington, Ken.

- New Haven, Conn.

- Ogden, Utah

- Providence, R.I.

Those 10 are joined by five other markets that AT&T announced have LTE connectivity on Tuesday of this week:
- Green Bay, Wis.

- Melbourne, Fla.

- Oxford, Miss.

- Springfield, Mass.

- Tucson, Ariz.

Finally, AT&T also announced this week that its existing 4G LTE network has expanded in a handful of markets. They are:
- Middlesex County, N.J.

- Phoenix, Ariz.

- Salt Lake City, Utah

- Los Angeles, Calif.

The latest expansions are the most significant update to AT&T’s network since mid-November, when the company’s 4G LTE coverage was extended to 24 new markets, including Denver, Colo., and Columbus, Ohio.

In all, AT&T’s 4G LTE network has been launched in 124 markets. The company plans to reach 250 million people by the end of 2013, and 300 million by the end of 2014.

As always, let us know how AT&T’s 4G LTE network is working out for you (and if it’s worth the fairly heady price tag you pay each and every month)…

T-Mobile announces company will begin selling iPhone, iPad in 2013

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Date: Friday, December 7th, 2012, 07:52
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you’re a T-Mobile fan, you’ll appreciate this.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier T-Mobile has announced it has inked a deal with Apple to begin selling products in America next year, presumably including both the iPhone and iPad.

The announcement came as part of a press release by the carrier’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, on Thursday. The release declined to mention specific products, but Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineup are the only cellular-capable devices offered by the company.

“T-Mobile USA has entered into an agreement with Apple to bring products to market together in 2013,” the release said.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., but despite its size, it has not offered Apple’s iPhone to date. And yet many smaller, regional carriers already offer the iPhone through partnerships with Apple, which T-Mobile has admitted contributed to its woes in America.

“Following on from the preceding steps such as the spectrum swap with Verizon, the towers deal with Crown Castle and the transaction with MetroPCS that we have announced, we have now added the final piece to the jigsaw to boost the competitiveness of T-Mobile USA sustainably,” said René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom.

Though the iPhone is not officially available through T-Mobile, the carrier is said to have more than 1.5 million active unlocked handsets on its network. Many of those handsets operate at wireless data speeds slower than 3G because of technical limitations with T-Mobile’s network.

To address that issue, T-Mobile has begun widening its 4G HSPA+ network in major metropolitan areas across the U.S., offering users of unlocked iPhones the ability to access high-speed data on its network.

The main reason T-Mobile has not offered the iPhone is because its network’s frequency band is incompatible with current versions of the iPhone. While the iPhone can place calls on T-Mobile’s network, it cannot connect to the carrier’s unique high-speed 3G frequency.

That’s begun to change as the carrier has transitioned its service to the 1900 MHz GSM band. That’s the same frequency used by AT&T, and is compatible with existing iPhone models.

T-Mobile has publicly admitted that the lack of Apple’s iPhone in its smartphone lineup has hurt the carrier and caused customers to leave. The carrier has about 33 million subscribers in the U.S., placing it behind Sprint, AT&T and Verizon in terms of size.

However, T-Mobile is set to grow next year thanks to a planned merger with MetroPCS — the fifth-largest carrier in America, and another provider that does not have access to Apple’s iPhone. T-Mobile and AT&T previously attempted to merge, but that deal was pulled when it became clear the Federal Communications Commission would block the agreement.

The terms of the attempted merger between AT&T and T-Mobile deemed that AT&T would give T-Mobile US$1 billion worth of wireless spectrum in the 1900MHz range if the deal fell through. That spectrum exchange is now likely key to the announced agreement between T-Mobile and Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 supply stabilizes, units now readily available for holiday shopping season

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It took a while and there were muchos conflicts with Foxconn, but it finally happened: Apple’s iPhone 5 supply chain has stabilized.

Per AppleInsider, the popular iPhone 5 handset is now readily available in the U.S. at Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores as the company has apparently overcome supply issues experienced since the device was launched in September.

While the Apple online store still shows one-week ship-by dates, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said a poll of 20 U.S. Apple Stores reveals the iPhone 5 is readily available at physical Apple Stores for the first time since the unit was released at the end of September.

“We believe the iPhone 5 has finally reached a point where consumers can walk into an Apple Store and walk out with a phone,” Munster said in a note to investors on Thursday.

The analyst performs a nightly check with the online Apple Store for local pick-up orders half an hour after new stock arrives at 100 locations. He also noted that 20 out of 20 Apple Stores polled showed availability for Verizon models, the supply of which has been the most constrained out of the three major U.S. carriers.

“The bottom line is that AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are consistently showing 90%+ availability,” Munster wrote.

A similar report earlier this month showed that, while inventory of Sprint versions of the Phone 5 was improving, models supported by AT&T and Verizon’s networks were still seeing constraints.

Going further, Munster maintains his estimate of 45 million iPhone shipments for the fourth quarter, but warns that there may not be a significant upside as supply is only now meeting demand.

According to a recent report, the iPhone 5 helped to double Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market, pushing it ahead of worldwide leader Android.

LTE iPad mini, fourth-gen iPad now available in retail stores

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 07:19
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News, retail

You’ve been hankering for one of these since they came out.

And now they’re on sale.

Per CNET, Apple’s LTE-equipped iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad are now available in carrier stores.

Wireless carriers Sprint and AT&T announced today that they’re now carrying the devices. Verizon hasn’t announced its own availability, but the company is also expected to also be carrying the tablets in its stores today.

Apple launched the Wi-Fi-only fourth-generation iPad and iPad Mini on November 2. The company had promised last month when it announced both devices that it would deliver the LTE-equipped models “a couple weeks” after the Wi-Fi-only model. Apple has made good on that promise, despite reports suggesting it might not.

Customers looking to get their hands on the new iPads might want to act quickly. Sprint says it expects “limited quantities” to be available in its stores. Given the strong demand for nearly all Apple products, that will likely be the case at other carrier stores, as well.

The iPad Mini LTE comes in black and white versions, and will range in price from US$459 to US$659. The fourth-generation iPad with LTE starts at US$629 and goes up to US$829.

If you’ve snagged the LTE iPad mini and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T activates additional 4G LTE networks in 24 U.S. cities

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 07:13
Category: iPhone, News

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The 4G LTE networks have arrived.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&Tturned on its 4G LTE network in 24 markets across the U.S.

The announcement of the 24 new markets comes as AT&T also began sales of Apple’s latest iPads, which feature high-speed 4G LTE radios, along with the iPhone 5.

A total of 16 new LTE-capable markets were announced by AT&T on Friday. They are:
- Charleston, S.C.

- Columbia, S.C.

- Columbus, Ohio

- Corvallis, Ore.

- Downriver Wayne & Monroe Counties, Det.

- El Paso, Tex.

- Eugene, Ore.

- Fairfield County, Conn.

- Greater Mobile, Ala.

- Greenville, S.C.

- Jonesboro, Ark.

- Pensacola, Fla.

- Portland, Maine

- Saratoga & Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

- South Bend, Ind.

- Toledo, Ohio

Those 16 new locations were joined by eight more that were announced by AT&T earlier this week. Those markets were:
- Anne Arundel County, Md.

- Daytona Beach, Fla.

- Denver, Colo.

- Louisville, Ken.

- Milwaukee, Wis.

- Tacoma, Wash.

- Twin Cities, Minn.

- York, Penn.

AT&T said Friday that its 4G LTE network covers more than 150 million people in 103 markets across the U.S., a number that more than doubles the company’s LTE coverage as of the end of 2011. More expansions are planned through the end of the year.

AT&T plans to have its LTE network reach 250 million people by the end of 2013, and 300 million by the end of 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re in any of these markets, let us know how the new 4G LTE network is performing for you.

Sprint activates 4G LTE networks in 9 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a fast connection.

According to PC Magazine, wireless carrier Spring revealed on Tuesday that it has begun work on its 4G LTE network in nine new cities. The new markets include:

- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

- Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Calif.

- Key West, Fla.

- Fort Smith, Ark.

- Michigan City/La Porte, Ind.

- Bloomington, Ind.

- Eau Claire, Wis.

- Arrdmore, Okla.

- McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas

Sprint debuted its 4G LTE service in July and plans to have 125 cities on its LTE grid within “the coming months.” No more specific dates are being offered by the company at this time.

This number is well behind AT&T and Verizon, with the latter promising to have its entire 3G network converted by mid-2013. On Thursday, Verizon is flipping the switch on LTE coverage for more than 20 cities, including much of Missouri and large chunks of Wyoming and Arizona.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 shipping times improve, device ETA now stands at 2-3 weeks

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Maybe things are getting a little better over at the Foxconn plant…

Per AppleInsider, availability of the iPhone 5 continues to improve, as Apple’s website now advertises that all models ship within two to three weeks.

The latest estimated shipping times are an improvement from the previously advertised timeframe of three to four weeks. The shipping time applies to both the black and slate as well as the white and silver models, in all three capacities.

The improved shipping times corroborate reports from last week that revealed Apple’s supply was catching up with demand for iPhone 5 inventory at its U.S. retail stores. Gene Munster and his team at Piper Jaffray found that 54 percent of 100 Apple Stores had the AT&T iPhone 5 in stock, while 24 percent had the Verizon model, and 84 percent were stocked with the Sprint variety.

Those numbers from last week were a major improvement from the weeks prior, when supplies of the iPhone 5 were severely constrained, particularly for AT&T and Verizon customers.

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5,” Munster wrote. “We believe that if AT&T and Verizon device availability follows the same trend as Sprint, it may only be 2-3 weeks before iPhone 5s are consistently available to customers.”

Also last week, Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said his checks within Apple’s supply chain found that the company had significantly improved its production capacity of the iPhone 5 since the device launched in late September. According to Wu, the supply chain bottleneck for the iPhone 5 moved from components to the assembly of the device itself.

Earlier reports claimed that the iPhone 5′s in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis have caused quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn said in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

If you’ve gotten word as to when your iPhone 5 is expected to ship, please let us know its estimated delivery time in the comments.

AT&T to offer $100 off iPad Mini with two year contract

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Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012, 07:13
Category: iPad, News

It’s pretty much the reason you get into a contract in the first place.

Wireless carrier AT&T announced on Friday that it will be offering what it calls a “promotional discount” of US$100 to customers buying a new tablet, LTE-enabled iPad, attached to a two-year service agreement.

Starting today, customers in the market for a new tablet can take advantage of the subsidy as long as they sign on to a qualifying data plan, which can range from US$10 per month to US$50 per month. The iPad can also be added to one of the telecom’s Mobile Share plans, in which a number of devices share data from a single quota, with plans ranging from 1GB to 20GB per month.

The full range of tablet data plan options include:

- AT&T Mobile Share: US$10 to share between 1 GB and 20GB

- AT&T DataConnect 250MB: US$15 for 250MB

- AT&T DataConnect 3GB: US$30 for 3GB

- AT&T DataConnect 5GB: US$50 for 5GB

Unfortunately, legacy unlimited data users are unable to take advantage of the deal.

According to AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher, the promotion was created to incentivize holiday shopping, however it can be assumed that the launch of Apple’s LTE-connected fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini also played a role in the new pricing.

The second-largest U.S. wireless provider has not set an end date for the promotion, and said it will be available as long as supplies last. No indication was given as to how many units of each tablet are being stocked, but interested customers must visit AT&T’s online store or a brick-and-mortar outlet to claim the discount.

If you’ve seen this discount on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple web site search reveals possible unlocked iPhone 5 units en route

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 10:17
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

This is kind of interesting.

With the U.S. Online Apple Store still showing carrier-specific iPhone 5 delivery dates of three to four weeks, a quick search on Apple’s website may have revealed the pricing of factory unlocked units expected to hit stores later this year.

Per AppleInsider, the alleged unlocked units are anything but official and could merely be placeholders in Apple’s database, however the prices are consistent with identical models being sold in Canada where all iPhones are unlocked.

While not listed anywhere else on the site, a query for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked” in the Apple.com search bar reveals “Apple Store Results” as seen above. The units are priced at US$649 for the 16GB version, US$749 for the 32GB model, and US$849 for the 64GB iteration. While not present in the screenshot, all prices for both GSM and CDMA models can be found by adding the storage size to the search. For example, the price of unlocked 32GB GSM and CDMA iPhone 5s are found by searching for “iPhone 5 factory unlocked 32GB.”

It is unclear how long the purported iPhone 5 search results have been on Apple’s website, but a report in September showed an Online Apple Store iPhone comparison page that revealed the prices of unlocked versions bound for the U.S. and Canada. The prices quoted in that report are in line with the search results found on Apple’s U.S. website.

Currently, Apple does not offer factory unlocked versions of its latest handset in the U.S., however the CDMA version sold by Verizon was found to be compatible with the GSM networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. A subsequent report noted that the AT&T version can be unlocked to operate on T-Mobile’s network via an iTunes reset and nano-SIM card replacement.

Apple is expected to introduce unlocked versions of the iPhone 5 when its worldwide rollout is completed and supply of the handset normalizes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.