AT&T to launch shared data plans in late August, offer base price around $45 per smartphone

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

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You can’t argue with a bit of competition.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T on Wednesday announced its new shared data plans, ranging from 1 gigabyte to 20 gigabytes of cap space, and starting at US$40 for 1 gigabyte of data plus an additional US$45 per smartphone.

The cost per gigabyte and smartphone decreases as customers add more data to their plan, so 4 gigabytes of data has a base price of US$70, plus US$40 per smartphone, all the way up to US$200 for 20 gigabytes of data per month and US$30 per smartphone.

Cellular capable tablet-style devices like Apple’s iPad are less expensive, and will cost US$10 per month to add to a shared data plan. Laptops and mobile hotspot devices are another US$20 each month, while basic and messaging phones can get shared data, unlimited talk and text for US$30 each month.

The new shared data plans allow customers to choose open of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans, and current customers are not required to switch to the new plans. Those who decide to switch to AT&T’s shared data plans can do so without a contract extension, and the rates are also available for business customers.

Customers can choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, and at least one of those devices must be a smartphone. The plans include tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones.

Competing U.S. carrier Verizon launched its own shared data plans on June 28, called “Share Everything.” With it, line access for smartphones like Apple’s iPhone run US$40 per month, while tablets like the iPad are US$10 per month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: T-Mobile could receive iPhone in 2013

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Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 06:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per BusinessWeek, fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile could use a sales agreement from its parent company Deutsche Telekom AG to carry Apple’s iPhone on its network sometime in 2013 which may help the network turn around slumping profits.

In a note to investors on Tuesday, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett said Apple and Deutsche Telekom are “increasingly likely” to strike a deal for T-Mobile to offer the iPhone in the U.S. next year.

The iPhone may help T-Mobile retain lucrative post-paid or contract customers after the telecom lost 510,000 monthly subscribers in the first quarter. Contrasting the massive loss was a combined 688,000 gained customers seen by iPhone-carrying networks AT&T and Verizon over the same period. In February T-Mobile blamed a fourth quarter 2011 loss of 706,000 contract customers on not having access to Apple’s smartphone.

“IPhone (sic) availability at T-Mobile USA would likely reduce contract losses at that company, and push Deutsche Telekom U.S. to a net revenue growth position much sooner than the market expects,” Moffett wrote.

T-Mobile was originally looking to bring Apple’s handset over to its network as part of a merger with the nation’s second-largest carrier AT&T, though the agreement fell through in December. As a result of the breakup AT&T was forced to give Deutsche Telekom US$3 billion in cash along with a transfer of US$1 billion worth of spectrum to the German company’s U.S. arm.

With the additional bandwidth T-Mobile plans to upgrade its network to iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ by expanding operations in the 1900MHz spectrum. Tuesday’s report is consistent with the carrier’s expansion plans and solves the frequency issues that CEO Philipp Humm referred to as the “key reason” why the company doesn’t currently offer the iPhone.

A deal to sell the iPhone through an agreement with T-Mobile’s parent company would be a change to Apple’s normal operating procedures as the Cupertino tech giant usually makes first-party agreements with carriers. For example, the recent addition of the iPhone on Sprint’s network was a US$15.5 billion commitment for the telecom. It was reported in June that, while AT&T and Verizon retained the most iPhone customers, Sprint gained the most switchers using Apple’s handset.

Representatives from both Apple and T-Mobile declined to comment and no official statement regarding the situation has been issued.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to begin shared data plans starting June 28th

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News

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Maybe shared data plans will come into vogue this year.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon has announced that it will be initiating shared data plans later this month, making it the first of the “big-three” U.S. telecoms to offer such a program.

The company announced the new “Share Everything” option on Tuesday, which includes unlimited talk, text and tiered shared data plans for both smartphones and tablets as well as data-only plans, is slated to start on June 28.

Up to ten devices can share data under the new plan with varying pricing for device type. For example, line access for a smartphone like Apple’s iPhone is US$40 per month while a tablet adds on US$10. Mobile hotspots are also included in the Share Anything plan and can be added for an additional US$20 per month.

The carrier is introducing a number of new data tiers to its existing one-line offerings, and shared data users can now select one of six levels ranging from US$50 per month for 1GB of bandwidth to US$100 per month for 10GB. Data overage is still in place and looks to be US$15 per gigabyte across the board but users can opt to up their data plans in 2GB intervals before reaching their limit.

As an example, Verizon offers a US$180 access plan that includes two smartphones at US$40 each, one feature phone at US$30 and 4GB worth of shared data which carries a cost of US$70 per month.

Data-only customers have four tiers to work with starting at US$30 per month for 4GB and topping out at US$60 per month for 10GB. Mobile hotspots and tablets with mobile hotspot functionality are included in this pricing model.

The new Share Anything plan is a step in the direction of what many believe is the future of wireless in the U.S. In an early June report, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said that his company was also working on rolling out a shared data plan, though that plan has been in the works for over a year.

Verizon was recently the target of a media blitz when CFO Fran Shammo said “when [customers] migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share,” which caused a fracas because many thought the company would forcibly move unlimited data users to more profitable tiered pricing. The issue was quickly clarified in a Verizon statement that said only customers who choose to take carrier subsidies when upgrading to another smartphone will be forced out of out of their unlimited plans. In either case, it is clear that the telecom is pushing for tiered pricing, a trend that has become increasingly popular as wireless providers acknowledge the profitability of soaring data use.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T CEO states data-only plans could become “inevitable” with next 24 months

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 13:20
Category: iPhone, News

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One day, AT&T will provide something for everyone.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple’s iMessage.

Speaking at an investors conference, Stephenson said that while AT&T had no plans in place to offer an all-data subscription model, the industry is trending in that direction as smartphones continue to gain popularity led by Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android mobile operating system, reports the Associated Press.

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” Stephenson said. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Under a data-centric plan users would have to use VoIP solutions like Skype to hold voice conversations, changing Internet calling into a necessity rather than an option to save on billed minutes. The switch would also be disruptive to the installed system in which telecoms monetize voice calls by charging each other to connect to cellphone numbers. This is one of the reasons why voice and data charges are billed separately.

Stephenson recently bemoaned AT&T’s decision to offer unlimited data with the original iPhone and iPad, adding that Apple’s iMessage is also a source of concern because it takes away from the company’s texting revenue.

While it may seem ironic that texting is quickly moving the industry away from voice technology toward a style of communication seen in pagers during the 1990′s, the reality is that modern data exchanges offer a much richer and more immediate experience than their obsolescent counterparts. Smartphones give users the ability to be in constant contact with each other, and new data-driven apps like Sounder literally keep an open connection to friends and peers.

As telecoms move to 4G LTE, an increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions.

For now, AT&T is hoping to introduce a shared data plan similar to how the company offers shared voice plans for families. The initiative is a long time coming and the carrier has been “working on it” for over a year, presumably to find a way to implement such a service without losing profits.

With shared data plans essentially representing a discount for users that would normally buy separate plans for each device they owned, the prospect of the pricing structure would seemingly be damaging to telecoms’ bottom lines. Stephenson pointed out that AT&T is looking to make more money from shared data, not less.

When you have millions of devices such as tablets that lack cellular data plans, Stephenson said, “it seems to me it’s a lift, not a deterioration” to get them connected. The chief executive is referring to users who may not be using the cellular capabilities of their iPads or other tablets and are instead operating solely on Wi-Fi.

To make data plan pricing more attractive to consumers Stephenson noted that the wireless industry will experiment with charging content providers for the data used to access their websites in a type of “800 toll-free number” system. Critics say this would give the upper hand to well-established companies that can afford to pay the instituted subsidy and squelch competition from cash-poor startups. The experiment will likely start within the year, though it is unknown which carriers will be taking part in the initiative.

“It’s not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it,” Stephenson said. “If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.”

Something for everyone somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint now offering $100 trade-in credit for iPhones from competing carriers

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to offer an incentive.

In an effort to drum up subscribership and advertise its unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4S, Sprint revealed on Friday that it will begin offering a US$100 credit to any customer who trades in an iPhone from another carrier.

Per AppleInsider, the carrier said that it would be offering non-Sprint users at least US$100 for their iPhone to be used towards a new iPhone 4S if they start a line of service with a minimum two-year contract.

Sprint’s announcement comes on the heels of reports earlier this week that revealed Verizon would be pushing to end unlimited data usage for its smartphone users come this summer when the company rolls out new shared data plans. The top U.S. wireless company issued a statement on Thursday clarifying that only subscribers upgrading to a subsidized handset would no longer be able to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat service.

Both Verizon and AT&T have come under fire for slowly squeezing grandfathered customers out of their unlimited plans, represented by Verizon’s upgrade policy and AT&T’s March decision to throttle heavy data users after they pass a 3GB per month threshold.

When it became the last of the big-three telecoms to offer the iPhone, Sprint announced plans to offer unlimited data to new customers when the top two wireless providers killed off their respective uncapped services in a move toward more profitable tiered solutions. AT&T was the first to axe unlimited iPhone data in June 2010, and recently CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that he wished the company had never offered the option. Verizon followed AT&T’s lead in July 2011, a mere six months after the device launched on its network.

In a move to stand out from the competition, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced in April that his company will continue to offer unlimited data for the next generation iPhone sight-unseen, which means that users can utilize uncapped bandwidth even if the handset supports 4G LTE.

Earlier this week Hesse said that Sprint wouldn’t make a profit from the iPhone until 2015, but has no regreets in making a bet-the-company move to ink an agreement to sell the handset that was later revealed to be worth US$15.5 billion over the next four years.

“We believe in the long term,” Hesse said. “And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers.”

To take advantage of the offer, interested parties must activate a new line by July 3 and trade-in their non-Sprint iPhone before Aug. 14.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to end unlimited data plans in migration to 4G LTE, move towards shared data plans

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 06:26
Category: iPhone, News

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You might not like this.

Per Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo announced on Wednesday that the company will discontinue existing unlimited data plans when users move to the carrier’s faster 4G LTE network, pushing current 3G subscribers toward data share plans expected to launch later this summer.

At the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Shammo said that current unlimited users, whose data plans were grandfathered in when Verizon made the switch to tiered plans in July 2011, would lose the all-you-can-eat option if and when they move to 4G.

Verizon is leveraging its speedier 4G LTE network to attract customers away from their US$30 per month unlimited plans to new data-sharing tiers which are scheduled for a mid-summer rollout.

“A lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” Shammo said. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share. That is beneficial to us.”

In their quest to garner the highest possible revenue per user, carriers have quickly moved away from the unlimited data plan, which was first introduced as an enticement to enter the then-nascent smartphone market. With the rise of data-hungry handsets like the iPhone, wireless companies found that a capped and tiered pricing model was the most lucrative solution.

Currently, unlimited customers pay US$30 per month on Verizon’s network, identical to the price paid by grandfathered users on other networks like AT&T.

Unlike Verizon, AT&T extended its legacy plan to 4G LTE customers, but at the same time instituted speed throttling for users who pass a “threshold” of 3GB and 5 GB each month for 3G and 4G users, respectively. Earlier in May, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that he wishes his company never offered unlimited data.

Verizon’s upcoming data share plans are meant to streamline the management and offer an attractive price structure to contract owners who own multiple smartphones, such as small businesses or families. Shammo noted that the industry has crippled the smartphone market by restricting data usage to individual devices.

“If I can add as many devices as I want, that is more efficient from a family perspective and a small business perspective,” Shammo said.

Carriers have promised shared data plans for nearly a year, though the nation’s top providers only recently firmed up strategies and possible launch windows.

Shammo noted that as carriers implement shared plans, they will have to move from studying average revenue per user metrics to average revenue per account.

Pricing for Verizon’s data share plans have yet to be announced, but Shammo made it clear that the company is pushing hard for the new model.

“Everyone will be on data share,” Shammo said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Walmart offers discounted prices on iPhone 4, 4S units with AT&T contract

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Date: Friday, May 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you were headed to Walmart anyway…

Per The Mac Observer, Walmart reduced the prices for the AT&T version of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on Friday, leading to speculation that new versions of Apple’s combination iPod and smartphone are coming this spring.

The 8GB iPhone 4 was reduced from US$88 to US$34 with a two-year contract, and Cult of Mac learned that at least in one store the 16GB iPhone 4S price had dropped from US$188 to US$114. The Walmart website, however, lists the iPhone 4 at US$117 and out of stock, while tagging the iPhone 4S as “Store pricing may vary.”

If you see this deal in your neck of the woods, please let us know in the comments.

U.S. government to work with wireless carriers to create national stolen phone database

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: iPhone, News

This could be perceived as sort of “Big Brother”-ish, but also pretty helpful.

Per the Wall Street Journal, four of the largest wireless carriers in the US are working with the US government to create a national stolen phone database. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will develop their own databases and then merge them into a centralized server within the next 18 months. Eventually, regional carriers will also participate in this initiative.

The database will help carriers and law enforcement track lost and stolen phones. Besides tracking phones, carriers have agreed to block both calling and data services for these blacklisted phones. This will be an easy task for Verizon and Sprint, but not so simple for T-Mobile and AT&T.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint already track each subscriber’s phone using the phone’s unique electronic serial number. This lets them easily block any phone that’s been reported lost or stolen. AT&T and T-Mobile do not have a similar service in place, because their GSM phones use SIM cards. As long as you have a valid SIM card, you can use any phone, regardless of whether it is lost or stolen. These two GSM carriers are working on new technology that would let them track and block a phone using a unique ID.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T using iTunes, telephone-based assistance for iPhone unlock process

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on Friday’s story, wireless carrier AT&T began allowing out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone for use on other carriers yesterday, and the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes.

Per AppleInsider, customers who were among the first to take advantage told the web site that after dialing 611 to speak with a customer service representative, they were met with a lengthy wait to speak with a technician.

Once that AT&T representative was on the phone, they asked a series of qualifying questions to ensure that the user was eligible for their iPhone to be unlocked.

The unlock process is detailed by AT&T in a PDF document shared by users who request the service. In it, the carrier offers a series of four steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the unlock.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple and is administered through iTunes. AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. Restoring the iPhone will unlock it for use on other carriers.

AT&T’s instructions also include a link to a support document available on Apple’s website. There, users are instructed to reseat the SIM card in their iPhone, restore their handset, or contact their carrier if they experience issues with unlocking via iTunes.

If the authorized unlock is completed successfully, users are met with the message: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

If you’ve been part of the unlock process, please let us know how it went via the comments and thank you.

AT&T to begin unlocking off-contract iPhone units beginning April 8th

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 11:31
Category: iPhone, News

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As much as AT&T may drive you crazy, you might like this.

Per Electronista and Engadget, AT&T will begin unlocking certain iPhones in the (very) near future. As of April 8, customers that are either out of contract or bought contract-free will have the option of derestricting the phone’s SIM slot much like the already-unlocked iPhones sold at Apple retail stores. The only other condition was to have a healthy account.

“Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones,” a spokesman said. “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

The initiative follows a number of complaints that led to Apple’s Tim Cook taking action and arranging for a handful of case-by-case unlocks. Other carriers worldwide have been offering after-sale iPhone unlocks, most notably in Canada, but AT&T until now has declined to do it, even for customers who paid the unsubsidized price.

More incentive exists for AT&T to unlock phones now that its spectrum refarming gives a real chance that its 3G network, and future 4G LTE network, will work properly with existing iPhones. A SIM unlock was previously only useful for those either willing to limit themselves to 2G data or who were traveling and wanted a much less expensive local SIM card instead of AT&T’s roaming plans.

If you go through the unlocking experience, please let us know how it went and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.