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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.

Barclays report hints at components for next-gen iPhone, highlights 4G LTE elements

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 06:50
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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There’s always a next generation of a product.

And there’s always speculation as to what components will be used in it.

The next-generation iPhone is no different.

Per AppleInsider, investment firm Barclays reported Wednesday in a research note that among the parts Apple is expected to utilize are Qualcomm’s “MDM9615″ LTE chip, which supports both voice and data connections on high-speed 4G networks.

That chip would be a change from the new iPad, which features Qualcomm’s “MDM9600″ modem. But that hardware only offers data connections over 4G LTE, not voice.

Like the iPhone 4S, the next iPhone is expected to be a “world” device compatible with a variety of 4G LTE networks. That’s different from the new iPad, which comes in two different models compatible with Verizon and AT&T wireless networks in the U.S.

In addition to Qualcomm, companies that are said to be supplying potential components to Apple are chipmakers Skyworks Solutions, TriQuint Semiconductor, and Avago Technologies.

Barclays sees Skyworks Solutions emerging as a likely winner with Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone, which it expects will launch this September. For Apple, the addition of a 4G LTE radio is expected to cost between US$3 and US$10 extra versus the 3G radio in the iPhone 4S.

The timeframe presented by Barclays aligns with a report from last month which indicated that the next iPhone will arrive in September or October of this year. That would be about one year after the arrival of the iPhone 4S, which marked the change of Apple’s typical iPhone launches in June or July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

FaceTime connections on iPad 3 to be limited to Wi-Fi networks, won’t function over 4G LTE networks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012, 06:24
Category: iPad, News

It looks like your new iPad 3 won’t allow FaceTime calls over a 4G connection.

And it might not paint your living room as promised.

Per some testing performed over at The Verge, the new iPad will need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime. Though the news hardly comes as a surprise, since Apple’s 3G-enabled iOS devices are unable to use FaceTime over 3G, it does put to rest questions about whether the added download speeds from LTE might open up the feature for 4G cellular networks.

Report author Dieter Bohn found the LTE FaceTime restriction to be “doubly frustrating” because Verion LTE iPads can generate Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi networks that would presumably allow other iOS devices to make FaceTime calls via the same LTE connection.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled FaceTime alongside the iPhone 4 in 2010. The video calling service launched as Wi-Fi only, but Jobs promised that Apple would “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of bringing it to mobile networks.

Early reviews of the iPad show that LTE service on the device is significantly faster than previous-generation 3G networking. Journalist Walt Mossberg said he averaged download speeds of 17 megabits per second on Verizon, while a colleague averaged 12 mbps on AT&T’s network. The mighty David Pogue tested the iPad in three cities and got speeds ranging from 6 to 29 mbps.

The new iPad goes on sale at 8 a.m. local time in 10 countries on Friday. The device will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 3 to go on sale at 8 A.M. this Friday

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iPad, News, retail

Once again, that time is upon us.

Yes, once again, you shall stand in line for the brand new iPad.

And, per the weather reports, I get to do it in the rain.

Again.

On Wednesday, Apple announced that the third-generation iPad will go on sale at 8 A.M. local time this Friday in the U.S. and nine other countries.

The third-generation iPad will be available at Apple’s retail stores and the company’s online store this Friday at 8 a.m. in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K. It will also be available in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to Apple’s retail stores, the new iPad will also be available in the U.S. at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart on Friday’s launch day. 4G LTE versions will also be available at AT&T and Verizon retail stores in the U.S.

Officially announced a week ago, the new iPad has a high-resolution Retina display powered by the new A5X chip that features quad-core graphics processing. The third-generation tablet also sports a 5-megapixel iSight camera with advanced optics capable of recording 1080p video.

The new iPad also offers a 4G LTE model capable of connecting to high-speed data networks in the U.S. and Canada, as well as 3G networks around the world based on HSPA+ and DC-HSPDA.

In addition to the new iPad, Apple has also continued to sell last year’s iPad 2 in a capacity of 16GB, starting at US$399 for the Wi-Fi-only model. A 3G-capable version is also available for US$529.

New iPads purchased at an Apple retail store come with free “Personal Setup” service, which helps customers customize their iPad by setting up e-mail, installing software from the App Store and more. Apple also offers its “Personal Pickup” service at U.S. retail stores, allowing customers to shop and buy from anywhere, then pick up their purchase at any retail store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple sells out of iPad 3 online preorder stock, retail units should still be available for Friday launch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 12th, 2012, 07:31
Category: iPad, News, retail

It might just be a long iPad 3 launch day line this year.

Per AppleInsider, Less than two days after Apple’s new iPad was unveiled, the company has sold out of launch-day preorders in its online store, as new orders are now advertised to ship by March 19.

Customers who order a third-generation iPad now from Apple’s online store will not receive it until after next Friday’s launch date. The March 19 shipping date now applies to all models, capacities and colors sold in the U.S.

Of course, while launch-day supplies are no longer available at Apple’s online store, those who wait in line at the company’s retail outlets will still have a chance to get an iPad on March 16. In addition, Apple’s retail partners, including Best Buy and others, will have stock on launch day.

The first sign that demand for the new iPad was outstripping supply came on Thursday, when shipping estimates for the white 4G LTE model compatible with AT&T’s network were the first to have estimated shipping dates of March 19. The first models to sell out for launch day delivery were the 16- and 64-gigabyte capacities.

But now, all 16-, 32- and 64-gigabyte models, Wi-Fi-only or 4G LTE, and in black and white are all scheduled to ship three days after the official iPad launch.

Next Friday’s iPad launch will be the largest debut yet for the company, as the touchscreen tablet will go on sale in 10 countries. They are the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

As for the 16-gigabyte iPad 2, available in both white and black with Wi-Fi-only connectivity or 3G compatibility, new orders are advertised to ship in one to three business days. The Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 will remain available in a 16-gigabyte capacity as the new low-end model, for US$399, while a 3G variant will cost US$529.

Those who were among the first to preorder the third-generation iPad have already begun receiving notifications that their order has shipped from China. However, the iPads are not scheduled to actually be delivered until next Friday, which is the product’s official launch day.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 3 shipping estimates slip to March 19 for certain models

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 8th, 2012, 10:38
Category: iPad, News

You people wanted the iPad 3…now you might have to wait a few extra days to get yours.

Per AppleInsider, shipping estimates for the white 4G LTE model from AT&T have slipped to March 19 at Apple’s online store.

Both the 16-gigabyte and 64-gigabyte models are now advertised to ship by March 19, while the 32-gigabyte model is still shown to deliver on March 16.

There are not yet any delays for the Wi-Fi-only models, or any of the Verizon models. In addition, all of the black third-generation iPad models compatible with AT&T remain available for delivery on March 16.

Next Friday’s iPad launch marks the most ambitious debut yet for a new version of Apple’s touchscreen tablet. It will launch on day one in a total of 10 countries: the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Demand for the iPad is expected to continue to grow, bolstered by the Retina Display on the latest model, as well as a lower US$399 entry price for the 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only iPad 2. The 3G-capable 16-gigabyte iPad 2 is also available for US$529.