Technologizer posts about Wireless Carriers

Sounds like we AT&T is saying that the feds killing its T-Mobile acquisition is going to lead to an era of higher prices and more limitations for us AT&T customers.

Posted by Harry at 11:15 am

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The New 99%

By  |  Posted at 12:29 am on Friday, January 6, 2012

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Are you part of the 99%? No, I’m not speaking of the political movement that is sweeping the nation, but the bottom 99% of mobile data users. Mobile consultant firm Arieso studied the data habits of a European wireless operator, and through its findings it projects the top one percent of mobile data users use half of the world’s available bandwidth. The top ten percent use 90 percent.

Just like our widening income disparity in the US, the gap in bandwidth usage also grows. In the same study two years ago, Arieso projected the top 1% was using 40 percent, while the top ten percent consumed 70 percent. So, it’s pretty obvious that these bandwidth-hungry users are increasingly putting a strain on mobile networks.

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In the wake of bad press, angry customers, and government concern, Verizon decides not to charge a $2 fee for one-time online payments after all. My gut reaction on Twitter:

Posted by Harry at 12:47 pm

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Starting next month, Verizon Wireless is going to nickel-and-dime people who make one-time electronic payments–forty nickels or twenty dimes, to be exact:

Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phone Scoop via email that it plans to institute a new $2 charge for customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone. The change goes into effect starting January 15. Verizon said that the fee will be waived in a number of circumstances, including: electronic checks sent through My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile, or via telephone; autopay enrollees who pay using credit/debit/ATM cards or electronic checks; payments made through customer home-banking services; credit/debit/ATM card or electronic check payments made at in-store kiosks; Verizon Wireless gift cards or Verizon Wireless device rebate cards to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone; or a standard paper check or money order mailed directly to Verizon Wireless with a monthly invoice/bill. The telephone and online single payment fee will be disclosed up-front and throughout the transaction so that customers know it will be levied at the time of payment.

Many of the sites reporting on this are assuming that Verizon is charging extra for an option that actually costs it less money to provide. I’d love to know the exact math: How much does it cost the company in total when it sends you a paper bill which you then mail back to it? How much when you pay by credit card and it needs to pay a processing fee to Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex? Does the $2 merely cover Verizon’s costs, as it seems to say, or is it padding its bottom line?

Here’s a Verizon page that gives the bad news and details the various options for avoiding the fee.

Posted by Harry at 2:32 pm

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When Republic Wireless announced its $19-a-month  hybrid Wi-Fi/cellular phone service last month, I found it intriguing –but I also couldn’t figure out why the company kept calling it “unlimited” when it had a policy to (eventually) boot customers who used too much cellular. It was really “Unlimited Wi-Fi plus limited cellular,” which I guess doesn’t make for snappy slogans.
 
Now Republic is saying that it’s doing away with the cellular cap. For as long as the service is in beta, at least, it’ll be truly unlimited–or at least unlimited enough to please virtually everybody.

Posted by Harry at 5:21 pm

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Ting: A Wireless Carrier that Isn’t Your Enemy

By  |  Posted at 1:00 pm on Monday, December 5, 2011

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While most wireless carriers take every opportunity to overcharge their customers, Ting wants to be different. 

The carrier, which according to CNet will launch in mid-2012, automatically sorts users into appropriate price tiers for wireless voice, data and text. So if you don’t use your phone a lot in a given month, you land in lower tiers and don’t get charged as much. In months of heavy use, Ting bumps you up to higher tiers instead of charging inflated overage fees.
 
Of course, there are catches: Ting subscribers must buy their own phones at full price, off-contract. While that means customers are free to leave Ting at any time, the up-front cost is more expensive. But because Ting’s service plans are generally cheaper than those of major wireless carriers, and because subscribers pay less for light use, the savings can add up in the long run. Also, Ting customers must activate their own phones, which can be a complicated process, especially when porting a number from another carrier.
The other downside to Ting’s service is that if you only exceed your usage limit by a tiny amount, you pay for a higher tier instead of a small overage fee. For this reason, the wireless industry has tried to argue that overage fees are great for consumers, but the savings you’d reap from falling into a cheaper tier for lower usage negates that argument.
 
As for service, Ting will run on Sprint’s network. It’s not clear whether Ting will offer 4G service at launch.
Ting is one of several carriers that are trying to undercut major wireless providers on the cost of smartphone service. Others include Republic Wireless, which costs $19 per month and relies on Wi-Fi to drive network usage down, and Sprint’s own Virgin Mobile brand, whose plans start at $35 per month. T-Mobile has also jumped in with $30 per month prepaid service in partnership with Walmart.
 
The problem with all of these services is that their best phones are inferior to the top shelf offerings from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. (CNet’s Rafe Needleman said he doesn’t like Ting’s selection, and hopes it gets better before the service launches.) But even low-end smartphones are improving, so these cheap carriers are becoming viable alternatives.
 
[This post republished from Techland.]



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Remember when the iPhone 4 was only available on iPhone in the U.S.? Now it’s coming to a carrier I’ve never even heard about.

Posted by Harry at 9:37 am

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Bill Shock Be Gone: FCC, Wireless Carriers Strike a Deal

By  |  Posted at 8:22 pm on Monday, October 17, 2011

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Rather than face regulation, wireless service providers have struck a deal with the Federal Communications Commission to warn customers about impending overage charges for voice, text and data use.

Customers will receive free text alerts in real-time when they’re about to exceed their limits, CNET reports. The move is supposed to cut down on the “bill shock” people may feel when hit with sky-high rates for extra usage. Wireless carriers will also warn customers who travel overseas about the additional fees they may incur.

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The Justice Department is suing to prevent AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile’s U.S. arm. The move doesn’t kill the deal, but it does increase the chances that it won’t go through or will be approved only with further concessions on AT&T’s part.

I’m not an expert on the economics of telecommunications competition. But I keep coming back to this: The two wireless companies that have been the most aggressive on pricing and the most creative with plans have been T-Mobile and Sprint. The (relatively) small players, not the giants. Is that a coincidence? What are the chances that eliminating one of them would lead to lower prices and more options?

Posted by Harry at 10:56 am

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Apple doesn’t buy big companies. And of all the big companies it doesn’t buy, the big U.S. wireless carriers feel like the ones it’s least likely to want to purchase. But it’s still fun to play with the idea, as Jean Louis Gassée has done.

Posted by Harry at 3:46 pm

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The bad news–at least for some people–is that Verizon Wireless plans to follow AT&T’s lead and eliminate all-you-can-eat data plans this summer. The good news is that it’s talking (albeit vaguely) about family-plan data pricing that would let you spread one bucket of megabytes among multiple gadgets.

Posted by Harry at 2:45 pm

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T-Mobile Wants You (to Switch)

By  |  Posted at 3:02 pm on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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Hey, jt might be just about to be gobbled up by AT&T, but that sure isn’t stopping T-Mobile from sticking it to the big guys. As part of a push for its 4G services, the carrier is offering credits of to $300 on the trade-in of a competitor’s device.

There are a few requirements: you need to be a new customer (obviously), and the device needs to be fully functional and in good condition — free of either water or corrosion damage. In order to trade the device in, the consumer needs to visit a retail location.

In partnership with The Wireless Source, representatives have a list of values for current devices. The payment for the device comes in the form of a mailed check, so the savings on a T-Mobile device aren’t instant, infortunately unfortunately.

T-Mobile’s deal certainly seems good, but I think I’d echo most people’s concerns that one would have to wait for a mailed check rather than instant payment much like Radio Shack has begun to do. What happens if The Wireless Source doesn’t think the device is in good enough condition? Do you get it back? We really don’t have an answer to that.

[Hat Tip: TMoNews]



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Free Android Tethering Blocked by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile

By  |  Posted at 4:48 pm on Monday, May 2, 2011

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So much for free tethering apps on Android phones, at least in the Android Market. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are now blocking these apps, which offer a free or cheap alternative to the carriers’ official, subscription-based offerings.

As Engadget points out, you can still see tethering apps like PDANet in the Android Market, but if you try to install them on any of the major U.S. carriers besides Sprint, you’ll be told that “This item is not available on your carrier.”

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Consumers Say Verizon iPhone Drops Fewer Calls

By  |  Posted at 1:09 pm on Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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If the latest survey from ChangeWave Research is any indication, the theory that the Verizon iPhone would be more reliable than AT&T’s iPhone is more than just a theory. That said, consumers still seem to be as satisfied with the iPhone 4 on AT&T as they do on Verizon.

82 percent of iPhone 4 owners on Verizon are satisfied with the device versus 80 percent on AT&T. Conversely, 18 percent are dissatisfied with the iPhone 4 on AT&T, and 16 percent on Verizon. Not much of a difference, and within the margin of error.

There are definitely areas where the two carriers diverge, though, most notably in dropped calls.

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At last week’s CTIA Wireless conference, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was somewhat subdued about the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile US–he said that his opinion didn’t matter. But now Sprint has formally come out in opposition to the deal, in a press release that uses the dreaded M-word: Ma Bell.

Posted by Harry at 12:46 pm

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Your Take on This AT&T-T-Mobile Thing

By  |  Posted at 4:47 pm on Thursday, March 24, 2011

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I spent the last few days at the CTIA Wireless show in Orlando, and the big news at the show wasn’t big news from the show. It was, of course, the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile US. Everyone at the conference seemed to still be processing it in their minds–and I decided to ask my friends over at Twitter (where I’m @harrymccracken) for their takes as of right now.

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