Technologizer posts about Wireless Carriers

So is Verizon going to react to AT&T’s T-Mobile bid by snapping up Sprint? Apparently not.

Posted by Harry at 9:34 pm

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Google and Sprint Buddy Up on Nexus S, Google Voice

By  |  Posted at 6:21 am on Monday, March 21, 2011

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The Googlephone. It’s a concept that sometimes sounds an exciting taste of the future, and sometimes sounds like it’s already fizzled. And today, it’s back to being exciting: Google has announced that there will be a Sprint 4G version of its fine Nexus S phone–and that it will give consumers all the goodness of Google voice without making them switch their phone numbers. That’ll make it the first true native Google Voice phone.

The news would be noteworthy whenever it came down, but the timing is fascinating. It came down hours after AT&T agreed to acquire T-Mobile–there latter being the carrier that partnered with Google for the Nexus One and original Nexus S, and the only national carrier other than Sprint that counts as a scrappy underdog. Sprint needs good news; Google needs a wireless partner that isn’t T-Mobile and that doesn’t insist on acting like an 800-pound gorilla. Short of Google buying a phone carrier, there are all kinds of interesting things it could do with Sprint if the two companies agreed to let Google take the sort of dominant role that Apple took with the iPhone but which otherwise just doesn’t happen.

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Bruce Gottlieb–until recently an advisor to the chairman of the FCC–has some smart analysis on the implications of AT&T’s plan to buy T-Mobile US over at The Atlantic.

Posted by Harry at 12:16 am

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A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of Telephone Competition in the US, 1982-2011

By  |  Posted at 11:06 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2011

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So much for quiet Sundays. AT&T announced today that it’s agreed to acquire T-Mobile US from Deutsche Telekom, a merger which, if completed, will make it by far the country’s biggest wireless phone company. It’ll also leave us with three national carriers: AT&T, archrival Verizon Wireless, and the much smaller Sprint.

I’m not an expert on the dynamics of the telecommunications industry, but Om Malik’s thoughts–that this is bad news for everybody except AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders–do a good job of summarizing the pessimistic view I’m instinctively inclined to tak. In the US, T-Mobile was a scrappy underdog that did shocking things like reduce monthly bills once a customer had completed a contract for a subsidized phone. It’s tough to imagine that T-Mobile’s personality will rub off on AT&T rather than the other way around.

Of course, AT&T does its best to make the case that this is good news: If the merger goes through, it will have more wireless spectrum to work with, and says it will bring LTE to former T-Mobile customers. And the company argues both that (A) there’s still plenty of competition, between national and regional wireless companies, and (B) past mergers have been good for consumers. Which is, I guess, the argument you’d expect from a company named AT&T.

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PCMag’s Sascha Segan is ticked off over AT&T’s 4G phones–which he says don’t even meet the company’s not-so-rigorous definition of “4G.”

Posted by Harry at 5:39 pm

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Overage Fees Are Good For You, Says the Wireless Industry

By  |  Posted at 12:40 pm on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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Call me crazy, but I almost believed a study on “bill shock” that landed in my inbox today, despite being commissioned by the Wireless Communications Association International trade group.

Bill shock refers to the high charges that occur when you use more cell phone minutes than your plan allows. According to the study, conducted by Recon Analytics and based on a Nielsen Company survey, only 0.3 percent of U.S. wireless customers would be better off moving to a bigger bundle of minutes — totaling $120 or $240 per year depending on carrier — instead of paying occasional overage charges.

I agree that most people who pay an occasional overage are better off that way, but here’s where things get silly: The study concludes that because overage charges are beneficial to most people, the FCC shouldn’t enact safeguards against bill shock, such as notifying customers when they’re about to exceed their monthly limit of minutes. If you read the actual study, this is a logical leap based on conjecture.

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SprinT-Mobile?

By  |  Posted at 7:13 am on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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Bloomberg’s Serena Saitto, Jacqueline Simmons, and Jeffrey (no relation) McCracken are reporting that Sprint and T-Mobile are in merger talks.



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The Wall Street Journal’s Spencer Ante says that Verizon’s network is ready for the iPhone, assuming (as Ante does) that a Verizon iPhone is indeed on its way.

 

Posted by Harry at 7:36 am

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David Pogue of the New York Times reviews Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you go MiFi: Once you’ve paid $150 for the MiFi itself, you get unlimited wireless broadand on the Sprint network for up to five devices at a time. For an amazingly reasonable $40 a month. If I weren’t on contract with Verizon for a MiFi for the next 18 months–at $60 a month–I’d be on this deal in a nanosecond.

Posted by Harry at 8:02 am

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The rumored deal between Google and Verizon over Network Neutrality issues isn’t a deal–it’s a joint proposal to the FCC. It recommends rules that would prohibit the favoring of certain traffic over other traffic on the wired Internet. But Dan Gillmor, who knows way more about this stuff than I do, isn’t thrilled with the companies’ suggestions. And the proposal is pro-Network Neutrality only for wired traffic, not wireless data. Isn’t that a little bit as if it had advised for consumer-friendly regulations for dial-up–but not for broadband–in, say, 2000?

Posted by Harry at 12:33 pm

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RIM and AT&T: The Love Affair Blossoms

By  |  Posted at 2:20 pm on Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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It’s tempting to interpret every move AT&T makes in terms of its relationship with Apple, its status as the exclusive iPhone carrier in the US, and the implications of that exclusivity ending, as it will someday. It’s also dangerous to think that way, because the tea leaves are all too hard to read. Still, one fascinating sidelight of this morning’s BlackBerry Torch launch was the degree to which it was a lovefest between RIM and AT&T.

The first person on stage at this BlackBerry unveiling–the one who got to brandish a Torch in public for the first time–wasn’t a RIM honcho. It was AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega. And RIM and AT&T executives handed off between each other for the entire presentation, spending nearly as much time praising each other as they did bragging about the new handset.

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Engadget has heard scuttlebutt that Verizon Wireless will announce on July 29th that it’s moving to tiered pricing plans for wireless data, akin to the “buckets” that AT&T introduced last month. Seems inevitable that it’ll happen sooner or later (and probably sooner), right?

Posted by Harry at 8:47 am

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Fred Vogelstein’s Wired story on Apple, the iPhone, and AT&T is a terrific read.

Posted by Harry at 9:10 pm

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Samsung’s Galaxy S Phone: Wireless Freedom of Choice

By  |  Posted at 9:47 am on Monday, July 5, 2010

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Now that the proverbial dust is starting to settle around the Samsung Galaxy S and its six known variants for major US wireless networks, how does the latest smartphone stack up against its many Android rivals–and against Apple’s iPhone 4, for that matter?

It all depends on who you ask. With smartphones getting announced in such rapid-fire succession, it seems to take less time than ever for opinions to start flying. Samsung only officially launched the Galaxy last week, at a press event I attended in New York City. Granted, a lot of details had already leaked out even before the launch. Already, though, the phone is getting analyzed and compared across every conceivable dimension.

In a presentation at the start of the launch on Wednesday, J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business, tried to keep things simple by citing three key differentiators for Samsung’s phone: screen, speed, and content. If onlookers were asked to put together the same list, they’d undoubtedly come up with all kinds of answers.

Personally, I’d keep the three factors Shin mentioned on my list, because the Galaxy S does have merits in all of these areas. But I’d also add two other factors–freedom of choice in wireless networks and smartphone form factors–and I’d place these two way above the other three.

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Speaking of the New York Times, here’s a nice story on the inevitable transformation of wireless phones into tiny computers that happen to be able to make phone calls. Maybe it’s time to come up with that new name for these gadgets. (I keep advocating for “PC,” but I seem to be alone…)

Posted by Harry at 11:38 am

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