Tag Archives | Wireless Broadband

LightSquared: A New Player in 4G?

In a time where we seem to be increasingly concerned with the state of wireless competition, a new player may be emerging hoping to shake up the space. LightSquared hopes to make its mark by selling 4G broadband to companies looking to add wireless connectivity to their products and is poised to begin a nationwide rollout., PC World’s Paul Kapustka reports.

The company certainly has the backing necessary: investment from billionaire Philip Falcone and its own spectrum. However, it needs partners and is rumored to be in talks with Sprint Nextel over a tower sharing deal. Service could begin as soon as the end of 2011, and Best Buy will resell its service beginning sometime next year.

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Is the Future of Mobile Broadband Pay As You Go?

Over the past few weeks, I have been considering a mobile broadband solution. My reasoning is two-fold: I’d like a backup in case my regular connection fails–Comcast here has become somewhat spotty as of late–and something for when I’m on the road at a conference and don’t want to depend on the available Wi-Fi, which is sometimes unreliable.

For the time being, I have settled on Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go offering (I’ll have a review of it coming in a week or two after I’ve put it through its paces). It’s cheap, the initial cost of startup is not high, and it’s now Mac compatible. But while at Wal-Mart, I was shocked to see Verizon and AT&T are now offering their own prepaid plans. I must have missed their announcements–and it’s kind of surprising to me that those companies be interested in getting into the game.

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Okay, AT&T Customers–What Plan Will You Choose?

Yesterday I asked you what you thought of AT&T’s new, no-longer-unlimited data plans. The majority of poll respondents think they’re bad news, either short-term or over the long haul.

The most meaningful opinions about the shift will come from those of us who are currently paying AT&T $30 a month for unlimited smartphone data. We’ll all get to vote on the change with our pocketbooks–by either choosing to grandfather ourselves into the unlimited plan or opting to switch to one of the cheaper, limited offerings.

So this silly little poll is for current AT&T 3G smartphone (iPhone or otherwise) owners:


PCMag's Wireless Tests: AT&T on Top

PCMag.com’s Sascha Segan has an ambitious and impressive story up based on tests of wireless data in eighteen cities. It’s similar in overall goals to the one that PCWorld published back in February. But this one has some twists of its own–it covers more cities and includes Sprint’s 4G network and regional carrier Cricket as well as the national providers.

As with the PCWorld tests, PCMag’s have AT&T as the clear overall winner, with download speeds that trounce everything but Sprint’s still-not-widely-available 4G network. AT&T didn’t do as well in the “Consistency” tests, however, which would tend to confirm the theory that AT&T’s 3G network is extremely zippy…when it’s working well. Still, I feel like everyone who declares that it’s a well-known fact that AT&T’s network sucks should be forced to read reports like this one.

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Unlimited Data: Let the Nostalgia Begin!

Here’s Steve Jobs back in January, extolling the “breakthrough” pricing that would let iPad buyers get all the wireless data they wanted for $29.99 a month. Turns out that the breakthrough will have come and gone in less than six weeks.

The end of flat-rate data has different implications for the iPad than for smartphones, because Apple’s tablet is (among many other things) a cool portable Internet TV. AT&T’s press release on its new pricing tiers gives example usage for the new $25/2GB plan that includes four hours of streaming video, along with Web surfing, e-mail, and other tasks. Plenty for many people, I’m sure, but anyone who planned to feast on ABC, Netflix, and other video sources over 3G–and who isn’t already grandfathered into the old plan or prepared to buy an iPad before Monday–will be out of luck.


A Better Deal on Prepaid Wireless Broadband

Virgin Mobile’s prepaid Broadband2Go wireless Internet access service (which runs on Sprint’s network) has been an intriguing option for folks who need to go wireless only sporadically, or who don’t want to commit to a long-term contract. But at $40 for 1GB of data, it’s been pretty pricey.

Now Virgin has a new plan: 5GB for $60. That happens to be exactly what I pay Verizon Wireless. If I wasn’t only one year into a two-year agreement, Broadband2Go would be awfully tempting…


AT&T Talks LTE

Anxious to see AT&T improve its wireless network? The long-term solution won’t involve beefing up the company’s current 3G network–it’ll be nailing LTE, the even-higher-speed 4G wireless technology that’ll eventually replace the current network. AT&T announced today that it’s working with equipment manufacturers Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson to begin tests of LTE later this year, with a full rollout in 2011.

LTE isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s promising and I look forward to its arrival. Even though absolutely none of the phones and wireless adapters we own now will be compatible with it…


A Netbook for the Price of a Newspaper

Sprint NetbookJK on the Run’s Kevin Tofel has noticed an eye-popping deal currently being offered by Best Buy: Sign up for a two-year Sprint EVDO contract at sixty bucks a month, and you can buy a Compaq netbook for ninety-nine cents. The netbook goes for $389.99 without a contract, so it’s a discount of a whopping $380.

Except, of course, that it isn’t–you’re on the hook for $1200 over two years in broadband charges, and can’t get out of the contract without paying a penalty. On the other hand, you’re likely to pay sixty bucks a month for wireless broadband even if you don’t buy the Compaq netbook, and Sprint charges after-rebate contract prices of up to $99 for EVDO adapters. Maybe the best way to look at the Compaq is this: It’s an EVDO adapter that happens to have a computer attached to it.

Ultimately, the best way to judge most subsidy deals is to ask yourself what the chances are that you’ll still be happily using the subsidized device and the service in question at the end of the contract. If you can imagine yourself carrying a midrange 2009 netbook and using EVDO through mid-2011–and aren’t worried about being joined at the hip with Sprint for 24 months–it wouldn’t be nuts to consider buying the Compaq. Then again, small computers are going to get a lot cooler over the next couple of years, and 4G data will start to matter; I think the Compaq will start to feel a tad stale by late 2010.

One thing’s for sure: The Sprint offer is more tempting than the equivalent ones from AT&T and Verizon, which bring the price down to $199.99 rather than $0.99.

Full disclosure: I used to insist that I’d never sign another contract again, but I’m currently wed to both AT&T (for an iPhone 3GS) and Verizon (for an EVDO adapter) until 2011.

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