Tag Archives | Wireless

AT&T Sues Verizon Over “There’s a Map for That”

Rock 'Em Rock 'Em RobotsVerizon Wireless has been bashing AT&T and its products lately, in both its “There’s a map for that” ads snarking about AT&Ts 3G coverage and the “Droid does” campaign that says the iPhone is a bag of limitations. Now AT&T is bashing back–in court.

As Engadget is reporting, the company is saying that “There’s a map for that” misleads consumers with coverage maps that show what seems to be great swaths of the U.S. with no AT&T coverage, when in fact most of those areas have 2G coverage, but no 3G.

It’s not an irrational point, although I’m not sure if Verizon’s spot is any more deceptive than all those AT&T ads that say the company has the nation’s fastest 3G network. It does, but that 3G network is nowhere near as widely deployed as Verizon’s, so slow connectivity is far more of an issue for AT&T customers than for Verizon ones. (I wonder if Verizon’s ever flirted with suing over those spots?)

As Engadget notes, there’s an easy fix here: If Verizon tweaks its maps to show AT&T’s zones of 2G-only coverage, its ad will be just as compelling as the current version–and it’ll be tough for AT&T to claim that there’s anything inaccurate or confusing about the claim. Here’s hoping that this happens quickly, and that everyone involved goes back to spending money on improving their networks rather than legal wrangling.


A Dream Car for Tech Lovers

Is there any part of our lives that’s more backwards from a digital-technology standpoint than the hours we spend in the second homes known as cars? Interesting exceptions such as Ford Sync aside, automobiles seem to routinely run about half a decade behind the rest of the world when it comes to personal technology. (I felt positively triumphant when I recently installed an adapter that lets me listen to my iPhone in the car–woo hoo!)

So the concept car being announced today by nG Connect–a consortium of companies involved in the next-generation LTE wireless broadband standard–is, indeed, a dream machine.  Designed by LTE infrastructure company Alcatel Lucent, Atlantic Records, infogizmo maker Chumby, kid site Kabillion, real-time operating system developer QNX, and Toyota, the modified Prius sports large multiple Net -connected touchscreens (including separate ones for the driver and front passenger) that deliver information services such as GPS navigation, car diagnostics, and home monitoring; music and movies (not to the driver, I assume!); networked games; shopping, and more.

It’s also a rolling hotspot so you can use laptops and Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and other wireless gizmos.

When will we be able to park something like this in our own driveways? Well, LTE should start to matter next year. Judging from past history with network rollouts, I’m assuming it’s going to be awhile until it’s available everywhere I want to drive. (I rode in the passenger’s seat down California’s Highway 1 this weekend, and even plain old EVDO often disappeared on me.) I figure it’s also going to be awhile before car companies build even a fraction of this stuff into real vehicles–and once they do, it’ll be awhile longer before it’s priced for mere humans.

All of which is fine by me. I’m nowhere near ready to retire my trusty 2004 Mazda3, so if it’s a few years before this concept car becomes affordable reality, I can wait.

Does it appeal to you?


Verizon vs. Sprint vs. AT&T

PC World LogoSprint claims to have “America’s most dependable 3G network.” Verizon says it has “America’s largest and most reliable wireless network.” AT&T says it has “the nation’s fastest 3G network.” With wireless, in other words, everybody’s a winner–if you ask the carriers themselves.

Which is why I admire what Mark Sullivan and my other PC World pals did: compare the three carries for upload speed, download speed, and reliability in thirteen cities. PCW conducted this ambitious real-world experiment in partnership with Novarum, using  Ixia’s IxChariot tool. As Mark says in his story, the results are only a snapshot of how the networks did on a given day, in the particular locations in the specific cities that PCW and Novarum visited. But they’re interesting nonetheless. And they tend to jibe with some of the anecdotal impressions that folks have about the three carriers:

–The performance varied a lot from city to city.

–Out of the 13 cities, Verizon got the highest reliability rating in seven and Sprint got the highest one in six. AT&T didn’t score highest in reliability in any cities, and was often far behind its two competitors.

–Verizon got the highest download score in seven cities; Sprint scored highest in four; AT&T in two.

–AT&T had the highest upload score in ten cities; Sprint was highest in two; Verizon in only one.

The most notable result is AT&T’s lackluster download score. AT&T told PCW that it stands by its claim of being the nation’s fastest 3G provider, based on results from two independent firms and tests involving a million road miles and a million data sessions. I don’t dispute its stance. But PCW’s experiment is a useful reminder that claims about “America” or “the nation” may or may not reflect what you get in your own hometown. And it might help to explain why AT&T is the only one of the big three carriers who never talks about dependability or reliability in its ads.


LTE vs. WiMAX: The 4G Wireless War

Remember when 3G was the future of wireless data? It’s not even universally available in the U.S. yet, and the race is already well underway to replace it. WiMAX, the 4G network technology that counts Sprint and Intel among its boosters, has a head start. But it’s losing ground to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communications in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video well, and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite.

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies, based on WCDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA, in part because it updates UMTS technology to provide significantly faster data rates for both uploading and downloading, while preserving backwards compatibility with existing handsets based on older standards. Verizon Wireless, has already said that it will support LTE as its 4G technology of choice, abandoning its current CDMA based network.

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With Phones, Simplicity is the Best Innovation of All

[A NOTE FROM HARRY: I’m pleased to say that Technologizer is participating in Stanford University’s Innovation Journalism program, which brings journalists from other countries to the U.S. to report on innovation. Afzal Bajwa of Pakistan’s The Nation will be contributing articles to Technologizer on mobile phones and other wireless topics during his U.S. visit; please join me in welcoming him.]

Beyond jet lag, what worried me most when I embarked on a U.S.- bound plane at Islamabad International Airport was the possibility of technology lag. As chief reporter for The Nation, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, I covered technology and communications in a third-world nation–one with both real problems and image problems, especially in what’s traditionally been known as the new world.

Despite the ongoing global recession, the U.S. is still the world leader in innovation and technological advancement. But that is hardly true in mobile phones. It appeared, to me at least, to be the other way round when I finally arrived after covering more than 11,000 miles in over 25 hours of air travel.

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