Instead of building its own coverage infrastructure in areas where the deer and antelope play, Sprint is teaming up with smaller carriers to create a cross-country roaming network. At its conference tomorrow, the Competitive Carrier Association (CCA) is expected to announce the launch of its Data Access Hub and a partnership with Sprint, which will create a coast-to-coast 4G network that's comprised of many smaller regional networks that are all stitched together. As CNET tells it, this could give Sprint (and possibly T-Mobile, should it join) customers access to rural data networks -- areas that are typically dead zones -- and those on the rural networks would gain access to urban LTE coverage; the street would go both ways here it seems.
The CCA's president, Steve Berry, says that the reasoning behind the shift is simple: it'd take billions of dollars and several years for the Now network or the magenta carrier to build their own rural coverage areas to rival the likes of AT&T and Verizon. This move could help level the playing field for the smaller carriers, he says, and possibly provide a better experience for pretty much everyone involved.
Yesterday, the cheapest way to hop on UK carrier EE's LTE network, with smartphone for keeps, would set you back £19 per month. Today, call it £14, as EE's introduced a pair of lower price tiers in its 24-month, handset-included plans. For that £14, you get 500 minutes, 500MB of data, and unlimited texts. That would've been the same as the £19 per month plan (just with half the minutes) yesterday, but today £19 gets you 1GB of data. The situation is a little different for EE's "double-speed" Extra tariffs. Nothing changes to any of the existing plans, so the new £22 per month option, which gets you 1000 minutes and 2GB of data, just sits in behind the 4GB for £27 tier. Now, these cheaper plans are going to be offset by steeper handset costs, but there are still some thrifty choices. The Alcatel One Touch Idol S is free from £14 per month, as will EE's own Kestrel when it launches, with other phones starting at £20 upfront.
We got wind that EE was cooking up an own-brand smartphone for its 4G network a couple of weeks ago, and now the UK operator's ready to come clean about the device. It's called the Kestrel, and as we suspected, it'll offer the cheapest ride on EE's LTE network at £100 on pay-as-you-go (PAYG), or free from £14 per month on the new entry-level tariff, when it launches towards the end of April. Now, being £30 less on PAYG than Alcatel's One Touch Idol S (which is also free from £14 per month), a mixed-bag of specs was to be expected. On the plus side, it's packing a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 and as a Cat 4 handset, it's capable of maxing out the theoretical 150Mbps download speeds of EE's "Extra" plans. Not so enticing is the 4.5-inch qHD display (960 x 540), and beyond that, we're looking at 1GB of RAM, 8 gigs of storage (with a microSD slot for expansion), a 2,000mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera and 1-megapixel front-facer.
Sprint has slapped a fresh coat of paint on its prepaid mobile by rebranding Sprint As You Go to Sprint Prepaid and launching all new plans. The carrier has more attractive pricing too, though there's a caveat. The Smart Plus LTE data plan is $10 less at $60, but the previously unlimited data is now throttled after 2.5GB like plans on Sprint's Virgin and Boost Mobile brands. If you don't need network data, the basic Smart Plan is $45 for unlimited calls and texts (plus WiFi data), a $5 drop over last year. You'll also be able to pick any device you want, as long as its an LTE Samsung Galaxy S3, LTE Galaxy S4 mini or a 3G Moto G. With T-Mobile having just doubled down on data, we're not sure how tempting that sounds -- but if Softbank gets its merger, it may soon not matter.
This year's all about LTE Cat 4 for Huawei, which is why it's pushing this faster 4G technology into both the high-end market as well as the lower price points, in order to help drive its network business -- LTE Cat 4 only works if your carrier supports it, after all. At MWC, the company announced the launch of two affordable devices that will come with this 150Mbps technology: the Ascend G6 4G and the MediaPad M1.
The Ascend G6 appears to share some design elements with the higher-end Ascend P6, so it looks quite pretty in the above render. It features a lesser 4.5-inch 960 x 540 LCD, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, NFC and an adequate 2,000mAh battery. The cameras are surprising nice, though: there's an 8-megapixel f/2.0 imager (with Sony's IMX134 sensor) on the back, plus a 5-megapixel front-facing counterpart with unknown aperture. This phone will first arrive in its 3G-only, 7.5mm-thick form in Q1 this year, followed by a 7.85mm-thick 4G version in April.
The 8-inch MediaPad M1 tablet (pictured after the break) has a 1,280 x 800 IPS display with stereo front-facing speakers, and with the help of its 4,800mAh battery, users will be entertained by hours of movies (Huawei claims up to eight hours) on one charge. Other specs include a 1.6GHz quad-core chip, a 1-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel main camera, all tucked within a 7.9mm-thick body. Like the 3G version of the G6, the M1 will also launch in various countries in Q1 2014.
FreedomPop has been pushing a free phone plan for the masses since last October, but it's tweaked its paid option for users who need more oomph each month. Now you can pay up front for one or two years of service for $80 or $110 respectively (that's as little as $4.58 a month). In exchange, you get unlimited talk and messaging along with 500MB of data over Sprint's dustbin-bound WiMAX network for way less than what some carriers charge for a single month. Oh, and don't worry: that free plan isn't going anywhere.
While the price may sound right, FreedomPop's phone lineup hasn't exactly blown any minds. The carrier just added a $169 Samsung Galaxy S II to the mix, but the only way to use something newer is to bring it yourself. Well, that or wait a few months until FreedomPop finally jumps on the LTE phone bandwagon.
Filed under: Mobile
Remember when you had the option to get unlimited data for $30 on most carriers? Yeah, us too, and we won't hide our envy for those who are grandfathered in. To alleviate some of these troubles, Boost Mobile is kicking off a temporary offer on an all-you-can-have plan, giving folks who sign up for service by March 31st a chance to have unlimited access to voice, text and LTE data for $35 per month. There are a few caveats, however: The deal will only be valid for the first six months of service, after which you'll have to pay the regular monthly fee of $50, and data is set to be throttled once you reach the 2.5GB threshold. If that still sounds good, then head over to Boost's site (or a brick-and-mortar store) to take advantage of the promo before it's too late.
Source: Boost Mobile
24/01/2014 - LG G Pad 8.3 with LTE could be on its way to Verizon
With LTE speeds putting coffee-shop WiFi to shame, many tablet makers now produce in pairs: one model with WiFi, and another with extra 4G radio and SIM slot. Not LG's G Pad 8.3, though, as both skinned and Google editions of the slate spurn LTE for the sake of their ol' buddy WiFi. It appears, however, that Verizon may've persuaded LG to pull together a cellular version of the G Pad for its network, if puzzle pieces from a recent FCC filing end up fitting together as we'd expect. All we know from the official docs is that an LG tablet, model number VK810, has been approved for the US market with LTE support for Bands 4 and 13 -- Verizon's magic numbers. As PhoneArena points out, the mystery tablet's dimensions are more or less identical to those of the G Pad 8.3, which is where the trail ends. So, it's more than likely we'll see LG launch a 4G model with Big Red soon, but if being tied down ain't your bag, then at least let it's existence foster hopes of a carrier-agnostic LTE model sometime later.
Source: US FCC
For more than a year, the Channel Tunnel (a 32-mile mile underwater tunnel connecting England and France) was regarded as French territory, as far as the mobile industry was concerned. Three major French carriers had signed deals with EuroTunnel to offer access on its networks, leaving British travellers without access. That's set to change, however, after UK providers EE and Vodafone announced they will supply 2G and 3G access to customers journeying to France from March. Both companies say 4G services are coming, but will arrive a little later down the line. While neither company has detailed the data speeds you can expect to receive as you pass under the world's busiest seaway, EE suggests you'll still be able to prepare for meetings, check your emails and watch streamed movies when its LTE service goes live in the summer.
Wilson Electronics is only interested in one thing: boosting cellular signals for those starved of bars. The company's also quite fond of Vegas, and for the third year running has made the trip to CES with fresh hardware in tow. Previously, Wilson's boosters have been able to enhance the signal from a couple of carriers at the most, but the new DT4G doesn't care what device you're using, nor which network bills you at the end of the month -- all it cares about is making sure you've got all the 4G, 3G or 2G airwaves you need. It's touted as the very first carrier-agnostic booster, and will be ready to cling to walls "soon" for around $400.
AT&T's mission to provide superfast data outside of the US has been given another big boost, courtesy of EE. The UK carrier announced today that it has become the first domestic provider to offer 4G roaming to international travellers, with AT&T coming on board as its first partner. AT&T has been moving fast: just last week it signed a deal with Rogers to provide quick LTE data anywhere the Canadian provider has compatible coverage. EE doesn't intend to limit itself either -- the carrier says today's agreement is the first of many deals it expects to announce over the coming months, suggesting other US operators could soon follow AT&T's lead.
It's been a long slog for LTE latecomer Sprint, but the Hesse-led operator's finally kicking into high gear and getting that 4G coverage out to a significant chink of its nationwide subscriber base. Despite a slow start at the beginning of the year, Sprint now claims an LTE footprint that spans 300 markets, with 70 added just today including major cities like Orlando, Fl; San Diego, Ca; and St. Louis, Mo. And that's just for Sprint's "plain" 4G LTE. Subscribers that are interested in Spark-level speeds (the carrier's enhanced LTE service capable of up to 60Mbps down) will have to either live in one of the select launch areas or sit tight with that tri-band device a little longer and wonder at the speedy possibilities.
Now that O2's caught up to its UK competition with the launch of pay-as-you-go and data-only 4G plans, the network's revisited its standard contract tariffs and taken some sting out of those monthly charges. Two-year contracts now start at £17 per month for 1GB of data (unlimited everything else) and go up to £27 per month for 8GB. These are O2 Refresh plans, mind, so there's an additional monthly bill that goes towards the 4G handset you've opted for. In comparison, the cheapest 24-month contract we could find with EE was £19 per month for 500MB of data, 1000 minutes and unlimited texts, as long as you stump up £30 for an Alcatel One Touch Idol S.
O2's altered its one-year SIM-only plans, too, now offering 1GB of data for £21 per month, 5GB for £26 and 8GB for £31. Monthly damage on EE for the same data caps are £21, £31 and £41, respectively. O2's revamped tariffs benefit new customers, sure, but there's something in it for existing ones, too. Anyone already on a 4G plan will get a bump to their monthly data limit, and those with 3G contracts can now jump seamlessly over to 4G, as long as their plan is for at least 1GB and they have a 4G-compatible phone. And, if they need to upgrade to an LTE handset, they can leverage a 25 percent saving on the outstanding line rental. We know you love tables, and you'll find one breaking down all of O2's new prices below the fold.
Just as promised, the Chinese government has finally granted TD-LTE licences to the country's three carriers: China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. This means the companies can launch their 4G services whenever they want, though the reality is only China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, has been conducting large-scale TD-LTE trials across the country. The remaining two companies have previously expressed that they plan to use the more common FDD-LTE as their main backbone, but the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is allegedly waiting for TD-LTE deployment to mature before it also grants FDD-LTE licenses.
Either way, this is obviously good news for mobile phone manufacturers who want to dig deep into the Chinese market, as the faster service will motivate users to upgrade their phones -- especially with all the red pocket money they will be receiving in Chinese New Year at the end of next month. While there's already no shortage of TD-LTE devices out in the market, China Mobile recently told CNN that contrary to rumours, it has yet to secure a deal with Apple to sell iPhones. What's more bizarre is that a TD-LTE-flavored iPhone 5s has already been approved for use on China Mobile's network since September. Well, for the sake of Apple fans stuck with China Mobile, here's hoping the denial is just a cheeky decoy.
Via: Engadget China
There's only so much Pictionary one person can play at Christmas, but little else to do when your grandparents don't have WiFi. If drawing-induced repetitive strain injury is a real threat, you could be in luck. Well, if you're an EE customer and your grandparents live in either Bath, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Darlington, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Northampton, Poole, Portsmouth or Redcar, anyway, as EE's ever-expanding LTE network is now live in those areas. Furthermore, switches will be flipped in 19 other locations by the time that turkey's ready for carving (full list after the break), so you can excuse yourself from board games and stream a Christmas classic to your tablet in another room. We recommend The Santa Clause, although any holiday movie starring Tim Allen is pretty much as good as it gets.
We knew good and well that Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo would be divulging details about its 5G wireless plans at CEATEC, but the claims that we've stumbled upon here in Chiba are nothing short of bananas. Granted, the operator is making clear that its vision isn't intended to reach implementation until 2020, and it confesses that a 5G standard has yet to be ratified. That said, it's dreaming of a world where its network offers "1000 times the capacity and 100 times the speed as the current network."
Representatives for the company told us that the challenge is going to be dealing with range limitations in higher frequency spectrum, but it plans to employ "high-frequency bandwidth by transmitting with a large number of antenna elements." The goal for looking so far forward? It's already seeing an insane appetite for video on networks that can barely maintain poise under the load, and the notion of transferring 4K content to the masses is going to require a substantial upgrade. CEATEC's known as a place that allows companies to dream big and aim for the fences, but we'll be honest -- we'd really, really prefer that 2020 arrived sooner rather than later.
Mat Smith contributed to this report. %Gallery-slideshow99596%
After prematurely breaking cover in the US, Vodafone's Smart 4G appears to have fled to Italy, where it's allegedly been spotted again on one of the network's local flyers. If the image above is to be believed -- and the light spec list is pretty standard to this kind of marketing material -- we now know a little more about Voda's first own-brand LTE handset. Namely, its rounded-corner design, 4.5-inch display, 8-megapixel camera, Snapdragon processor and Jelly Bean Android build. Oh, and that in Italia, it should cost €5 per month on prepaid plans, or come free with two-year contracts. The FCC docs that originally outed the Smart 4G don't list an LTE band compatible with Vodafone's Italian network, suggesting the device could come to several European countries (at least) in a few radio variants. We're still certain it'll feature on a low-cost 4G contract in the UK, but before we get ahead of ourselves, let's wait for the formal announce, which has to be coming soon.
Source: @flapic (Twitter)
'C,' it turns out, is for color -- not cookie, or cheap or China. Yes, the pretty in pastel iPhone 5c, Sir Jony Ive's repackaged ode to Apple's last-gen iPhone, as well as the iPhone 5s will be joining Three UK's lineup starting this Friday. The operator will be offering both iDevices on a two-year plan for an initial upfront payment of £49 and £99, respectively. That means you'll still have to pony up a monthly fee for either device, the amount of which depends on the particulars of your voice and data package. Regardless of which you opt for, however, the privilege to surf Three UK's 4G network is included at no additional cost. And it's unlimited.
The FCC may be guardians of America's cellular devices, but the commission's staffers don't care too much for a company's secret release plans. The latest bundle of documents has revealed that the Vodafone Smart 4G has been passed fit for human consumption over in the US of A. Given that Vodafone doesn't have a branded presence in the colonies and the handset runs LTE Band 7, it's likely that this one's destined for a life in the UK. Presumably this re-branded Coolpad 8860U will be sold like the other Vodafone Smart range -- as a budget option for Brits who want 4G without having to pay £21-or-more per month to get a Lumia 625 for nothing.
EE said it wanted to have a million 4G customers by the end of the year, but it won't have to wait nearly that long. The UK carrier just topped that mark four months ahead of its stated deadline while its competitors are just getting off the starting blocks. O2 and Vodafone both fired up their respective LTE networks less than two weeks ago, while Three's won't launch until December. Despite having been the only game in town until recently, EE claims the UK's adoption of 4G has been one of the world's fastest so far. It seems like there's a lot more technofreaks out there than Vodafone imagined.
02/09/2013 - Nokia Lumia 925 Goes Live at AT&T Starting September 13th for $99.99, Pre-Orders Now Open
Think 150Mbps LTE-Advanced data is quick? KDDI could offer far more bandwidth next year. Nikkei claims that the Japanese carrier plans to upgrade its cellular network to 220 Mbps data as soon as summer 2014. Service would reportedly launch with an Android smartphone, and rely on new wireless technology; it's not clear whether this entails a faster LTE-A variant or something new. KDDI hasn't confirmed the rumor, so we wouldn't consider moving to Japan just yet. If there's any truth to the claims, however, even NTT DoCoMo's upgraded LTE could soon feel downright pokey.
[Image credit: TAKA@P.P.R.S, Flickr]
Source: Nikkei (subscription required)
Since today's the day that Vodafone and O2 launch their 4G networks, Three has piped up to remind you that its own LTE rollout isn't too far behind. Customers in London, Birmingham and Manchester will be getting an early Christmas present when the service goes live at some point in December. As promised back in February, existing customers with LTE-ready devices won't pay extra, nor will they lose their unlimited data allowance. The network is promising to be in 50 cities by the end of 2014 and cover 98 percent of the population by the end of 2015. After all, Dave Dyson's a mobile executive who likes to take things slow.
Vodafone UK has just announced its 4G network rollout will begin on August 29th, with London to be the first city to go live. Twelve more locations will get switched on before the end of the year, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Sheffield (full list after the break). Price plans will begin at £26 a month (SIM only, for 2GB of data) and the operator already has a choice of compatible hardware to choose from -- such as the Nokia 925, Galaxy S4, or BlackBerry Z10. Although the official turn-on won't be until the end of the month, those eager to get the service will be able to sign-up from the 12th in store or online. Existing customers with an LTE handset can upgrade their plan for an extra £5 a month. As a sweetener, Vodafone is throwing in unlimited data for the first three months, along with a choice of Spotify premium, or Premiership football content bundles. While the UK has had LTE services for a while now, until recently, choice was very limited. Now, with O2 coming soon, and EE already up and running, the UK market is set to enjoy the benefits of proper competition.
Soon enough, the UK will have more than one choice for 4G data. Come August 29th, O2 will offer LTE in London, Leeds and Bradford, with expansion plans for an additional 13 cities by year's end. Rates start a £26 per month -- current provider EE's cheapest is £21 -- and you get a 30 day "Happiness Guarantee" when ordering directly from O2. If that isn't enough of an incentive to buy direct (and pay a higher monthly price), the service provider is throwing in 12 months of free music content too. Keeping with the music theme, the telco is hosting a launch concert at its Sheperd's Bush Empire venue, and will stream it to billboards across London. Who's headlining the event is anyone's guess at this point, as are full details on data package speeds, bandwidth caps and other pricing tiers.