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.
There was only one form of bacon present at EE's breakfast event today, but plenty more to chew on, as the UK 4G provider shed light on its new shared plans and PAYG data-only offerings. The sharing scheme, launching on July 17th, will put up to five devices on one bill and allow them to feed from the same data allowance. Starting with any regular contract, you can add other phones or devices at any time. Snagging another phone SIM for one year costs £12 per month, or £17 if you only need it for 30 days -- you can also get handsets to go with those SIMs for additional dinero. Every phone plan you tack on includes unlimited calls and texts, but if you only need a SIM for data, it'll cost £5 each month on a two-year contract, £8 for a 30-day commitment, and more if you want a USB dongle, MiFi hotspot or tablet on top. EE had plenty more to tell us, so head below the fold if you're up for the full rundown.
EE invited us to a breakfast get-together this morning, and spectrum was on the menu. Back in April, EE reported that it would be doubling the LTE spectrum allocation in ten cities, promising twice the speeds, at some point during the summer. We now know the switch is being flipped tomorrow, and in addition to the ten already announced, Derby and Nottingham are also getting double bandwidth.
Camping outside a store for weeks on end has been done to death now, so what can you do to score some early adopter cred? How about buying a device to use on a service that doesn't exist... yet? That's Vodafone's thinking behind launching its first 4G wireless hotspot, two months before its LTE service begins rolling out. The Vodafone R212 will connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, comes with a 32GB SD card reader, a 2,800mAh battery and will, thankfully, connect to the company's 3G network as well. It'll set you back £39 up-front if you sign up for a plan offering you 1GB of monthly data for £10 a month.
Verizon was the first US carrier to launch (and famously fumble) its LTE rollout back in 2010, but its long road to 4G nationwide coverage has finally come to a near close. As of today, the operator's LTE footprint now blankets more than 298 million people in 500 markets across the US, with Parkersburg, West Virginia claiming that 500th market distinction. It's a milestone Verizon managed to achieve in a little over two years' time, as the company's Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer was quick to point out. The completion of this initial LTE rollout also brings Alaska into Verizon's coverage map as early as next month -- a territory that, before today, didn't even have 3G -- marking the carrier's network as available in all 50 states.
With a full LTE expansion, however, comes network congestion problems, as subscribers in major cities like New York are already starting to experience. Palmer assured us that solutions are currently underway to shore up capacity in these LTE markets. Verizon's AWS holdings, in particular, should serve to augment LTE reception in select areas starting in the second half of this year. The same goes for small cell site deployment, which Palmer stressed is an LTE-only initiative. News on the carrier's plans for LTE-Advanced remain just as vague as ever, with Palmer positioning the standard as yet another tool to enhance current LTE capacity. Unfortunately, she wouldn't commit to a timeframe for LTE-A nor address concerns about the potential for new pricing tiers when it does eventually launch. Still, Verizon subs will at least have VoLTE (voice over LTE) to look forward to next year -- that is, when it eventually clears the company's rigorous lab and field testing.
Source: Verizon Wireless
20/06/2013 - Samsung Galaxy NX mirrorless camera official: Interchangeable lenses, Android Jelly Bean and 4G LTE
True to JK Shin's promise, Samsung is indeed introducing a new Android-powered mirrorless camera: the Galaxy NX. Although it runs Google's mobile OS (version 4.2.2 Jelly Bean) and bears LTE radios, the NX is not quite a direct sequel to the Galaxy Camera, the company's glorified point-and-shoot for all comers. Rather, the NX is what Samsung calls an interchangeable-lens CSC (or Compact System Camera), featuring a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, as well as 3G / 4G LTE connectivity -- making it worthy of that Galaxy moniker.
Gallery: Samsung Premiere 2013
The LG Optimus F7 with LTE is now available on US Cellular, shortly after leaked documents robbed it of any surprise. It comes with a healthy spec sheet for a mid-range Jelly Bean device, with a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, a 1.3-megapixel front cam, and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The device is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has 8GB of internal storage, expandable via the miracle of microSD. You can get the Optimus F7 via US Cellular's website for $99.99 on a two-year contract, but don't move a finger-muscle until you've checked out our hands-on.
Via: Android Police
Source: US Cellular
After adding monthly SIM-only plans to its product line-up last week, EE's announced a few new subscriptions that people will have access to at some point this summer. One is a shared option, which'll allow patrons to use their plan "across phones and tablets, or with other people." The other is a PAYG data-only option, so you'll be able to buy gigabytes without signing up for anything long-term, and gobble them up on your tablet, laptop, MiFi device or anything else with a SIM slot. We don't have any firm launch dates or pricing for either of these plans, but more is expected "in the coming weeks." In other news, the number of customers on EE's LTE network has exceeded the half a million mark, meaning around 200,000 new subscribers have come on board since April.
03/06/2013 - Verizon's Innovation Center: Incubating the next generation of connected devices keeps the 'dumb pipe' naysayers at bay
It's no surprise, really. Offline devices just don't carry the allure that they once did, and in fact, yours truly would argue that they simply lack the requisite functionality to become runaway hits in the modern era. It's genuinely difficult to think of a flagship consumer electronics product, with a display of any kind, being engineered in the year 2013 without at least some level of internet connectivity in mind. Even a Kickstarter dream dubbed Pebble would be borderline useless without an online link, and as consumer demands shift dramatically towards expecting more for less, it's the carriers who have found themselves positioned to take advantage.
Verizon has joined a host of other megacorps in launching so-called innovation centers across the world. Earlier this year, Samsung committed $1.1 billion to create a pair of Open Innovation Centers -- temporary homes for upstarts looking to woo Sammy's check writers into believing in their technology. In 2011, AT&T's Palo Alto, Calif.-based Foundry innovation center joined similar entities already running in Texas and Israel. In a nutshell, these facilities exist solely to ensure that pretty much everything with a circuit board also ships with an AT&T radio. Microsoft, Intel and Vodafone have all done likewise in the past three years.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Verizon's first Innovation Center -- a sprawling facility located squarely in Massachusetts' famed Route 128 technology corridor. The center opened in Waltham in the middle of 2011, and now enables roughly 25 employees to "largely operate outside" of what you probably associate with the word "Verizon." What I found was the world's greatest case against the existence of a "dumb pipe" -- a phrase often used to describe carriers that do little more than provide access to a network. No structured technical support, no humans on the other side, no bloatware on the devices they sell. Companies who show up looking for aid in the art of interconnectedness face no fees, no risk of surrendering intellectual property and no requirements of exclusivity. This is the future of the wireless carrier: an increasingly vital component in making tomorrow's whiz-bang gadget one that this generation will actually crave.
Before other carriers in the UK get their 4G networks up and running, EE's looking to bolster its customer base by tempting you with an LTE fling, rather than a long-term relationship. The network already has 12-month SIM-only plans available if you don't need a device, but today has launched 30-day SIM-only options for the commitment-phobic. That freedom comes with a £2 mark-up per month over the year-long plans, however: the cheapest option rings up at £23 every 30 days for 500MB of data, with a maximum cost of £63 for 20GB. Every price tier comes with unlimited texts and calls as standard, and if you're intrigued by a no-strings-attached trial month, you can snag a SIM at stores, online, or over the phone right now.
AT&T's official GoPhone prepaid policy has always officially prevented network data access for iPhones (and other 4G devices except for BlackBerry), but a tipster reports that will change tomorrow. The new policy adds 4G HSPA+ and LTE support as well as Visual Voicemail access to the GoPhone package, with customers able to bring their own device or buy a new one at off-contract unsubsidized prices. According to the details, existing customers with iPhones will be automatically updated with network access on June 21st, however they'll be able to call in and make the switch manually before that. The new features work on the $65, $50 and $25 monthly plans, however the two lower priced options will require data packages to work. You can get a peek at the leaked terms after the break, although we'd wait for an official announcement before picking up your 4G-capable handset and requesting service.
Vodafone CEO Vittorio Coalo has conceded that the company is pushing back its 4G rollout to September. The decision was taken in order to ensure the infrastructure is "really ready," promising that Voda's service will be "better performing" than EE's Bacon-flavored LTE. Despite the late start, Coalo has laid down an aggressive timeline, demanding that 40 percent of the UK is covered in 4G before March 2014 -- which'll please those notoriously impatient technofreaks no end.
Via: Trusted Reviews
Source: The Guardian
When BT purchased nearly £200 million worth of 4G spectrum, the prevailing opinion was that it would remain a behind-the-scenes player. CEO Ian Livingston, however, might have grander aspirations for his company's 2.6GHz property. In an interview with The Telegraph, he said that it was "highly possible" that we'd see BT-branded 4G SIM cards next year, bundled along with the company's TV and broadband services. He also spoke of upgrading existing BT WiFi hotspots to provide 4G access, which would reduce the cost of 4G compared to its premium-priced rivals.
Source: The Telegraph
23/04/2013 - EE lured 318,000 customers to 4G in Q1 2013
EE's just released its Q1 2013 earnings, giving us a look at its first full quarter with 4G services. The carrier says it's on track to its goal of a million 4G customers by the end of the year, thanks to the addition or migration of 318,000 LTE customers this quarter. Despite those more profitable clients, however, total service revenue (excluding hardware sales) was down 1.5 percent for the period over last quarter, to £1.42 billion. On one hand, the number of 4G additions could be seen as disappointing considering the company's strong marketing push of the service -- though on the other, the company's only just activated numerous regions, making that one million 4G subscriber goal seem more likely than not. We'll just have to wait a bit longer to see if Brits are really in love with LTE's extra zip -- and willing to pay for it.