The wireless service landscape is undergoing significant changes in the US this year. T-Mobile just launched it's kind-of no contract plans with monthly hardware payments, something no other US carrier offers. Sprint is in the early stages of its LTE rollout, a buyout from Japanese firm Softbank, and the acquisition of Clearwire (which seems more likely with each passing day). AT&T has already gained the #2 LTE spot in the US, but may have turned off a good number of potential Galaxy S4 buyers by pricing the device at $250 on contract, while continuing to push its own shared data plan model.
Yesterday, T-Mobile officially announced its new "UNcarrier" plans to much fanfare and profanity. The idea is simple: you pay one price for your service, and a separate price for your device. You can either choose to pay the full cost of your phone up front, or pay a deposit at first and then a monthly fee after that.
"But wait," the entire tech world cried, "That monthly fee is still a contract, right?
Most of the time, major corporations like to cushion their words so that, in the event of a PR disaster, it's easier to walk back its statements. Today, an AT&T exec in charge of public policy decided to throw that caution to the wind and announce in no uncertain terms 'the Librarian’s ruling will not negatively impact any of AT&T’s customers.' Well. That sure is blunt.
We're not apt to take any AT&T rep at their word, and there are certainly some things to raise eyebrows over.
Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption.
AT&T is apparently cracking the whip when it comes to popular MVNO Net10. The company has announced on its site that new AT&T data caps went into effect on March 1. From here on out, all AT&T SIMs on Net10 will be limited to 1.5GB of high-speed data on the "unlimited" plan. If you want more bytes, a T-Mobile SIM is your only option.
Net10 has always been a bit vague about how much data you can go through before hitting the soft cap.
In the future, your car is going to be connected to the internet. This is a matter of when, not if. Volvo and BMW are already working on auto connectivity, and Verizon has partnered with just about everyone. Today, AT&T and GM announced that they're joining the fray by combining their strengths. Starting in 2014, cars from General Motors will have LTE radios .
More specifically, most 2015 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac models will support wireless connectivity in the U.S.
Little T-Mobile already has a reputation for being the carrier for budget-conscious consumers, but it's taking things even further with the new GoSmart service. The plans are cheap, and there are no annual contracts to worry about. Service starts at $30 per month and customers get access to the full T-Mobile network. It sounds like a solid deal if you can get past the contrived marketing lingo that would insult the intelligence of a third-grader.
HTC this morning officially unveiled its new flagship for 2013: the HTC One. So far, we've posted the full specs, our hands-on, and the list of carriers in the U.S. and Canada, but if you live outside those territories, you might be wondering exactly which carriers and major retailers to visit to pick up the One when it becomes available in March.
We've got the current list, courtesy of HTC, right below.
We've been hearing for the past few days that users have been unable to get new AT&T-compatible SIM cards from Straight Talk and Net10 websites. The only option seems to be the T-Mobile SIM. This was causing quite a bit of consternation as the Nexus 4 is finally starting to ship again. The complete absence of AT&T SIMs from both sites led many to wonder if AT&T service was no longer being sold by these Tracfon-owned entities.