Verizon got the jump on everyone with LTE, but AT&T has been doing its best to catch up. The carrier's newly announced upgrade plans should get it a fair way toward that goal. Ma Bell is flipping the switch on 5 new LTE markets and 8 expansions this very day, but the rate of the rollout is going to pick up for the rest of the year. AT&T plans to launch at least 50 new markets before January 1st.
Pre-paid smartphone users were in an uproar a few months ago when Straight Talk stopped selling AT&T SIM cards to new customers. At the time, all we were able to ascertain was that the cards were sold out online, but a few retailers like Walmart still had some in stock. Well, they're back – in a limited sort of way.
When you go through the sign up process, the website will only show you T-Mobile or AT&T cards for a given ZIP code.
Two-year contracts are a drag for all sorts of reasons, but AT&T just found a way to make them even more annoying. The carrier has quietly altered its upgrade terms to stipulate that customers have to wait for the full 24 month term to be up before getting subsidized pricing on an upgrade. You can see the before and after versions of Ma Bell's upgrade page below.
It would be one thing if the change only affected new contracts from the effective date of June 9th, but it also pushes back the upgrade date for anyone whose contract ends after March 1, 2014.
AT&T has long had a chip on its shoulder when it comes to video chat apps running on its network. It took a few years to enable Apple's solution, but Android users were stymied just last week when the new Hangouts app refused to connect to video calls over AT&T's 3G and 4G. The rationale the carrier is using to justify its decision is incredibly convoluted, to say the least. However, things are going to change in the second half of 2013.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of the FCC and these witnesses to join MetroPCS and T-Mobile in the bonds of holy mergrimony. If any shareholder can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever shut the hell up.
Today, MetroPCS shareholders approved the merger between the company and T-Mobile USA. As a result of the deal, Deutsche Telekom will own a 74% stake in the new company, while the former MetroPCS shareholders will own 26%.
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.