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.
At this point, you've probably heard that starting tomorrow, it will become illegal to unlock your smartphone to use it on another carrier. You certainly should have heard so since the decision was made three months ago. That being said, there are still quite a few questions that folks want to have answered. Chief among them, 'How does this affect me?' Well, I'm glad you asked, dear reader.
For a bit of context, first, let's take a look at exactly what has changed.
We reported a few days ago that T-Mobile was rumored to be implementing an unlimited data option for its prepaid phone service. Well, now the carrier is confirming it. Starting on Wednesday January 9th, customers will be able to sign up for unlimited 4G HSPA+ data, voice, and text on prepaid for just $70 per-month.
This plan replaces the $70 unlimited talk/text plan with 5GB of 4G data. T-Mobile's data plans can be a little confusing because the carrier likes to still call them "unlimited" at times.
One of the biggest frustrations of dealing with Verizon, if you're someone who likes to tweak their phone, is that the carrier insists on locking the bootloaders on its phones that otherwise would not be locked. Samsung has offered Developer Editions of its phones in the past, including the Galaxy S III, largely to avoid that problem and appease the dev crowd. Today, that tradition continues with the Galaxy Note II which has now appeared on the company's site in a similar hacker-friendly model.
It can be hard to hear how speedy and wonderful Verizon's 4G LTE is when there isn't a 4G tower within 100 miles of your home. Well, that's about to change for some lucky folks in the western half of the US come December 20. Big Red continues to creep closer to a 100% overlay with its 3G network all the time.
All of the following cities are going to see LTE go live on December 20:
- Port Angeles, WA
- Port Townsend, WA
- Sequim, WA
- Kennewick, WA
- Pasco, WA
- Richland, WA
- Klamath Falls, OR
- Roseburg, OR
- Jackson Hole, WY
- Teton Village, WY
- Kemmerer WY
- Pinedale, WY
- Price, UT
- Richfield, UT
- Lamar, CO
- LaJunta, CO
Of course, you need an LTE handset to take advantage of the faster 4G speeds, but most phones Verizon has sold in the last few years are 4G-capable.
Of the four major US carriers to receive the Galaxy S III, Verizon is the only one to lock down the bootloader. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Nevertheless, enterprising hackers over at XDA and RootzWiki have successfully managed to circumvent the lock, achieve root, and flash ClockworkMod recovery. If you're on Verizon and anticipating owning a Galaxy S III, congratulations: your phone is yours again.
Verizon and T-Mobile may not regularly make headlines together, but this morning the two companies have announced that they've struck a deal to swap spectrum (and some money) to bolster both companies' LTE networks. Yes, including the one T-Mobile has yet to build. While specifics haven't been disclosed, it sounds like T-Mobile will be the big winner here, walking away with a net gain in spectrum holdings—something the company desperately needs—while paying an undisclosed amount of money to Verizon for the trouble.
According to a recent FCC filing, Qualcomm is hard at work on a new radio chipset that would support seven spectrum bands, including three below 1GHz. The introduction of this chipset could offer an effective solution to LTE spectrum fragmentation, which is a thorn in the side of manufacturers looking to cleanly execute broad product releases.
LTE fragmentation has also stirred debate among carriers, though. Smaller carriers operate within the Lower A block of the 700MHz band, in Band Class 12 while larger carriers like AT&T operate on the Lower B and C blocks in Band Class 17.
This is the sort of quasi-rumor (it's fairly detailed and comes from the Wall Street Journal, so we're inclined to trust it) that makes me happy to be an Android fan.
According to the WSJ, Google is in cahoots with up to five device manufacturers to provide early access to the next iteration of the Android OS (Jelly Bean, we assume) so it can have an entire "portfolio" of Nexus devices ready by Thanksgiving - that's late November for those without turkey day.
Before Sony Ericsson became Sony Mobile, the company seemed committed to developing an Android 4.0 update, going so far as to release alpha ROMs for a number of Xperia devices, and more recently a beta for the Xperia Play. Here we are, a quarter of the way into 2012, and Xperia owners are still gnawing on last year's official Gingerbread. Although, there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel; the Sony Mobile blog has announced that the first Android 4.0 updates will roll out to select Xperia phones in mid-April.