NetZero offering free data plan with new 4G hotspot service

While Apple’s new LTE-capable iPad launched on AT&T and Verizon last Friday, NetZero announced today a new contract-free 4G-hotspot service that provides consumers with another option for data. You might remember NetZero from its ad-supported freemium dialup service in the 90s. The new service will also provide a free plan that offers users up to 200MB of data per month at no charge.

First you will have to buy one of NetZero’s reasonably priced hardware options: Read more

New iPad sets single-day record for sales and activations on AT&T (Update: Verizon statement)

Following Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook announcing a record weekend for the new iPad, AT&T just issued a statement confirming “a new single-day record” for both sales and activations for the launch of the new device. Apple never released official sales numbers for the launch of the iPad 2, but it was estimated to have sold between 500,000 and a million units on its début weekend. The full press release from AT&T is after the break.

On Friday, March 16, AT&T set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations, demonstrating robust demand for the new iPad on the nation’s largest 4G network, covering nearly 250 million people.

Update: Verizon issued a decidedly less upbeat statement:

“We are quite pleased with sales, which have been brisk through the weekend, and we are excited to offer customers an alternative that lets them enjoy their new iPad on the nation’s largest 4G LTE network.”

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T-Mobile CTO again: ‘Our 4G network will be compatible with the iPhone’

Officially from the T-Mobile Blog:

Will refarming make your network compatible with the iPhone? And will you stop offering 2G services?
A nice side benefit of the refarming effort is that our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone. The other important benefit of our network modernization effort is the coverage improvements it will deliver, especially when it comes to in-home coverage. As we refarm our 1900 spectrum, we will continue to fully support our customers with 2G devices.

The move is a result of the “re-farming spectrum” from the botched AT&T merger.

We are also going to make more effective use of the spectrum we already have by refarming a portion of our 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to support HSPA+ services, which frees up additional AWS spectrum for LTE. With the AT&T breakup spectrum factored in, T-Mobile will have sufficient spectrum to roll out LTE with 20MHz to about 75% of the top 25 markets in 2013. Most remaining markets will have 10MHz. Our course, we’d love to have more spectrum to further strengthen our position to compete in the marketplace.

T-Mobile executives told analysts as much last month, but this is the first official word on T-Mobile’s website. We are hearing that 3G iPhone owners on T-Mobile could start seeing access in areas like Philadelphia in a matter of weeks.

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Deal: Kensington KeyFolio Pro with Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad: $40

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, Amazon offers the Kensington KeyFolio Pro  Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard for $39.99 with free shipping.  That’s 60% off of list and the lowest price we could find for this 4-star rated keyboard for iPad 2. It offers both landscape and portrait use.

This will likely also work with Apple’s new 3rd Generation iPad as well (though Bluetooth 4.0 Keyboards could start showing up soon)

We haven’t tested this model but we’re fans of the similar Zagg Keyfolio keyboard case, although it is over double the price.  Read more

Reuters: Apple will unveil an LTE iPad tomorrow

Backing up rumors that Apple’s next-generation iPad—set to be unveiled tomorrow, March 7—would be LTE-capable, Reuters reports “a source familiar with the product” confirmed it “will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G LTE” network:

The newest iPad will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G “LTE,” or Long-Term Evolution network, according to a source familiar with the product. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that may go a long way toward banishing the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices.

Reuters said Apple hopes customers will be more inclined to “pay extra” for a LTE iPad due to high-quality video. Adding to the reports, iMore claims the same source that called the March 7 unveiling date also informed them the “iPad 3″ will include “4G LTE networking.” Both reports support The Wall Street Journal’s sources who said in February that an LTE-equipped next-generation iPad would land on Verizon and AT&T. Read more

Verizon teases “Something is Coming” ahead of iPad launch (Update: AT&T too)

It is interesting how little Verizon has to provide, yet the splash page they put up today still screams “iPad!”.

Notably, the graphic image file name is:766x385_HP_pre_NO_optin.jpg but somehow we don’t think Verizon’s big surprise is the recently discontinued HP Pre.

Update: Now AT&T has their version up:

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T-Mobile USA: ‘Our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone’

T-Mobile USA executives are talking reinvigorated challenger strategy and the carrier’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray (whom we interviewed last month) just confirmed that its 4G network, being deployed in 2013, “will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.” He also warned T-Mobile “will continue to need more AWS spectrum to support a deeper LTE rollout.” Luckily, the carrier walked away from that failed AT&T merger with not only $3 billion but also some AWS spectrum.

Basically, in addition to its 1700MHz AWS band, the carrier will also use the 1900MHz band for HSPA+. This will result in a faster 84MBps HSPA+ service and iPhone compatibility because Apple’s handset utilizes the more common 1900MHz frequency band. Following the network reconfiguration, users of unlocked iPhones should be able to enjoy true 3G HSPA+ speeds on T-Mobile USA’s network.

Chief Executive Officer and President Philipp Humm stressed he wants his company known for “4G services, 4G devices and a great 4G network.” T-Mobile will re-launch its brand at some point and reposition as the Best Value in Wireless. As for the prospect of landing the iPhone this year, Humm said there is “nothing new to report,” and he argued such a deal would require “right terms” —a notion shared by U.S. Cellular.

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Qualcomm hyping previously announced chips that fit Apple’s mobile needs

UPDATE: Qualcomm at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain took the wraps off three next-generation modem chipsets, first to support 84MBps HSPA+ Release 10 and LTE-Advanced with carrier aggregation  technology.

Chipmaker Qualcomm today issued a press release highlighting a fifth iteration of its Gobi reference platform that had actually been introduced back in February 2011. That said, these chips include in a comprehensive support for TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, LTE on FDD and TDD networks worldwide, in addition to embedded GPS capability.

Of course, the platform also supports the usual HSPA+ and EV-DO for backwards compatibility and (unlike current 6000 series chips) voice. Such a powerful combo in theory allows Gobi products to connect to the faster LTE network locally and stay connected to the Internet globally on 3G networks worldwide.

Now, Qualcomm noted in the release included after the break that both the MDM9615 and MDM9215 work with Windows 8 and Android devices plus x86 and Qualcomm’s own dual- and quad-core Snapdragon system-on-a-chip solutions. For all we know, this could be the chip inside the iPhone 5.  The yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5 running this new Gobi chip would theoretically enable Apple to tap a single hardware in targeting a variety of carriers that often use different and incompatible radio technologies.

This includes the world’s biggest carrier China Mobile whose infrastructure revolves around TD-LTE radio technology. Put simply: These Gobi chips allow for true world-phone compatibility. It is worth noting that almost every 3G iOS device since the Verizon iPhone uses Qualcomm’s Gobi platform. The only exception is the AT&T iPad that still runs an older Infineon chip. Whichever way you look at it, one thing is certain: Apple will soon ship its first 4G LTE mobile device.

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Japan rumor: LTE iPad 3 coming in summer 2012, LTE iPhone 5 in Fall (UPDATED with statement from NTT DoCoMo)

UPDATE [Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 8:50am ET]: Carrier NTT DoCoMo has issued an official statement addressing the Nikkei Business report, included at the end of the article.

According to the Japanese blog Macotakara, which relayed a Nikkei Business story, Apple is gearing up for a 2012 release of both 4G LTE iPhone and iPad on NTT DoCoMo, the predominant mobile phone operator in Japan. According to the machine-translated article:

NTT DOCOMO releases iPad for LTE in the summer of next year and releases iPhone for LTE by autumn.

The Fall 2011 timeframe for a 4G LTE iPhone 5 sounds right as it’s about a year since the October 14 debut of iPhone 4S. The carrier’s president Takashi Yamada and vice president Kiyoyuki Tsujimura allegedly met with Apple CEO Tim Cook mid-November to discuss the deal. They reportedly “agreed in principle” to sell both the next-generation iPhone and iPad. The executives apparently pinned down the rules of the game at the meeting, including order commitment.

Despite the rumor-mill insisting that Apple was readying a 4G LTE iPhone, the company’s management downplayed the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution radio technology because the current crop of 4G LTE chips are not fully optimized for low power consumption on mobile devices. Apple’s chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said on an April 2011 earnings call:

The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make.

The Wall Street Journal reported mid-November that negotiations with carriers in Asia came to a standstill because Apple was requiring iPhone sellers to commit to too large a volume. Additionally, NTT DoCoMo wanted to control what software goes on users’ iPhones, a concession Apple was unwilling to make.

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Qualcomm’s 4G LTE Gobi 4000 chips shipping to OEMs, likely to land in next-gen iPad

Qualcomm has just issued a press release announcing the commercial availability of their Gobi 4000 chips for 4G LTE and HSPA+ capable devices, a variant of which could very well ship in a next-generation LTE-capable iPad. In August we discovered Apple had possibly begun field testing a next-gen LTE iPads with LTE code floating around the iOS builds, and it’s likely Apple would go with Qualcomm’s chip, as almost every 3G iOS device since the Verizon iPhone has used their Gobi platform, the exception being the the AT&T iPad which uses an older Infineon chip.

“The Gobi 4000 platform allows customers to offer both LTE/HSPA+ and LTE/EV-DO designs to meet the growing demand for embedded 3G/4G connectivity in mobile devices worldwide… System designers now have the flexibility to choose an embedded Gobi 4000 platform for high-speed 4G LTE support, or an embedded Gobi 3000 platform for worldwide 3G connectivity.”

The new chips, now shipping to OEMs with modules available through Novatel Wireless and Sierra Wireless, are based on Qualcomm’s MDM9600 and MDM 9200 3G/4G wireless modems, and as the company notes, have been specially designed for deployment in devices utilizing Snapdragon dual-core and quad-core processors. In addition to HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, and LTE support, the Gobi 4000 platform is also backwards compatible with HSPA and EV-DO. On top of a possible variant of the chip coming to a future 4G LTE iPad, the Gobi 4000 platform will also be included in Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops, and Dell’s Latitude E6420 laptops, in addition to other Windows and Android powered mobile devices.

Qualcomm’s senior vice president of produdct management for CDMA Technologies, Cristiano Amon, had this to say about the announcement:
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