Verizon no longer the gold standard for mobile data?

Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Photo: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Verizon Wireless, once the gold standard for LTE, has admitted that it is struggling to keep up with demand in the big cities – with some users being dropped down to slower 3G speeds. The carrier’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said yesterday:

There are certain pockets where we’re absolutely going to experience that down tick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints …  Read more

Regional U.S. carriers begin announcing iPad Air availability in ‘coming weeks’

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Ahead of next week’s iPad Air launch, dozens of countries across the world, regional carriers within the United States have begun announcing their plans for carrying the LTE-capable version of the tablet. While major carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint will begin selling the iPad Air on Friday, November 1st, these smaller, region-specific networks say that they will start selling the device in the “coming weeks.”

So far, Bluegrass Cellular and C Spire are the two regional carriers to announce iPad Air plans, and other carriers will likely share their own announcements in the coming days and weeks. Bluegrass Cellular operates in Kentucky while C Spire is based in Mississippi. Both of these carriers began carrying the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c earlier this month alongside several other regional providers…

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Deutsche Telekom statement adds to speculation that iPhone 5S may support LTE-A (aka LTE+)

Samsung is so far the only company to announce an LTE-A compatible phone

Samsung is so far the only company to announce an LTE-A compatible phone

A statement by Deutsche Telekom is adding to speculation that at least the European model of the iPhone 5S may support the high-speed LTE-A standard (also known as LTE+). The prospect of the 5S supporting the faster version of LTE had first been suggested back in July.

In announcing that the carrier will be launching its high-speed LTE-A data service this month, offering speeds of up to 150MBit/s, the company said:

Samsung will offer an updated version of the Galaxy S4 with LTE +. Appropriate devices from other manufacturers will follow the end of September.

Given the timing, some are suggesting that one of the ‘other manufacturers’ may be Apple …  Read more

Developer claims Apple is throttling iPhone/iPad data speeds on AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon (updated)

Update: a person in the know has pointed out a few problems with Brown’s post:

  1. It was taken down and is currently down.
  2. If you look at one of the lines of Apple’s code that he uses to allege throttling, it doesn’t even have anything to do with throttling internet speed. It’s just the term, used to talk about how often a phone should ping the network when it doesn’t encounter a signal, or something like that.
  3. AnandTech posted a lengthy article explaining why it just isn’t true.

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Joseph Brown, the developer behind the hacked carrier updates floating around for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, just posted a lengthy blog post detailing how he claims “Apple limits devices to even out” the networks of its carrier partners. Specifically, Brown says that Apple is limiting the iPhone 5 to Category 10 (14.4Mbps) HSDPA despite the device’s support for category 24 (42.2Mbps) DC-HSDPA+ and the AT&T network supporting up to Category 14 (21.1Mbps) HSDPA+:

Here we can see what is quite obvious to, really, anyone at this point from being jerked around so much by carriers. Yes folks, this is throttling coding. When we made the AT&T Hacked Carrier Update, this was the first line of coding to be scrapped when the project started. Immediately, through my testing on an AT&T iPhone 5 and iPad 4th generation, there were significant and noticeable results. There is no argueing or disputing that this is clear evidence you are purposely, 24/7, being throttled, even if you haven’t used more data than your authorized to use or that you’ve purchased with your hard earned money. AT&T users, do you think this is fair?

The theory is that Apple limits the capabilities of the device in order to combat the large amount of data/bandwidth iOS device users consume and ease congestion on carrier networks. Brown found signs of throttling data speeds for Verizon and Sprint too. The only carrier that is apparently not limiting the iPhone 5’s capabilities is T-Mobile.

Brown also says “Apple has band preferences set for T-Mobile and AT&T causing signal issues” that could be easily fixed.

Here’s what Brown found in his analysis of the other carriers: Read more

Verizon’s ‘ItsOn’ MVNO and AT&T’s ‘All in One’ to take on simplified billing/pre-paid space

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ItsOn, a company building software for carriers that provides users with dynamic pricing plans on mobile devices, last year announced plans to partner with one of the big U.S. carriers for its launch early this year. We’ve since learned that the carrier is likely Verizon, and that ItsOn will be launching as a consumer facing MVNO later this month (Verizon and Vodafone who both share ownership of Verizon Wireless are both investors).

There’s no word on exactly what the announcement will consist of or what the ItsOn service will include, but based on the company’s software we expect to see flexible pricing plans that, of course, run on Verizon’s robust LTE network. Despite executives expressing doubts about the service running on iOS devices in previous interviews, we also believe that an iOS version of the service is indeed coming, but at launch the service will initially be limited to other smartphones (likely Android-based). Read more

U.S. Cellular announces plans to carry Apple products later this year

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U.S. Cellular, the Chicago-based carrier serving around 5.8 million customers in 126 markets, will likely start offering the iPhone later this year, possibly in addition to other iOS devices. The carrier announced today in its first quarter results that it will soon begin carrying Apple products, but didn’t provide any further information regarding when or what specific products it might launch:

“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year. By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve. Our smartphone penetration is currently 43 percent of core market customers and growing quickly. We believe there will be strong, ongoing demand for smartphones and data products and services from our customers, and we have significant room for growth in this area.

You might remember a couple years back U.S. Cellular claimed it said no to the iPhone 4S with CEO Mary Dillon at the time saying Apple’s “terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” Later, CEO of the cellular provider’s parent company TDS hinted that the carrier would wait until Apple unveiled an LTE capable device, which was of course before the unveiling of Apple’s LTE iPhone 5.

After it decided not to carry the iPhone 4S, it soon after launched its Wonderphone ad campaign that were seen by many as mocking the iPhone.

U.S. Celluar today reported service revenues for the first quarter of $996.3 million and noted that it plans to roll out its 4G LTE service to 87 percent of its subscribers this year. The carrier also said it plans to close its $480 million deal to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and other markets to Sprint in the second quarter of 2013.  Read more

Jailbreak tweak purports to let AT&T iPhone 5s jump on T-Mobile’s LTE without update

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While Apple confirmed that purchasing a new AWS-enabled variant of the iPhone 5 was necessary to get on T-Mobile’s network, a new jaibreak hack claims to enable LTE at 1700mhz by loading a custom carrier firmware on an existing, unlocked AT&T iPhone 5 (A1428). Leimobile.com posted the full instructions:

Now that you have an unlocked AT&T model A1428 or an officially unlocked model A1428 you can proceed to follow the instructions below to load a custom carrier file onto your iPhone and enable LTE. This will only work on A1428 model iPhone 5′s.

To be clear, this enables LTE AWS support for T-Mobile. It won’t allow you to access HSPA+ 42Mbps on 1700mhz like Apple’s new A1428 variant…

T-Mobile officially unveiled on Tuesday its plans to carry the iPhone on its new no-contract, no-subsidy, monthly installment plans starting at $99 down for the iPhone 5. Following the announcement, Engadget confirmed with Apple that the existing A1428 model iPhone 5 for AT&T would not support the necessary AWS bands to access T-Mobile’s network. Apple said it would phase out the existing A1428 iPhone, meaning new devices would support both AT&T and T-Mobile, but it will be doing so through a firmware update at the factory. In other words, a software update for A1428 iPhone owners isn’t possible and existing AT&T iPhone 5 owners are out of luck when it comes to support on T-Mobile’s network.

The hack above, which we haven’t tested first hand, of course won’t work for the Verizon iPhone, as it does not support the correct LTE bands.

T-Mobile/Solavei roll out iPhone-compatible HSPA+ to 14 new metro areas, as Verizon LTE arrives in 29 markets

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T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray announced on the company’s blog today that 14 new metro areas are getting access to its iPhone-compatible HSPA+ 4G network. The updates are hitting areas such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, Texas, Florida, and San Antonio, following rollouts to Chicago, California, and elsewhere earlier this month.

The carrier also said enhancements to its network in additional areas like Los Angeles and San Diego have already started. This means that customers on Solavei, the new, no-contract T-Mobile MVNO offering of $49 per month unlimited, will also get coverage for unlocked iPhones in the new areas. A full list is below:

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Some LTE iPads getting delivered as early as Friday, Nov. 16

Late last week, Apple started notifying customers that orders of LTE iPad minis would begin shipping within 5 business days. Those same customers were also reporting updated shipping times ranging from Nov. 21 to Nov. 23. As for the new iPad 4 with Retina display, Apple recently updated its website with an estimated shipping time of “7 business days,” but today we get word from several readers that existing orders of the device are set to arrive as early as Nov. 16.

The actual arrival time of the iPad 4 with LTE is a moving target, with earlier reports pointing to next week. However, with the release of the LTE iPad firmware on Apple’s servers on Nov. 8, it is likely that the review units are already in reviewers’ hands. So, a release this week isn’t out of the question.

The Nov. 16 date would line up nicely with Apple’s original promise to ship the LTE models of its new iPads within roughly 2 weeks of the Nov. 2 Wi-Fi-only launches. It looks like Apple might not be able to get out new orders of LTE iPad minis as quickly as the iPad 4, however, as its website currently lists the LTE capable minis as shipping in “2 weeks”.

Other rumors have also pointed to a Nov. 16 launch of in-store sales of the new LTE iPads at AT&T.

We’re sure to hear more. Another image below:

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Report: Korean carriers in talks with Apple over LTE-equipped next-gen iPhone

While most are expecting Apple to include the rumored LTE connectivity in the upcoming next-gen iPhone, we get word from Korea Times today that Korean carriers SK Telecom and KT have revealed they are currently in talks with Apple to carry a new iPhone on their LTE networks:

SK Telecom and KT are in talks to offer long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity on Apple’s next handset, tentatively named the iPhone 5, officials from the companies said Wednesday…The two local telecom companies are authorized Korean partners to sell the American firm’s i-branded devices here. The smallest carrier LG Uplus is unable to sell Apple’s products as it doesn’t own a suitable frequency.

According to an official at KT, which is home to roughly 1.4 million users compared to SK Telecom’s 4 million LTE subscribers, the carrier is in talks “with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone.” Although it’s unclear exactly what type of negotiations might be taking place, we know the current third-gen LTE iPad supports only AT&T, Verizon, and a few Canadian carriers on 700 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands. If the talks are indeed to discuss launching an LTE iPhone with support for the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands, it’s importnat to note that many other markets also operate over those bands including Australia and parts of Europe.
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Apple LTE chip supplier Qualcomm unable to meet demand, could push back next iPhone launch

According to a report from Reuters, Apple’s LTE chip supplier Qualcomm is having “trouble meeting demand” for smartphone chips and will continue experiencing manufacturing constraints throughout the rest of the year. Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs told analysts on a conference call yesterday, “At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing.”

With Apple’s next-generation iPhone expected to include LTE capabilities like the recently launched third-gen iPad, many are speculating Qualcomm’s supply issues could lead to delays. It would also make the rumored September or October unveiling and holiday launch all the more likely opposed to June. Is it possible Qualcomm’s supply constraints have anything to do with Apple buying up its capacity?

Apple recently began internally seeding prototype N96— a faster iPhone with 1GB of RAM and an A5X variant to test the performance of the new chip on iPhones.

Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Keitel told Reuters the constraints have lead to increased operating expenses: Read more