Verizon unveils 1 year “Device Payment Plan” for yearly updaters, moves full subsidies to 24 months

Verizon announced a few notable changes this week, possibly in response to T-Mobile’s new ‘Uncarrier’ pricing structure.

The first change enforces 24-month contracts and restricts subsidized upgrades during that period. Customers will no longer enjoy ‘early upgrades’ after 20-months, as was previously the policy.

While the change may disappoint customers who enjoyed upgrading their devices more frequently, Verizon told The Verge that a new “Device Payment Plan” will be accompany the policy changes.

The new payment plan allows customers to upgrade their smartphone annually by paying the upgrade fee at the register and dividing the rest of the full-retail price over 12 months. This payment plan will include a $2/month finance charge through the duration of the year.

For people like us who update annually, this option is a more pragmatic approach, especially when vendors like Gazelle (as well as others) typically pay more than the subsidized cost of a new smartphone for last year’s smartphone.

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Verizon CEO takes credit for convincing Steve Jobs to make iPhone 5 LTE, says half of wireless traffic is now video

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At NAB, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam told attendees that half of his network’s wireless traffic is used for downloading video. McAdam reportedly added that he expects video to take over 2/3 of the Verizon network by 2017. The CEO thanks the carrier’s investments in LTE technology for making this happen.

On the subject of LTE networks, McAdam also shared an interesting tidbit regarding an encounter with Steve Jobs and Apple during the development of the current iPhone, the iPhone 5. One of the latest iPhone’s premier new features over its predecessors is support for LTE networks in regions across the globe. McAdam says that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was initially reluctant about including LTE in the iPhone 5, but McAdam’s descriptions of LTE’s speed capabilities changed Jobs’ mind:

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How much does T-Mobile’s contract-free iPhone plan save over two years?

Now that T-Mobile offers the iPhone, how do the four national carriers compare in terms of costs? A couple of websites have done the sums.

Our friends over at Zagg did a blog post that suggested three of the four networks come out at exactly the same annual cost when attempting to get as close as possible to like-for-like tariffs, while going with T-Mobile’s contract-free option will save you $580 over two years.

carriers

Based on unlimited talk and text, and 4GB of data per month. Sprint offers only ‘unlimited’ data (claiming not to throttle), though is not noted anyway for fast data speeds.

While this is true for individuals, it doesn’t tell the whole story … Read more

Verizon CFO talks iPhone: Free iPhone gains, incentivizing employees to sell lower subsidy devices & Share Everything plans

verizon-iphoneVerizon CFO Fran Shammo spoke at the Duetsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom conference this morning, where he was asked a few questions related to the iPhone. Verizon reported its fourth quarter 2012 earnings last month with 9.8 million smartphone activations—a record 6.2 million of which were iPhone. We knew about half, or 3.1 million, of those iPhone sales were driven by the first full quarter with the iPhone 5, but today Shammo talked about just how important getting the free iPhone 4 was during the quarter:

But this past fourth quarter you had a couple — you had really one thing happen that never happened before, especially with Verizon Wireless, and that was for the first time ever, because of the iPhone 5 launch, we had the 4 at free. So it was the first time ever you could get a free iPhone on the

Verizon Wireless network. So that produced a lot of volume for us. We had a lot of new customers come into Verizon who took that free phone, and that was great for us because again if you think about — we sold a lot of LTE product in the fourth quarter. We sold a lot of 3G product from the iPhone products in the fourth quarter.

But that is key for us, because if you think about our two networks it is important for me as I migrate people into the 4G network I still have this very large 3G network that operates very efficiently. We are not investing any more capital in that network other than to keep it up and running, so no more coverage capital, no more capacity capital. If I can keep that network up and running that just generates more contribution margins for us. So it is critical for us to balance that. But, again, I think you had one point in time where you had a free phone, a free Apple phone that never happened before with us and that generated a lot of volume.

While noting that 53 percent of the carrier’s smartphone activations were iPhones in 2012, Shammo was asked about the opportunity to incentivize employees to sell non-Apple devices that would also come with lower subsidies for Verizon:

The answer is, no, we don’t and it is critical that we don’t do that. The reason for that is because what is more important for us is when a customer walks into a store that customer walks out with a phone that they will be happy with and not return under our 30-day guarantee. Because the worst thing that can happen for us is for me to incentivise a salesperson to get you into a phone that you walk out the door with thinking you are going to like and in three days you come back because you don’t like it. Therefore, now I’ve just subsidized two smartphones because that phone you used I can’t resell as a new phone.

You can read more from Shammo’s presentation and where he discusses the growth of Share Everything plans, tablets, and more here.

Report: iPhone captured 51.2-percent of US smartphone market last quarter, Android switchers up 10 percent

Kantar-Worldpanel-Comtech-iOS-2013Apple was able to maintain its lead of smartphone sales in the U.S. market during the holiday quarter ending Dec. 23, according to new data released by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The report said iOS was the top-selling smartphone platform during the three-month period, as it recorded 51.2-percent of market sales compared to Android’s 44.2-percent.

While Android’s share of the market remained steady, down from just 44.2-percent last year, Kantar noted an increasing number of iPhone sales to other smartphone users. Sales of iPhones to Android users apparently grew 10 percent compared to 2011:

“In particular, 36% of iOS sales were derived from other smartphone users over the last year. While this figure remains stable over time, the proportion of Android users moving towards the Apple brand increases. 19% of iOS sales over the last year were derived from Android users, compared to 9% in 2011,”

Among the switchers, the majority came from Verizon. About 49 percent of new iPhone sales came specifically from users of another smartphone platform, while 30 percent came from Android users. AT&T, however, only had about 6 percent Android switchers, as the majority of new iPhone purchases—55 percent—were derived from iPhone upgrades: Read more

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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Redbox Instant by Verizon iOS app live on App Store as $8/month streaming service launches in private beta

Verizon and Redbox confirmed on the official Redbox Instant Twitter account that the new unlimited streaming service is rolling out gradually starting today. The $8-per-month Netflix competitor will provide unlimited streaming and four physical DVD or Blu-ray rentals ($9 a month for Blu-ray) and will be available through the browser as well as mobile apps. A Redbox Instant by Verizon iOS app for iPhone and iPad is already available on the App Store. There is also a free one-month trial included.

It is unclear what kind of content deals are in place for streaming, but we do know the service will offer content from Warner Bros., and EPIX.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the service today, you’ll have to sign up for the private beta on the Redbox Instant website.

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Verizon sold 3.1M iPhones in Q3, 21 percent were iPhone 5

Verizon has reported its Q3 2012 earnings this morning with “a third consecutive quarter of double-digit percentage growth.” The nation’s second-largest carrier claims it experienced $29 billion in total operating revenue (3.9-percent gain over last year) and sold 6.8 million smartphones in total for the third quarter. Of the 6.8 million, Verizon reported selling 3.1 million iPhones. Just over one-fifth (or roughly 651,000) of those were the iPhone 5 that saw supply constraints. To compare, during Q2, Verizon sold 2.7 million iPhones.

The carrier also shed more light on its aggressive LTE rollout across the country. Its LTE service is now available to 250 million people in 419 markets across the United States. Furthermore, on the company’s earnings call, CFO Fran Shammo reiterated that its new Share Everything data plan has been “successful and well-received.”

You can find the press release below for specifics:  Read more

Six iPhone 5 gripes from Apple Support: Date/Time issues, Lightning charging, Wi-Fi, reception, voice quality, and battery life

The iPhone 5 is barely a month old, and almost everyone, present company included, thinks it is the most amazing smartphone on the market. But, it’s not perfect (that’s what updates are for), and Apple’s Support Community has been lighting up with not-isolated issues affecting all matter of functionality on the iPhone 5.

The top 6 iPhone 5 gripes from Apple’s support forums:

1. Date and time

The above issue, regarding iPhone 5 dates and times randomly changing, largely seems to primarily affect Verizon users. One support forum member (Rockyrikoko) even reported the same problem having occurred for Verizon’s Droid devices. The same member later claimed Apple engineers told him/her: “Issues with time provided over the air from Verizon will ultimately be for the carrier to address.” A quick skim through over a dozen pages revealed that —to this date— there has been no quick fix from Apple or Verizon and many users are still manually setting their clocks.

Check out the full thread: iPhone 5 time and date issues

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Verizon iPhone 5 update eliminates carrier data usage while connected to a Wifi Network

An update is going to Verizon iPhone 5 owners this evening that resolves an issue where, under certain circumstances, the iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while connected to a Wi-Fi network. We are not sure how much data leaks, or why and if Verizon will offer a refund, but we reached out to the carrier for a statement.

Update: Torod Neptune, spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, provided the following statement:

“Under certain circumstances, iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Apple has a fix that is being delivered to Verizon customers right on their iPhone 5. Verizon Wireless customers will not be charged for any unwarranted cellular data usage.”

Instructions to install the update.

  1. Tap Settings > General > About.
  2. Wait for the following alert to appear:
  3. Tap OK to install the update.
  4. Hold the Sleep/Wake button down until you see “slide to power off”.
  5. Slide to power off.
  6. After the device powers off, hold the Sleep/Wake button to turn your phone back on.

Note: To finish the installation of the update, your iPhone 5 must be turned off and then turned on again.

After your iPhone restarts, tap Settings > General > About, and then scroll down to Carrier and verify “Verizon 13.1″ is displayed.

The issue may be a carryover from the Wi-Fi+Cellular feature that was in the betas of iOS 6 but was eliminated in the final version. One reader below mentions the data leak seems to have occurred while the device is asleep.

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Verizon CFO says unlimited is ‘going by the wayside’, many customers embrace Share Everything

Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo told attendees at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in New York today that unlimited data plans are no longer relevant and the carrier’s Share Everything plan is doing well.

“We are surprised on shared from many different aspects,” said Shammo, as first reported by CNET. “…More people are going to shared than we actually anticipated. And the thing that really surprised us is we have a lot of people coming off unlimited to go to shared.”

Verizon’s Share Everything plan launched in June and allows users to, well, share data with up to 10 devices through a single account. The carrier stopped offering unlimited data to new customers last year, due to growing smartphone usage clogging the carrier’s pipelines; and with the standard now at 4G LTE, Verizon is likely trying to capitalize on every bit of data funneled through its network.

Unlimited data customers are flocking to Share Everything, Shammo suggested, because many of them realize they don’t consume much data. He also noted customers have added more devices than expected.

“Unlimited is just a word, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Shammo contended. “So that whole unlimited thing I think is going by the wayside and they see the benefit of going to the shared. “

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AT&T now out of opening day iPhone 5 stock, orders now pushed back to ’14-21 business days’

AT&T just ran out of Sept. 21 stock for the iPhone 5. The delivery page has now pushed sales to “14-21 business days,” which equals almost three to five weeks. Verizon ran out of stock earlier today, but it is hard to determine if this shows demand per carrier since AT&T is such a big legacy iPhone carrier and Apple obviously gave it a lot more stock than others.

Both big carriers have downsides: AT&T will not run FaceTime unless you buy a Mobile Share plan, while Verizon will run FaceTime on all of its iPhones—but new customers must sign up for a Mobile Share plan (no matter what). In addition, the CDMA version of the iPhone, which Verizon and Sprint both carry, will not support simultaneous talk and data. Speaking of Sprint, it is still advertising ship dates of Sept. 21.

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