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In the wake of the uproar over their lack of communication on their update strategy, Microsoft created a web page to communicate with users on the status of their updates. Up until now AT&T users were left wondering what "Testing" meant, and how long that would take. The bad news is that all three Windows Phone 7 devices on AT&T are still in the testing phase, but the good news is that there are target dates attached now.

According to Microsoft’s website, testing for both the NoDo and Pre-Nodo updates are estimated to be completed early next month. While this is obviously later than anyone wants, at least we have a time frame to mark on the calendar.

What do you think? Is this too late? Are you at least glad that there is some communication rolling at this point? Get your rant on in the comments.

Source: Microsoft; Thanks to Bryan for the tip!

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3

AT&T’s HSPA+ Upgrades Moving Right Along

They’re not billing it as a 4G network (like T-Mobile for example), but AT&T says that their network is now 80% HSPA+. For the acronym challenged, HSPA+ (or Evolved HSPA) increases the theoretical peak data rate from HSPA’s 14 Mbit/s to 56 Mbit/s (per Wikipedia).

The caveat here is that AT&T doesn’t currently have any phones that support the speeds that would benefit from HSPA+, and the only phones on T-Mobile run Android. But still, network upgrades benefit everyone.

via: Boy Genius Report

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We've been peppering carriers with questions regarding the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 on Oct. 6, and most are pretty mum at this point. But AT&T did drop one little nugget in regards to WiFi, which we've been waiting to hear about for some time now. And it goes a long way toward answering a question we tackled in this week's podcast.

So, here's the deal. We're leaving it in AT&T-speak. Starting Sept. 14:

  • AT&T will provide most users access to nearly 20,000 AT&T Hot Spots across the US, including Starbucks.
  • Beginning this month, customers with Wi-Fi-enabled Windows Mobile smartphones and unlimited and other qualifying data plans will receive unlimited access to thousands of U.S. AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots nationwide.
  • Eligible Windows Mobile customers can access AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots at over 20,000 nationwide locations – the majority of customers will be eligible as most have a qualifying data plan.
  • At no additional cost, AT&T customers with unlimited personal and enterprise rate plans on Wi-Fi enabled Windows Mobile smartphones can enjoy automatic, fast and secure access to the Internet at AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots.
  • AT&T Wi-Fi will be easy to use on Windows Phones because of auto-authentication – if you have Wi-Fi on, you’ll automatically connect
  • The service will launch on 9/14 with Samsung smartphones with other devices to follow in the coming weeks, and all 6.5 devices will be supported.

So, while we still don't know what AT&T has up its sleeve in terms of Windows Mobile 6.5 and current or future devices, we now know it's opening up WiFi to the masses. Hit up this link for a map of AT&T's free WiFi locations.

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Update: Engadget notes that, in fact, these are just the same old terms we've been living under for a while now. So, nothing new to see here. In other news, the sky is falling.

It's baaaack. Nearly a month after updating and then un-updating its terms of service, AT&T again has put in a clause that could make apps like Slingbox a big no-no.

Here's the section we're interested in, emphasis ours:

... downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

We're trying to get clarification on the "viewing on Personal Computers" clause. Smartphones certainly could be argued into that category, though the TOS use the word "phone" in a number of other instances. We'll let you know what we find out. In the meantime, you can read the whole TOS for yourself.

DSL Reports via Electronista

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Sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease, and that appears to be the case for some Samsung Epix owners. AT&T recently made available a hotfix (you have to call to get it, and then it's pushed to your phone) that fixes the "Slog Dump" problem, which looks like this. That's all fine and good, but apparently people are having major issues with the radio after applying the hotfix.

What about you folks out there in TV Land? Having the same problems?

Via the Boy Genius Report

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Everyone's favorite smartphone fiend and CrackBerry.com contributor Bla1ze has found a juicy little nugget that points to BlackBerry getting over-the-air OS upgrades from AT&T. And that makes us wonder:

Where the heck are ours?!?!?

Flash back to last September, when Dieter got his hands on the silver Motorola Q9h. We first thought it was merely a new paint scheme, but it turns out the silver Q would be the first to support Firmware Over the Air updates, with the actual push coming from AT&T. But, as we all know, support is far from actual implementation, and we've never actually seen a FOTA update released. (And we can't write this post without mentioning that the Windows Update feature on WinMo phones still does nothing but take up space and fool the noobs.)

What's good for an operating system ultimately is good for a carrier. You wanna see Windows Mobile get a real leg up on everyone else when Windows Mobile 7 is eventually released? Make this happen. And then use it. (Please!)

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5

AT&T planning LTE for 2011

During all the excitement of the 2009 Mobile World Congress, AT&T has quietly acknowledged that it should have a fully ready Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 2011. AT&T has pledged in the past to introduce the 4G Network in 2010 but, according to Senior Architecture VP Kris Rinne, will see the first phase limited to trials in 2010, with commercial services available the following year. This will put AT&T's 4G Network about a year behind Verizon's 4G network, which is for trials later this year with commercial services planned for 2010.

AT&T doesn't seem too worried about Verizon's time line, maintaining that it can rely on HSPA+ and have the advanced 3G networks reach 20Mbps sometime later this year through software upgrades. The LTE network theoretically is at least five times as fast in downloads, about 100Mbps and has a lower latency that should make multi-layer games, VoIP, and two way calling more practical than on 3G networks.

Speaking of time lines, it's probably safe to say that Apple's future plans for the iPhone could well be a factor here. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that AT&T has no idea what Apple's plans are.

[Read: Electonista.com]

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AT&T Data Outages East of the Mississippi

Engadget Mobile is reporting some major AT&T data outages on the east coast, from New York City to St. Louis. AT&T is aware of the reports and working on it, though as the big E notes a perusal of the AT&T forums shows a lot of unhappy 3G and EDGE users.

I'm doing fine down here in my little neck of the woods, where the recent 3G upgrade gets utilized by just a relatively small number of people. How about you big city folk -- emails coming in? Browser working?

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US Version of the Touch Pro (GSM) Spotted

A brave chap named Black93300ZX over at xda-developers has dropped $900 on what is almost surely a Touch Pro bound for AT&T. How do we know it's AT&T-bound? Well, note the lack of a front-facing camera, the slightly different keyboard layout, and also that it's working on the US' 850 band for 3G data.

No word on when this will actually arrive, of course, and we're still expecting the CDMA version to land on Sprint first. Still: fans of the slider and owners of the Tilt now have a pretty clear upload path.

Thanks to wmpoweruser for the tip!

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You already (should) know that your 'unlimited data' isn't actually unlimited in terms of sheer bandwidth -- every carrier has either official or unofficial data caps. Transfer more than, say, 5 gigs of data and you might be looking at a nasty call and an unceremoniously cancelled account. Add another limitation on to that there 'unlimited' plan: the type of data you're allowed to send or receive:

[AT&T] told the FCC on Friday that if they catch you using their mobile broadband network for P2P, they'll nuke your account. Specifically, senior VP of dealing with the government Robert Quinn said that “AT&T's terms of service for mobile wireless broadband customers prohibit all uses that may cause extreme network capacity issues, and explicitly identify P2P file sharing applications as such a use.” - Gizmodo

Exactly what qualifies as “P2P” is sadly (and expectedly) vague -- just apps on the phone, P2P on your laptop via a tethered connection, all are likely up for grabs. We're guessing that AT&T is feeling the pain of a 3G network that doesn't have the capacity for serious, heavy use by a large population, especially on the upload side of things. Yes, we probably have the iPhone to blame thank for AT&T sudden vulnerable feelings.

Thanks to Rene for the tip!

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Samsung i788 to Hit AT&T?

Here's a fun rumor we heard over the weekend from an anonymous tipster: at a meeting for AT&T Store managers, looks like a few manufacturer reps got a little overexcited about what's coming down the pike. One couldn't help himself from pulling a BlackBerry Bold out and flashing it around. Another, she had a full-on gear bag full of phones -- one of which appeared to be the Samsung i780. Technically, it would have been the Samsung SGH-i788, which has the bands necessary for the US 3G networks.

The rep said it was "OTA," which apparently in her parlance meant "not released" instead of "Over the air." As you'd expect, it's just a little thicker than the BlackJack II, features that weird mouse pointer, a telescoping stylus, and was, in fact, branded with the AT&T logo.

It was in the standard black color and was relatively pretty light considering what it packs. The battery was dead so our tipster didn

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If you have ever been Jamstered and have AT&T, then now might be a good time to call them up for a credit. AT&T is offering credits due to third party charges that occurred spuriously between Jan 1st 2004 to may 30 2008. AT&T has learned its lesson and will now require customers to confirm monthly subscriptions by text and have third party companies send reminders on how to unsubscribe. AT&T should be notifying customers in the coming weeks, but if its anything like a mail in rebate, well, you know... Instead you might be better off simply downloading the credit form from the AT&T website.

In my opinion its kind of sad that it took a lawsuit to help a company like AT&T realize there was a problem in this area. I can't tell you how many times I have looked at a bill and seen a ridiculous amount of ring tones and game charges from 3rd party companies. Just a helpful reminder that your Windows Mobile phones are packed full of features that we love and don't require you to pay some janky 3rd party service to use. If you have been janked, however, hit up the lawsuit link there and get the deets on your potential compensation.

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FLO TV coming to AT&T

Moments after our review of Cellular Video from AT&T they decide to hit us with the launch of Mobile TV with FLO. This coming May we will have access to a whole plethora of media. Already installed on most AT&T phones are Cellular Video, XM Radio, and MobiTV. The new service will go by the name of AT&T Mobile TV with FLO and plans to pack a punch. Full- length shows such as CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon will all be at your fingertips. To see what all the fuss is check out the site. That

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This is exactly the kind of fight we like to see.

So last week Verizon announced their “Any App, Any Device” program - basically promising that they'd be open and let any handset (after it's been tested) be used on their network. Of course, that 'testing' part sounds a little sketchy, and let's face it - how many non-Verizon CDMA phones do you have lying around (or want to make in your basement) that are unlocked and ready to rock on Verizon? So - nice thought, good to see you moving away from evil, Verizon, but the earth has not shook.

Well, AT&T has responded and their response basically boils down to this: “We use SIM cards, ever heard of 'em?” Yes, folks, AT&T cares not which GSM phone you use and it's always pretty much been like that - so the 'Openness' that Verizon has just started has always been around on GSM networks.

“You can use any handset on our network you want,” says Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T's wireless business. “We don't prohibit it, or even police it.”

Read: USA Today via Engadget Mobile

Allowing 'other unlocked' handsets on your network is very nice, Verizon and AT&T, thank you. Now: quit locking down features like GPS and Bluetooth and trying to turn every blasted thing under the sun into a for-pay 'service' when all we're really doing is using bandwidth from your pipe. If Verizon and AT&T are serious about this 'open' thing, maybe they'll stop being jerks to folks like Skype. Because Skype (and others) want to use that bandwidth pipe and are being blocked.

We're happy these companies are talking about being open, but they don't get the benefit of the doubt from us anymore that they are open because of their history. Actions > Words, guys.

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Sprint CEO Ousted

Before we get to the doom and gloom, let's remember that Sprint has a few good things going for it:

  • Great data plans on 3G
  • um...

Ok, ok, they do have the Mogul and the Sprint Touch is coming soon (a little bird bubbatex in our forums tells us November 1st), so they're doing alright on the device front. On the network front, though, they're all over the map. Nextel's iDEN, Standard CDMA, and working to create WiMAX (which they're calling "XOHM", but that's another discussion). I seem to recall they even tried resurrecting Trenchcoat Guy recently and that didn't help, which stinks because he was way cooler than CanYouHearMeNow? Guy.

The real issue is that their stock price is consistent - consistently down. So Gary Forsee has to go, replaced by CFO Paul Saleh. Hopefully Saleh can get things moving, because - get this - I think that #3 Sprint might be looking at upstart Alltel's recent move into easier-to-do-than-WiMAX WiFi plans with more than a little jealousy (buyout rumors aside).

In between the two is T-Mobile, of whom we should not speak until they get 3G (that's getting delayed, too, by the way, their spectrum isn't going to be freed up on time). At the top of the heap, of course, are Verizon and AT&T, shaking their giant, evil corporate heads and thinking "kids today."

Forsee, who has also served as chairman and president, has come under fire as telecommunications giant Sprint's subscriber growth and share price have disappointed investors.

Read: MarketWatch; thanks to Overthrow for the tip

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