carriers

T-Mobile US has published its Q1 2014 report. The company has reported its best ever quarterly performance in branded postpard net customer additions. A total net of 2.4 million customers were added, including over 1.3 million branded postpaid net customers. This report marks the first quarter the carrier has had with more than 2 million net customers added to plans. It's a stark contrast to Sprint, which is still experiencing issues upgrading its network while maintaining its customer base.

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It’s been good last few months for Windows Phone users in India. There were several marquee apps that made way to the Windows Phone Store from Android and iOS. Also, a lot of companion apps for real-world services arrived on Windows Phone.

One of the domains was telecom service providers or carriers. The apps from carriers are meant to facilitate easier billing and payment for customers, the ability to watch your usage history, and to switch on or off specific services.

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Vector is Mobile Nation's newest show. It takes the most important topics in technology today, focuses on them from interesting angles, and then discusses the hell out of them. On this episode Sascha Segan, lead mobile analyst at PC Magazine, talks to Rene about the evolution of data connections, the annual Fastest Mobile Networks survey, the triumphs and tragedies of modern carriers, and why we can't always have nice phones.

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Nokia has a rather sweet deal currently going on in India. Should you be looking to get involved with a brand new Windows Phone or would like to check out the manufacturer's Asha series of mobile devices, you'll be able to take full advantage of free data. Pairing with numerous mobile operators, including Vodafone and Airtel, there's an enticing offer whether you're after a Lumia 520 or Lumia 925.

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Samsung hasn’t been giving Windows Phone a lot of love since the latest version dropped back in October. Here in the US, you still can’t walk into a carriers store and get an ATIV S or ATIV Odyssey. With recent remarks from Samsung about their timid feelings towards Windows RT, a lot of people started suspecting that the relationships between them and Microsoft was beginning to sour.

You can set aside some of those wild theories, analysts are painting a different picture of the situation. Who is to blame? Apparently, the carriers.  

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Sprint has finally confirmed what we already kind of knew for a while now: They will be hopping on the the Windows Phone 8 bandwagon. In an emailed statement to PCMag, the company said that it's cold feet have warmed up and that they will bring Windows Phone 8 on board in 2013:

"Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint's customers - operating on its 4G LTE network - next year."

There had been inklings that this may happen, like Ting, a Sprint network reseller blogging that it would support the latest version of Windows Phone "sixty days after Sprint has it," but there was plenty of reason to wonder as well. Not only did Sprint kill off it's poorly-selling, yet highly-acclaimed HTC Arrive, but they also put out an internal document stating that there were no Windows Phone 8 devices slated to offered any time soon.

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We know that the HTC 8X Windows Phone is headed to AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers Canada. We are now learning of additional global carriers and a hint at U.S. pricing.

According to HTC's press release posted on their UK site,

The Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC will be available beginning in November. Available through more than 150 carriers in 50+ countries, the Windows Phone 8X or 8S by HTC will be available from the world's top carriers including: United States: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Europe: Orange, O2 Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone Asia-Pacific: Chunghwa Telecom, Optus, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Smartone, Telstra and Vodafone Australia.

There wasn't any distinction as to which carrier will be getting which HTC device but it is nice to see Verizon mentioned.  Keep in mind though, we haven't seen confirmation from several of these carriers but the 8X's global availability does look promising.

As to the hint on pricing, the press release notes that U.S. pricing for the 8X will be $199.99* at AT&T and T-Mobile. If this price holds true, it is likely after two-year contractual discounts. 

*Note: It is our understanding that the pricing point for the 8X was released in error and all involved are still scratching their heads on the final pricing point.  It could be more or it could be less.  Once we hear something from the carriers, we'll pass it on.

Source: HTC UK

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The Chinese smartphone market has been growing at a shocking speed, overtaking almost every other country so far. However, the country has traditionally been very low in the gadget launching echelon.

Even Apple, who is making a very large share of its profit from China these days, has been putting the country in the 2nd or 3rd batch. Microsoft and its Windows Phone OEMs have been doing worse. Windows Phone 7 first launced in Europe back in October 2010, in the US in November 2012, and in China... March 2012.

This is about to change, says Chinese tech site WPDang. Windows Phone 8 is said to be launched in China as soon as the 3rd week of December, this year. Only one month after the US. A thousand times better than last time.

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In an interview with FierceWireless, MetroPCS COO Tom Key said that the regional carrier is looking into bringing a Windows Phone 8 offering to its customers. When asked what his view on Windows Phone 8 was, Key replied:

Windows Phone 8 we think has a place in the portfolio. We’re actually working with a manufacturer right now on bringing Windows Phone 8 to marketplace.

He went on to liken Microsoft and Windows Phone with Apple and the iPhone, saying that much like a consumer will have an iMac on their desk, they will want an iPad for the couch and an iPhone in their pocket to compliment each other. Such is the value to Microsoft consumers. Key also said that the competition, led primarily by Nokia, is good for the mobile OS ecosystem.

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Man, you guys are quick! It's only been a couple of days since our Tango carrier roundup and already we have another list of carriers and phones that are reportedly getting Windows Phone Refresh (aka, Tango). The Tango update shows up as version 8773 or 8779 and, for most devices, brings minor enhancements, bug fixes and features. But for those of you with any of Nokia's Lumia line of phones, you should see some bigger changes.

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We'll be honest, we get a lot of email here at Windows Phone Central. And we love it. We seriously try to read every singe one.

One area though that has been tough for us to triage is the Windows Phone "Tango" update aka build 8773 (or 8779) which features some minor fixes and enhancements for some phones, or big changes for others (like the Nokia Lumia range).

Every day we're tipped on such and such carrier now delivering an update and to be honest, it's overwhelming. To the point that we'll need to start an Excel sheet to just keep track of it all. Seriously. And we hate using Excel.

Anyway, we figured we would just post a list of the "tips" we've had on what carriers and phones have been getting Tango in the last few days. We don't doubt we've probably even covered some of these before, regardless we don't want to ignore your news either. So head past the break to see what we have from the last 5 days! 

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Nokia is set to market their first Windows Phone 8 hardware differently, according to a report by the Financial Times. The manufacturer will be entering into partnerships with a handful of EU carriers to exclusively launch their next generation Windows Phone. The newspaper states the company has already entered into talks with a number of operators including France Telecom.

Nokia has traditionally relied on flooding the market with a number of mobile devices in the hope of getting them in the hands of as many consumers as possible. This may well be scrapped for a more exclusive release-based strategy with handpicked partners, much like the deal established with AT&T in the US, or perhaps we could be seeing devices specifically tailored for different carriers with differentiating features and branding?

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Business Insider is reporting that Skype is causing Microsoft and by extension Nokia problems in terms of sales of their Lumia line. The information comes from the shareholder meeting held yesterday in Finland but since it was not open to the public or recorded, there's a lot of second hand "reporting" going, some of it dubious.

Reportedly a question was raised about Skype from a shareholder. From BI:

"Nokia seems to be having a problem with the distribution channel due to Skype" asking how will Nokia deal with this problem. Elop answered "If the operator doesn't want us, it doesn't want us. We will appeal to them with other arguments. We have more to offer to them. It is a good point to start the discussion from Skype."

Both BI and an awfully written personal blog called 'Communities Dominates Brands' spin this as Nokia having problems selling Lumias because of carrier opposition to Skype.

While we have little doubt that carriers don't like Skype and are concerned about how Microsoft pushes it on them, it seems like flat out ignorance to claim this is why Nokia may be having trouble selling their Lumia line. 

As anyone on Windows Phone who has used Skype knows, it's far from a threat to carriers especially at its current stage. Let's go over the reasons why this story is dubious and reeks of shoddy reporting:

  • Skype on Windows Phone doesn't run in the background and can't receive calls
  • Skype is widely available on the much more ubiquitous iOS and Android platforms where it can run in the background
  • Tango Video Call is also now widely available on all platforms and can receive calls in the background on Windows Phone, making it more of a "threat" than Skype
  • Skype doesn't come pre-installed on any Windows Phone; Tango Video Call does
  • The carriers are gearing up for Skype by capping data and raising costs as voice-usage starts to decline

Certainly we can see carriers being concerned with how Microsoft integrates Skype into Windows Phone 8 but that seems like something that could be negotiated by the OEMs and carriers on a per-device level. Microsoft has been very, very good at working with carriers (and cable providers) on content delivery and not stepping on their toes. In fact it's a core reason why the Xbox 360 is doing so well as a general entertainment device over Google TV.

The notion that Android and iOS get a pass on Skype with the carriers but Nokia (and only Nokia) are being singled out seems ludicrous, especially since Windows Phone is a drop in the bucket compared to Apple and Google's systems right now. In other words, while Nokia may be having problems getting traction in the smartphone market with Windows Phone, we don't think it's because of Skype.

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Despite all of us not knowing much about Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" we're sure discussing a lot about it this week.

Netbook News ran a story today about a supposed summit meeting between Microsoft and its partners happening in Reading, UK with the delicious details of the agenda. While no specifics were given, we can of course garner some information from the list itself, presented below:

  • Apollo Review
  • Windows Phone Schedules and release plans/processes
  • Customization & Differentiation opportunities
  • New Windows Phone 8 application development capabilities
  • What’s new feature review of Apollo
  • Connectivity and APN management
  • Better together with Windows 8

Some sites have spun the part about "Customization & Differentiation opportunities" as Microsoft giving more leeway to carriers and OEMs. To that we say "perhaps" but that's certainly an assumption. For all we know, it could be the same Accent color changes and some un-installable carrier software as with Windows Phone 7. But it is very possible that Microsoft is now loosening the reigns a tad to garner more favorable cooperation with carriers and OEMs.

It's a known fact that carriers and device manufacturers adore Google's Android because they can do so much with it, giving them greater incentive to sell the device, whereas Windows Phone is basically always the same. If Microsoft is shifting this a bit with Windows Phone 8, it could give carriers and companies like HTC or Samsung greater motivation to adopt and support Windows Phone 8. The devil is in the details though and we're lacking those.

The rest is just a list of things we're dying to know about, much like you. Too bad we're probably weeks if not months from getting the whole story on the next generation of Windows Phone.

Source: Netbook News

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Speaking of Windows Phone updates and rumors, our friends over at Mi Movil Windows have confirmed with two sources that Windows Phone Tango (finalized as OS build 8773) will be released officially at the beginning of June. (We've been told who the sources are but have been asked to not name them).

Even though ROMs of Tango have been floating around for awhile (and we've seen some for the Lumia 710 as of late) Microsoft reportedly pushed the April time-frame for release back to June so that more operators could finish testing and Microsoft could target a more universal roll-out, much like Mango. This becomes self-evident when you realize that no Tango updates have happened yet, even though the ROM has been finalized.

Of course if true, this won't mean we'll all get Tango the same day, let alone the same week. Instead what we could be seeing here is a rolling update where various regions and carriers will release over an extended time-frame.  This sounds a lot like the Mango-update which took roughly two-months to reach nearly 90% of devices. The difference here is the fact that Tango is a far cry from those 500-new features we saw last year.

Windows Phone Tango is expected to be optimized for 256 MB devices for emerging markets, feature enhanced MMS capability and other under the hood optimizations.

It will be interesting to see if AT&T, who have gone on the record twice now, will be taking advantage of this extension to also roll out this Tango update for current devices. The timing seems about right.

Source: Mi Movil Windows

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It would appear that mobile operators in Europe aren't impressed with what Nokia (and Windows Phone as a whole) has to offer to battle Google and Apple in the market. According to Reuters, four operators have stated that Nokia handsets have not been 'good enough' to compete with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.

One operator executive (who wished to remain anonymous) had the following to say:

"No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone. Nokia have given themselves a double challenge: to restore their credibility in terms of making hardware smartphones and succeed with the Microsoft Windows operating system, which lags in the market."

Now, we'll be the first to agree with the fact that not many customers will walk into a store and ask for a Windows Phone as the platform hasn't had the promotion or momentum that it so desperately requires. Microsoft has started their Smoked by Windows Phone campaign in a number of countries to build this momentum to a respectable pace, and Nokia has been hard at work with "The Amazing Everyday" and hosting live events. Cue "Rolling Thunder"? The trouble is there's just too much to do.

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Canadian carriers have been pleased with how the Lumia Windows Phones have been selling, according to a report by MobileSyrup. While carriers aren't known to reveal negative sales publicly often, TELUS and Rogers have both stated that they are happy with their Lumia handsets, and that customers share this satisfaction.

Reade Barber, Senior Director Data Product Management at Rogers, had the following to say:

"Rogers is proud to have the widest selection of choice for our customers. The Lumia 710 is proving to be a customer favourite and has been a great addition to our Smartphone Lite lineup. We're also very excited to be the exclusive carrier of the Lumia 900, Canada’s first Windows Phone LTE smartphone."

Rogers packs the inexpensive, but highly rated Lumia 710. MobileSyrup spoke with a number of sale staff from Rogers and the majority were pleased with how the Windows Phone sold in-store. The carrier has the device priced at $29.99 on a 3-year contract, or $255 SIM-free.

Brent Johnston, VP of Mobility Solutions at TELUS, mentioned the Lumia 800 (currently on sale for $25) has met the company's expectations:

"We are very pleased with the sales performance thus far, with Lumia sales meeting our expectations."

Unfortunately, it's impossible to judge how positive this response is due to not knowing how high / low expectations were to begin with. Then again, should the handset be exceeding low expectations would also be on the right path with TELUS then able to be more confident with future Nokia handsets.

With how competitively Nokia is pricing the Lumia handsets, and how dissatisfied many Android users are with low-end hardware, it should be comfortable to assume the Lumia 710 will start to pick up speed while the 800 is available at a reasonable price for those requiring that little bit more (or an award winning design).

Good news is good news, nonetheless.

Source: MobileSyrup; thanks bilzkh for the heads up!

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Paul Thurrott has revisited his Windows Phone review, specifically the part that covers the update process. Now we're all more than aware of how awful previous Windows Phone updates have been (just take a look at NoDo) for some consumers, depending on what carrier their with, but it seems as though this isn't set to change anytime soon. Carriers will be able to block updates as they see fit (unsure as for the motive to do so) and leave users high and dry without the latest version.

Thurrott previously explained that carriers could "veto" an update, which would then be automatically offered to consumers the next time a software update is released. It seems that Joe Belfiore (who provided Thurrott with said details) was incorrect, due to the fact that carriers appear to have the ability to block updates galore. As an example: both 7740 and 8107 still haven't been delivered to some consumers.

We have touched on this before, with a post on the Windows Team blog detailing that carriers could block any updates as they wished, but ultimately consumers should receive all updates pushed out by Microsoft. All in all, a real pain for consumers. Looks like we'll have to take matters back to the drawing board to plan future wars against the carriers. Are you still missing an update (or updates)? Let us know in the comments.

Source: WinSuperSite

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According to a report by Professeur Thibault, Microsoft France is using an external agency to help tackle sales staff issues the software giant has experienced with their mobile platform since its launch back in 2010. Nokia recently took incentives to the extreme with rewarding a top T-Mobile salesman to VIP treatment at CES 2012.

Microsoft and their hired guns will be ensuring employees at various stores around the country have effective training to sell Windows Phones. A source (which chose to remain anonymous) informed Professeur Thibalt that while he did not have confirmation to what exactly the incentives would be for sales teams across France, he was able to go into detail surrounding the training. The agency Microsoft has partnered with will be providing 30-120 minute sessions, coupled with hands-on walkthroughs and a short questionnaire at the end of the training.

Each trainer will be looking to visit up to 60 stores per month, and once stores have received the main training exercise they will be revisited 1-3 times per quarter. Although the source failed to obtain incentive details, he did mention that a free Nokia Lumia 800 or Acer Allegro could possibly be included for the staff of the store that sold the most Windows Phones. Doesn't sound like a bad combat plan.

Source: Professeur Thibault (translation)

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