plans

AT&T held its Developer Summit today, announcing a new Sponsored Data plan. Senior executive John Donovan took to the stage to reveal new options for businesses to pay AT&T on behalf of consumers when utilising the network to stream content, be it video, app data or even general website browsing.

This would enable consumers to access certain parts of the web without worrying about data caps and charges. Head on past the break for all the details.

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EE today announced a handful of new 4G plans that share the goal in offering customers with greater choice when it comes to 4G plans. Currently the UK mobile network operator is still the only provider of 4G in the UK, which is set to continue until spring 2013 when remaining UK operators will be able to launch respective upgrades. So what are the new plans at EE like?

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One could easily turn this into a hate-filled rant at EE, but we'll remain calm with a cup of tea in one hand and the crumpet in the other. According to a press release sent out this morning (crossing over Nokia incidentally), EE announced its UK 4G plans, and what it will be charging consumers to make use of the extra speeds offered by the UK's first LTE network.

Now don't get us wrong, we expected a slight jump in pricing due to the exclusivity held by EE on the improved network speed, but what has been revealed by the company is almost mind boggling. 

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Ting, a US-based MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator - similar to Giffgaff in the UK), makes use of Sprint's network to offer their service to consumers. The company is working closely with Sprint to allow customers from the popular US carrier to move over to Ting with its BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It has been rather quiet with Windows Phone, until now.

It seems both companies will be stocking Windows Phones. We're not sure if it was intentional, but Ting has revealed plans for (or the view to) both itself and Spring to support Windows Phone in the future.

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We've reported in the past that Samsung was sitting on the sidelines during the summer with Windows Phone, concentrating on their new Galaxy SIII release for Android (which so far has garnered negative impressions). Devices like the Mandel (SGH-i667) are believed to have been canceled or put on hold till Microsoft is ready to update their OS.

That's not to say Samsung doesn't have a strategy, one that takes aim right at Nokia. According to the site SmartHouse who spoke with a Samsung senior executive, Samsung will be introducing at least four devices that span the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 spectrum come this fall. None of the proposed devices should be shocking as Samsung is one again sticking to what it knows:

  • 11" Windows 8 tablet
  • 14" Windows 8 tablet (+ dock and keyboard)
  • "Windows based Note offering"
  • Phone based on Galaxy SIII hardware/design

It's not clear if the Note device will be running Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 (nor are we clear what the difference is yet either) but such a decision to offer such a design should not be surprising as the Note has sold better than expected. Coming in with a 5.3" Super AMOLED HD screen, the Samsung Note bridges smartphones and tablets in a form-factor suitable for literally taking notes on it with the return of a stylus. Throwing Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 on such a design seems like an obvious choice and one we wouldn't mind.

The Windows Phone based off a Galaxy S III design and hardware confirms an earlier story which suggested the same thing. Once again, this is what we expect Samsung to do at this point--recycle designs from Android to Windows Phone. Such practice allows them to presumably save on hardware, production and in theory, to have less issues as that hardware is already tried and tested.

Will all of that be enough to "take on" Nokia? Since we don't know hat Nokia is planning, it is certainly too early to judge but Samsung is not getting many accolades for its GSIII design with many calling it a disappointment. Though Samsung seemed to be on course to become a Korean Apple with their hit Galaxy series, the company had faltered with their latest Android phone and now many are wondering if have they really changed.

We're expecting Nokia to come out with some really cutting edge hardware this fall too, perhaps a 41MP PureView camera sensor for Windows Phone and even tablets. It will certainly be tough for Samsung to steal back that spotlight.

Source: SmartHouse; via WMPU

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AT&T caught a lot of flak over the weekend regarding their semi-public announcement to not support the 8107 OS update for their current Windows Phone lineup. That update, as many of you know, is critical for security fixes as much as for fixing the famed disappearing keyboard bug.

We just spoke with AT&T on the situation and we can confirm and clarify a few things on the record. First, it is true that they have passed on 8107 or what they referred to as "Windows Phone Mango Commercial Refresh 1" or just CR1. They've also passed on CR2, which is what the Lumia 900 and Titan II are running (that's build 8112). That update brings LTE and Visual Voicemail support for AT&T with the first aspect obviously being pointless for current Mango phones.

So that's the bad news.

The good news is they have not shut the door on OS updates for their current lineup including the Samsung Focus S, Focus Flash and HTC Titan.  Stacey Harth, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told us this morning "AT&T plans for a Windows Phone update that will contain the improvements in the 8107 update and more" with no commitment to a time-frame.

So what does that mean exactly? It means "Tango", which goes by the alternate name CR3, is something that they are looking to evaluate for an OS update. While they did not want give any time-frames they are definitely committed to updating those devices with a post-8107 OS update from Microsoft. "Tango" (or a build post-Tango) is certainly the most viable candidate for such an update.

Of course what you want to know is why are they passing on 8107? It's a bit complicated and you don't have to agree with their position but they do have a rationale (and it's not to get you to buy a new phone). In short, each update comes with a corresponding OEM firmware update which also fixes hardware bugs and/or optimizes the software (these are often at the request of AT&T). Those updates need to be scheduled with the "bits" from Microsoft and it does take a bit of coordination to get that to happen. Moreover, while 8107 does fix a pretty annoying bug, the updates in CR3 (aka "Tango") brings that fix and even more . For example, AT&T very much likes the idea of multiple-photos in MMS, voice notes, etc. that Tango brings to the table.

And that's the crux of the matter: AT&T is admittedly conservative on OS updates and would prefer to not certify every single one that Microsoft releases for evaluation. Instead, they prefer the method where you can pack numerous bug fixes and new features into a single, bigger update. It's similar to the "do I buy this phone now or wait 3 months for a better one?" scenario that many of you face when you follow technology. For AT&T, the question is do we push this update or do we wait for that even better one just a few weeks away?

That does raise a larger, ongoing issue, which is why can't Microsoft just push out mini-bug fixes to the OS without interference by AT&T, especially if it does not touch the radio firmware? It's certainly a very valid point and the reason seems to be a combo of "this is how carriers operate" and Microsoft has not made "patching" as easy (or perhaps they've just conceded too much power to the carriers).

Regardless, the take away point is that AT&T is planning to update your phones and that update will be a larger, post-8107 update which will include that keyboard fix and even more features. We can disagree on what makes an update imperative and yes, we consider the keyboard fix to fall into that, but that is the current situation.

In the end, it may not be the answer you want to hear but we think it is a lot more palatable than the perception left from this weekend.

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Microsoft has been pouring resources into the SkyDrive service with a recent update that introduced a fresh batch of features and functionality. While 25GB is offered for absolutely nothing (and is more than enough for most users), the software giant is looking to introduce paid upgrade plans according to a report by the Brazilian site Gemind

The prices for storage upgrades that allow up to a cumulative total of 125GB (25GB standard + an extra 100GB) available cloud storage space, are set to look like the following:

  • +20GB for $11/yr
  • +50GB for $27/yr
  • +100GB for $54/yr

Not only that but there's evidence of native clients for both Windows and Mac (see below), which will please many for more convenient access to their stored files.

The news of a Mac client will definitely impress users as iCloud upgrades can prove costly. In fact, Microsoft could really work wonders with SkyDrive on Apple's platform with the iOS app and now for the desktop OS. It's not known when this rollout will cover the rest of the world.

Source: Gemind.br, via: TNW, thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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AT&T makes alterations to data plans

AT&T has announced changes that will be applied for data (smartphone and tablet) users. The alterations are to bring more cost effective choice to customers, and the changes can be seen in the breakdown below. Current smartphone and tablet customers will have the choice to stick with their current plan or move to one of the new plans. Check out the previous AT&T data plan changes for details on what's being altered.

For smartphone owners:

  • AT&T Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB (up from $15 for 200MB)
  • AT&T Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB (up from $25 for 2GB)
  • AT&T Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering

For tablet owners:

  • AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
  • AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB

David Christopher, chief marketing officer AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, explains the above changes for data users:

"Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment."

Customers are reminded to use WiFi whenever possible, of course. This is good news for those who often hit the higher end of the data limit for their plan, with the allowance being increased for a fraction of the cost. Although for those who barely use data while out and about, this could prove an uncomfortable increase in cost when not actually receiving anything out of the deal. As stated above, this will affect new (or renewing) customers.

Check out the press release for more information.

Source: AT&Tthanks @TheWeeBear for the tip!

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Tiered Verizon plans coming July 7?

There has been some hinting and speculating that Verizon would be moving to tiered data plans in the future, and now it looks as though the future is July 7.  DroidLife is reporting today that the new plans will range from $30-$80 and will be the same for both 3G and 4G data.  The good news is that anyone is currently under contract with Verizon will not be affected.

The structure of the new tiers is as follows:

  • * 2GB – $30/month
  • * 5GB – $50/month
  • * 10GB – $80/month

 Plans with tethering will also be affected:

  • * 4GB – $50/month
  • * 7GB – $70/month
  • * 12GB – $100/month

Any additional data will be billed at a rate of $10 per 1GB.

With a recent Nielsen report finding that data usage is on the rise across the board for nearly ever OS on every carrier, it's clear that carriers like Verizon would want to cash in.  However, that same study also showed that data is cheaper now than in previous years, so what's the motivation behind moving to tiered data plans?  Is Big Red trying to give customers the best bang for the buck by letting them choose their usage level, or is this a move to get them to reign in their consumption?  It will be interesting to see how smaller carriers react to this, either by following suit or by countering with the unlimited plan approach. 

Source: DroidLife; Via: Android Central

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We're getting late breaking news here at WMExperts that Sprint is poised to launch a "revolution" today (Thursday) for their Sprint Premier, Sprint Everything Data and select business plans.

So what is ‘Sprint Any Mobile’?

Reportedly, Sprint is going to allow you to call any domestic mobile number, regardless of carrier, any time for free.  Now most Sprint customers already have the free Sprint-to-Sprint mobile calls on their plans, but this will extend that to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.

Best part? Reportedly this is a free upgrade to those customers with the above mentioned qualifying plans.

You have to give it to Sprint: one of the fastest data networks, 4G Wimax, the Palm Pre, just announced Palm PixiHTC Hero, Touch Pro 2 and now this. That's change we like to see! 

But what say you--will you benefit from this feature and is it enough to save Sprint?

[via PreCentral.net]

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Verizon borrows a trick from Alltel

Take a page out of the playbook it recently bought from Alltel, Verizon Wireless is launching  a "Friends and Family" plan [via] that lets you call five to 10 numbers for free, a la "My Circle." That should alleviate any fears Alltel subscribers may have had after thei were swallowed up by Verizon.

The "Friends and Family" deal goes live on Sunday. Here's what you need to qualify:

To take advantage of Friends & Family, you need to be on a qualifying Nationwide Single Line plan with 900 or more Anytime Minutes. Single line customers can select up to 5 numbers to add to their Friends & Family calling group.

If you are on a Nationwide Family SharePlan®, you need to have 1,400 or more Anytime Minutes, and you can select up to 10 numbers that will be shared among plan members.

Once you make a change to Friends & Family numbers, the information in your account(s) will update the following day. There is no charge to sign up and no charge, ever, to make changes to your Friends & Family calling directory.

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You really want to check out a couple of posts over at the Consumerist: "7 Confessions of a Cingular Sales Rep" and "8 Confessions of a Former Verizon Sales Rep". Both are chock-full of tips and tricks for getting the most out of these blood-suckers (the carriers, not the reps) when it comes time to upgrade your phone or change your plan. The gist: use the reps' incentives to your advantage. They get a big boost from text message plans, so offering to sign up for one of those should net you savings elsewhere. And with carriers constantly raising the costs of non-plan text messages, you probably should be getting one of those unlimited plans anyway (and the unlimited data plan too, lest you end up with a $8,677.29 phone bill).

Update: Add confessions from a Sprint rep to the mix.

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