Tag Archives | 3G

Windows Phone 7 Likes Your 3G a Bit Too Much

Reports across the Web are surfacing that Microsoft has a serious problem with Windows Phone 7 that may become very expensive for some: the OS seems to use an awful lot of cellular bandwidth, even when idle. This means those with smaller data plans may find themselves in for a shock when their bill arrives.

One user wrote into Paul Thurrott’s WinSuperSite telling he had to put the phone into airplane mode because he was near his 2GB data limit, and copious amounts of data were being used even when idle. Thurrott himself replied that he had noticed increases of data usage.

What’s happening here is that even when on a Wi-Fi network — for whatever reason — the phone is still using 3G for data. Its unclear what applications (if not the entire phone) is doing this, but its a serious and common problem apparently that Microsoft has yet to confirm.

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Verizon’s 4G Network: The Details

Verizon Wireless officially announced the roll-out plans for its 4G LTE high-speed wireless data network today, and none too soon: The LTE era starts this Sunday in thirty-eight metro areas. All Things Digital’s Ina Fried has more specifics, and Greg Kumparak of MobileCrunch lists the launch cities.

The facts that caught my eye:

  • Verizon is charging $50 a month for 5GB of data, and $80 for 10GB; as a current customer of its 3G data service, that strikes me as a decent deal, since I’m paying $60 for 5GB of pokier 3G service.
  • Two USB modems will be available, for $99 each on contract after rebates; they’ll double as 3G modems when 4G service isn’t around.
  • It sounds like 4G phones won’t show up until mid-2011 (there goes any last remaining possibility of a 4G Verizon iPhone in early 2011).

What I really want is a 4G MiFi mobile router that I can use with a laptop, an iPad, a smartphone, and any other Wi-Fi device; I assume that one is in the works. Hope that it arrives before too long–and that there’s a way for me to upgrade from my 3G MiFi without spending a fortune.

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Imagining a Future for 3G Handheld Game Consoles

In theory, a handheld gaming device with 3G connectivity seems like a great idea, which is probably why Japanese wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo is pitching the concept to console makers. In practice, it’s a stretch.

NTT DoCoMo won’t say which companies are part of the conversation, but Nintendo and Sony seem like obvious participants. Maybe Microsoft or some lesser-known party is involved. In any case, NTT DoCoMo hopes game console makers will embed 3G capabilities in their devices, or at least offer Mi-Fi-like routers to create local wireless connections, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The report mentions how Amazon struck a deal (with Sprint, and then AT&T) to build data coverage into e-reader price tags, yet I’m surprised that neither NTT DoCoMo nor the story itself mention how much more data a 3G game console would require.  An e-book contains text. A downloadable game contains audio and video as well. Online, multiplayer gaming would be demanding. My knowledge of the wireless market in Japan is slim to none, but in the United States, no carrier would agree to serve 3G coverage to game consoles without a monthly charge or a huge up-front price.

Therein lies the dilemma for future game consoles. As gaming becomes more popular on multi-purpose devices — not just phones, but 3G-enabled tablets — dedicated consoles will look outdated without constant online connectivity. Still, it’ll be tough for people to justify another monthly bill just for portable gaming.

For the sake of not being a total naysayer, here’s one way out: I’m dreaming of a day when you can buy a whole mess of data and apply it to a range of devices, from phones to tablets to — yup — game consoles. Carriers are still stuck on a per-device mentality, but maybe that’ll change as they move away from unlimited data. If that happens, I really do hope handheld game devices can be part of the shift.


AT&T Plans Speed Bump for 3G

att_header_logoIt might not yet have its network issues straightened out, but its moving forward anyway with plans to boost speeds from 3.6MBps to 7.2 MBps. This would likely be a final speed boost before the company moves to evolved 3G and its selected 4G technology, LTE.

Most devices already have the capability to be able to handle the current bandwidth specs. It has begun testing devices on its two 7.2MBps-capable test networks on track to debut the higher speeds in the near future. While the current 3G technologies could theoretically support speeds up to 14.4MBps, AT&T says those higher speeds have been fraught with technical glitches.

Thus, it plans to jump right to HSPA+, which would mean the next jump would take data speeds to 21MBps. With LTE’s commercial rollout expected to happen in 2011, this quick ramp up in speed is likely to happen over the next 18 months or so.

With this new data-centric focus, AT&T’s business is also beginning to change ever so slightly. At CTIA, the company in presentations talked about data-only devices that the carrier will begin to offer. It has even begun to mull pay-as-you-go plans, where the user only pays for the amount of data he/she uses.

While better speed is always great, in the end quality of service is more important. I sure hope AT&T puts that before any speed boost because it won’t mean a hill of beans if you can’t get on the network in the first place!

[Hat tip: Telephony Online]

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