Tag Archives | 4G

Clear Joins Prepaid Wireless Broadband Fray

These days, every wireless provider seems to be doing prepaid wireless broadband, and Clear is no exception. The company has introduced Rover, an offering that it tells me is aimed at the “MTV Generation” through both its marketing and branding. While the company does offer a contract free product for postpaid customers, its still a monthly plan that is the same cost as its contracted offering.

Rover is a little different in how it measures out its various plans. Instead of using the megabyte, all prepaid plans are for unlimited use. The catch here is that its by the day, week, or month: once you run out of time, you have to buy a new block.

Pricing is fairly competitive. A day will set you back about $5, while a week costs $20, and a month $50. This may work better for some of us — instead of guessing how much data we need, instead we can plan out for a period of time that we’d need data access.

The Rover Puck (shown above) is the $149.99 piece of equipment you’ll need to make it all happen. The device will let up to eight users share the connection, but Clear is also offering the Stick, a $99 USB modem intended for a single user. A little more expensive than other offerings like Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go, however if you are in Clear’s coverage area and speed matters, it will be a much faster connection.

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Engadget Likes Sprint's Epic 4G

Engadget’s Chris Ziegler has reviewed Sprint’s Epic 4G, the second 4G phone, and the first with a physical keyboard. It’s based on Samsung’s Galaxy S platform, also available in various forms–but not with a keyboard–from other carriers. He pretty much raves about the thing. Engadget got close four hours of life using the Epic as a 4G hotspot, which sounds impressive; it hasn’t done traditional battery testing yet, though. (Iffy battery life is the biggest gotcha with Sprint’s EVO 4G, so it’s an important point.)

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Sprint's Supply Issues May Erase 4G Advantage

For a carrier that made so much of being the first to 4G, it’s own issues with keeping 4G handsets in stock may end up costing it the lead in the race towards faster wireless speeds. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was surprising candid about the company’s issues in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that appeared in Monday’s edition.

About 300,000 units of the EVO 4G have already sold since its early June release, and phone manufacturer HTC is having trouble keeping up with demand. Now Sprint cannot even promise a solid ship date to customers attempting to purchase it online, and good luck trying to find it in its retail stores.

Another 4G-compatible phone is on the way, dubbed “The Epic”, but is likely not going to be available for several months. That doesn’t help Sprint at all.

These issues likely mean that Sprint will only have a few months of lead time before competitors start turning on their own 4G networks. Verizon should start rolling out its LTE network in select cities by the end of the year, and AT&T plans to begin offering 4G services in 2011. T-Mobile, while far behind in 3G, has been rumored to move straight to its own 4G plans next year as well in a bid to stay competitive.

EVO 4G supply issues aren’t HTC’s only problem, as it has multiple phones in its portfolio that are doing well. Verizon’s Droid Incredible is another example. These shortages are not even the company’s fault: it lies in the parts necessary to build the phone which HTC doesn’t produce itself, such as the touch screen.

One thing is clear: the next several months will be critical for Sprint. If it cannot get its act together soon, it will once again find itself ceding ground to its rivals. A shame for a company who a year ago seemed so far ahead.


Verizon Wireless's New Plan: So Long Unlimited Data, Hello Buckets?

Remember the bad old days, before the advent of unlimited wireless data plans? Well unfortunately, with the vaunted arrival of 4G, it looks like those times might be returning if Verizon Wireless has its way. At the Barclays Capital conference in New York City this week, Verizon Wireless’s CEO Lowell McAdam said he hopes to ditch unlimited plans entirely on the company’s upcoming 4G LTE network, charging instead for “buckets” of megabytes.

McAdam also noted that, after the release of the first LTE-enabled device, Verizon anticipates using its 4G LTE network for voice starting in 2011. It remains unclear, however, whether Verizon’s LTE will also spell the end of unlimited voice calling plans.

Meanwhile, big carriers haven’t even been waiting for 4G to get here before doing whatever they can to increase people’s phone bills. A survey released this week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that one in six mobile phone users has been hit by “bill shock,” or an unanticipated hike in their monthly service fee not caused by a change in their calling plan. The majority–or 52 percent–of these “shocks” added $25 or more to the consumer’s monthly bill, with the hikes amounting to $100 or more 23 percent of the time.

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