Tag Archives | AT&T

Playstation Vita 3G Data Plans: Same Old, Same Old

Sony announced the Playstation Vita with AT&T 3G more than seven months ago, but never bothered to explain how the data plans would work. Now, it’s official: the Vita will come with the same data plans you already get with smartphones.

That means 3G for the Playstation Vita will cost $15 per month for 250 MB, or $25 per month for 2 GB, in addition to the $300 price of the 3G Vita itself. (A Wi-Fi only model will cost $250.) Both data plans will include unlimited access to AT&T’s Wi-Fi hotspots, of which there are 29,000 around the United States. The Vita launches on February 22 in the United States.

I’m disappointed that AT&T and Sony stuck with conventional data plans for the PS Vita. This would have been a great opportunity for AT&T to launch a shared pool of data among multiple devices–something wireless carriers have talked about doing for some time. I can’t imagine a lot of people will want to pay a recurring data charge just for a gaming device, especially when you get the same result by using a smartphone’s Wi-Fi hotspot feature, which would also allow for faster 4G data and connectivity with other devices.

Sony and AT&T are hoping to lure people into paying for data plans by offering exclusive in-game content when players check in at certain geographic locations. We may be able to judge the 3G Vita’s success based on whether game makers continue to produce these kinds of exclusives long after launch.

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AT&T Gives Up T-Mobile Bid

It’s  official, and not the least bit surprising at this point: AT&T has ended its attempt to acquire T-Mobile USA.  It’s not happy about it, either: 

The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately. The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage.  In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.

AT&T’s agreement with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom requires it to fork over $4 billion in penalties, which probably doesn’t make AT&T any less cranky.I’m glad that the merger didn’t happen, simply because I don’t want to see AT&T and Verizon share a wireless-industry duopoly. The continued existence of T-Mobile USA in some form–it may well be bought out by someone else–helps prevent that eventuality. I wonder what AT&T’s backup plan is, and whether we’ll even remember this non-merger five or ten years from now?

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How the iPad 2 Became My Favorite Computer

My iPad 2 and ZaggFolio, in the press room at IFA in Berlin, September 2011.

Can the iPad replace a PC?

Ever since Apple announced its tablet nearly two years ago, the Internet has been awash in discussion of this question. Most of it has had a pretty theoretical feel and has gravitated towards conventional wisdom. A piece by Gotta Be Mobile’s Will Shanklin comes to the typical conclusions:

Whether you can replace your laptop with an iPad is going to depend on what your needs are. In early 2010, casual computer users could arguably replace a laptop with an iPad. Now it’s a no-brainer. When it comes to content consumption, a tablet is lighter, more portable, more comfortable, and more personal.

If part of your life involves creating professional-level content, tablets still have a long way to go before becoming your primary device. They don’t qualify now, and they won’t next year. Customers aren’t used to spending more than $10 for most tablet apps, so those consumer expectations could slow the march in this direction too.

The answer, therefore, hasn’t changed too much in a year. Tablets are moving in a “primary computing” direction, but they aren’t exactly sprinting. Maybe we’ll check back next year to see if the “tablets are for content consumption, notebooks are for content creation” cliche has changed. Right now it’s as true as ever.

I respectfully disagree with Shanklin. I think it’s possible to use an iPad as one’s primary device for professional-level content creation. Actually, scratch that. I’m positive it’s possible–because I’ve been doing it for the past three months, and I’ve been having a really good time.

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Is Carrier IQ As Bad As It Seems?

The controversy over the nature of Carrier IQ’s phone-monitoring application is deepning, with Minnesota Senator Al Franken demanding answers over what the company is doing with the information it collects. Carrier IQ’s code is apparently on millions of devices, and is known to be currently used by at least one manufacturer, HTC, and two carriers, AT&T and Sprint.
Apple chimed in, and says it used Carrier IQ in “most” of its pre-iOS 5 products. It says the code will be removed completely in a future software update, and the submission of diagnostic data is opt-in.
Franken asks Carrier IQ to provide details on what exactly the software records, where the data is transmitted to, and whether or not protections are in place to protect the security of those affected. He is also calling upon the company to give consumers a method of opting out of the process.

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AT&T-Mobile Runs Into Another Roadblock

The FCC doesn’t like the looks of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile’s US operations. Paid Content’s Tom Krazit reports:  

During a media call Tuesday afternoon FCC representatives (who insisted on remaining anonymous) said that Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked fellow commissioners to review a proposal that the merger be subject to a hearing after finding aspects of the proposed deal that don’t line up with the public interest. One representative called the merger a unique concentration in market power in almost every single one of the top 100 local markets in the U.S., and also said that AT&T’s claims that the merger will allow more Americans access to 4G wireless (AT&T’s primary selling point) and create new jobs did not hold water.

If the hearing happens, it’ll only begin after the Department of Justice concludes a trial over the proposed merger that isn’t due to start until February. So it could be a long, long time until the deal gets a definitive yay or nay–and you’ve got to wonder at what point AT&T and T-Mobile decide that it’s best to give up and begin the rest of their lives as competitors. (AT&T wants T-Mobile so it can beef up its 4G, but it must have a backup plan, and it can’t postpone it forever.) 
For me, the prospect of the merger has always been pretty simple. Smaller wireless companies, like T-Mobile, Sprint, and regionals like MetroPCS and Cricket have lower prices and more creative plans. The two giants, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, have higher prices and less flexibility. I don’t see any scenario under which removing one smaller player from the equation improves things for consumers–and that’s why I’ll be happy if the merger falls apart, as it’s now looking like it will.

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AT&T iPhone Activation: Messy Once Again

The iLine outside the Stonetown Galleria for the iPhone 4 this morning was practically pleasant: Cheery Apple Store employees provided advice, coffee, and bottled water while we waited for 8am to come. But once my wife and I got into the store, we ran into trouble–namely AT&T activation glitches that prevented her from paying for her iPhone 4S and taking it home. In fact, it’s 11am now and she’s apparently still waiting. (I had to leave eventually.) And she’s not alone.

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The Best iPhone 4S Plans by Carrier

With three carriers now selling the iPhone, your options have gotten a bit more complex as far as monthly service plans go. We’ll take a look at which carrier’s plans are best for cheapskates, big talkers, big texters, and those who want it all—voice, data and text messaging.

Before we start, some constants between all three carriers:

The iPhone 4S starts at $199 with a two-year contract.

Voice plans include unlimited minutes to people on the same network, so even if you have the 450-minute plan on Verizon, for instance, you won’t use any minutes when calling other Verizon customers.

Apple’s new iOS software features “iMessage,” which lets you send and receive free text messages (for now, at least) between other Apple devices that have the iMessage feature turned on as well.

And with that, let’s get started.

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The Feds Don’t Like the AT&T-Mobile Merger

The Justice Department is suing to prevent AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile’s U.S. arm. The move doesn’t kill the deal, but it does increase the chances that it won’t go through or will be approved only with further concessions on AT&T’s part.

I’m not an expert on the economics of telecommunications competition. But I keep coming back to this: The two wireless companies that have been the most aggressive on pricing and the most creative with plans have been T-Mobile and Sprint. The (relatively) small players, not the giants. Is that a coincidence? What are the chances that eliminating one of them would lead to lower prices and more options?

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That’s a Start: AT&T’s 2011 Android Phones Will Get Gingerbread

AT&T is now trying to do right by Android by upgrading all 2011 phones to Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread.

The upgrades start today with Motorola’s Atrix 4G, followed by HTC’s Inspire 4G in a few weeks. Also on the update list are LG’s Phoenix, Pantech’s Crossover and Samsung’s Infuse 4G. The Samsung Captivate, which launched last year, will get the update as well.

Gingerbread is the latest version of Google’s Android OS for smartphones, and includes improvements to the software’s keyboard, text selection and power management. A minor update for Gingerbread phones with front-facing cameras also added native video chat through Google Talk.

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