Cellular One / Western Wireless
Cellular One today announced that it plans to participate in Verizon Wireless's LTE in Rural America program. Under the terms of the agreement, Cellular One will lease access to Verizon's 700MHz spectrum in parts of Angelina, Nacogdoches, Shelby, Sabine, and San Augustine Counties in Texas. It will then use its own telecommunications equipment to build out an LTE 4G network in those markets for its customers. Cellular One did not say when it expects to offer the LTE service. Verizon Wireless has signed up more than a dozen such partners across the U.S. in order to offer LTE to rural populations.
Apple today announced during a keynote address in San Francisco that its iTunes in the Cloud -- or iTunes Match -- service now supports 1080p movies. iOS device users will be able to access and sync their movies and television shows across Macs, iPads, iPhones, and iPods. Apple also announced a new version of the Apple TV that includes PhotoStream support. iPhone users can take pictures and the photos will be uploaded to the owner's Apple TV automatically. Apple also announced iOS 5.1, which will be available for download starting today. The chief new feature in iOS 5.1 is support for the new iTunes Match functions, photo uploads, and the Japanese language for Siri.
AT&T recently begun suggeting to some customers in the New York City metropolitan area that they upgrade from their existing 2G phones to more current 3G phones. In a letter sent to these customers, AT&T said, "Your current, older-model 2G phone might not be able to make or receive calls and you may experience degradation of your wireless service in certain areas." According to AT&T representative Mark Siegel, who spoke to MarketWatch, AT&T eventually plans to cease offering 2G services on its 1900MHz spectrum so that it can use that spectrum for other services. For the moment, Siegel said the program is voluntary. AT&T did not say exactly when it will stop offering 2G services in the 1900MHz band, but said that it is supporting the 2G network for the time being and that the majority of its customers will be unaffected by this eventual chage. AT&T recently lost its $39.5 billion bid to acquire rival T-Mobile USA, whose spectrum it planned to use to augment its LTE 4G network. AT&T has since begun seeking spectrum from alternate sources.
The Federal Communications Commission denied to grant Dish Network a preliminary waiver which would have allowed it to move forward with plans to build its own wireless network. Instead, the FCC decided to conduct a formal investigation into Dish's request, a process which could take until the end of the year. Dish wants to do something similar to what LightSquared tried to do: Use traditional satellite spectrum to create a terrestrial wireless broadband network. The FCC granted Dish approval to purchase $3 billion worth of spectrum, but said that a "rulemaking process will best serve the public interest and maximize the long-term value of the spectrum for the American economy." Dish is still hopeful that it will eventually win FCC approval, though the delay is a significant one.
Google said that it will expand the availability of its Google Wallet product to Sprint customers with the launch of 10 new phones throughout the year that will have the proper NFC support. The first phone to gain Google Wallet functionality will be the LG Viper, which was announced earlier this year and is one of the first LTE-equipped phones that will be sold by Sprint. Osama Bedier, vice president of Google Wallet and Payments, said that the company continues to work with banks, retailers, and tech companies to expand the availability of the service. Google Wallet is support by 22 of the nation's largest retailers, the MasterCard PayPass system, and is available in approximately 300,000 locations.
Sprint today announced that the Kyocera DuraPlus rugged push-to-talk phone will go on sale starting March 11. It will cost $69.99 with a new contract. The DuraPlus uses Sprint's new CDMA-based Direct Connect service.
Samsung indicated this week that it is prepared to significantly increase the investment it is making in its homegrown Bada operating system. Right now, the mobile OS is only available in Samsung's home market of Korea, where it had sold more than 10 million units. It wants to make Bada a viable alternative to Google's Android platform. Samsung said it will continue to offer smartphones running both Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone. It plans to eventually have an entire range of Bada phones available.
Sprint today announced the availability of an application developed by Code Factory that will allow the blind of visually impaired to use Android smartphones. The app is called Wireless Accessibility, and works by reading aloud the menu selections on the screen as the user traces their finger around the display. It supports a wide range of actions, such as making phone calls, sending messages, setting alarms, and making calendar appointments. The application normally costs $99, but Sprint is letting its customers use it for free as long as they subscribe to an unlimited data plan. The application requires Android 2.1 and up.
Sprint has made an iPhone-compatible version of its streaming mobile TV service available in the iTunes app store. Sprint's iPhone customers can download the app and watch content from NBC, Disney Channel, ESPN Mobile TV, and others for free if they subscribe to an unlimited data plan. Other premium channels are available in bundles that range between $4.99 and $9.99 per month.
The GSMA today announced that AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless have adopted the GSMA Spam Reporting Service (SRS). Though the U.S. has one of the world's lowest rates of SMS-based spam, the measure will help U.S. operators protect its customers from spam attacks. The GSMA's SRS allows operators to "share attack intelligence in real time" so that proper measures can be taken to prevent or slow down the spread of attacks. Consumers will be able to report spam messages to their operators through a short code service. The data will then be pooled with global data on spam.
Intel CEO Paul Otelinni today laid bare the company's plans to tackle the mobile space moving forward. The company expanded its plans for the Medfield line of processors. The Intel Atom Z2460 processor, announced at CES, will support speeds up to 2GHz. The new Atom Z2580, announced today, doubles the performance of the Z2460 and adds LTE support and will debut in the first half of 2013. The company also bowed the Z2000, which targets entry-level smartphones. Otelinni noted that its 2012 designs use 32nm processes, but it will move to 22nm in 2013, and 14nm in 2014, both making for dramatic increases in speed and power efficiency.