Archive | Wireless Carriers

4G is a myth and the hype isnt right

You have likely seen the 4G advertisements all over Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary and everywhere in Florida and well the entire United States for that matter from Verizon wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint, bragging about a much better their 4G wireless network is. Chris Ondo a Senior Network Administrator for Central Florida Computer Engineering which provides Information Technology Consulting Services to small and medium sized businesses in Central Florida visited the wireless stores in Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Sanford, Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach and the hype is just that, all hype.

4g network

Here’s the secret the wireless carriers don’t advertise: 4G is a myth. Like the purple spotted elephant, it hasn’t been spotted anywhere in the wild and it never will.

The International Telecommunication Union, the global wireless standards setting organization, determined last month that 4G is defined as a network capable of download speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). That’s fast enough to download an average high definition movie such as a DVD or a blue-ray movie in about three minutes.

None of the new networks the carriers are rolling out meet that standard.

Sprint wireless was the first to launch a network called 4G, going live with it in early 2011. Then, T-Mobile launched its 4G network, claiming to be “America’s largest 4G network.” Verizon launched it’s 4G network  in late 2010 / early 2011 which it claims will be the nation’s largest and the fastest wireless network . AT&T  is expected to unveil its 4G network next year.

Those wireless networks have theoretical speeds of a fifth to a half that of the official 4G standard. The actual speeds the carriers say they’ll achieve are just a tenth of “real” 4G speed.

So why are the wireless carriers calling these networks 4G?

It’s mostly a matter of PR, industry experts say. Explaining what the wireless carriers’ new networks should be called, and what they’ll be capable of, is a confusing and misleading.

To illustrate: Sprint bought a majority stake in Clearwire communications, which uses a new network technology called WiMAX that’s capable of speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to 10 Mbps. That’s a different technology from Verizon’s new network, based on a standard called Long Term Evolution (LTE), which will average 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps.

Seeing what its competitors were up to, T-Mobile opted to increase the speed capabilities of its existing 3G-HSPA+ network instead of pursuing a new technology. Its expanded network — now called 4G — will reach speeds of 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps.

No matter what they’re called, all of these upgrades are clear improvements — and the carriers shelled out billions of dollars to make them. Current “3G” wireless networks offer actual speeds that range from between 500 kilobits per second to 1.5 Mbps.

So Sprint and Verizon have new, faster networks that are still technically not 4G, while T-Mobile has an old, though still faster network that is actually based on 3G technology.

Confused yet? That’s why they all just opted to call themselves “4G.”

The wireless carriers get defensive about the topic.

“It’s very misleading to make a decision about what’s 4G based on speed alone,” said Stephanie Vinge-Walsh, spokeswoman for Sprint Nextel. “It is a challenge we face in an extremely competitive industry.”

T-Mobile did not respond to a request for comment.

One wireless network representative, who asked not to be identified, claimed that ITU’s 4G line in the sand is being misconstrued. The organization previously approved the use of the term “4G” for Sprint’s WiMAX and Verizon’s LTE networks, he said  though not for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network.

ITU’s PR department ignored that approval in its recent statement about how future wireless technologies would be measured, the representative said. ITU representatives were not immediately available for comment.

“I’m not getting into a technical debate,” said Jeffrey Nelson, spokesman for Verizon Wireless. “Consumers will quickly realize that there’s really a difference between the capabilities of various wireless data networks. All ‘4G’ is not the same.”

And that’s what’s so difficult. The term 4G has become meaningless and confusing as hell for wireless customers.

For instance, T-Mobile’s 4G network, which is technically 3G, will have speeds that are at least equal to — and possibly faster — than Verizon’s 4G-LTE network at launch. At the same time, AT&T’s 3G network, which is also being scaled up like T-Mobile’s, is not being labeled “4G.”

“The labeling of wireless broadband based on technical jargon is likely to fade away in 2011,” said Dan Hays, partner at industry consultancy PRTM. “That will be good news for the consumer. Comparing carriers based on their network coverage and speed will give them more facts to make more informed decisions.”

Hays expects that independent researchers — or the Federal Communications Commission — will step in next year to perform speed and coverage tests.

“Historically, ITU’s classification system has not held a great degree of water and has not been used to enforce branding,” Hays said. “Everyone started off declaring themselves to be 4G long before the official decision on labeling was made. The ITU was three to four years too late to make an meaningful impact on the industry’s use of the term.”

Posted in 4G wireless network, AT&T, Cell Phones, News, Smart Phones, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Wireless Carriers0 Comments

iPhone 5 rumor roundup: what to expect from the next iPhone

Cheaper, faster, better camera among likely improvements

The farther into 2011 we get, the closer we come to a new version of the Apple iPhone. Apple has released a new iPhone each year like clockwork — so what can we expect to see in the iPhone 5?

As it always is with rumors, the iPhone 5 has been associated with just about every new technology out there. Here are the things that seem most likely to actually happen:

Summer release date

This is a no brainer because Apple has been quite consistent in releasing a new iPhone around June or July of each year. You can expect with reasonable certainty that Apple will do the same with the iPhone 5 in 2011.

Faster, multi-Core processor

One of the most widely reported and sourced rumors is that Apple is manufacturing a successor to the A4 processor in the iPhone 4 and iPad. The A5 processor will be based on a Cortex A9 design and feature multiple cores. That would mean significant increases in performance and possibly battery life. It would also keep Apple securely in the technology curve as several other manufacturers are introducing dual-core processors into Android smartphones.

Integrated graphics upgrade

Along with a newer, faster processor, the iPhone 5 is rumored to have an upgraded integrated graphics and video processor (also referred to as IGPU). With Apple’s continuing emphasis on media, especially video and apps, this makes sense because a new graphics processor would boost the iPhone 5’s media capabilities. That means better video, game graphics and possibly even HDMI-out to TVs.  Apple’s OpenCL technology would also be able to use the IGPU to do additional tasks when idle.

NFC technology makes iPhone your iWallet

Near-field communication technology would make it possible to pay for goods and services by simply waving your iPhone 5 over a terminal, no cards or checks needed. Multiple sources have cited engineers working on NFC technology for the iPhone 5. Rumors even indicate that iTunes would expand to manage your debit or credit accounts, basically making the iPhone 5 a futuristic wallet.

New antenna, bye-bye deathgrip

Apple took a beating in the Antennagate scandal following the release of the iPhone 4. Holding the iPhone a certain way, dubbed the “deathgrip,” would drastically reduce the signal. It’s no surprise that Apple is rumored to be changing the antenna design, possibly moving it behind the Apple logo on back, in order to alleviate the problem.

Spec bump

As with each iteration of the iPhone, the iPhone 5 specs will likely get a refresh. Aside from the processors mentioned above, this likely means a little more memory, more storage and possibly a slight increase in screen size (evidence points to a 3.7-inch screen instead of 3.5).

Those are the rumors that are either backed up by multiple sources or obvious from Apple’s iPhone record. The following are several other rumors that are much less reliable, for one reason or another.

Better camera, 1080p video recording

This one isn’t unbelievable, but there is little evidence to back this up. The 5 megapixel, 720p video recording rear camera is already pretty impressive, and Apple may see no reason to update it on this version cycle. However, the upgraded graphics processor could certainly handle 1080p video recording, and 8 megapixel 1080p cameras are the standard for new smartphones.

LTE 4G speeds

4G is all the rage, so it seems like an obvious move for Apple, right? They certainly wouldn’t want to be left behind when almost every other manufacturer is aiming to put out a 4G phone soon, would they? Well, it seems like an obvious choice, but several reliable sources have said that Apple isn’t working on LTE compatibility. Instead, the company is said to be including a dual GSM/CMDA chip (3G technology) from Qualcomm for the iPhone 5. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple decided to hold back, either. The original iPhone was only able to download data at 2G, or EDGE, speeds even though AT&T already had a 3G network in place.

A cheaper iPhone?

Several outlets have breathlessly reported on backroom deals Apple has made that would lead to a cheaper iPhone. However, that seems pretty unlikely. The new hardware isn’t going to be that much cheaper, if it is at all, and Apple already has a pretty stable price point for the iPhone. What’s more, carriers already heavily subsidize the iPhone, so even if its retail price dropped, carriers wouldn’t necessarily lower the subsidized price, too.

Verizon and AT&T Simultaneously?

Just because Verizon finally got access to the iPhone 4 doesn’t mean they have rights to the iPhone 5. AT&T had a longstanding exclusive deal with Apple, and it’s quite possible they might be able to negotiate another exclusivity period for the iPhone 5, even if it’s only a few months to give AT&T a head start. On the other hand, Verizon will be actively lobbying for the same opportunity, and it’s in Apple’s best interest to have the iPhone on as many networks as possible.

Posted in APPLE, AT&T, Cell Phones, Hardware, IPhone, Verizon Wireless, Wireless Carriers0 Comments

iPhone 4 comparison: Verizon vs. AT&T

We’ve managed to get a hands-on with the new Verizon iPhone. The big questions are: What’s the same? What’s different? While only thorough testing will tell us variations in call and data performance, here’s what we know today:

1. The dimensions are the same
There was fear that the CDMA iPhone would be thicker, but we have confirmation that the thickness and other measurements — including weight — are identical.

2. Antennas are slightly different
Though the bottom antenna gaps — which on the AT&T iPhone 4 can be grasped to recreate the “grip of death” known to reduce reception and occasionally drop calls — are still in the same place, the top antenna gap is moved. Instead of being located up next to the headphone jack, it is located on the side, above the mute switch.

Though this doesn’t necessarily correspond to any difference in performance, it did cause the switch and volume buttons to drop down “ever so slightly,” says Rivera. Our friend Rosa at Gizmodo points out that this hard-to-notice button shift could affect case makers, and might even throw off the iPhone 4 “bumper” that saved many a dropped call.

3. No SIM slot
Anyone familiar with the CDMA phones from Verizon and Sprint knows there’s no SIM card slot. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there’s none found on the first CDMA iPhone. (If this were a Verizon LTE 4G phone, or a CDMA/GSM world phone, there would be a SIM slot, however.)

4. “Internet tethering” vs. “personal hotspot”
While both phones can be used — at extra service cost — to provide Internet access to your computer, only Verizon’s is offering a personal hotspot, enabling not one computer but up to five devices to access the phone’s Internet connection, via Wi-Fi.

5. No simultaneous data and voice
Something we assumed before that was confirmed today was that the first Verizon iPhone would not allow for simultaneous voice and data connections. This means that while a call is engaged, you’ll be able to access Contacts and apps, but no app or services that requires Internet access will function properly.

If some of these differences sound a bit subtle, they are. After a thorough going over, we’re convinced that Apple did its best to make these phones all but indistinguishable.

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Who should buy the Verizon iPhone – and who shouldn’t

So, the truth is out: The Verizon iPhone is a better “phone” than the one so many have been using for years on AT&T. Time to buy it, right? Not necessarily. While many Verizon customers and people yearning to switch to Verizon should indeed get on board, you might want to hold off.

Who shouldn’t buy it:

Early adopters
Perhaps the biggest reason for anyone not to buy the Verizon iPhone right now is that it’s extremely likely that a new iPhone will come to Verizon as early as June. Most buzz indicates that the iPhone 5 would either come in Verizon and AT&T flavors, or have a super cell-phone chip that lets it run on both networks. If you consider yourself an Apple fan and an early adopter, you probably already have an iPhone 4 from AT&T, so a Verizon iPhone 4 would actually feel like a bit of a letdown. So suffer through another four months with those “Can you hear me? Hey, are you there? Hello?” calls, and your waiting will be rewarded — probably.

Speed freaks
Verizon’s iPhone 4 is being hailed for its call quality, but it’s a simple technological fact that Verizon’s 3G network is slower than AT&T’s. (More reliable, say many, and I’d agree, but still, it’s slower.) That might not matter for most messing around with the iPhone — loading maps and getting e-mail should be about the same, with possibly fewer connectivity problems to hold you up. But if you plan to tether your phone to your laptop — and pay $20 extra every month for that privilege — doesn’t it just make sense to do it with a faster phone?

Given the fact that by mid-year, Verizon will be selling four smart phones that run on its ridiculously fast LTE 4G network, most tech industry watchers are now hoping that Apple’s iPhone 5 will be the fifth.

Business travelers
There are two key reasons why business travelers, who live and die by their mobile phones, would want to wait on the Verizon iPhone. First, it’s not a world phone. Unlike some BlackBerry and Droid models sold by Verizon, this one can’t roam overseas on GSM networks. The AT&T iPhone already runs on America’s GSM network, so roaming with it is easy (if expensive). The next Verizon iPhone may very well think globally.

The other reason is that on Verizon’s iPhone 4, you can’t talk and work at the same time. If you are tethered to your laptop and a call comes in, the data connection drops. If you are on a call and want to check something on the Web, you just can’t. Most of us won’t have a problem with this most of the time, but for people who use a single phone as a universal connection to the outside world, it’s definitely an issue.

Penny pinchers
The Verizon iPhone isn’t going to drop in price. Apple tends to sell out their high-end models, and “discount” their lower-end models only after they’re essentially obsolete. So although you might be able to buy an AT&T-ready iPhone on the cheap on eBay, you’re going to be paying full price up front for an iPhone at Verizon for many months to come. Verizon has a phone trade-in offer, but as the largest credit goes to those who paid full price for an AT&T iPhone 4 only a few months ago, this is mainly a way to help people get out of their AT&T contracts.

But regardless of the phone you choose, Verizon itself isn’t really the carrier for penny pinchers. If you compare 450-minute smart phone plans with mobile data and unlimited texts, Verizon comes in the highest at $90 per month. T-Mobile and Sprint give you more or less the same plan for $80, with other monetary perks, too. Verizon may be reliable, but you pay for that reliability.

Who should buy it:

Everybody else who wants one
There are a lot of great phones in Verizon’s lineup right now, but there are millions of Verizon subscribers who have waited for an iPhone, and probably quite a few AT&T subscribers who have held off on upgrading so that they can jump ship. I have outlined all of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to take the plunge right now, but if you want the coolness and rich functionality of an iPhone — and all that comes with it, from iTunes and Apple TV to the most diverse assortment of docks, cases and car kits — on a network you prefer, then maybe it is time.

If you don’t care about super fast download speeds, if you don’t care about the Next Great Thingamajig, and if you rarely cross the county line, let alone national borders, then follow your instinct and go for it.

Posted in Cell Phones, IPhone, Smart Phones, Verizon Wireless, Wireless Carriers0 Comments

Verizon and Iphone: Is this true or just another rumor?

After years of rumors, the day is coming where Verizon wireless will support the  Iphone. The day this will happen is February 11 2011. This information was given to me by the Verizon store in Altamonte Springs Florida a few weeks ago. A few days later this information was all over television news and radio media. “I didn’t believe it until I saw it all over major news outlets”.

Apple has sold more than 70 million iPhones since the device’s launch in 2007 which is on AT&T’s network.

The exclusive contract between AT&T and Apple has come at a hefty price. Customers all over Central Florida and the United States have complained about the poor service from AT&T’s wireless network.

The big question is:

Will Verizon’s wireless network outshine AT&T’s wireless network?
Verizon and AT&T have been spending billions of dollars to build their network to capacity and consumers will find out pretty soon.

Will the iPhone support Verizon’s LTE 4G network, or its CDMA 3G network?

Verizon’s new 4G network is just starting its rollout. If the iPhone has to rely on the older CDMA network that is what I call the old school network that I used with my Palm TREO WX that carries some significant drawbacks. Most noticeable: Verizon customers will NOT be able to chat on the Iphone and surf the Web simultaneously, as they can on AT&T’s network.

Will Verizon let iPhone customer’s sign up for the unlimited data plan?

Back in June 2010, AT&T announced new 3G pricing plans that made iPhone and iPad bills less expensive for most customers, but also ended the carrier’s unlimited data option. New buyers can pay either $15 for 200 MB a month or $25 for 2 GB, replacing the carrier’s previous $30 all-you-can-download plan.

Verizon currently offers its smart phone customers unlimited data for $30 a month. Will it extend that plan to the iPhone? YES according to the Verizon store in Altamonte Springs Florida but don’t hold your breath because I have heard the Iphone rumors in that store for many years now.

When will the Verizon iPhone be available to customers?
02 11 2011 is the magic day according to Verizon wireless in Altamonte Springs and Orlando.

How much will the Verizon iPhone cost? And will the company offer any incentives to AT&T iPhone customers?

With a two-year AT&T contract, the iPhone 4 costs $199 for a 16 GB device and $299 for the 32 GB version. Verizon’s pricing is expected to be the same. Price as AT&T for Iphones.

With such a high demand product, Verizon probably won’t feel the need to offer any incentives for AT&T customers looking to switch over. Those who make the jump will have to pay a $325 penalty for termination-of-contract, and they could be subject to other fees.

Will a Verizon iPhone kill AT&T?

The many friends I have spoken to in the Information Technology field in the greater Orlando area and in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and Berkley California have told me they believe so, but many industry analysts say no. The company has locked in millions of customers who upgraded over the past few months.

Furthermore, while lots of customers complain about AT&T, relatively few are likely to follow through with the hassle of switching. Yankee Group estimates that 2.5 million AT&T iPhone customers will defect to Verizon in 2011 which represents just 3% of AT&T’s base of 93 million customers.

From my personal experiences I feel AT&T has much more to offer.
Verizon and AT&T prices are the same in terms of what you get per month for your money.
The only real world difference is AT&T offers rollover minutes and Verizon does not and has no plans to.

Do you want video chat capability?
Do you want to enjoy roll over minutes? IE to keep the minutes you paid for and didn’t use.

If you answered yes to either of those two questions then AT&T is my recommendation because you will NOT get either of those two features with Verizon Wireless.

Posted in IPhone, News, Smart Phones, Verizon Wireless, Wireless Carriers0 Comments