Mobile Carrier Update – May 21, 2011

Here are the interesting things happening with mobile carriers this week with my commentary.

AT&T Shows off LTE. AT&T demoed their LTE technology to GigaOm in their Texas facility. Speeds of 28Mpbs downloads and 10Mbs uploads are expected to be the norm, not just something in a laboratory experiment. Also see MobileBurn.

My Take: I sure hope AT&T gets this right. Their HSPA+ network is not living up to the hype by a long shot and Verizon’s LTE network is already up (well, most of the time) and getting raves for speed. If they want to compete with Verizon they have to get LTE right. The big questions are how quickly they can cover the country, and how well they can cover the country.

AT&T Sued For Overcharging for Data. An AT&T customer has filed suit, and is seeking class action status, against AT&T for over charging for data. The comparison in the filing is of a rigged gas pump that charges you for a gallon when only giving you 9/10 of a gallon. AT&T denies the charge. See Wired and MobileBurn.

My Take: As the carriers move to capped data plans, making sure that they are providing all the data customers pay for will become very important. Carriers will have to be clear about what they are charging for and why.

AT&T enables slideloading on all Android phones. When AT&T started offering Android devices, they disabled the ability to load applications without using the Android Marketplace, otherwise known as “sideloading.” This highly irritated Android enthusiasts as it limited as to what applications they could load onto their devices. AT&T’s claim was that this was to keep stability on their network by preventing people from loading apps that could hurt the network.

It seems that AT&T has now changed their mind and will allow sideloading on all Android devices. The driver for this seems to be Amazon’s app store. The Amazon app store can only be loaded on an Android device by sideloading as it is not available on the Android Marketplace.

See Mobilized, PhoneScoop, and Engadget.

My Take: I always thought the preventing of sideloading apps was silly since apps on the Android Marketplace aren’t tested anyway. And now that the carriers are getting Google to remove apps to allow wifi tethering, there is less reason for AT&T to worry.

Verizon ending unlimited data plans. Sorry folks, but you knew it wouldn’t last forever. Verizon has announced that they are ending their unlimited data plans this summer. Details are sparse, but the big question is will people already on an unlimited plan get to keep it or will they be forced to switch? See KnowYourCell.

My Take: Disappointing, but not a surprise. If Verizon will grandfather customers with an unlimited plan, this may be a good time to pick up an HTC Thunderbolt or Samsung Charge and get an unlimited LTE plan.

For the most part, a 2GB cap isn’t a problem because it is beyond what you will use for web surfing and email. When you start streaming media, like Amazon, Google, and Apple will want you to do from their cloud services, 2GB can run out very quickly.

Clearwire plans to move to LTE? Clearwire was one of the first carriers to move to a 4G technology with WiMax. Clearwire actually provides WiMax coverage for Sprint. With LTE proving to become the standard in the US, Clearwire sees the writing on the wall and knows it will eventually have to switch. When it will happen is unknown, but they are planning for it. See PhoneScoop.

My Take: Makes sense, but switching is a big deal and they have to start soon. After AT&T and Verizon are all LTE, WiMax will look like ancient technology. Sprint already started looking at other providers for LTE coverage. Clearwire’s financials are already soft. Intel, which owns 32% of Clearwire, just sold of 10% of its stake. They have to do something soon to survive.

And that’s the news…

About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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