The Tech News Blog

July 26, 2014

Verizon Now Throttling Top ‘Unlimited’ Subscribers on 4G LTE

Best Smartphones

The 22 percent or so of you Verizon subscribers still clinging to the company's unlimited data plan — and facing Verizon's continued attempts to switch you over to a more profitable plan for the company — are about to get a stick instead of a carrot. According to a new report from Droid Life, Verizon's network optimization policy is being expanded to include 4G LTE service for its unlimited data customers.

This concept of network optimization isn't anything new. Verizon actually introduced it way back in September of 2011, but it only affected those using absurd amounts of data on the company's 3G network.

The expansion of the optimization plan to 4G LTE will still carry the same provisions as before: those in the top five percent of Verizon's unlimited data users (which requires one to pull down an average of just around 4.7 gigabytes of monthly data or so) who are enrolled on an unlimited data plan and have fulfilled their minimum contract terms (are now on a month-to-month plan) will be subject to network throttling if they're trying to connect up to a cellular tower that's experiencing high demand.

And, yes, a user would have to hit all of these criteria in order to have his or her connection slowed down. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, giving even more weight to the fact that Verizon's throttling — while annoying on paper — won't affect a considerable majority of those still holding on to their unlimited data plans.

Within the company's announcement that it'll be notifying those who are in that exclusive five percent, Verizon is quick to call out the ways in which one can avoid the network slowdown. 

April 29, 2014

AT&T to Roll Out In-Flight 4G LTE in 2015

Gadgets on Planes

AT&T wants to rack up some frequent flier miles with high-speed 4G LTE-based in-flight mobile service.

Expected to be available in late 2015, the system will provide in-flight broadband for passengers and crew alike.

To deliver on its sky-high promise, the communications company plans to build an air-to-ground network based on global 4G LTE standards to utilize spectrum already owned by AT&T.

"Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet," John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T, said in a statement. "We are building on AT&T's significant strengths to develop in-flight connectivity technology unlike any other that exists today, based on 4G LTE standards."

According to September's wireless connectivity survey by Honeywell Aerospace, nearly 90 percent of air travelers would give up amenities like preferred seating or extra legroom for faster in-flight Wi-Fi connections.

With the intent of addressing those users' concerns, AT&T and Honeywell are partnering to provide the hardware and service capabilities necessary to deliver a better in-flight connectivity solution.

But more than an added customer convenience, the new network will also allow for better communications between the plane and ground crew, through transmission of real-time aircraft data.

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March 5, 2014

Verizon CTO Touts 4G Wins, Not New 3G Plans

Verizon 4G LTE 371 Cities

The CTO of Verizon Wireless today touted the carrier's triumph in RootMetrics's national drive-testing study today, but was taken aback when I asked her about new prepaid plans that lock customers onto the carrier's older 3G network.

Verizon Wireless CTO Nicola Palmer spent most of the call touting a new study by drive testing firm RootMetrics where Verizon dominated five out of six categories of testing: reliablity, calls, data, texting, and overall results. Verizon came second to AT&T on speed.

Root's testing is quite different from some other organizations, such as OpenSignal, and PCMag's Fastest Mobile Networks results, and it's important to understand how. We segregate 3G and LTE network performance; Root doesn't. That means Verizon gets a big boost from having, by far, the nation's broadest LTE network, as the other carriers tend to get penalized for how frequently their phones fall back to 3G (or off their networks entirely.)

Root also tests call completion and text delivery, which we do not. Verizon absolutely crushed competing networks when it came to call completion, winning or tying in 47 of 50 states.

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February 24, 2014

AT&T Extends 4G LTE Roaming to 13 Countries

AT&T logo

At MWC in Barcelona today, AT&T announced that it will offer 4G LTE data roaming in 13 more countries, including the trade show's host country of Spain.

AT&T launched LTE data roaming in Canada and the U.K. in December, and it will now be available in Spain, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Guam, Hong Kong, and Antigua, and Barbuda.

"AT&T is committed to providing its customers a wider global footprint to enjoy LTE data speeds," the company said in a news release, which said AT&T has agreements for LTE roaming in more than 200 countries.

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January 7, 2014

Chevrolet to Offer 4G LTE In Its Cars

2014 Chevrolet Impala 4G LTE

Chevrolet is betting big on in-car 4G LTE connectivity. The company announced at CES that beginning this summer, its Corvette, Impala, Malibu, and Volt will offer OnStar 4G LTE as extra-cost options, with the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, Spark, and Spark EV following sometime after.

By the launch of Chevy's 2015 lineup, most of the U.S. and Canadian vehicles will have a built-in 4G LTE connection.

So what does that mean exactly? Each car will essentially function as a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot, letting passengers and families connect several smartphones, tablets, and laptops to the Internet at once. That could be great for everything from road trips to business calls, where using your phone by itself just isn't good enough. It also has implications for the kinds of apps vehicles can run in the future.

For this to work, Chevy is partnering with AT&T. Current subscribers can add their vehicle to a sharable data bucket, and all drivers can also buy data as a standalone option. Scant details are available just yet, with the big missing piece being pricing—we'll find out later in 2014 exactly what Chevrolet and AT&T have in mind.

November 13, 2013

Verizon’s 4G LTE Network Struggling in Big Cities

Verizon LTE

Have you noticed a degradation of service on Verizon Wireless in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago? The carrier's chief financial officer this week acknowledged that its users are putting "pressure" on the Verizon network, something it plans to rectify by the New Year.

"I would say that the amount of consumption of video took us a little by surprise," CRO Fran Shammo told attendees at a Tuesday Wells Fargo conference. Approximately a third of U.S. subscribers are using around 64 percent of the data on Verizon's network, but in some of the carrier's major cities, "it's well north of that," Shammo said.

"That obviously has put a pressure on our network," he said. "We did not anticipate that amount of growth in the network."

As a result, those in the Big Apple, LA, or Chicago might notice their phones dropping to 3G during the day as customers jam the network. "There are certain pockets where absolutely you're going to experience that downtick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints," Shammo said.

Verizon is well aware of the problem, though, and working "very diligently" to fix it," he said. "Each week it gets better and better as we deploy more data systems and small cells, Shammo said. Verizon has also "lit up AWS spectrum" in New York City.

August 21, 2013

AT&T Expanding 4G LTE Network to 50 More Cities This Year


AT&T on Wednesday announced plans to expand its 4G LTE network to at least 50 more cities by the end of this year.

At this point, AT&T's 4G LTE network covers more than 225 million people in 370 markets. By the end of 2013, coverage is expected to reach "nearly 270 million people" in more than 400 markets, the carrier said. For a full list of the new locations getting AT&T 4G LTE service this year, see below.

AT&T has been rapidly expanding its network, but it's still lagging behind Verizon, which largely completed its 4G LTE rollout back in June. Verizon's 4G LTE network currently covers 500 markets, encompassing more than 95 percent of the U.S. population.

In comparison, T-Mobile in July announced 116 LTE cities covering 157 million people, relegating Sprint to fourth place in nationwide LTE coverage. As of late June, Sprint had110 LTE markets nationwide, and the carrier expects to reach 200 million people by the end of 2013.

July 24, 2013

AT&T 4G LTE Rollout Continues With 8 New Markets

AT&T logo

Less than a month after AT&T's 4G LTE network exploded into 35 new U.S. markets, the carrier today announced another eight locations.

The move brings AT&T's grand total to 334 markets, with coverage for hundreds of millions of people across the country.

New locations include Troy and Greenville, Ala.; New London County, Conn.; Vallejo-Vacaville, Merced, and Madera-Chowchilla, Calif.; Sussex County, Del.; and Columbia, Mo.

Troy and Greenville, it turns out, have already enjoyed AT&T's "4G" speeds - aka HSPA+ - but will now get an extra dose of LTE.

"The latest in wireless and broadband technology is a major tool for education and economic development," Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said in a statement. "As citizens continue to be more mobile, we need to keep up with the latest in technology to compete economically and provide a good quality of life in our community."

AT&T was recently named the fastest mobile network in America by PCMag, pulling ahead of last year's winner, Verizon, which just announced that it has entered the home stretch of its nationwide LTE rollout with 500 LTE markets.

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July 2, 2013

AT&T’s 4G LTE Network Launches in 35 More Markets

AT&T logo

AT&T announced 35 new LTE markets today, bringing the grand total to 326 and coverage for more than 200 million people.

AT&T said it expects to cover 300 million people with 4G LTE service by the end of 2014, with 90 percent of its planned 300 million POPs by the end of this year.

New locations range from sea to shining sea, including areas of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as well as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Washington, California, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All 35 markets are listed below.

PCMag recently named AT&T the Fastest Mobile Network in America, pulling ahead of last year's winner, Verizon, which just announced that it's close to done with its nationwide LTE rollout with 500 LTE markets.

Meanwhile, AT&T is going green with the launch of an eco-ratings system for select accessories and pre- and post-paid handset devices, which the carrier built with the help of sustainability consultancy firm BSR.

The system is based on general categories of sustainability, including the use of environmentally preferable materials, minimization of hazardous substances, energy efficiency, responsible end-of-life treatment, and environmentally responsible manufacturing.

June 18, 2013

Sprint Rolls Out 4G LTE in 22 More Cities

Sprint 4G

Just in time for summer, Sprint is expanding its 4G LTE network to an additional 22 cities.

Users in "hotspots" like Miami, New Orleans, Raleigh, and Tampa can now download videos, surf the Web, and send photos faster and more reliably.

For the full list of Sprint's new 4G LTE-compatible cities, see below.

"Today's announcement means that more Americans will experience the speed and power of Sprint 4G LTE," Bob Azzi, Sprint's network senior vice president, said in a statement. "Sprint is committed to delivering the latest technology through a nationwide LTE buildout, and providing new cell sites that are more compact and energy efficient."

The mobile carrier already offers 4G LTE in top summer destinations like Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. This week's announcement boosts Sprint's LTE service to a total 110 markets nationwide; it is expected to reach 200 million people by the end of 2013.

As Sprint flips the switch on additional networks around the country, customers can also expect a bump in coverage, reliability, and quality on the 3G network. Some are even discovering LTE signals in cities that haven't officially been announced, including Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco.

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