Call it valley between two trade shows, but the cell phone world is having a quiet week for a change. As we're three weeks past Mobile World Congress and two weeks to CTIA, cell phone makers must have their heads down planning what's to come. Yet, there was at least one piece of news that brought out the CNET readers in force this week. Indeed, Android fans and detractors were abuzz over a ComScore report that found that Android had grabbed the largest market share in the United States smartphone market in the three months ending January. It'… Read more
On Call runs every two weeks, alternating between answering reader questions and discussing hot topics in the cell phone world.
Bloomberg today revived a long-simmering story in the wireless world when it reported that Deutsche Telekom is considering selling its T-Mobile USA subsidiary to Sprint Nextel. A deal is nowhere near definite, sources told Bloomberg, but the two companies are debating a valuation for the country's fourth-largest carrier.
More merger mania Mergers between wireless carriers do happen--remember that Sprint and Nextel got hitched almost six years ago--and the possibility of a T-Mobile/Sprint marriage has been bounced around since 2009. … Read more
Losing a cell phone is never an ideal scenario, but Sprint is now offering smartphone customers an additional protective measure if their handsets go astray. Starting today, Android and BlackBerry users who sign up for the carrier's Total Equipment Protection plan not only can get a new phone, but also they'll be able to wipe their missing handsets.
The service, which will be included in the plan's $7-per-month charge, offers a number of features. Subscribers can back up and erase contacts on the lost device, remotely lock a smartphone, and track a device via GPS while seeing … Read more
Motorola announced today that its Android 3.0 Honeycomb Xoom tablet will be available from Verizon starting February 24 for $599.99 with a two-year service agreement or $799.99 without a contract.
In addition, 3G data plans for the Xoom will run $20 per month for 1GB of data, but there was no word on what Verizon will charge for 4G data plans. Though the tablet will not be 4G capable at launch, Moto and Verizon said the Xoom will be upgraded to work with the carrier's 4G LTE service during Q2 2011 at no additional charge.
Verizon … Read more
BARCELONA, Spain--At the Mobile World Congress here, I hitched a ride in a 2011 Audi A8 demo equipped with Alcatel-Lucent 4G/LTE infrastructure.
The 2011 Audi A8 is typically equipped with an integrated 3G Wi-Fi hot spot to support its Google Earth navigation system and up to six device connections. But the 4G hot spot will give users even higher bandwidth for better telematics response and Internet access to support applications such as streaming media. Think live video conferencing from the backseat of the car, which is what we did.
Alcatel-Lucent demoed the 4G capability in the vehicle using LiveCast and Vidyo. As I rode around Barcelona in the back of the A8, I video-conferenced with an Alcatel team following us in another vehicle. Our demo was also broadcast to Alcatel's booth at Mobile World Congress.
This Audi connected to Alcatel's temporary 4G base station in a building about 1.5 miles away from us, and we witnessed speeds of up to 30Mbps. However, there were only a couple of users accessing that base station. In a commercial application, Alcatel says users can expect speeds around 5Mbps. That's a lot faster than the 400Kbps to 1.5Mbps you can expect on current 3G networks. … Read more
The second day of Mobile World Congress has come to a close, and while it's a little slower than the last few days, there was still plenty to see in Barcelona.
The big news of the day was from HTC, which introduced several new phones including the so-called "Facebook phones"--the HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa--which apparently might have Android OS 2.4. It also announced the HTC Incredible S, the Wildfire S, and the Desire S. HTC also jumped on the tablet bandwagon with the 7-inch HTC Flyer.
Speaking of tablets, we took a … Read more
Nokia and Microsoft want to create a "third ecosystem" to rival the mobile phone realms built by Apple and Google--but carriers have an even broader alternative of their own.
Last year at the Mobile World Congress show, a group of them unveiled the Wholesale Applications Community. It's an effort to outflank native software and monolithic app stores with Web apps not tied as tightly to specific smartphones and available through a variety of conduits.
And this year at the show, they launched WAC.
"With the commercial launch of operator storefronts, handsets and applications, all based on … Read more
BARCELONA, Spain--Mobile World Congress 2011 is off and roaring, as we finally get a chance to have some hands-on time with a few of the products announced this past weekend. But it's not all just handset coverage; Barcelona has also become a hotbed for the latest news in the mobile industry.
Indeed, it seems Nokia and Microsoft are not quite done discussing their partnership, as Nokia's Stephen Elop and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer took to the stage at Mobile World Congress to tout their vision for the future. Elop tried to allay some fears, while Ballmer gave … Read more
T-Mobile gave its new Samsung SGH-T259 a low-key debut today when it added the phone to its Web site without even the whimper of a press release. The trim blue flip phone doesn't offer much in the way of design, but it has enough features to keep you busy beyond making calls.
Features include text messaging, a basic media player, stereo Bluetooth, a personal organizer, a microSD card slot, T-Mobile's Visual Voicemail, a speakerphone, and GPS. The handset is a quad-band world phone and it supports T-Mobile's brand of 3G.
The T250 is available for purchase now … Read more
AT&T has started a new plan today that will allow AT&T subscribers to make unlimited voice calls to any mobile number, regardless of carrier. This is similar to Sprint's unlimited mobile-to-mobile plan. The Any Mobile Number plan will be effective this Thursday, and requires a minimum of a $20 a month unlimited messaging plan plus an existing voice plan.
This is indicative of a growing trend from carriers to stay competitive, perhaps in the wake of the Verizon iPhone. T-Mobile recently announced it is offering free phones this weekend, for example, and in addition to … Read more