U.S. Cellular offered additional details on its next-generation LTE network yesterday when a company executive said it would begin testing early next year. According to Steven Campbell, CFO and executive vice president, the regional carrier will select its first trial market in late 2011 with full commercial deployment following in 2012. Campbell made the remarks while speaking at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in New York.
It's a big day Dialed In for as we hit our 150th episode, Bonnie makes it back to San Francisco for a special visit, and Jessica marks the day before her birthday. We also have a lot to get through today as the usual preholiday deluge of new phones is reaching its height. As it always does, Samsung is spinning out the most new models with six handsets unveiled in just the last week. Also in the podcast, Jessica examines the minimum requirements for an Android phone, Nicole polls readers on what kind of keybaord they prefer, the first … Read more
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Though CNET's always been here to rate the latest cell phones, your handset is only half the story in the search for a great wireless experience. Strong coverage from your carrier is equally important, but finding that reception, and keeping it, isn't easy.
That's why we've partnered with Root Metrics to create a unique tool that can help you check reception strength and make a carrier decision. You might have already discovered the tool when browsing any CNET cell phone review (look for the &… Read more
A month after announcing a customer loyalty program called the Belief Project, U.S. Cellular has found another way to reward subscribers: a new data plan that costs $69.99 a month for 5GB of data with unlimited messaging and free GPS navigation.
The plan includes 450 voice minutes with free incoming calls, free nights and weekends, and free mobile-to-mobile calls. The plan is called Primary Plus and is designed for those new to smartphones as well as data-hungry customers.
If you prefer a family plan, U.S. Cellular offers two: the Essential Plus Family Plan that offers two lines … Read more
As promised, Sprint and its partner Clearwire turned on 4G service in all five boroughs of New York City on Monday, as well as five other markets: Tampa, Fla., Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., and Hartford and New Haven, Conn.
Now, owners of 4G devices, such as the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G, can take advantage of Clear's WiMax network, which promises average download speeds of 3Mbps to 6Mbps with bursts of up to 10Mbps. We just fired up the Samsung Epic 4G here in Midtown Manhattan and were able to connect to the network with … Read more
If you live in the United States and have used your cell phone on a European holiday, it's very likely you became acquainted with Orange. I'm not talking about the color or the fruit, but rather the cell phone carrier.
Incorporated in 1994 and now a division of France Telecom, Orange is the fifth largest telecom operator in the world with both wireless and fixed data networks. That's not a small feat by any means, particularly when you consider that the company employs 166,384 people and serves 182 million customers in 32 countries. What's more, it also serves as a roaming partner for U.S. GSM carriers.
Up until this week, the main thing I knew about Orange was that it was the debut iPhone carrier in France. On Wednesday, however, I had the opportunity to talk with Olaf Swantee, Orange's executive vice president of operations for Europe and sourcing. Born in the Netherlands, but now with a home in Switzerland and an office in London, Swantee oversees Orange's business in 11 countries in Europe and the Caribbean. Swantee was candid and informative as we discussed wireless growth in developing countries and whether cell phone networks in Europe really are that much better than in the United States.
Q: What is your business focused on right now? A: It's much more about retention than acquiring new customers. First, we're focusing on after-sales services like customer care to make sure that our existing customers stay with us and spend more money with us.
The second key leader is efficiency. In mature markets you need to spend much more time defining the "how" than the "what." It's not so much about reducing costs, but about doing things better.
The third thing is new services. We really try to take our "people interface" really seriously. We want to make sure that our 90,000 employees working in call centers and in shops are installing things for the customer. We're helping people use their phones after they buy them.
That interface is the point of our differentiation, but it can't be just for free. This is something that operators are not used to. Mostly, they include [services and features] as part of a bundle or a package. In contrast, we're saying that there is a lot that's part of a bundle, but if you want something specific, you pay a small amount. We turn that interface into a profit center.
Q: A popular notion in the United States is that this market is behind Europe in wireless use and adoption. What do you think the differences between the two regions really are? A: There are a few things. To start, the networks [in] the Europe and the U.S. are different. Most of the time it's CDMA technology [in the United States], but [Europe] has networks built around GSM technologies like HSUPA and HSDPA. Our advantage in Europe is that those technologies scale a little bit better. So we don't need to have LTE tomorrow morning.
In the United States, [LTE] is a much bigger priority because the current networks are not sufficient to cope with the data growth. That's an important difference. We can do with twice and three times the growth right now. It's fascinating that even in small countries like Armenia, where the GDP per head is a tenth of what it is in the United States, data use is 40 percent of our revenue.… Read more
We were afraid that when Verizon announced its shift to tiered data pricing, it would do away with its unlimited option, much like AT&T did. Not so, as Verizon's new tiered data plans suggest. Unlimited 3G smartphone data is still available for $29.99, but it's no longer required when purchasing a new smartphone. You can now opt for a cheaper $14.99 plan if you think you can survive on just 150MB with $0.10 per MB of overage.
The same goes for feature phones, but with an added option of $1.99 per MB … Read more
Make no mistake that Sprint's iDEN network is not long for this world. In an interview with Fierce Wireless today, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said eventually the carrier will replace its iDEN 800MHz spectrum with enhanced CDMA coverage.
Though Hesse didn't give a specific time line for the transition, he characterized it part of the carrier's natural network evolution. "Over time, we'll have fewer and fewer customers on the iDEN network," he told the publication. "That allows us to use some of that capacity on the network that is freed up and use … Read more
The January release of a Verizon iPhone remains unconfirmed, but we may have still more grist for the ever-churning rumor mill. Call centers connected to the wireless carrier and Apple are hiring hundred of new positions over the next three months, according to job postings spotted by CNET.
The hiring companies, Salt Lake City-based Teleperformance and Kennesaw, Ga.-based Ryla, are hiring at facilities around the country, with Ryla advertising for 1,700 positions in Indiana, California, Virginia, and Colorado.
In less than two weeks, Sprint will formally activate its 4G WiMax service in New York City. As I've already told you, building out a 4G network in a dense urban environment like Manhattan isn't easy. Even once you have all the permits in hand--which is a mess in itself--you still have to install enough "macro" cell sites on rooftops and enough "pico" sites on utility poles. Only with this two-tiered approach can a carrier hope to get its signals into building, underground and into parks and green areas.
To show how difficult the … Read more