November 19, 2011

New 4G phone in the Sidecut house. Guess the provider?

AT&T Announces New LTE Markets, LTE Tablet and Free LTE Phone Promo

November 14, 2011

Ma Bell is still playing catch-up when it comes to following Verizon’s lead in launching a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network — but devoted AT&T customers who want to upgrade to the company’s 4G option may want to take advantage of the newest deal, where AT&T is giving away a 4G smartphone with the purchase of a 4G tablet and the obligiatory 2-year contracts.

As part of the LTE news blitz Monday AT&T also announced the forthcoming addition of six new markets for its LTE service, bringing the total of live markets to 15 when the services come online Nov. 20. The new markets, according to AT&T, are Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Indianpolis and Charlotte, N.C. The Vegas announcement is the most fun, making Sin City without a doubt the most connected place in the U.S., with either WiMAX or LTE 4G services from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint/Clearwire and MetroPCS.

The new LTE tablet, also available on Nov. 20, is the Samsung Galxy Tab 8.9, named for its 8.9-inch screen. Its price with a 2-year contract is $479.99, but if you sign a 2-year contract for a phone you can get that free, either the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket or Samsung Galaxy S II. It also looks like you need to sign up for separate data plans for both the tablet and the phones; too bad, because this promotion could have been a cool way for AT&T to introduce the family plan or one-plan-for-multiple devices idea that everyone keeps talking about, but nobody introduces. I guess we will have to wait for innovation on pricing.

Verizon Doubles Down on 4G LTE Data: Strong Network or Weak Sales?

November 7, 2011

With news leaking out today about Verizon Wireless’s apparent decision to double the amount of downloadable data it allows customers on its 4G LTE network, the question of why is one of two choices: Either Verizon’s confident that its network is strong, or it’s panicking a bit because of slow 4G sales.

The answer? Your guess is as good as mine, and we’ll bet Verizon ain’t telling, one way or the other. Our best analysis is that Verizon’s initial high prices for phones and data plans kept a lot of customers from switching to LTE, pushing them instead to the cooler iPhone even though it was on the slower 3G network. So it’s time to juice the 4G marketing effort, and allowing more data is a cheap way to do so.

Last quarter Verizon sold 2 million iPhones and only 1.4 million 4G devices, with only half of those being phones. With so few users on its new LTE network Verizon can afford to give “double down” deals for a quarter or so to juice its 4G sales effort, which still trails Sprint and has even fallen farther behind Sprint each of the last two quarters in head-to-head 4G sales numbers. Let’s see if the double-data deals change that score.

The good news is, for potential new smartphone customers the somewhat stingy Verizon data plans just got twice as interesting. According to the VZBuzz blog that means an $80 monthly plan now gives you 20 GB instead of 10 GB, all the better to watch video on the NFL Mobile app. Verizon’s also giving the premium NFL Mobile app free to new 4G LTE customers so if you want to be a data hog, now is the time to pig out on Verizon’s new plans.