AT&T announced today that they’ll be enabling the use of VOIP on their 3G network specifically for the iPhone. Skype was extremely excited to hear the news given that 10% of all iPhone and iPod touch users have downloaded the Skype application.
The announcement was initially released by AT&T in an FCC filing, soon to be published, explaining that they will open their 3G network to internet calling applications, including Skype.
It should be interesting to see where this leaves the much debated Google Voice application, rejected from the Apple App store earlier this year. While AT&T’s decision isn’t as sustainable as a government policy, it should put significant pressure on other carriers to allow similar network access.
iPhone owners and anyone else using AT&T's cellular network can look forward to faster WiFi, as the telco on Wednesday announced plans to rollout High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology to boost its 3G network.
"Our deployment of HSPA 7.2 and supporting backhaul connectivity will enable our customers to continue to ride the leading edge of emerging devices and thousands of mobile applications," said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations.
AT&T says it will begin deployment of HSPA 7.2 in six major cities, including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, all of which should see upgraded service by the end of the year. By the end of 2010, AT&T expects that list to include 25 of the nation's 30 largest markets (sorry Booger Hollow, Arkansas).
Coinciding with the rollout of HSPA 7.2 will be multiple compatible handsets and devices, including at least six new smartphones and two new LaptopConnect cards.
AT&T announced today that six cities will receive an infrastructural upgrade to the HSPA 7.2 (7.2 megabits per second) service by the end of this year. The cities fortunate enough are: Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; and Miami, Florida.
AT&T hopes to extend this same service to 90% of its current 3G area by the end of 2011 stepping into 25 other major cities by the close of 2010. Further, they claim that the infrastructure upgrade should also be robust enough to handle the throughput of next-generation 4G service, expected to be suitable for deployment in 2011.
The company has been in the crosshairs lately as their current 3G network is being saturated with the exclusive use of 9 million iPhone users in addition to the 20 million other smartphone users on the grid. Still iPhone users await features such as internet tethering and multimedia messaging while AT&T continues to fortify the network for the intense throughput they require.
Sony today further bolstered its lineup of e-readers by announcing the Sony Reader Daily Edition - first in its stable to feature wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and 3G). The Reader Daily Edition also features a 7-inch touch screen. In fact, wireless connectivity and a larger screen are the only notable features that separate it from the Reader Touch Edition.
Sony had announced the $299 Reader Touch Edition and $199 Pocket Edition earlier this month. The Daily Edition, which was announced at a launch event at the New York Public Library, will retail for $399 and debut in December.
Steve Haber, president of the Digital Reading Business Division at Sony, also announced that users will be able to borrow ebooks from the local library, with the borrowed books having an expiration period of 21 days. The new version of Sony’s online book store will let users search for libraries that loan electronic versions of their books.
Google must be pleased to see the market for 3G netbooks swelling at a time when it is preparing to launch Chrome OS. Market research firm iSuppli anticipates 3G netbooks – those with embedded wireless broadband – to become even more popular in the next few years, as always-on internet becomes an integral part of the whole netbook experience. iSuppli expects 3G netbook shipments to increase by over 70%, as compared to the previous year, to reach 17.8 million units this year.
But a spike in netbook shipments doesn’t imply that it would be smooth sailing for Google’s Chrome OS. “Google must counter the high visibility of the Microsoft brand name on countless products in retail outlets, ranging from software, to PCs, to peripherals,” iSuppli advised Google.
The only caveat being that interested persons will have to opt for a two-year service contract with Sprint Nextel, which costs $1,440 and offers 5GB of data.
The same netbook, which features a 1.60GHz Intel Atom processor, 10-inch screen and 160 HDD, is also being offered by AT&T and Verizon along with a two-year contract for $199. Its actual price is $389.
If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Portland, you’ll be among the first to use Comcast’s High-Speed 2go service.
High-Speed 2go will be based on Clearwire’s WiMAX service, and will be available in a “Fast Pack Metro” bundle, complete with home internet service, a WiFi router and the WiMAX for $50 a month, with an addition $20 tagged on for nationwide Sprint 3G (which comes with a 3G/WiMAX combo card). Current customers can add the WiMAX for an additional $30.
Comcast is planning to launch the service in Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia before the end of the year.
Rumors of Nokia’s entry into the netbook market have persisted since last year. The whole idea of Nokia entering the netbook market seems even more tenable now that Nokia and Intel have announced a new partnership. But Acer chairman JT Wang isn’t too bothered by the prospect of Nokia entering the netbook market. He further told Digitimes that PC vendors would gain more business from telecom providers. He believes PC vendors would become better poised – as compared to handset vendors - to do business with telecom providers within one year as the use of netbooks for accessing 3G services is becoming increasingly popular.
The Palm Pre App Catalog currently features only thirty apps and excepting one all others are in beta mode. A lot of people are eagerly waiting for a deluge of Pre apps to overwhelm them. But apps will only dribble in for a few more months as the official SDK (software development kit) isn’t available as yet. Palm has announced it intends to have the SDK fully ready by the end of the summer.
"We've been working very hard on the SDK and are eager to open access on a wider scale, but the software and the developer services to support it just aren't ready yet,” Palm wrote rather apologetically on its developer blog. It is believed that since the Palm Pre doesn’t still have a huge installed base a la the iPhone, many app developers may stick to developing apps for more popular platforms like the iPhone. But who knows the number of Pres sold during the months leading up to the release of the SDK might allow Palm to woo some of the dithering developers.
Scandinavian developer SPRX mobile has developed Layar, an augmented reality browser for 3G phones, which it claims is unprecedented. Despite the company’s we-have-the-first-AR-browser rant, Layar is in fact the world’s second AR browser. The first being Wikitude AR, which provides users with location-based Wikipedia and Qype content using the phone’s GPS, camera and compass. But Wikitude AR is certainly short on features when compared with Layar.