Boy Genius Report discovered a new memo (PDF) up on Verizon Wireless' website that's sure to ruffle a few feathers, particularly if you're one of the wireless carrier's heaviest data users. Here's the short and sweet of it:
"If you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5 percent of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand," Verizon explains.
Many wondered how Verizon would handle the increased data demands that an influx of upcoming iPhone 4 subscribers would put on its network, and here's your answer, or at least one of them. The wireless carrier also said it's "implementing optimization and transcoding technologies" to help transmit data more efficiently. These techniques will include caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing the video more appropriately for the device, Verizon said.
Verizon is expected to launch the much anticipated HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE phone in the coming weeks. Although there were some previous leaks indicating that the device might be capable of simultaneous voice and data, we were skeptical. CDMA networks running on EV-DO like Verizon have not traditionally been capable of this feat. But now Engadget is reporting that a new leaked document seems to confirm the Thunderbolt will have what is called SVDO (a modification of EV-DO). This would allow users to use voice and data at the same time on 3G.
There is, however, a catch. The internal memo also indicates that the "experience will not be one that is consistent with our brand." We take that to mean it won't work particularly well. Perhaps data speeds are greatly reduced, or there is voice drop out. As a result, Verizon is instructing employees to not discuss the feature with buyers. The document is dated today, so if real, the information is fresh. Do you buy it?
Good news for early Verizon iPhone 4 adopters. The wireless carrier isn't planning to axe its $30 unlimited data plan, at least not yet, Verizon's chief operating officer Lowell McAdam told investors.
In speaking with The Wall Street Journal, McAdam said, "I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot." Without a $30 unlimited plan, McAdam fears there would be a barrier for AT&T customers who want to switch over to Verizon. Even though new AT&T subscribers must choose from a tiered plan, there are still millions of customers grandfathered into unlimited plans, which could be a deciding factor if Verizon were to nix its own $30 data buffet.
Like all good things, though, this one won't last. McAdams said the unlimited offer is only temporary and that Verizon will ultimately switch to usage-based billing. Those who jump on the unlimited plan will get to keep it until they switch devices.
"For example, a customer purchases an iPhone 4 or Droid X along with the $29.99 data plan," a representative explained. "This person's contract expires February 10, 2013, but they love their device so much they never come in and purchase another device. They continue to pay us monthly and we continue to bill them for the exact same services. We don't change their plan. Now let's say in 2014, they want a new phone and they come in and purchase a new phone, then they subscribe to whatever service is offered at that time and pay that price."
By comparison, AT&T subscribers grandfathered into an unlimited plan are able to keep it even after upgrading their smartphone.
If you thought Verizon was going to go it alone in their legal quest to overturn the FCC's recent net neutrality policy decision, you'd be wrong. But who has joined them in their fight? AT&T? Sprint? Nope, it's MetroPCS according to the Washington Post. The regional carrier may seem like an odd duck to be in this battle, but it isn't that surprising given their recent moves.
MetroPCS already has a 4G LTE network up and running in a few markets. What's more, the carrier is preparing to launch a Samsung Android phone with LTE baked in. Consumer interest groups have cried foul over MetroPCS' 4G rates, and their apparent blocking of some high-bandwidth applications depending on the plan. The FCC plan would not allow carriers to outright block content.
In a statement, MetroPCS President Roger Linquist said, "…the recent appeal filed by Verizon, and challenges raised by some proponents of Net Neutrality to MetroPCS’ recent 4G rate plans, have caused Metro PCS to appeal the FCC’s net neutrality order to ensure that the concerns of competitive wireless carriers." The FCC has been tightlipped about the new suit. It appears that even the much relaxed rules for wireless carriers are not going over well. Do you think the net neutrality plans will hold up?
Verizon has filed an appeal with the US Court of Appeals in Washington today contesting the FCC's new Net Neutrality policy. Verizon says it is "deeply concerned" with the new regulations the FCC intends to peruse. The press release is short on details, but their objection almost certainly lies in the rules placed on wireless networks. Specifically that service cannot be blocked outright, which is one of the few restrictions the FCC committed to.
The policy was laid out just last month, and Verizon expressed discomfort at the time, so this action is not a complete surprise. In fact, we're surprised other carriers haven't yet joined them in filing appeals. Verizon proclaims its support of an "Open Internet" several times in the press release, so expect some spin no matter how this goes. Now all we have to do is wait for the courts to decide the issue. We'll let you know when that happens.
There are plenty of people excited about Verizon and Apple teaming up to offer the iPhone 4, including a good number of AT&T subscribers eager to join the "Can You Hear Me Now?" network. But should they be?
Consumer Reports doesn't think so. The outfit called Verizon's CDMA iPhone 4 a "middle-aged device" and said buyers would be wise to wait for a newer model.
"The Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 has plenty in its favor, especially compared with its AT&T sibling," Consumer Reports explains in a blog post. "But it may be quickly replaced by a newer, cooler version more quickly than is customary even for the die-young life expectancy of most smartphones."
The question is how long Verizon customers will want to wait. According to Consumer Reports, Apple is likely to ship a new iPhone model in June or July, as has previously been the case, so this "middle-aged" device boils down to "a transitional phone to tide Verizon through until the Summer."
Read all of what Consumer Reports had to say right here.
It was always a safe bet that once Apple's iPhone 4 broke free from its exclusivity shackles and landed at Verizon, AT&T would lose a portion of its subscriber base as a result. Now we have some hard numbers to work with.
In a recent survey conducted by ChangeWave Research, 15 percent of AT&T's customers said they're ready to find greener grass on the other side within the next 90 days, Yahoo News reports. Incidentally, that's the exact same turnover rate indicated by by T-Mobile customers. Compare those figures with just 4 percent of Verizon customers who say they're eager to switch.
"Now that consumers have a choice of carriers to host their iPhones, AT&T is certain to see a decline is its quarterly Apple sales," said Alex Spektor of Strategy Analytics.
For its part, AT&T isn't overly concerned, or at least it's putting on a good poker face.
"There are lots of surveys out there, but what really matters is how people vote with their dollars," said Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesperson. "In the third quarter of 2010 we had 5.2 million iPhone activations, up from 3.2 million in the second quarter. If people thought the iPhone was coming to another carrier, which turned out to be the case, it might suggest people would wait, but that didn't happen. Those 5.2 million new customers reinforce our feeling that the effect of the loss of exclusivity has been greatly overstated."
To help stem the tide towards Verizon, AT&T will put more of its chips behind Android, particularly upcoming 4G devices like the dual-core Motorola Atrix 4G.
Verizon is convinced it won't suffer the same network woes as AT&T once it launches the iPhone 4 on February 10. Not coincidentally, Verizon this week announced the activation of 16 new cell sites in the New York Metro region. For those familiar with the area, that includes five new cell sites in both Rockland and Suffolk Counties, three in Westchester County, and additional cell sites in Nassau, New York, and Putnam Counties.
"While establishing our recently-launched 4G LTE network is something we take very seriously, it is important for our customers to know that we are also committed to holding our position as the most reliable 3G network in the nation," said Pat Devlin, New York Metro region president for Verizon Wireless. "As it stands now, the 3G network is what most of our customers are using now. While many will eventually cross over to 4G for business applications and heavier data usage, a good percentage will find that our 3G network will continue to suit their needs very well for the foreseeable future."
In other words, these are all 3G towers, even though Verizon has gone to great lengths promoting its 4G/LTE expansion. And while Verizon isn't saying these new towers are the result of securing the iPhone 4, it's not hard to read between the lines.
Considering the media firestorm we saw last year during the Antennagate fiasco, it was only a matter of time before someone got around to testing the new Verizon iPhone for a similar death grip flaw. According to SlashGear, which got some extended hands on time with the device, there is no antenna problem to speak of. While holding the phone in the GSM death grip fashion, they were unable to kill the signal, or even significantly degrade it. Other antenna points were covered with a similar lack of effect. The verdict? The antenna is fixed.
Almost immediately after the original iPhone 4 was launched, consumers started to realize that touching the gap on the side of the phone where the external antenna pieces came together caused signal to dramatically drop off. The flaw was confirmed by various publications, including Consume Reports, which still refuses to recommend the device. Matters were complicated by some users in strong service areas failing to reproduce a noticeable drop in bars, and Apple's insistence that the problem was with bar display, not the antenna.
Now that SlashGear has been unable to find a death grip on the Verizon iPhone, others will likely seek to confirm. If the new CDMA antenna is found by all to be dramatically better, it might be the closest thing we’ll ever get to Apple admitting fault. Is this going to encourage more AT&T users to jump ship to Big Red?
This new-found romance between Verizon and Apple is just getting started. Following the long anticipated launch of the iPhone 4 on Verizon, the wireless telco says it's going to sell a version of the iPad that connects directly to its network, according to BusinessWeek.
The updated iPad will sport an embedded chip that will allow it to connect without any extra hardware. As it currently stands, Verizon customers who want 3G connectivity have to purchase a MiFi card. Apple does sell 3G versions of its iPad, but none are compatible with Verizon's CDMA network.
No word yet on when the new iPads with embedded chips will be released.