Remember that old, clunky phone you have laying around in your drawer somewhere? It’s about to become a paperweight when AT&T turns off its 2G network… in 2017. In other words, you probably don’t have anything to worry about, even if you’re one of AT&T’s 8.4 million customers who still uses a 2G handset on a regular basis.
While it’s somewhat surprising to hear that just over one in five At&T customers still use a 2G device, it’s unlikely that this will put a kink in the network’s plans. 2G networks were introduced roughly twenty years ago, and AT&T no longer sells 2G devices in its stores. Five years is more than enough time to upgrade the remaining 12% of people to a more modern network.
Sprint, by comparison, plans to turn off its 2G network by June of next year, while Verizon has no plans to disable legacy networks at this point. With 3G so prevalent and 4G rapidly gaining in popularity, it only makes sense for these companies to rid themselves of the aging technology.
[The Wall Street Journal]
AT&T has finally announced its plans for shared data, and they look awfully similar to what Verizon introduced last month. Essentially, AT&T will give you unlimited minutes and text messages, along with a set amount of data to share between up to ten devices, for a monthly data fee plus an additional fee for every device you add to the plan. The company is expected to introduce its Mobile Share plans in late August.
Unfortunately, AT&T’s plans are just as expensive as Verizon’s. The matrix above shows just how much each plan costs. Thankfully, AT&T decreases the price of each additional smartphone (which starts at $45 and goes down to $30) as you add more data to your plan. “Dumb phones,” laptops, mobile hotspots, tablets, and gaming devices each cost progressively less to add to your plan as well (although the monthly fee remains the same regardless of how much data you’re paying for). As with Verizon, you’ll have to give up your unlimited data plan in order to switch to a new Mobile Share plan. In return, however, you’ll get free access to tethering on your smartphones.
AT&T Mobile Share certainly isn’t for everyone. It might be slightly cheaper for some users with multiple smartphones (or multiple family members with smartphones), but it doesn’t allow you to add all of your devices onto your plan for a low cost. Then again, did anyone really expect AT&T to offer a low-cost data plan?
Many modern smartphones have built-in features (or support apps) which allow you to locate, lock, and/or wipe your phone if it has been stolen. This works well enough, but it’s still possible for the thief to reset the device (thereby removing any data left on it), swap out the SIM, and begin using their new illicitly-acquired smartphone. A new service from AT&T, however, aims to prevent the thefts from ever occurring at all by turning stolen devices into paperweights.
The service, which is reportedly set to launch on Tuesday of next week, allows you to block any smartphone or tablet on AT&T’s network. Think of it like a perma-ban, blocking all incoming and outgoing voice, data, and SMS. Any attempt to use this blocklisted device on another line will result in an immediate suspension. As a result, stolen devices will essentially become a paperweight, good only for WiFi connectivity. This feature will work with all of AT&T’s plans – postpaid, prepaid (GoPhone), and All Channels – but network representatives request that remote data wipe apps be used before the device is placed on the blocklist. If, by some stroke of luck, you manage to recover your device, AT&T will happily unblock it provided you’re the one who originally requested the block.
The Nokia Lumia 900 has been selling very well on AT&T, but a small number of customers have run into a bug where the phone loses its data connection. A temporary fix is already in place, but Nokia has decided to do right by customers and drop the price to free until it can deliver a fix on April 16.
This awesome deal is good for all customers—both new and old—until April 21, not just the limited number of users experiencing this issue. Those who have already purchased the Nokia Lumia 900 will be credited $100, while new customers will receive an immediate discount. The Lumia 900 was already a steal at just $99, so it doesn’t get much better than free. Those who need a fix right away can exchange their handset for an unaffected one.
Nokia also released the 4G LTE handset on Rogers in Canada today, and UK customers can look forward to picking up the Lumia 900 on April 27.
The $100 credit is a great act of goodwill on Nokia’s part, since they’re basically giving the phone away for the next two weeks. I’m certainly pleased to have picked up my Nokia Lumia 900 for free—with the exception of an upgrade fee. Are you?
The Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone has gone up for pre-order on AT&T right on schedule. The pre-order announcement for AT&T’s flagship phone has received prime placement on the carrier’s website, front-and-center on the homepage. This, of course, is to be expected. The Lumia 900 will be the recipient of the biggest smartphone launch in the history of AT&T.
AT&T is currently offering the Lumia 900 in matte black and cyan (the white variant will be released on April 22) for just $99.99, a fantastically low price for the award-winning device. New customers, however, can actually pick it up for free. If you’re still stuck on your old two-year contract, you can purchase the handset for $449.99, pay an early-termination fee on your contract, or move an upgrade over from another line on your account. If you’d prefer to go through a third-party seller, Amazon Wireless is also selling the device to new customers for a single cent, while Walmart is offering it to customers both new and old for $49.99. Our friends up north in Canada can also pick up the Lumia 900 on Rogers with the standard $99.99 price tag.
AT&T pre-orders, both in-store and online, are expected to be fulfilled on April 5, with an estimated arrival of on or before Friday, April 6, two whole days before the official launch. The in-store pre-order process was extremely smooth, and the AT&T retail sales consultants seemed genuinely excited about the Lumia 900. Get ready, folks, the wait is almost over.
[AT&T | Windows Phone Blog]
This one goes out to the more adventurous among our readers. CyanogenMod has announced the availability of CyanogenMod 9 Nightlies for the Bell Optimus LTE and AT&T Nitro HD. In case you hadn’t heard, CM9 Nightlies have also been available for a few days now for AT&T’s Galaxy S II. So, first the fun stuff, then the obligatory disclaimers.
CyanogenMod 9 offers all the benefits of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and then some to any enterprising users who care to root their phones and install it. Most certainly a faster offer than waiting for your carrier to get around to it and you can remove all that carrier bloatware from your phone—no, I don’t want the Amazon music app, thank you very much Verizon!
Now, I promised warnings, and I don’t aim to disappoint! This build is called a Nightly because it will be updated, out of necessity, nearly nightly. While CyanogenMod is top-rate, and I have no problem endorsing any of its final builds, this is not a final build. Something will go wrong with your device on a Nightly, possibly something permanent, aka “bricking.” So, only install this on a device that you can do without for at least a few days, and only if you—like me—thoroughly enjoy troubleshooting and tinkering.
For those who would love some of ICS’ features but don’t care to ‘root’ anything other than your rosebush, I would highly recommend Go Launcher EX. It provides many awesome UI tweaks, and while it doesn’t provide direct performance increases like ICS, I find using my phone to be significantly faster while using it.
[CyanogenMod+ | 2 | Download | S II Download via pocketnow]
One of the few drawbacks to Windows Phone at this point is the distinct lack of frequent updates (although, when compared to Android, Windows Phone has it pretty good). Microsoft regularly delivers Commercial Refresh updates to its partners, but carriers get to ultimately decide whether to push it to customers or wait until a later release. As a result, some devices can go for months without an update. AT&T is arguably the worst offender in this regard, having only pushed a few select updates since Windows Phone first hit the market. An AT&T representative recently confirmed that it has no plans to release the previous two updates, build 8107 and 8112, but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.
While carriers can pass on an update, Microsoft does not allow devices to “skip” an update entirely. In other words, all handsets with the same version number are guaranteed to have the same feature set and bug fixes. As a result, any update AT&T pushes in the future will include Windows Phone 7.5 Commercial Refreshes 1 and 2. A spokeswoman for the company has confirmed that “AT&T plans for a Windows Phone update that will contain the improvements in the 8107 update and more.” This update will likely be the Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh, known internally as “Tango” or “Commercial Refresh 3.”
AT&T is preparing for the biggest device launch in company history, according to a statement from Jeff Bradley, the man in charge of devices for the wireless network. “At all levels, this is a notch above anything we’ve ever done,” he said. ”We’re going big.” The subject of this ambitious marketing campaign is none other than the Lumia 900, the award-winning 4G LTE Windows Phone from Nokia.
It might surprise some people that a Windows Phone will receive a bigger launch than any iPhone or Android handset to date, but it is well deserved. The Lumia 900 is a fantastic device and Microsoft and Nokia have a lot riding on it. AT&T announced on Monday that the device will be released on April 8 for a mere $99, a bargain for the high-quality smartphone. In addition to an estimated $90 million six-to-eight-week television marketing campaign, the Lumia 900 will be placed upon a pedestal in AT&T Wireless stores as the network’s “hero device.” Bradley proudly stated that “Before you walk in to the store, you [will] know [the Lumia 900] is our hero phone.” Retail locations will also be adorned with promotional material, while Lumia 900 accessories will fill the store.
AT&T is playing around with a customer loyalty rewards program known as AT&T Plus. The initiative is currently in the pilot phase–limited to select customers in the Colorado, Houston, and Minneapolis markets–but the telecommunications giant will likely expand the loyalty rewards program if all goes well.
“We’re trialing a pilot loyalty program, called AT&T Plus, with a select group of our wireless customers to get their feedback on their interest in this type of program and the benefits they’d like to have from us,” said an AT&T spokesman. ”Right now, this is only a trial, but based on what our customers tell us, it may be something we look to roll out more widely in the future. It’s an example of our ongoing efforts to deliver a great experience for our customers.”
At the moment, AT&T Plus is invite-only, and you have to live in one of the three pilot markets. Those in the program, however, have access to a special customer support hotline, fewer fees, discounts on accessories (provided they aren’t for Apple products), and other benefits. The waived upgrade and activation fees, in particular, are very interesting, since the company doubled the cost of the latter in early February. While it isn’t particularly expensive in the long run, a distinct lack of additional fees is a nice perk. We would, however, like to see AT&T add additional benefits over time.
[AT&T Plus via The Verge]
Less customers means less jobs and, in this case, T-Mobile is citing loss of customers as the primary reason for closing seven of its 24 call centers and laying off 1,900 of its 36,000 employees in the process. Another 1,400 employees are being offered transfers as it increases staff at remaining call centers. Additionally, T-Mobile is scrambling to find money anywhere it can to invest in its network—presumably its 4G network.
While the call centers certainly hurt, the pain is not set to end there. Thanks to the failed merger, lost customers, and T-Mobile’s need for investment funds, there will be more restructurings and layoffs before the end of Q2, most of them by the end of May. These cuts will not further affect the call centers, front-line retail employees, or network technicians, but jobs will be trimmed elsewhere.
Meanwhile, AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi made a rather interesting public statement this afternoon. It pretty much boils down to the most well-worded and amenable “I told you so” that has ever been made. An excerpt is below—hit the source for the full statement.
Normally, we’d not comment on something like this [announcement]. But I feel this is an exception for one big reason– only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved. We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs.
…as I learned in my years of public service, the price of a bad decision is too often paid by someone else.
[Reuters | AT&T via AllThingsD]