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US Cellular is trying something new for their would-be customers, where they're offering up some play-before-you-pay trials saving customers from signing a two-year agreement, to only be disappointed with US Cellular's network performance.
The offer is for just selected markets, starting off with Eureka, CA, Klamath Falls, OR and Knoxville, TN. Some carriers already offer this, but what happens here is that you don't need to actually sign a contrat in order to get any of the equipment to test their network out. US Cellular will instead offer a loan device, with three on offer: Motorola's Electrify M, Samsung Chrono 2 or Samsung Galaxy Metrix, which can be used for eight days with 500 minutes, 500 texts and 1GB of data included.
This is a great way to test out their network, to see if it's worth a dive into a two-year contract on a new device.
Microsoft has announced a major milestone for the video and instant messaging platform Skype. They say that Skype users now use the service for a total of two billion minutes every day. To celebrate and explain just how large two billion minutes is, Microsoft provided the following infographic:
Two billion minutes is a testament to our users who are making Skype the everyday communications hub that brings people together. This massive amount of connection - enough time to watch 1.6 million movies - is also a testament to the hard work of our product teams who have enabled these great experiences. Whether making a voice or video call, sending an instant message, sharing a file or connecting with a group of friends, now more than ever before, Skype brings people together whenever they are apart
AT&T has said that it will support the iPhone 5's HD Voice technology sometime later this year. The technology will roll out along with AT&T's switching over to routing voice over LTE. "HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy," AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne said.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, will support the iPhone 5's HD Voice technology right from the start. When the device launches, T-Mobile users will be able to experience the higher quality audio that some have called a noticeable improvement. Sprint is also considering implementing HD Voice technology.
T-Mobile has announced at today's Uncarrier event that its 4G LTE network is now live in seven US cities across the nation. T-Mobile customers in Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington DC will be able to surf at speeds faster than many home DSL connections.
T-Mobile expects to bring its 4G LTE network to 100 million Americans by the middle of this year and to 200 million Americans by the end of 2013. It's currently in last place in the LTE roll out race, though Sprint isn't too far ahead. Verizon and AT&T continue to be the front runners, but T-Mobile is trying to catch up quickly.
T-Mobile have just debuted a new contract-free, unlimited talk and text plan which comes with an included 500MB of tetherable data - the cost? Just $50 per month. The best part of this is that the US telco has effectively gone contract-free, with phone subsidies pretty much gone.
This also means that T-Mobile customers will be paying retail price for a new smartphone, but they'll have the option of spreading the cost of the phone over two years of monthly payments. T-Mobile's new $50 per month plan with payments for a high-end smartphone over two years still manages to compete against contract-based carriers such as AT&T and Verizon.
The new $50 plan includes 500MB of data, but users won't be capped for bursting through their monthly data allowance, but rather slowed down to "2G speeds." If 500MB of data per month isn't enough for you, for just $10 more you can expand that up to 2GB. This is a perfect option for those using lots of data, or for those who are always tethering their smartphone to a notebook or tablet for some Internet access.
T-Mobile is working quickly to roll out its LTE network. It appears that they are beginning to test installations in a few different cities and OpenSignal has seen their app utilized on the new 4G LTE installations. Lucky for us, we have some early testing data on the network that show it should be able to compete.
A quick disclaimer before we actually dive into the hard numbers: these tests were carried out with little load on the network and were likely in strong signal locations. With that said, the T-Mobile LTE came up with an average download speed of 25Mb/s and 8Mb/s upload. Combine that with an average ping of 40ms and it starts to look really good. Of course, real world speeds will be slower.
It's also interesting to note that the network was being tested with the Samsung Note II, Samsung Galaxy S4, an unlocked AT&T Galaxy S3, and the SII HD LTE. OpenSignal says they have detected testing in Seattle, Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York, San Diego, Kansas City, and the San Jose/Bay Area.
The National Broadband Network will not be rolling out as quickly as previously thought, with the NBN Co announcing a three-month delay in their roll-out targets.
The company in charge of rolling out the NBN has now officially begun scaling back their forecast construction timetable, taking the three-month delay into consideration. They had aimed to reach 341,000 premises by June 30, but we're now looking at the end of September. This means that the NBN Co is only going to get the NBN into around 200,000 or so homes and businesses by June 30.
I'm sure this is going to be the start of more delays, unless the NBN Co and their various partners really nail it from here on out. Give me the NBN already, damn it.
Google's Fiber service is slowly expanding, reaching out to the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, KS. The Olathe City Council has approved of an agreement which allows for the expansion, but there is no firm word on when we should expect the deployment of the super-fast Internet in Olathe.
Google will be competing with Comcast locally, instead of Time Warner in the other areas Fiber has rolled out thus far. Olathe is the fourth biggest Kansas City suburb, so residents should be over the moon with the news of Google Fiber rolling into town, soon.
Intel Computing Technology Demo in Taipei - controlling lightning with our fingertips and driving a car with no hands
Earlier today here in Taipei we attended the yearly Intel Computing Technology Demo which is tour held by Intel folks from the headquarters in US where they give Asian press a look into some fairly exciting tech that it's working on and stuff that we may see in the future.
At the event at the Sherwood Hotel today, Intel showed off a lot of its new Ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones, which of course are all powered by Intel chips. A lot of those products have been seen at events prior to this one, but what took our interest was Intel's take on perceptual computing and where it sees it going in the future.
At the front of the room was an Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook running Windows 8, some may get excited for that fact alone. Besides just multitouch where we are now with such Windows 8 based machines, Intel showed off various demos which makes uses of the computer's web camera to produce some rather interesting results.
In the video above the first part shows a demo where a Creative Labs 3D camera (attached via USB) is able detect the user's fingertips and control lightning. It uses depth perception and other cool technologies to recognize your fingertips and interact with them on-screen. Another demo we saw (not shown in the video above) showed the camera being able to recognize an Intel employee's hands, and he was able to accurately move around balls on the screen, even flick them with a real flicking motion - quite cool.
We reported yesterday about the European Commission announcing a research grant for 5G, but now we have Tokyo, Japan-based NTT DoCoMo confirming that their tech-equipped vehicle successfully conducted a 10Gbps wireless test in Ishigaki in December.
They received help from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and their test relied on frequencies and bandwidth outside of the usual cellular service, trekking all the way into the 11GHz band with 400MHz of spectrum, but they proved they could far exceed the speeds of LTE and LTE-Advanced when moving outdoors.
In order to keep the connection, they required 24 antennas, with the telco hoping for similar speeds in frequencies over 5GHz, and they're hoping that the technology will define mobile communications as it improves. We shouldn't expect this tech inside of the next half decade or so, but it's impressive that we're seeing it this early on.