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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.
If you thought that you dream of getting 4G was getting close, well those bandwidth goal posts just moved, a lot. While the Mobile World Congress festivities are still bubbling along, the European Commission have just announced research grants for 5G mobile technology.
The news comes from the European Commission VP Neelie Kroes, who said that they're pumping approximately $65.4 million into research grants for 5G mobile technology, where they hope to have it online by 2020. Kroes said "I want 5G to be pioneered by European industry, based on European research and creating jobs in Europe - and we will put our money where our mouth is."
It's long been a contention that the advertised speeds are an "up to" rating meaning that the ISP doesn't actually have to provide that speed. Consumers generally expect that the advertised speed is the speed that they will be receiving at their house. The FCC monitors the actual versus advertised speed and has reported some data for September of last year.
According to the FCC's data, more than half of the major ISPs failed to meet the advertised download speed. An additional three meet the advertised speed when averaged over 24 hours, but fell short of the advertised speed during the peak hours of 7-11p.m. The chart of data can be seen above. Upload speeds can be seen below.
When it comes to upload, the companies performed better. Only four of the 15 companies didn't provide advertised upload speeds. It just goes to show that not all ISPs are created equal.
Users of Sprint with 4G LTE devices in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York City should be able to pick up spotty LTE coverage. It appears that Sprint has started flipping the switch on towers in those cities without making an official announcement. It's likely they're testing the towers ahead of an official launch.
Coverage has been spotty meaning that not all towers have been turned on. Once the coverage is officially announced and made live, users should expect a blanket of LTE goodness. Sprint has confirmed that the cell towers were turned on for testing and that the company decided to leave them on until the official announcement so that users could continue using LTE.
We have been hearing rumors of Microsoft's plans to transition users of its MSN / Live Messenger service over to Skype for a while now, and today it appears that we have an official date. The transition will begin taking place on April 8th of this year.
The upgrade will target English users first and then trickle down to the rest of the world, over the rest of the month. This news comes shortly after a confusing email which alluded to all Live Messenger services shutting down on April 15th, which is not true.
"The upgrade process itself has been going really well, we've had millions of customers move over", said Skype's Parri Munsell. The transition process begins when existing Live Messenger users are greeted with an upgrade notification. The upgrade will prevent users from signing in to the messaging service using the existing Live Messenger application. Microsoft is pre-caching existing machines with the Skype installer so that the upgrade will appear seamless.