Three, Orange, T-Mobile ink 100m deal for extra grunt
Three, T-Mobile and Orange customers will find it quicker to use the internet on their phones thanks to a new deal between the operators and Virgin Media Business. But the effects may take a couple of years to kick in.
Virgin Media has sold use of its UK-wide network of cables to the three carriers in an eight-year 100m deal. Virgin will also build 14 regional datacentres to boost bandwidth to Three, T-Mobile and Orange.
Under the new deal, Virgin Media will provide bandwidth to the phone masts at a rate of 1 gigabit per second. We’re still stuck with the 3G network for the second stage of the process: getting internet content from mast to phone aerial. So while the new Ethernet backhaul removes some bottlenecks from the process, others remain.
The new Ethernet system will also lay groundwork for the faster, more efficient 4G network, which will bring in speeds of 100Mb/s to end users, compared to the 1-3Mb/s available on 3G. But don’t hold your breath for 4G internet, it’s not coming to the UK for several more years.
Virgin Media said in a press release:
“With mobile data traffic set to increase by 33 times over the next decade all mobile operators are under increasing pressure to deal with the surge in mobile data. The mobile backhaul network will unlock capacity for the future.”
T-Mobile followed through Thursday on its promise to quickly expand its recently acquired MetroPCS brand into new cities.
The company announced a $40-per-month service and a pair of new devices that will come to 15 new markets as part of the MetroPCS expansion.
In the new cities, the MetroPCS brand will be used atop T-Mobile’s network but set up its own stores, mostly through third-party exclusive dealerships.
MetroPCS will offer two new handsets in the new cities – the Nokia Lumia 521 Windows Phone and LG’s Optimus F3 Android device. Customers will also have the option of choosing from six other models or bringing their own device.
The “$40, period” rate plan includes unlimited talk, text and data (including 500 megabytes of high-speed data), as well as taxes and fees for $40 per month.
“We’re doubling the reach of MetroPCS in one fell swoop,” T-Mobile chief marketing officer Mike Sievert said in a phone interview on Thursday. MetroPCS’ current operation reaches about 100 million people. With the new cities, MetroPCS will be available to an additional 40 million people, with more markets planned for before the end of the year.
The move comes as T-Mobile rival AT&T is looking to acquire MetroPCS rival Leap Wireless, which sells under the Cricket brand. T-Mobile completed its MetroPCS purchase in May.
Cricket markets are a major focus of T-Mobile’s expansion plans for MetroPCS, CEO John Legere said in an interview earlier this month.
“The vast majority of where we are headed are Leap markets,” Sievert said. “AT&T is going after Leap, [but] it is going to take them months to get this done. Our view is, Leap customers deserve a better experience.”
The new MetroPCS markets are:
Cleveland and Akron, Ohio
Corpus Christi, Texas
New Orleans, La.
Rio Grande Valley, Texas
San Antonio and Austin, Texas
San Diego, Calif.
Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.
Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio
Rather than “rethinking possible,” AT&T is rethinking its plans, as it becomes the latest wireless carrier to offer customers the option to upgrade their phones more frequently. Starting July 26, AT&T will offer new “Next” plans for smartphones and tablets, on a post-paid basis. The plan allows customers to trade in their devices (feature phones excluded) every 12 months, provided the customer pays a monthly installment fee based on a 20-month cycle. So, you would take the full retail price of a smartphone or tablet, divide it by 20 and add that cost to your monthly traditional or family-share AT&T plan. Twelve months later, you trade in that device for a new one, and a new cycle begins. If you decide you want a new phone before the 12 months is up, Next owners still owe the cost of the remaining months’ fees.
Read the full story at All Things D.
Back in April, after extending upgrade periods to a full 24 months, Verizon introduced a new device payment that would allow customers to upgrade phones by purchasing them at full prices with the payments spread out over a 12-month period. According to sources of ours, Verizon will introduce a new upgrade initiative on August 25 called “VZ Edge” that will allow customers to upgrade their phones much more frequently to “stay on the leading edge of technology.” In an training slide detailing the new plan, we can see that Verizon is offering up VZ Edge as a way for customers to avoid signing contracts and upgrade fees, while remaining on the “best network” and with the latest devices. All of the specifics are not yet available, but this slide does mention that if customers are on the previously mentioned monthly payment plan, that they can upgrade to a new device at any time once they have paid off 50% of their current phone.
Read the full story at Droid-Life.
Tech culture is a funny thing. If you track tech news, releases and new ideas closely enough, you’ll notice there’s a very apparent trend that pops up all the time:
- Some company has a truly original idea.
- Every competing company copies that idea.
It’s funny and sad at the same time, and it’s the same thing that happens every time there’s a truly unique idea in the tech world.
A Truly Original Idea
The most recent example of this has been the ability for tech-happy smartphone owners to upgrade their phones far more often than once every two years. T-Mobile made a big splash in the mobile market last week when it announced ‘Jump,’ which would give customers two mobile upgrades every year for an extra $10 per month. (As a refresher to the new way T-Mobile sells smartphones since they no longer have mobile contracts, you can catch up here.)
Jump is a great idea! A truly original idea. People love upgrading their phones and hate having to wait 20 months two years for a new gadget. (Let’s put aside the fact that you don’t save a much money by constantly upgrading your phones and you no longer have back-up phones to give someone or use in case of emergency. It’s still a very original idea.)
… and the Rest Shall Follow
You know what’s NOT original? The fact that AT&T just announced an almost identical program: Next. (All Things D notes that AT&T issued a memo teasing Next before T-Mobile announced Jump, so it’s unclear whose idea came first. The bottom line is still the same: derivative ideas.) Next would be slightly different from T-Mobile’s plans in a few ways: You’re eligible for an upgrade every 12 months, not six; you don’t need to put a down payment on your device; and there’s no additional monthly fee. It would be more forgivable of a copycat if it was better, but the numbers don’t add up. T-Mobile’s not scared, either, as an executive said it’s a “poor imitation” of Jump.
Want to hear a funny story? Verizon’s reportedly planning the same type of program, called VZ Edge, which would launch in August. The plan is almost identical to Next, which means it, too, is a slight derivation on Jump.
It’s just that type of copycat culture. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sprint announce something similar, except Sprint seems to be doing its own thing over there, with Unlimited, My Way essentially giving you unlimited everything forever and ever.
Not an Isolated Incident
Think back to the biggest tech breakthroughs of the last few years: iPhone, iPad, etc. Every major breakthrough has been imitated and copied and modded and tweaked by just about every company under the sun. I’ve just never seen it happen as quickly as we’ve seen phone carriers do their thing this week.
And this isn’t the last time we’ll see this type of behavior this year. The Pebble Smartwatch was last year’s Kickstarter darling, and recently hit store shelves. You know who else is interested in the smartwatch business? Oh, just about everyone: Google. Apple. Mozilla. Microsoft. TomTom. Sony. Dell. It’s amazing. For a while, I seemed to be posting a story about a new company wanting to enter the smartwatch business… and I know we’ll see the same thing once Google Glass becomes more prevalent.
Innovation breeds competition, which helps create better products for all of us to buy and use. I’d just like to see more unique ideas, rather than everyone piling on whichever bandwagon is hot this hour.
T-Mobile made waves in the mobile market recently when it ended cell phone contracts and changed the way you bought new phones: no more subsidies, but rather a down payment and small monthly installments. Its new program, ‘Jump,’ takes that strategy to the next level and gives you the option to get a new smartphone twice a year. While T-Mobile customers could already buy a new phone whenever they want, they’d be on the hook for the rest of the payments on their old device. Jump waives all future payments on your old phone and lets you start fresh with a new device. For ten bucks a month – plus a trade-in of your old device – Jump lets you get a shiny new phone twice a year. The new program won’t save you much – if any – money, and you can’t gift your old phones to family or friends once you upgrade. But if you want to make sure you always have the best phone on the market, hey, you might as well Jump.