• Carriers

    by Published on 03-23-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers



    Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau (seen above) released his government's 2017 budget yesterday, and at least two sources that I follow for digital rights in this country have already expressed concern over a vague passage contained therein. Here is that passage:

    To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from an open and innovative Internet, the Government proposes to review and modernize the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act. In this review, the Government will look to examine issues such as telecommunications and content creation in the digital age, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media and Canadian content creation.
    What does it mean? According to Peter Nowak and Professor Michael Geist, lobbying, lobbying and more lobbying by those in the pocket of Canada's carriers and ISPs.

    Nowak concedes that with broadcast and telecom now effectively sharing the same series of tubes it no longer makes sense to separate the legislation governing them. However, a review of this country's enviable net neutrality rules is entirely unnecessary, duplicating work already done by the CRTC.

    Dr. Geist adds to this the looming spectre of ISP and/or Netflix taxes, channeling even more money back into our operators—who are, in case you forgot, also our broadcasters—all while foreign sources fund more English language Canadian television than ever before. Geist also points to the coming renegotiation of NAFTA, and its implications for Canada's digital policy.

    Read more at the links directly below...

    Sources: Michael Geist, Peter Nowak

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    by Published on 03-07-2017 07:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers



    This happy fellow is Bonhomme de neige, mascot for the Québec Winter Carnival. What's with the grin? Perhaps it's because the presence of a strong regional carrier is bringing better wireless deals to the province for everyone.

    A recent thread in the Vidéotron forum links to a double data promotion from that Québec-only carrier. And wouldn't you know it, Canada's Big Three have somehow managed to up their data buckets and/or lower their prices to match.

    Exhibit A: Mobile Syrup reported last week that Bell was offering BYOD customers a whopping 10 GB of data for a mere $25/month—plus a $40 or $45 province or nationwide calling plan, but still a much better deal than anything offered here in Ontario.

    Exhibit B: This week iPhone in Canada has news of a new promo from Koodo wherein customers can get No Tab plans with 6 GB of data for $49/month, or 8 GB for $56/month.

    The catch, of course, is that these offers are only officially available in Québec, though it looks like you can snag one of the Koodo plans using this handy guide. Hopefully Vidéotron can sustain such aggressive pricing; they are (I think) the last independent upstart carrier from the 2008 spectrum auction, but have yet to hit the million subscriber mark.

    Sources: iPhone in Canada, Mobile Syrup

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    by Published on 02-23-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers



    On February 22nd, 1999—that's 18 years ago yesterday—NTT DoCoMo held a press conference to announce the launch of i-mode. It was the world's first mobile Internet just barely, but definitely the world's first successful such service.

    It's European competitor, WAP, didn't have its first functioning site until October of that same year, whereas i-mode launched with the full participation of Japan's major banks—an anecdote I remember reading in a chronicle by i-mode creator Mari Matsunaga. Living in Canada meant that yours truly had to first sample WAP on a Nokia 7190 in the spring of 2001, before his first true taste of i-mode in Tokyo that summer. At the time there was maybe one English-language i-mode site, The Daily Yomiuri, and I distinctly remember the geeky delight of scrolling through its headlines on my rented Japanese keitai, while sipping coffee at the restaurant of my hotel... LIKE A BOSS.

    If you thought an archaic small-screened Internet was Japan's only contribution to mobile technology, you're about to get schooled by Akihabara News. These other innovations also came from the land of the not-too-distant future:

    The first camera phone;
    The first mobile wallet and mobile payment services;
    QR codes;
    eMoji.

    Unfortunately I don't have any sake on hand, so I'll instead raise my morning cup of coffee in a toast to i-mode, and the other wonderful things it enabled.

    Sources: Akihabara News, Wikipedia (1) (2)

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    by Published on 02-17-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers



    For our American friends it seems like happy days are here again. Today AT&T will join Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in offering its customers an unlimited data plan. And it gets better: both Sprint and T-Mobile announced this week that they'll be eliminating restrictions on HD video streaming.

    According to DSL Reports, customers on the T-Mobile ONE Plan will have to enable HD streaming with a one-time opt-in via the T-Mobile app. As of today, that option should be available at no additional cost to the user.

    As for Sprint, that carrier previously throttled all streaming music, video and game traffic; for unthrottled services customers had to pay an additional fee. With their new unlimited data plan that's no longer the case.

    There may be some soft data caps with these new plans. Verizon, for example, reserves the right to throttle data after 22 GB "during periods of network congestion". And tethering may be subject to data caps as well. But let's keep things in perspective here. In a neighbouring country where a smartphone user can easily be charged upwards of $100/month for only a few gigabytes of data, we Canadians can only look on in envy.

    Sources: DSL Reports (1) (2), Liliputing

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    by Published on 02-07-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers



    About a year ago Qualcomm announced its X16 LTE modem, capable of 1 Gbps downloads. And yesterday, some lucky people in Sydney, Australia got to try it out at an event jointly hosted by Qualcomm, Telstra, NETGEAR and Ericsson.

    Designed for but not yet available to smartphones, the launch device for the X16 is actually NETGEAR's Nighthawk M1 Mobile Router, shown above. You're probably most interested in the numbers, so here are the results from a sample speed test at the event:

    930.45 Mbps download
    127.54 Mbps upload
    20 ms latency

    To demonstrate the utility of Gigabit LTE, event organizers had 5 VR headsets streaming 360-degree 4K live video, simultaneously from the same NETGEAR router. The DayDream headsets did have Google Pixels mounted inside, and thus technically only 2K screens. But that's still pretty impressive, considering that no dropped frames were reported from any of the participants.

    I found the story on r/Android, where the first commenter had a rather sobering thought:

    Telcos making their networks faster instead of making data cheaper is going to be 2017's making phones thinner instead of making the battery last longer.
    Way to spoil the party, jerk...



    Source: Qualcomm via reddit

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    by Published on 02-02-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers



    With its pink sand, pastel-coloured houses and dark rum, Bermuda is a dream destination for anyone, really. But for BlackBerry users, perhaps a little more so. You can still buy a 2013 BB7-powered 9720 like the one you see above (wallpaper not included), and if you're visiting the island with an unlocked BlackBerry of your own you can also get a prepaid SIM card with unlimited data at surprisingly reasonable rates.

    I didn't even bother with SIM cards for the two Android phones that the girlfriend and I brought with us for our quick island getaway; Digicel, the country's largest carrier, charges an insane $75 Bermudian Dollars (at par with USD) for a gigabyte of data, what I would consider a comfortable minimum for uploading photos and the like. But the operator also offers another relic of days gone by: BlackBerry Internet Service. So for a mere $15 BMD you can enjoy a full seven days of unlimited email, messaging and mobile Internet.

    The deal also applies to Android-powered BlackBerry phones, which I guess must also have the necessary hooks to connect to BIS.

    I was actually looking into getting a pair of cheap BlackBerries for our trip; Bermuda is close enough to Toronto that we'll probably be visiting again before too long. In case you were interested, Digicel sells their 9720 for a not-entirely outrageous $99 USD. Note, though, that you can currently get the newer Q5 for that same price from Amazon.com.

    For any Bermuda-bound BlackBerry users, all the links you need are directly below!

    Links: BlackBerry 9720, Prepaid Plans, Hamilton Flagship Store

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    by Published on 12-29-2016 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers



    Our year-end retrospective continues with a look back at the notable carrier-related stories of 2016. Note the strong bias towards the Canadian market in what follows, as that's where I happen to live. Sorry, eh?

    CANADA

    Bell Acquires MTS

    Our biggest story of the year had to be Bell's takeover of Manitoba Telecom Services, a deal that was recently approved by the CRTC. This regional carrier was at least partly responsible for one of the most popular Canadian plans on Howard Forums, the $55 (now $48) Manitoba/Saskatchewan (now just MB) plan from Koodo. Some links:

    BCE Buys MTS: Some Notable Quotes

    Winseck and Klass Weigh in on BCE and MTS

    How The Colony Could Learn from The Empire

    Competition

    Wireless plans in Canada continue to mimic gas prices; the guy on one corner continues to raise or lower prices (mostly raise them) to match the guy on the opposite corner. The one bit of good news: WIND—I mean, Freedom Mobile now supports LTE data, albeit on only two devices.

    This is What Wireless Competition Looks Like in Canada

    Egregious New Data Overages Coming to Fido; Other Carriers to Follow?

    Freedom Mobile’s LTE Network Now Live in Toronto and Vancouver

    S**t Guy Laurence Says

    Notable Plans

    Queuing for SIM cards? Only in Canada.

    USA

    Zero-Rated Data

    In studying the U.S. wireless market from afar it seems to me that this was the most contentious issue of the year. I myself am a strong believer in net neutrality; zero-rated services are awesome if you're subscribed to the carrier that offers them, and awful if you're not... which is kind of the point.

    The Dangers of Zero-Rated Data

    Netflix Video Throttled on AT&T and Verizon

    Ars Technica Profiles FCC Chair Tom Wheeler

    Notable Plans

    How to get Unlimited Internet on Sprint for $500/year (tax-deductible)

    If there are any big carrier-related stories that I've missed—particularly from the United States—feel free to add them below!

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    by Published on 11-28-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers



    Things are happening fast for the Shaw-owned and newly-minted carrier Freedom Mobile. While walking through my neighbourhood this past weekend I couldn't help but notice that all my local WIND stores had switched over to the new branding. And now it seems that their LTE network has gone live in two of Canada's biggest cities.

    Freedom is calling it "traffic-free LTE"—a slogan that actually gets less enticing the more you think about it. First, there's the very limited area where you can actually use it, then there's the single phone sold by FM that supports it (the LG V20) and finally there's the new plan that users have to sign up for to access it.

    In terms of cost it's a fairly good deal—6GB of data per month at $40 for the first year, then $45/month thereafter. But when you add on the tab necessary to subsidize the $999 LG V20 (!) your monthly bill could be as high as $70 after the 12-month promotion expires.

    And now the really bad news: if you browse through the posts in this thread you'll see that at least one user on the LTE plan with a V20 in Toronto is getting data speeds on par with Freedom's current 3G+ infrastructure. If you're considering LTE on Freedom Mobile it might be a good idea to hold off until the New Year when the network gets more robust. And hopefully faster.

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    by Published on 11-21-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers
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    What we're looking at here is a photo tweeted on Saturday afternoon from Vancouver—where folks are lining up to buy SIM cards from TELUS flanker brand Public Mobile. Why? Because that carrier ran a fall promotion which expired at midnight last night, and to ensure as many sign-ups as possible they were physically handing out SIMs in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

    Here are the details of that plan, from its announcement thread here on the forums:


    Quote Originally Posted by goflamesgo View Post
    Amazing deal from Public Mobile until November 20th. Cheapest 4GB plan yet on a major network with LTE and without Chatr throttling or Wind coverage issues.

    90 Day Plan
    Unlimited Province Wide Calling
    Unlimited Global Text / MMS
    12GB of Data
    $120 every 90 Days

    There's also a $2 autopay credit per month, making this as low as $38 per month.
    That's right, 4GB/month for $38. For Canada that's an exceptionally good deal.

    It's not perfect, mind you. There is no nationwide calling, and though there are no data overage charges per se (it's a prepaid plan), additional data is a not-so reasonable $15 for 500MB. On the other hand, my last four cell phone bills show an average data usage of under 3GB, so I'd reckon that 4GB/month is a an acceptably big bucket for a lot of people. ...
    by Published on 09-30-2016 07:00 AM
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    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers
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    I found an interesting deal on mobile hotspot Internet service from Sprint, courtesy of author and Internet freedom fighter Cory Doctorow.

    The Calyx Institute is a registered nonprofit ISP—the first ISP, in fact, to ever get a Patriot Act warrant unsealed. They're able to offer mobile Internet service through Sprint thanks to a condition of that company's 2013 acquisition of Clearwire. There was a stipulation in that deal that nonprofits get access to the network at very low prices.

    You're technically paying for a membership, not the Internet service itself. But the Internet service is a pretty sweet perk. I'll let Cory explain:

    Calyx uses the wireless data service as a membership premium to help pay for their crypto and privacy supporting activities: to pay for multiple gigabit connections, data center space, etc.. to offer a whole array of free security and privacy services to the public including our LEAP based VPN, their encrypted instant messaging service, and their many Tor exit nodes.

    The upshot? For $500, Calyx will send you a little wifi hotspot with a Sprint SIM in it that comes with a year's worth of unlimited, anonymous, unshaped, unfiltered 4G/LTE bandwidth on Sprint's network. Unlimited as in, I downloaded 60GB with mine and it didn't break a sweat.

    And it's a tax-deductible charitable donation.
    Calyx isn't supposed to call their service unlimited; they refer to it as 30GB+. The thing is, after 30GB in transfers nothing changes; the user isn't throttled in any way and there are no overage charges whatsoever. Even better, the cost of service drops to $400 after the first year, since you'll already have the hotspot required to access the network.

    Carrying around an extra piece of gear can be a burden, but has advantages as well. For example, it's generally much safer to connect your laptop to your own hotspot than to someone else's WiFi network. You'll also be the instant life of the party for your cheapskate friends who have little or no data of their own. ...
    by Published on 08-18-2016 10:11 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers

    This morning T-Mobile held a conference call to announce their new T-Mobile ONE plans.



    Press release here: https://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news-a...data-plans.htm

    Discuss in the forums here: http://www.howardforums.com/showthre...7-Uncarrier-12
    by Published on 06-29-2016 06:50 AM
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    $5 for 100MB.

    That would be a great deal for mobile data if it were 2003 and we were all browsing text-only WAP pages on our GPRS-connected dumb phones. Unfortunately, it's 2016 and $5/100MB is the new data overage rate in the works from Fido.

    Mobile Syrup reported yesterday that the Rogers sub-brand is revamping their monthly plans. Perhaps lost in the all details is this new overage rate, which amounts to an astonishing $50 per gigabyte. Their current standard is $5 per 250MB, or $20/GB. Not three years ago you'd be dinged a mere $10 for an extra gigabyte of data.

    It would certainly be a challenge to stay within the 100MB data allotment that Fido still offers one at least one plan, unless you're the type of user who doesn't really use data at all, and instead relies on the very real security risk inherent in public WiFi hotspots.

    It's a pretty safe bet that in short order Canada's other national carriers will match the new overage rate set by Fido; they're like neighbouring gas stations that way. ...
    by Published on 05-31-2016 06:35 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    Last Thursday Professor Dwayne Winseck and Ben Klass—known on Howard Forums as Mediamorphis and benzito respectively—released a 46-page report assessing Bell Canada Enterprises' proposed bid to acquire Manitoba Telecommunications Services.

    They did so through the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project. According to its own website: "The CMCR project offers an independent academic, empirical and data-driven analysis of a deceptively simple yet profoundly important question: have telecom, media and Internet markets become more concentrated over time, or less?"

    Read on for a copy/paste of the CMCRP's press release, plus a bonus video from the floor of the Manitoba Legislature. ...
    by Published on 05-13-2016 06:55 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    "Commission prohibits Hutchison's proposed acquisition of Telefónica UK".

    Damn.

    That's the headline of an EU press release and the result of an investigation into a proposed merger of two UK operators—their verdict elegantly illustrated by the infographic you see here. Less choice equals higher prices... who knew?

    The Commission cites two additional reasons for not giving the merger the green light: jeopardizing the future development of network infrastructure and one fewer carrier willing to host an MVNO.

    For any Canadian concerned about the implications of Bell's proposed acquisition of MTS, the UK might seem like some sort of magical fairy land where dreams come true and regulatory bodies have grown a pair. ...
    by Published on 05-06-2016 06:33 AM
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    2. Carriers
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    It was a very big week in Canada's carrier space. On Monday Bell's parent company BCE announced a $3.1 billion dollar deal to acquire Manitoba Telecom Services, Inc. For those who don't know, MTS is a small regional carrier directly responsible for a cheap data plan on another, national carrier called Koodo. By jumping through just a few hoops, any Koodo subscriber can enjoy the same reasonably-priced LTE data as Manitobans do.

    In other words, the BCE-MTS deal has direct consequences for all wireless users in Canada.

    I've collected some notable quotes from bloggers and news media to get you up to speed and maybe provide some more insight into the ramifications of this deal—which, by the way, has yet to be approved by regulatory bodies. Anyway, enjoy! ...
    by Published on 04-12-2016 06:40 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers
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    Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. This is one of those times.

    But sometimes pictures need a bit of context. And sometimes you're looking at an enormous infographic on a mobile device and for whatever reason you can't zoom in. In either case, I got you.

    Someone on the Canada reddit assembled a bunch of screen grabs from Canadian carrier websites into a very telling display, clearly showing how plans and pricing across our Big Three carriers and flanker brands are exactly the same. It shouldn't really be that surprising to Canadian mobile users, but it doesn't make me any less angry when I see it, either. ...
    by Published on 04-08-2016 06:50 AM
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    The Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) (a lobby group) has commissioned a new study about zero-rated mobile content. The results? An overwhelming 94% of millennials surveyed were more likely to try a new online service if it were part of a free data offering.

    "It is no surprise that Americans embrace free data services that offer wireless consumers more data, more competitive choices and more flexibility to try new mobile applications and content. Free data services empower consumers with the freedom to choose what works for their mobile life, and that’s an outcome that everyone should support,” says CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker.

    For advocates of net neutrality, the news is less encouraging. ...
    by Published on 03-25-2016 07:25 AM
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    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Netflix, not AT&T and Verizon, is responsible for throttling video streamed through those two mobile networks. The revelation comes on the heels of accusations made by T-Mobile's John Legere, claiming that his two larger rivals were delivering lower quality Netflix content to their customers.

    Netflix has admitted to capping its mobile streams at 600 kbps on these networks, saying it does so to protect users from exceeding the allotted data buckets on their monthly plans. For the sake of comparison, two hours of full HD video could use up to 6 GB of data, depending on the specific content.

    Netflix says it doesn't throttle streams on either Sprint or T-Mobile, stating that “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.” ...
    by Published on 03-17-2016 02:06 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. From The Forums,
    4. Carriers

    Hey guys!

    John Legere made a major announcement today via Twitter. Long story short, more services have been added including Fox Business, Discovery and YouTube!

    You can read all about it here: https://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news/b...mped-again.htm

    What are your thoughts on this? Like or dislike?

    Personally I think it's good but also shows that TMO is moving away from unlimited data at a slow pace. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
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