• Carriers

    by Published on 10-31-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers

    Thanks to the CRTC, come this December 1st your Canadian carrier will no longer be able to sell phones locked to its own network. It's great news for consumers in this country; even better, some carriers are getting ahead of the deadline and have begun unlocking their hardware for free!

    I've cobbled together a quick list of who is currently selling unlocked smartphones (and also LTE-connected tablets). It's by no means complete, so please feel free to add to it. And it doesn't include your local Apple Store or pop-up Samsung shop—because we already knew about those, right?

    Bell and Virgin Mobile

    Both Bell and its subsidiary Virgin Mobile have begun selling a considerable portion of their device portfolios without any carrier locks:

    Alcatel GoFlip and Pixi 5
    All Google devices
    All iPhones and iPads
    BlackBerry KEYOne (requires software update)
    LG Q6
    Motorola Z2 Play
    Samsung Note 8
    ZTE Grand X View 2 Tablet

    Best Buy Canada

    All iPhones for all carriers are now sold unlocked, even the ones with subsidies.


    "Some" devices are now sold unlocked... That's super-helpful </s>.

    Freedom Mobile

    There are anecdotal reports of users getting unlocking fees waived. Your mileage may vary; I asked about unlocking a phone when activating a line on Freedom and was told I'd have to wait thirty days.

    Rogers and Fido

    Both are waiving unlocking fees, but only for devices bought outright.

    Staples Canada

    The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are now available unlocked for outright purchase, and also on an in-house 24-month payment plan.

    TELUS and Koodo

    Again, anecdotal evidence of unlocking fees being waived. YMMV.

    If you've anything to add to this list, please help your fellow readers out!

    Sources: iPhone in Canada, Mobile Syrup (1), (2), (3)

    by Published on 10-23-2017 03:30 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    Here is Freedom Mobile's LTE network at its very best in downtown Toronto, observed by yours truly in the second SIM slot of his Band 66-compatible OnePlus 5. I've definitely recorded better download speeds on Bell/Koodo/TELUS in the same neighbourhood, but Freedom's speeds—and the low latency in particular—is perfectly acceptable for almost anything you'd ask a modern smartphone to do.

    But here's the thing: in my three days of informal testing across the GTA that LTE signal was pretty hard to come by. More often than not I was stuck on HSPA+, sometimes even on (gasp) 3G!

    Not only that, but I can recall two incidents in particular where Freedom let me down entirely: the first was in the parking lot at IKEA North York, where the latency was so bad that launching Google Maps yielded no traffic data; the second was in the basement of Hudson's Bay Company at Queen and Yonge, where I was surprised to suddenly find myself with no signal at all.

    The rest of the time data on Freedom was slow but serviceable. I did keep an eye on my phone's status bar, and when a rare 4G signal magically appeared I immediately did a speed test, with results similar to what you see above. This may, of course, be an issue unique to my unsupported hardware. But a chat with a rep at my local Freedom outlet gave me the impression that the phones sold by the carrier exhibit similar behaviour.

    I will never fault anyone for choosing Freedom Mobile to vote with their wallet; Canada's Big Three carriers have been ripping us off for far too long. But while I'd definitely recommend an LTE upgrade to an existing user, I also think that any Big Three customer looking to jump ship is in for a disappointing ride.

    by Published on 10-17-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    Well, this was unexpected...

    I was all set to activate a SIM and try out one of Freedom Mobile's impossibly good data plans today—that is until late last night, when I read news of even better plans on the way. iPhone in Canada reports that the new plans will make their début this Thursday, October 19th.

    Big Gig plans do not include calls from Canada to the USA, but for a limited time will offer free international SMS and MMS. Options are as follows:

    $50/month: 12GB data (8GB + 4GB bonus) within Home; 250MB within Away
    $70/month: 15GB data (8GB + 7GB bonus) within Home; 500MB within Away
    $90/month: 20GB data (12GB + 8GB bonus) within Home; 1GB within Away

    If you didn't know, the "Away" data allotments are for roaming within Canada outside of Freedom's limited Home network.

    Everywhere Canada plans add long distance to the USA (from within Freedom's Home zones) plus 2,400 minutes of in-Canada roaming. International SMS and MMS are also included:

    $50/month: 5GB (4GB + 1GB bonus) within Home; 250MB within Away
    $60/month: 10GB (6GB + 4GB bonus) within Home; 500MB within Away
    $75/month: 12GB (9GB + 3GB bonus) within Home; 1GB within Away
    $100/month: 20GB (15GB + 5GB bonus) within Home; 1GB within Away

    Note that neither of the new plans include any free data when in the United States. If that's important to you then you'll want to jump on the current $50/month plan, which includes 1 free gigabyte of data per month from within the USA.

    Freedom is definitely on a tear to get new customers, and I can't help but wonder if their current promotion isn't getting the activations they were hoping for. Their LTE network still seems plenty fast, even in downtown Toronto. And just last week there was a weird moment when the girlfriend and I walked by a Freedom outlet at Yorkdale Mall. Not only was the store empty, but the entire staff was assembled at the entrance, staring down passers-by as if trying to will them into entering.

    Has anyone here switched to Freedom from Koodo? I'm seriously considering it—once I do some further testing, of course...

    Source: iPhone in Canada

    by Published on 10-12-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    This week Koodo finally joined the ranks of other Canadian carriers in offering its own "roam like home" service; for a daily charge of either $7 or $10 CAD you can access your data bucket in the USA or the rest of the world. And while its uninspired moniker, Easy Roam, isn't so impressive, the list of supported countries definitely is. Plus you can sign up for the service via SMS, like I did above.

    I know what you're thinking: I must really feel like an loser owning this dog of a dual SIM phone, right? I mean, what a waste of money that thing turned out to be! Yeah, not so much...

    Let's do some math on my upcoming winter vacation, to (big surprise) Hong Kong and Japan. We'll be going to Osaka first and spending 9 nights there. Using Easy Roam for those 9 nights would cost my girlfriend and I $90 each, or $180 for the both of us. With local taxes that comes to a total of $203.40 CAD. But if we rent a WiFi hotspot like we've done in the past, we would instead pay only $134 USD, or about $167 CAD, with no additional taxes (see option 3 here). More importantly, that hotspot rental comes with an extra 9 GB of LTE data to share between us.

    Granted, there is the hassle of carrying an extra gadget around and keeping it charged, and also staying within range of it—if we split up on separate shopping trips then only the person with the hotspot will be connected. However, the numbers don't lie: for two people in this scenario, renting a hotspot is definitely cheaper.

    When it comes to Hong Kong there's no contest. For $118 HKD—the equivalent of just $19 CAD—what I believe to be the world's best tourist SIM gives each of us 5 GB of LTE data over 8 days. Using Easy Roam for those same 8 days would cost more than 4 times as much!

    So why did I even bother activating Easy Roam at all? Convenience, mostly. I can think of at least two additional scenarios where it would come in very handy. The first is transiting through an airport or a layover where there's no free WiFi. It happens, sometimes. And Easy Roam would come in very handy at a destination where there's no good local SIM solution—like if we don't feel like buying a pair of BlackBerries just to use in Bermuda, for example.

    It's great that all six brands of Canada's Big Three carriers now offer a more affordable way of roaming internationally. Just know that they're not necessarily the best value when travelling abroad.

    Source: Mobile Syrup

    by Published on 10-02-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    Just a friendly reminder that Freedom Mobile's Fall Data Event ends today, with two promotional plans that you won't find on any other Canadian carrier:

    $40 per month LTE-Ready Plan
    Triple the data!
    6 GB of full-speed data (2 GB + 4 GB bonus)
    Unlimited Canada-wide talk
    Unlimited global text, picture and video messaging
    World Saver: International calling from 1¢/min to over 200 countries
    Call Control (caller ID, missed call alerts, conference calling, call forwarding, call waiting)

    $50 per month LTE-Ready Plan
    Save $9/mo (Reg. $59)
    8 GB of full-speed data (6 GB + 2 GB bonus)
    Unlimited talk to Canada and the U.S.
    Unlimited global text, picture and video messaging
    World Saver: International calling from 1¢/min to over 200 countries
    Away Network (in Canada and the U.S.)
    1 GB of full-speed data
    2400 minutes of talk to Canada and the U.S.
    Unlimited global text
    Call Control (caller ID, missed call alerts, conference calling, call forwarding, call waiting)

    Both plans are listed as available in-store for new activations only, but I have two friends who are existing Freedom customers and were able to get the $50 plan with upgrades to new Samsung phones (a Note 8 and S8+).

    I spent the afternoon doing speed tests with them and came away surprised and impressed with Freedom's LTE network. In an area of the GTA bounded by Woodbine Avenue, Highway 7, Kennedy and the 401 I saw ping times of less than 20 ms, download speeds of well over 60 Mbps and upload speeds in excess of 20 Mbps—numbers that bested Koodo's LTE network on a OnePlus 5. As for call quality we only managed to get one test in and results were less impressive; the call was made in a crowded supermarket, though, which may have had an adverse effect.

    Bringing your current device to Freedom's LTE network is a bit tricky. You'll need a phone that supports Band 66, but there's a bit more to it than that. While the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus seem to work great, OnePlus 5 users are reporting issues with LTE/3G hand-offs. Your safest bet might be to buy your phone direct from Freedom. For the value and quality of data service it seems to be well worth it!

    Links: Freedom Mobile Fall Data Event (1) (2)

    by Published on 09-21-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    Yup, Samsung is everywhere...

    For anyone who will ever visit Sri Lanka (and you totally should) here's a quick guide to getting mobile service there. Although carriers in both Canada and USA offer "roam like home" packages—where you access your plan's data bucket anywhere in the world for an additional daily fee—it's often cheaper to get a local SIM when you arrive. Case in point: for the equivalent of about $9 USD each my girlfriend and I were able to get 4GB of data (plus an extra 5 GB of "overnight" data) that lasted through the entirety of our 10 days on the island.

    This special tourist package is available through Sri Lanka's number one mobile carrier, Dialog. Getting set up was easy but not an experience that I would call pleasant. There's a Dialog shop right in the Arrivals Hall of Bandaranaike International Airport that's open 24 hours—perfect for us as our inbound flight from Hong Kong didn't land until close to midnight. They only accept cash but fortunately for us there was a currency exchange in the same Arrivals Hall that was also open.

    After taking our money the Dialog rep robotically set up the SIM on one of our phones and then left it there on the counter without telling me it was ready; he didn't even bother with the second phone. I eventually got the hint and set up the second SIM myself, using the settings from the first one. In so doing I noticed that the home SIM on my first phone—a dual-SIM OnePlus 3—was disabled for absolutely no reason. Thanks, jerk...

    I did speed tests all over the island (when I remembered to) and not once did I ever see a 4G signal while I was there. That in itself wasn't a problem, but the sometimes spotty coverage took a huge hit on our phone batteries, as they desperately hunted for a signal to lock on to. To keep my phone juiced up for the next photo opp I got into the habit of keeping it in airplane mode until I actually needed data for something.

    In other words, Sri Lanka might not be the best holiday destination for the obsessed Instagrammer or YouTube Livestreamer but it's definitely worth visiting for its Cultural triangle, friendly people and amazing food!

    by Published on 08-30-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers


    AT&T is donating $350,000 to aid communities following Hurricane Harvey, which includes $100,000 to the Greater Houston Community Fund, $100,000 to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Fund and $50,000 to the Coastal Bend Community Foundation in South Texas.

    AT&T Waived Fees for Customers Impacted by Hurricane Harvey - Beginning Aug. 26, 2017, and running through at least Sept. 1, 2017 we will issue credits to AT&T wireless customers in impacted areas for additional data, voice and text charges, and AT&T PREPAID for additional voice and text charges.

    Additionally, the AT&T Foundation will match employee donations up to $50,000 each to the AT&T Employee Disaster Relief Fund, which supports the thousands of AT&T employees who live in the areas affected by the storms and Team Rubicon, a disaster response veterans service organization.
    Source: AT&T Newsroom


    In addition to waiving casual call and text fees, effective August 26 through September 8, 2017, for Sprint, Boost and Virgin Mobile customers, Sprint will waive data overage fees for customers in Texas and Louisiana impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Fees will be proactively waived during the specified timeframe.
    Source: Sprint Newsroom


    To help our customers connect with loved ones in the path of Hurricane Harvey, T-Mobile is making it free for customers, including prepaid customers, to call or text from impacted areas of Texas and Louisiana.

    “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of this powerful storm,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile.

    From Aug. 25-Sept. 1, T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers in the following area codes can call anywhere in the US for free:

    Texas - 830, 512, 210, 936, 956, 361, 979, 281, 832, 713, 936, 409, 346
    Louisiana - 337, 985
    Source: T-Mobile Newsroom


    Verizon today announced support of South Texas through a $10 million pledge to fund Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

    Verizon is also offering support for the relief efforts in the following ways:

    Relieving postpaid customers of data, talk and text charges and giving prepaid customers an extra 3 GB to be used for data, talk and text from August 26 through September 15.

    Deploying mobile equipment including Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS) to supplement service in areas of South Texas that need extra network capacity.

    Working closely with several federal and local government agencies to help support first responders on the ground with much needed communications services.

    Staffing shelters with Verizon employees in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio to assist first responders and displaced residents with mobile charging, internet access and other communications needs.

    Along with its subsidiary Oath, the company is providing financial support to residents of Houston and South Texas with dollar-for-dollar matches of employees' contributions to select relief-focused organizations.

    Offering emergency financial assistance to employees who have been affected by this tragedy through both its employee assistance program and its VtoV program where employees can donate funds to help fellow employees affected by a natural or personal disaster.

    In addition, to reinforce our long-term commitment to the communities we serve, Verizon will be offering its more than 10,000 employees who work in the states of Texas and Louisiana the opportunity to volunteer for the Harvey recovery effort over the coming months and receive up to a week of paid volunteer time.
    Source: Android Police

    by Published on 08-10-2017 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    OpenSignal has been very, er... "open" about sharing their data on network speeds around the world; they even have their own speed-testing app, called Meteor. But what about the app that people actually use?

    I've been using Ookla's Speedtest.net for years to test my broadband connection through my desktop browser; ditto for for the Android app. Perhaps because of OpenSignal, Ookla has just published a Global Speed Index of their own.

    The results have been gathered from more than 6,000 servers in 190 countries. The good news? Canada ranked highest in North America, with an average download speed of 35.19 Mbps. The bad news? We're 13th worldwide. The really bad news? High prices, no unlimited data plans, lack of compelling MVNOs... Shall I go on?

    The United States ranked 43rd overall, with an average download speed of 23.05 Mbps. Here are the countries in the top ten worldwide:

    1. Norway - 52.59 Mbps
    2. Netherlands - 46.94 Mbps
    3. Hungary - 46.24 Mbps
    4. Singapore - 45.99 Mbps
    5. Malta - 44.84 Mbps
    6. Australia - 44.64 Mbps
    7. United Arab Emirates - 43.98 Mbps
    8. South Korea - 42.09 Mbps
    9. Belgium - 37.81 Mbps
    10. Iceland - 36.84 Mbps

    Source: Speedtest via Mobile Syrup

    by Published on 08-03-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    OpenSignal has just published their findings on the current state of mobile networks in the USA, using over five million measurements from over a hundred and fifty thousand phones between April and June of this year. T-Mobile in particular saw some impressive results, scoring the highest of all carriers nationwide in each of OpenSignal's six critical metrics:

    4G Availability
    T-Mobile - 90.91%
    Verizon - 89.79%
    AT&T - 83.08%
    Sprint - 81.63%

    4G Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 17.45 Mbps
    Verizon - 14.91 Mbps
    AT&T - 12.92 Mbps
    Sprint - 9.76 Mbps

    3G Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 3.57 Mbps
    AT&T - 2.71 Mbps
    Sprint - 1 Mbps
    Verizon - 0.83 Mbps

    Overall Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 16.07 Mbps
    Verizon - 13.34 Mbps
    AT&T - 11.05 Mbps
    Sprint - 8.17 Mbps

    4G Latency
    T-Mobile - 62.84 ms
    AT&T - 63.81 ms
    Verizon - 67.38 ms
    Sprint - 70.1 ms

    3G Latency
    T-Mobile - 119.23 ms
    AT&T - 136.02 ms
    Sprint - 166.2 ms
    Verizon - 178.15 ms

    To see how carriers performed regionally read the report in full at the link below. And remember, if you disagree with any of these results you can make the next test more accurate by installing the OpenSignal app for Android or iOS.

    Source: OpenSignal

    by Published on 07-19-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers

    Yesterday brought news of some OnePlus 5 phones rebooting when their owners attempted to dial 911. Today it seems that the issue is not limited to OnePlus. A redditor on r/Android is compiling a list of devices experiencing the same problem, with links to their respective comments and/or threads:

    Asus ZenFone 3 (all variants)
    OnePlus 5
    Samsung Galaxy S5
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
    Sony Xperia Z3

    So far users in both the US and UK have reported the problem; there have been no reports from Canada as of yet, but apparently Best Buy recalled a large number of ASUS phones here. The source of the issue has yet to be confirmed, but it's suspected to be something to do with the AOSP dialer; all background processes are supposed to be halted when a 911 call is initiated, but some faulty code might be interfering with this.

    Installing the Google Dialer from the Play Store may or may not address the problem. Concerned users can try contacting their local police force and see if they'll arrange a test call to their 911 service.

    Sources: reddit (1) (2)

    by Published on 07-12-2017 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers

    Today marks an Internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality in the United States. The current FCC under Ajit Pai has voted to roll back net neutrality by removing Title II protections. Title II is about the idea of common carriage—that is, a network provider must treat everything on their network equally. Removing Title II protections would give broadband and wireless providers the power to turn the Internet into something more akin to cable TV.

    Organizations participating in this day of action include Amazon, the American Civil Liberties Union, Automattic (WordPress), Creative Commons, Dropbox, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Facebook, the Free Software Foundation, Github, Google, Imgur, the Mozilla Foundation, Netflix, Opera, Pinterest, reddit, Slashdot, Spotify, Ting, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo and Yelp.

    All of the sites listed above (and others) will, in their own ways, call their users to action over the course of the day. The FCC's controversial proposal is currently open for public comment, but only until July 17th. Until then you can make your voice heard at one or both of the links directly below; Battle for the Net is a joint effort by three separate activist groups—Demand Progress, Fight for the Future and the Free Press Action Fund—while Dear FCC is an initiative from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Links: Battle for the Net, Dear FCC

    by Published on 06-16-2017 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    For mobile users in Canada the biggest news story of the week, perhaps the year, is a new decision by Canada's Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to free users from carrier locks on their devices starting December 1st, 2017. Even better, effective this date new users who are unhappy with their carrier will be able to return their hardware and walk away at no cost, so long as they've used less than half of the data bucket on their monthly plan.

    It's not hard to see what the CRTC is trying to do here, to force Canada's Big Three carriers to compete more honestly on the strength of their networks, and hopefully price. I don't actually think that the price thing is going to play out like the CRTC wants it to; if recent history has taught us anything we know that carriers will always find a way to make up for lost revenue at the expense of their customers. In other words, come December 1st plan prices will almost certainly go up.

    And while it's probably out of the question for the CRTC to regulate plan prices, they could perhaps regulate data overages.

    Currently our Wireless Code mandates that carriers notify a customers when their data overages reach $100, and the customer must give their express consent to go over that limit. The unfortunate fact about that is data overages have gotten so expensive in this country that it's way too easy to reach the $100 threshold. I'll use two currently desirable Big Three plans as examples.

    If you hadn't heard, Public Mobile is once again offering a promotion on their 90 day prepaid plan that effectively gives you 4 GB of data per month for $40. Since it's a prepaid plan you won't be dinged for extra data; you have to purchase it yourself in increments of 200 MB or 1 GB. But that extra 1 GB will cost you a whopping $30. On a $40 / 4 GB plan that just doesn't make sense.

    Or take Koodo's Québec-only limited time offer of 6 GB for $49, available to anyone anywhere in Canada who's willing to jump through a few extra hoops. If you go over that 6 GB data allotment Koodo will charge you $5 per additional 100 MB, or an even more egregious $50 per GB!

    Three years ago the standard data overage charge was a mere $10 per GB; what else but a Big Three cash grab can explain the skyrocketing rates? We need an intervention to stop this madness, and I'm hoping that the CRTC is up for the task...

    Links: CRTC (1) (2)

    by Published on 06-08-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    OpenSignal has published their semi-annual "state of LTE" report, with data from more than half a million devices across some 75 countries. The graph above is likely the one that you'll be most interested in, ranking average 4G download speeds by country. The top 10 are as follows:

    Singapore: 45.62 Mbps
    South Korea: 43.46 Mbps
    Hungary: 42.61 Mbps
    Norway: 41.36 Mbps
    Netherlands: 38.36 Mbps
    Luxembourg: 35.44 Mbps
    Croatia: 35.19 Mbps
    New Zealand: 34.91 Mbps
    Bulgaria: 34.07 Mbps
    Australia: 33.76 Mbps

    And if you were wondering what speeds were like closer to home:

    Canada (13th): 30.58 Mbps
    USA (59th): 14.99 Mbps

    For further insights see the link directly below. And if you disagree with the data you can make it more accurate for their next report by downloading the OpenSignal app for Android or iOS.

    Source: OpenSignal

    by Published on 06-05-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    So the Computex trade show just wrapped up in Taipei, Taiwan, and if you believe Engadget the age of the embedded SIM is upon us. The world's four biggest PC vendors—Lenovo, HP, Dell and ASUS—have all pledged to build Windows machines (presumably laptops) with eSIM support. It's a bit odd if you think about it; while an embedded SIM makes sense in a tight space like a smartwatch a laptop would has plenty of room for a traditional SIM card. But apparently Intel is developing an eSIM that provides a persistent gigabit data connection over LTE.

    So are eSIMs inevitable for smartphones as well? I sure hope not. My problem with embedded SIMs is that they force the user to cede control of their data connection to someone else.

    For the last decade or so every mobile phone I've owned has been free of carrier locks—meaning that right out of the box I could insert my SIM card of choice, and as long as my carrier's bands were supported I'd be good to go. As an added bonus I've also been able to remove said SIM card and gift or sell my hardware to someone else when I'm done with it, so that they can do the same.

    With an eSIM the user has to select and/or change their carrier through software, which doesn't sound like a big deal but is nonetheless an additional barrier between you and your connection. A software interface gives a third party the power to block a carrier or even a specific plan from your electronic property. At best an eSIM provides multiple, competing interests a means to make your device worse. Don't believe me? Look no further than the Apple SIM; when it launched in 2014 AT&T used it to lock users to that network, while Verizon banned it altogether. That dream of having carriers competing to give you a data connection didn't exactly pan out.

    It might be a minor inconvenience having to deal with APNs, SIM card trays and ejector tools, but I'm still a big fan of physical SIMs. In fact, I'd take dual-SIM support over an eSIM any day of the week.

    Links: Engadget
    by Published on 05-29-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps

    Here's my story. I'm hoping you'll share yours as well...

    On the morning that my mom died I was waiting for a text from my older brother, the main point of contact for the hospital where we had brought her the day before. I did get a phone call shortly before 7am but again, the text never came—and I had been awake and waiting for it since about 4.

    As an Android user my first instinct was to blame iMessage, but the more I think about it the more I believe it was some combination of iMessage and MMS. I actually have two older brothers and both of them use iPhones, much to my dismay (not really). What happened was that the brother who was contacted by the hospital sent a group text to my other brother and I. The oldest brother received the message on his iPhone without issue; the youngest brother on his Android phone (me) did not.

    SMS has been a fairly critical means of communication for me over the past two years; I've relied on it to organize my mom's around-the-clock care. In my experience the only way that bulk texting works reliably is if I set my app to send group texts as individual messages. This isn't ideal because it makes it harder to read through replies, but at least it works. My current Android SMS app does this by default; surely there's a similar option for iMessage...?

    Again, in my case it wasn't the absolute end of the world. But if you have to call someone and ask them if they got your text then messaging has failed for both of you. I personally have been using SMS for at least 17 years, and the technology has been around longer than that. This stuff should have been figured out by now, but clearly hasn't.

    Please feel free to name and shame your carrier, app and/or mobile messaging technology below.

    by Published on 04-04-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    DSL Reports has the scoop on an analyst event scheduled for this Thursday morning at 9:00am Eastern, to discuss the details of its "previously announced mobile initiative, which utilizes an existing MVNO agreement."

    The service, expected to launch sometime this year, is rumoured to operate primarily on a network of WiFi hotspots, using Verizon as a fallback. The good news is that existing Comcast customers will be able to bundle wireless service with their existing subscriptions. Pricing and data plans, however, are not yet known, and Comcast's existing broadband service is fairly infamous for its arbitrary bandwidth caps and overage fees.

    Is anybody excited to get their wireless service from Comcast?

    Source: Business Wire via DSL Reports

    by Published on 03-31-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps

    With Congress having cleared the way for U.S. operators to sell your browsing history to advertisers, Verizon is wasting no time, partnering with the developers of the popular Android launcher Evie to bring a new search tool to its customers on that platform. Unlike Evie, this new Verizon app isn't exactly getting rave reviews. Here's Cory Doctorow to explain why:

    "AppFlash" will come pre-installed on all Verizon Android handsets; it's a Google search bar replacement, but instead of feeding telemetry about your searches, handset, apps and activities to Google, it will send them to Verizon.
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation pored through Verizon's privacy policy for AppFlash, and found proof that your data will indeed be sold to third parties:

    “AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experience and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.”
    If you're an Android user with a Verizon-branded phone, you might want to look into rooting and de-bloating it.

    Sources: Android Police, Boing Boing, EFF, The Verge

    by Published on 03-23-2017 08:30 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

    by Published on 03-07-2017 08:35 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

    by Published on 02-23-2017 08:00 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;

    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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