This Week in Mobile Broadband: June 21, 2009

Premium Content, Wireless June 21st, 2009

, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

By Alex Tcherkassky, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2009 – The domestic broadband aircard plans of the “big four” remain unchanged: Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint-Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA all offer five gigabytes (5GB) of data for $59.99 a month. Sprint offers a $79.99 plan that also includes unlimited Wi-Max service, where available.  Internationally, however, VZW launched an international aircard on Friday.  This aircard has its own plan for international use, but its domestic usage is still capped at 5 GBs, just like its domestic-only counterparts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sprint announced that it will debut the BlackBerry Tour 9630 later this summer.  While the basic feature set is similar to the GSM Curve 8900, the Tour has both GSM and CDMA radios, making it a phone that can be used around the world.  Its international data plan is $69.99 – or add $40 add on for an “everything plan.”  Because of BlackBerry’s ability to tether the Tour, it could possibly double as an international modem in competition with VZW’s Novatel USB1000.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps announced an investigation of mobile handset exclusivity agreements.  Copps’ announcement came after a Senate Commerce Committee hearing regarding wireless consumer experience – and a letter from Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Amy Klobouchar, D-Minn, and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.  The Senators asked Copps to investigate the exclusivity deals, saying they were concerned that these deals may limit consumer choice and competition.  The letter specifically mentioned smaller rural and regional carriers.  In an interview with BroadbandCensus.com, Copps said that he doesn’t see why the FCC’s Carterphone decision wouldn’t also extend to wireless networks.  Copps also said that typical broadband providers don’t determine what type of computers customers use to access their networks. He said he couldn’t see why wireless carriers should decide what handsets customers use to wirelessly access the Internet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Verizon’s USB1000 is an EVDO Rev-A modem that has GSM capability for use overseas.  The USB1000 requires the purchase, at a minimum, of VZW’s $59.99 five gigabyte plan.  VZW is also offering plans that add 100 or 200 megabytes of international data usage on top of the domestic five GB for either $129.99 or $219.99, respectively.

Apple launched the new iPhone 3GS.  Aside from the addition of a camcorder feature, the 3GS has multimedia messaging service and the capacity to tether, making it a modem.  Although AT&T is still the only carrier to offer any iPhone, AT&T doesn’t currently support either of those features.  AT&T has taken heat from the non-profit advocacy group Free Press regarding the restrictions on the use of the iPhone.  Apple and AT&T claim that the 3GS offers a faster internet connection than its predecessor.

Upcoming

Leap Wireless’ U.S. arm, Cricket, is coming to the Washington area, and they’re bringing an unlimited EVDO Rev-A aircard plan.  In addition to unlimited bandwidth versus five GB and $40 versus $59.99, Cricket offers its services without a contract or credit check.  Cricket doesn’t have full nationwide coverage yet, and a company spokesman told us its “premium” service map doesn’t show broadband service areas, as the company does not offer any premium add-on for data customers.  Cricket says that, “Throughput speed may be limited if usage adversely impacts our network, service levels or exceeds 5 GB per month.”  Cricket’s “respeKt” ads have been at Metrobus stops for weeks, and they have recently placed representatives throughout the city distributing Cricket info.  Cricket also offers unlimited calling plans, similar to those offered by Virgin Mobile, Metro PCS and Boost.  Their D.C.-area launch is set for June 23.

Note: This story has been modified from its original version. The original version indicated Cricket users can upgrade to a premium broadband service. This information was based on information from the Cricket street team in Washington, DC, and was corrected at the request of a company spokesman. –Andrew Feinberg, Deputy Editor

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