AT&T announces 20 new LTE locations

AT&T dumps a bucket full of LTE location news, both currently active cities and coming soon announcements

AT&T just sent out 20 press releases with a bunch of LTE announcements. There's a lot to digest, so allow us to break it all down in one place for easy reading.

New LTE cities that are currently active:

New LTE cities coming this summer:

There's no word on when exactly during the summer these will light up, but I'm sure AT&T will remind us again when they go live -- or you fine folks will let us all know the minute it drops.

[Source: AndroidCentral]

EE to double 4G spectrum allocation, boost speeds in first ten cities by summer

While EE scrambles to spread its LTE network far and wide before the other UK carriers get into the 4G business, it also wants to flex some spectrum muscle. The network's announced it's planning to double the LTE allocation on its 1800MHz band (from 2 x 10MHz to 2 x 20MHz), which it claims will increase download speeds to an average of 20 Mbps, topping out at 80 Mbps. Ten of the 11 original 4G launch cities will be seeing this bandwidth boost first: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.EE doesn't want you to think it's done expanding, though, and says it'll continue to make use of its MHz and GHz by rolling out boring, normal LTE in new areas whilst doubling up in others. The first ten cities are due to receive "double-speed" 4G by summer, which we assume means around the time summer is supposed to happen.

Update: EE's Howard Jones has added on Twitter that the network will start trialing carrier aggregation, LTE-A (that's even better 4G) later in 2013. We've asked for more details and will fill you in when we hear more.

[Image credit: Lazygamer, Flickr]

[Source: Engadget]

4G will disrupt Freeview TV in fewer homes than expected

Fears have been allayed over whether the 4G networks that'll launch this summer will interfere with Freeview telly signals.

trial conducted by at800 found that a makeshift 4G network using the 800MHz band only affected Freeview reception in 15 out of the 22,000 homes surveyed, The Register reports. at800 originally predicted 120 households would experience problems. Those that did have trouble were remedied quickly with a cheap filter.

The trial was held in Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis, near Dudley.

When operators join EE in rolling our their 4G networks this summer, they'll need to use the 800MHz band, which is the same as Freeview (EE uses the 1,800MHz). Hence concern that your viewing would be interrupted because someone upstairs is browsing on their blower. Campaigners claimed up to 2 million households could be affected.

The operators chucked £180 million at the problem, but will get that back, seeing as it looks like at800 will have nothing to spend it on. Unless it throws a massive party.

All 15 homes that had reception issues featured a signal booster. The filters that come to the rescue have to be fitted between the aerial and the booster -- easy-peasy if the booster is near the back of the TV, but a pain in the backside if it's on top of a tower block, serving a lot of flats. So some households could still have issues.

Bigger trials are needed for a better grasp of the problem, but for the moment it looks like the vast majority of us will be able to watch telly while browsing the Web at super-fast speeds.

[Source: CNET]

4G free in taxis courtesy of EE from today

EE is today offering passengers in London and Birmingham cabs the chance to experience the UK's only 4G network. It's free in taxis for the next three months -- by which time you might be able to sign up to a much cheaper 4G network.

A superfast Wi-Fi network is perhaps the last thing you'd expect to find in a London cab, yet EE has fitted 40 cabs in London and 10 in Birmingham with MiFi routers you can connect to free of charge. The service will offer anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled device to experience the speed of 4G, without the staggering expense.

EE has the first 4G -- or LTE, as it's sometimes called -- network in the UK because it was allowed to use a specific part of the radio spectrum ahead of all the other companies bidding in the recent 4G auction. It's used this headstart not to build goodwill and a huge customer base, but to charge an extortionate amount of money for data.

Other networks will open their 4G networks later this year, and price is certain to be the main difference between them. Three has already promised 4G won't cost any extra.

EE's Spencer McHugh, announcing the three-month project, said: "The first motorised black cabs hit the streets in 1901, nearly 70 years before the first smart phone was available to consumers, now we are bringing this icon of British transport into the 21st century with a 4G makeover."

Despite McHugh suggesting the trial will "demonstrate the benefits of a superior online experience", it remains to be seen whether such a service will become a permanent fixture in London cabs after the trial ends.

From the start of the London 2012 Olympics until the end of January this year, Virgin Media offered a similar service, giving free Wi-Fi access to over 100 tube stations. As expected, the service is now only available to registered customers of Virgin, EE and Vodafone for free, with customers of other providers having to pay a fee.

Will you be looking out for a 4G cab in London or Birmingham? Are you already an EE 4G user? Let us know in the comments here, or indeed over at our Facebook page.

[Source: CNET]

Huawei Reveals the World’s Fastest 4G LTE Smartphone

Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, today introduced the HUAWEI Ascend P2, the world’s fastest smartphone, at the 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC). The Ascend P2 features a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and LTE Cat 4 providing an ultrafast web experience with download speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Continuing the fashion legacy of the Ascend P-series, it is only 8.4mm slim with an infinity edge 4.7-inch IPS HD in-cell touch display with second-generation Corning® Gorilla® Glass, and will be available in black and white.

“Ascend P2 is the perfect combination of elegance and power, and further proof that there’s no need to compromise when desiring a perfect smartphone. It is evidence of the outstanding smartphone experiences and great technology that we are committed to bringing to consumers globally,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group.

The HUAWEI Ascend P2 will be on sale in France through Orange in June 2013.  

“We’re pleased to be working with Huawei again to enable our customers to have easier and faster access to all their favorite content,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President, Mobile Multimedia & Devices, Orange. “We are impressed by the design and look forward to putting the Ascend P2 into the hands of consumers as soon as possible.”

“The technological capabilities of the HUAWEI Ascend P2 will enable our customers to have the fastest access to all their content, with speeds up to 150 Mbps on our brand new 4G network,” said Florence Paour, Device Marketing Director, Orange France.

The HUAWEI Ascend P2 runs on the Android 4.1 operating system, with Huawei’s own Emotion UI 1.5. Powered by a 2420 mAh battery and 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, the Ascend P2 downloads HD movies in minutes, and loads online videos, web pages, songs or e-Books in seconds. Huawei’s proprietary ‘swift sharing’ supports uploads and downloads two to three times faster than other smartphones in a Wi-Fi environment. With its NFC module*, Ascend P2 enables e-payments and can act as an electronic ticket. Huawei's unique Quick Power Control (QPC) and Automated Discontinuous Reception (ADRX) power-saving technologies, reduces power consumption by 30% and charging time by more than 25% compared to other smartphones.

Continuing the fashion focus of Huawei’s Ascend P smartphones, HUAWEI Ascend P2 evokes the image of an infinity pool with its seamless, elegant design and curvy contours. Using in-cell technology, its LCD 4.7-inch IPS HD touchscreen is an impressive 8.4mm slim. Its ‘magic touch’ feature provides enhanced screen responsiveness even with gloves, and instant keyword translation and Wikipedia searches can now be done on a single window with ‘smart reading’. The screen also calibrates its brightness automatically under any light conditions, allowing users to perform any function, under any light.  

The HUAWEI Ascend P2 provides optimal photo and video features including a 13 MP BSI rear-facing camera with HDR, and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera to support self-portrait and video shooting. A dedicated camera key on the side of the phone also allows instant access to picture taking, click once for the camera to be activated and another time to take the shot. With Huawei’s advanced camera algorithm, high-definition images can be captured even in backlit conditions. Auto adjustment modes further enable Ascend P2 to produce photos that rival professional cameras.

The Huawei Emotion UI*, available on the Ascend P2 is easy to use and customize. The UniHome function combines home panels with the main menu, while Huawei’s patent-pending Me Widget better utilizes screen real-estate by combining all the information and functions you need in a single, customizable widget. Emotion UI is also pre-installed with a smartphone housekeeper function to support real-time data traffic tracking, automatic blacklisting and blocking, periodical system cleaning, and spontaneous exiting of idle programs and cache cleanup, in addition to anti-virus, energy saving, privacy protection, software management, and more. 

For more information, visit Huawei Device online:

Vodafone, O2 and Three win 4G, but auction falls £1.2bn short

O2, Vodafone and Three have all won slices of 4G spectrum, meaning networks other than EE can begin rolling out speedy data services this year.

This morning Ofcom confirmed that after more than 50 rounds of bidding, every major UK network has walked away from the now-concluded 4G auction with barrelfuls of bandwidth, including spectrum that was freed up in the TV digital switchover.

Vodafone was the biggest bidder, splashing out nearly £800m for a pair of 10MHz slices in the 800MHz band, as well as other bits of bandwidth that will enable it to offer faster mobile data to customers. BT was the lowest bidder, but managed to nab some bandwidth.

Although EE is already running a 4G network using 1,800MHz bandwidth it already owned, the operator -- which owns Orange and T-Mobile -- paid just shy of £600m to pick up even more spectrum.

It's hoped that more networks offering 4G will cause a price war that results in cheaper tariffs for phone buyers. Three has fired the first shot already, promising that it will roll its 4G network into existing coverage, without raising prices.

Meagre cash for Britain

Ofcom boss Ed Richards called the auction's result a "positive outcome for competition in the UK", but the amount of cash generated by bidding networks was substantially lower than expected, which is bad news for the UK.

The total cash generated was £2.34bn. That's nothing to sneeze at, but is well short of the £3.5bn the auction was expected to raise. Moreover, Chancellor George Osborne had already factored the expected sum into the nation's budget this year, making it appear that the UK's deficit would fall in 2013. That leaves the treasury £1.2bn short of its expected target. Take it away, Picard.

[Source: CNET]

Major UK networks confirm they'll carry BlackBerry 10 wares in early 2013

While our immediate attention is focused on the fast approaching tech-fest that is CES, let us not forget another important event taking place in January -- the eagerly awaited launch of BlackBerry 10. We don't know if its success will equal RIM's expectations, but just this morning all major UK carriers emailed us confirmation they'll be stocking BB10 handsets. Three and EE (Orange and T-Mobile included) announced availability next year, but nothing more specific; O2 told us BB10 gear will land on its network "in early 2013"; and retailer Phones4u, which covers all the carriers, specified a Q1 2013 window. Vodafone implied that it'll be offering handsets immediately after launch, but we've been in contact the network's PR folks just to confirm that's true and not confused wording. We'll update you with their response as soon as we hear back.

[Source: Engadget]

EE's 4G network to be available in 35 locations by the end of March 2013

Potential 4G adopters in the UK not only need to consider the price of EE's plans, but also the thin coverage currently available. This is slowly being fattened up, however, and today the company has announced that by March 2013, it plans to extend its high-speed network to an additional 17 areas (to make a grand total of 35). Those 17 towns and cities don't include last week's stealthy activations inDerby, Newcastle and Nottingham, or the planned switch-flipping in Belfast, Hull, Maidenhead and Slough before the end of the year. As well as gracing new locations with 4G and bolstering network density, EE is also upgrading its 3G network to support dual-channel HSPA+ (DC-HSPA+ for short). This is expected to be available across 40 percent of EE's network by year's end, and will also be enjoyed by customers signed up with Orange or T-Mobile. So, enough of the suspense -- head past the break for the full list of locales getting 4G early next year.

Areas receiving 4G in Q1 2013:

  • Bradford
  • Chelmsford
  • Coventry
  • Doncaster
  • Dudley
  • Leicester
  • Luton
  • Newport
  • Reading
  • Rotherham
  • St. Albans
  • Sunderland
  • Sutton Coldfield
  • Walsall
  • Watford
  • West Bromwich
  • Wolverhampton

[Source: Engadget]

LTE iPad minis start arriving at customer homes as store launch imminent

While Apple apparently wanted its product shipping partners to hold off on delivering the new LTE iPads until tomorrow, November 16th, multiple readers have written in to tell us that their LTE iPads have arrived. Readers Lawrence and R. Shields sent in photos of their delivered LTE iPad minis.

We’ve also heard that some Apple Stores have enough LTE iPad supply to begin sales as soon as tomorrow, but it is up to corporate to give the green light on sales. Some stores have already been preparing “queue cards” to give to customers interested in purchasing the LTE iPad models.

[Source: 9to5Mac]

Ireland completes spectrum auction after analog shutoff, LTE rollout pegged for mid-2013

The dust has settled after Ireland's recent spectrum auction, and wouldn't you know it, Vodafone, O2, Meteor and Three have picked up a combined 140MHz of paired spectrum across the 800, 900 and 1800MHz bands. According to the country's regulator, ComReg, the auction will effectively double the spectrum available in these bands and will allow for LTE deployment across Éire. For its part, O2 has committed to begin its 4G rollout in the first half of 2013. To ensure quick deployment, all license holders are required to make their new spectrum available to 70 percent of Ireland's population within three years. In all, the companies will pay €855 million ($1.09 billion) for spectrum rights until 2030, of which, €482 million is payable up front. Curiously enough, the country's 800MHz spectrum was freed up just last month after its analog shutoff. To find a complete breakdown of the situation, feel free to hit up the announcement from ComReg at the source link below.

[Source: Engadget]

AT&T to allow FaceTime on non-shared data plans, but only on LTE devices

After ruffling plenty of feathers back in August when it announced that FaceTime over cellular would only be available to users on its Mobile Share data plans, AT&T has decided to loosen those restrictions a bit. Today, the carrier announced that customers on its new tiered data plans will be able to use FaceTime on its network, but only if they have LTE-capable devices.

This means that customers who still have grandfathered-in unlimited data plans are still out of luck if they'd like to FaceTime without using WiFi. Also, owners of non-LTE devices -- so, basically anything before the iPhone 5 and the third-generation iPad -- need not apply. You don't need to have LTE service for your device, however, which is at least some good news for those who don't live in AT&T's LTE coverage areas. If you meet the new criteria, you'll be able to start using FaceTime over cellular on AT&T in eight to 10 weeks.

[Source: TUAW]

Vodafone UK making their '4G promise,' offering deals for early upgrades to 4G contracts

Despite not having a licence at present, or any firm plans for a 4G LTE network, UK carrier Vodafone has come out fighting with their "4G Promise." Rival carrier, EE, is set to launch the UK's first 4G LTE network within days. Eager not to lose out too much to the new service, Vodafone is offering some pretty impressive deals for customers who upgrade to their 4G network when it eventually arrives. 

The meat of the offer is pretty straight forward: 

So if you’ve bought an iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy SIII (purchased after October 26th 2012) or Galaxy Note II, simply bring it back to one of our stores. Even if you’re still in contract, we’ll knock off 70% of your remaining contract charges, letting you upgrade your phone early and start a fresh contract.

70% is a huge amount to reduce an outstanding contract fee by, and shows that Vodafone is keen to not only retain their current customers who may think about switching, but attract those who are unable to get EE 4G LTE at the services launch. The deal only applies when taking out a new 4G contract in the future, and for devices bought between September 12 2012 and March 31 2013.

[Source: Android Central]