174 posts • joined Thursday 14th August 2008 15:42 GMT
Re: A few points
>The difference here is that Windows XP can still be installed on computers from 2001
>when it was released and they will receive updates from Microsoft right up until April 2014.
If you try installing Windows XP in a computer from 2001, you will find that once you install all the updates, the OS installation will demand more hard disk space and memory for itself than many computers in 2001 actually had. (If you try to install it with an SP3 installation CD, it may not even install for this reason). It's not that realistic to think that many PCs have been in use the full 12 and a half years of XP, or even close to it, at least not without significant hardware upgrades.
The long life of Windows XP occurred because Microsoft had great difficultly producing a successor to it. Windows XP Home was originally intended to reach end of life in 2006. However, this was extended a number of times, initially because a successor to XP was not even on the market in 2006.
It's what the hardware can run.
The trouble with the iPhone 3G is that it had essentially the same internals as the original iPhone (apart from the 3G and GPS being added). This meant that the processor etc were fairly out of date even when it was released, which also meant that the hardware was too slow for many software updates. (It ran iOS 4.0-4.2 but terribly slowly and with many features disabled, which is presumably why Apple gave up on it at 4.3. This is the only time that Apple have discontinued support for a device at a point release of iOS rather than a major version.
The 3GS on the other hand was an upgrade to almost nothing but the internals. It received some criticism at the time for being a relatively minor upgrade. The 3GS is still running up to date software almost four years later, so the S version was clearly the one to get.
More importantly than that, perhaps, O2 bought very little spectrum in that recent auction, to the extent that I have been wondering how they would then manage to build a high enough capacity LTE network for their customer's needs. If this deal with BT allows O2 to use BT's 2.6GHz spectrum, O2 will have no longer have this problem.
As to why O2 didn't simply buy the spectrum in the auction, I have absolutely no idea. Is some sort of remerger between the two companies on the cards?
Re: The Law of Contract in England and Wales
What T-Mobile should do here is revise the price increase in response to the revised inflation figure - that is retrospectively make the price increase 3.2% and adjust bills accordingly. Do that, and they are unequivocally complying with their own fine print. (As to whether the fine print itself is moral, legal, or justified, I will leave that discussion for some other time).
This is much better.
If you get a phone with a bundled handset in the UK, then it may cost £35 a month, compared to £15 a month for a similar contract SIM only. Obviously, that additional £20 is you paying off the cost of the phone.
However, after 24 (or 18, or whatever) months, the mobile network will continue charging you the full £35 a month every month until you tell them not to. If you ring them up and ask them to stop doing so, they are perfectly willing to (either by giving you a new handset to start paying off, or by cutting your monthly line rental if you don't want one), but you have to ask them. Lots of punters do not do this and end up paying vastly more to the mobile networks than they need to because they don't realise this.
This T-Mobile deal in the US explicitly separates the two things. You pay a monthly line rental, which potentially goes on forever, and you explicitly pay off the cost of the handset. After the 24 months, your monthly payment goes down to the line rental payment only. This is much clearer and much fairer on people who don't understand how the system works and just want to pay the bill that comes every month without talking to the customer retentions department. T-Mobile should be praised for it.
EE have 2x60Mhz at 1800MHz, which will dropp to 2x50MHz in September and then 2x45MHz in 2015 when Three gets the spectrum that EE were obliged to sell in return for T-Mobile and Orange being allowed to merge. As Bill Ray says, there is plenty of room for a 2x20MHz wide slot for LTE in there. T-Mobile have also bought 2x35MHz at 2600MHz, so they can put another 2x20MHz slot in there (and then some) too. (I believe 2x20Mhz is presently the maximum slot size for LTE, although it is very flexible below that). EE can also manage a 2x5MHz slot at 800MHz.
Vodafone have bought 2x20MHz at 2600MHz, and I guess they will go for a 2x20MHz slot there, in addition to a 2x10MHz slot at 800MHz. That sounds sensible, too.
O2 on the other hand have nothing at 2600MHz, only about 2x5MHz (or just over that) at 1800MHz, and 2x10MHz at 800MHz. That doesn't seem a lot. They might be able to recycle some of their 900MHz GSM spectrum at some point, but that is not contiguous and at least some of it is needed for 2G, plus there is not a lot of hardware support right now.
Three have that 2x10MHz (that becomes 2x15MHz in 2015) at 1800MHz from September, and also 2x5MHz at 800MHz.
So Three and O2 will not be able to do that wide slot thing that EE are now doing. I wonder if they will suffer because of this, and if so how much they will suffer.
(There's also the possibility that some 2100MHz 3G spectrum might get recycled at some point. The trouble is that it is full of 3G right now, the spectrum bands still aren't all that wide (2x10MHz for O2, 2x15MHz for Vodafone, and 2x20MHz for EE) and "European" variants of phones don't tend to support this band for LTE at present. (Japanese and Korean variants do, however). We may well get rather unequal performance from different networks for reasons of their spectrum holdings.
Re: TV is in the way
There are a fair chunk of phones that do support LTE in 2.1GHz, as this is being used for LTE in both Japan and South Korea. Not all phones aimed at Europe support it, but some do (including the iPhone 5, the Sony Xperia Z and a few others).
Three only got 2x5MHz at 800MHz in the recent auction, but they also recently bought 2x15MHz at 1800Mz from EE, who were required to sell it as a condition of the merger between T-Mobile and Orange. However, Three are not allowed to use any of this until September 2013, which means that they will launch their LTE network a bit late. Come September though and they will have enough spectrum.
Is the reviewed HTC One LTE capable, and if so, which 3G and LTE bands does it support? I think the answer to this question matters quite a bit, as most people who buy the phone are going to keep if for something on the order of two years, and all the UK networks will be offering LTE within six months.
Most manufacturers high end phones last year were sold in the UK in both 3G only variants, and also 4G variants that also supported LTE. (Some of the 4G variants support fewer 3G bands than the 3G only version of the same phone). This year, my assumption is that manufacturers are mostly going to be selling the 4G variants of their high end phones in the UK. Confirmation that this is so for the HTC One would be a useful thing to get from a review.
Where is the cellular version of the Nexus 10?
>The only serious fly in this otherwise fragrant ointment [Nexus 10] is the lack of a Micro SD slot.
The other problem with it is that it is WiFi only, and there is no 3G or 4G version even as an option. Google have this right with the Nexus 7 - you have the choice there, although there is no LTE yet - but for some reason not with the Nexus 10.
Of course, whether a laptop was "Centrino" branded was not the point.
To put the "Centrino" branding on a laptop, it had to have a Pentium M processor, the Intel 855 Chipset that went with it, and a WiFi card using an Intel chipset. The Pentium M really was the goods - vastly better than anything else available for laptops at the time. One of the various variants of the 855 chipset was compulsory if you had a Pentium M. However, there were lots of alternatives for the WiFi card, many of which were as good or better than the Intel ones. So there were plenty of other Pentium M laptops which were just as good, but not Centrino branded. I think one reason that the brand faded before Intel withdrew it was that people realised this.
Re: "If its not that great, why did they try to buy it?"
And to be fair, one of the two main points of the T-Mobile / MetroPCS merger is exactly the same. They have LTE already on the right frequencies for T-Mobile, and they also have 1900MHz spectrum on which T-Mobile can improve their existing 3G and (if they want) 2G networks. The merged network should be pretty decent. (The other main point was that a bigger customer base than either of these players have individually is a good thing).
Re: Pricing, Pricing, Pricing
Part of that is due to the fact that their present network is at 2.1GHz, which is high frequency and does not carry as far as do lower frequency signals. After the recent auction they do now have spectrum at 800MHz that does not have this problem, and their LTE network should therefore have better coverage than their present 3G network. We will of course see what actually happens, but there is at least a good technical reason why things should improve.
Re: Pricing, Pricing, Pricing
Three offer inexpensive tariffs with unlimited data now, and they have said that people will be able to use LTE with their existing tariffs when they offer it. That all sounds good to me.
Almost nobody is saying "I want 4G and I am willing to pay more than I am paying now for it". Almost everybody is using steadily increasing amounts of data, applications that work better with higher speed connections, and therefore gradually need speed improvements. With that comes an expectation that data will work everywhere, so better coverage of data services is needed to.
LTE is vital to deliver these things in medium term. (LTE on 800MHz is vitally important for the better coverage issue). Networks who try to sell LTE as a product in itself at much higher prices than 3G (I am looking at you, EE) are not going to succeed. Networks who try to sell it at a premium to corporate customers and provide a high quality network (Vodafone) are likely to find slightly less resistance, but still need to answer the question "What is it for"? Networks that just advertise their "fast network", state that LTE is included on the tariff, and provide this every increasing speed of service to their customers (Three) may do well of it. (I will not even try to figure out what O2's strategy is. I am not sure even they know).
My phone is presently a SIM only deal on Three. I am perfectly happy with the HTC One S I have at the moment, but for my next phone, I will probably stick with that contract and buy an LTE capable phone up front, if it doesn't cost too much and I hear the battery life is not too dismal. There is a fair chance that I might need to upgrade from my present 1Gb a month data allowance to a deal with an unlimited allowance, so they might get a few quid out of me that way. Or perhaps I will get a contract with fewer talk minutes, and the cost will stay about the same. I don't ever seem to go near my current allowance.
Re: Have Offcom moved the goalposts
LTE900 is one of those things that theoretically exists, but which has been implemented in few places, if anywhere. The 900MHz band isn't very wide compared to some of the others, and is already full of 2G and 3G services. Networks put 3G in it because there was no other sub-1GHz band in Europe to put it in at the time. Now that the 800MHz band is available instead, that is where they are putting the sub-1GHz LTE.
Re: Ha, ha!
The don't have all that much of it, though. Something like 2x7.5MHz at 900MHz (being used by 2G), a tiny allocation at 1800MHz (being used by 2G), and 2x10MHz at 2.1GHZ (being used by 3G). There is no obvious place in their spectrum holdings to put LTE that isn't both an uncommon place to put it in Europe (900MHz LTE does exist in theory, but I can't think of any actual network being built that uses it. 2.1GHz LTE exists in Korea and Japan, but "European" handset variants generally don't support it) and already being used anyway.
O2 have the smallest total spectrum holdings of any of the four operators after today - much less than Vodafone and EE, and significantly less even than Three, who only have 3G and 4G networks to support, rather than the three generations supported by O2.
Re: Coverage obligation chunk worth more than expected
LTE supports scalable carrier bandwidths up to 20MHz in size. Performance is best if you have 2x20MHz to use, but generally, wider contiguous chunks of spectrum are better than narrower chunks, or the same amount of spectrum made up of non-contiguous chunks. (If you look at all the trading of spectrum that has been going on in the US, a lot of it is about trading non-contiguous spectrum allocations in order to get wider ones). It was clear from what they were saying that Vodafone wanted one of the 2x10MHz allocations at 800MHz, and that they were willing to pay over the odds for it. That they wanted 2x20MHz at 2.6GHz for maximum performance in cities is not surprising either. It's pretty clear though that Vodafone's engineers told the management to get the widest possible allocation that they could at 800MHz and to get the maximum 2x20MHz that can be used by an LTE carrier at 2.6GHz, and they did.
I am not sure how wide the carriers EE are using at 1800MHz are, but they certainly have enough spectrum to use 2x20MHz at some point if they want to. Plus they now have the ability to do the same thing at 2.6GHz if they want to at some point in the future.
Three have presumably decided that using 1800MHz is preferable to 2.6GHz for a variety of reasons, and that 2x15MHz there (along with support from 2x5MHz at 800MHz) will do. They are likely right, but I thought they might buy some spectrum at 2.6GHz as well to be on the safe side. They didn't, but they likely have enough.
I am very surprised that O2 only bought 2x10MHz though. Certainly they win the "Network most likely to have capacity constraints" title.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. In 3G, all five (and then four) networks had fairly similar spectrum allocations to work with. For 4G, there are now vast differences.
Re: Ha, ha!
You need maybe 2x15MHz of paired spectrum to build an FDD LTE network. 2x20MHz perhaps to be comfortable. Three and EE already had enough spectrum at 1800MHz even before the auction, so they could have even sat the whole thing out if prices got ridiculous. (Although, as one piece of spectrum was reserved for Three, they were immune from this anyway).
However, up for auction was 2x100MHz of paired spectrum. This was at least 2x60MHz more than was actually needed. Therefore, nobody paid much more than the reserve price. Blind Freddie could have predicted that.
The one thing in this that surprises me is that O2 only bought 2x10MHz. Are they sure that is enough? Also interesting is that the operator with the least need for more spectrum (EE) bought the most. I am guessing this is mainly just "It was cheap, and better safe than sorry".
Also weird with other retailers.
Part of that answer is that Orange were owned by France Telecom and T-Mobile was owned by Deutsche Telecom. While the formation of EE was supposedly a "merger of equals" in fact the French were dominant, and there are various clauses in which the French can buy the Germans out later in the merger agreement. Plus, French management (or at least management from France Telecom - Olaf Swantee is a Dutchman) was put in place. France Telecom believed that their brand (Orange) had a better reputation for quality than T-Mobile, and so tried to position Orange as the premium brand and T-Mobile as the value brand. Thus Orange has at some points been more expensive than T-Mobile, although I don't think they are doing this so much now.
Even weirder than this is the relationship with some of the independent retailers. Last year I wanted an HTC One S, and Phones 4 U were offering them online on Orange free upfront on £15.50 a month. I rang Orange to ask if they could match that directly, and they were unable to. Given that connecting a customer directly is much cheaper to them than offering the same deal via an independent retailer that they have to pay a sizeable commission to, that they wouldn't was just weird.
Re: EE still in a mess
To be fair, this isn't a new thing, particularly not with T-Mobile and Orange. Call them at the end of the contract and you can be offered all kinds of things that aren't advertised anywhere, so all sorts of non-standard things exist in their computers.
If their systems are messed up and they are putting people on the non-standard things accidentally rather than deliberately, that's not good for them, but it doesn't greatly surprise me either.
Re: Oranges are not the only fruit.
Mobile companies move the prices of their tariffs up and down all the time, and yes, you are stuck with what they were offering when you agreed to it for a reasonable period of time, yes.
Generally, though, they will allow you to switch from an old tariff to a current one of similar monthly cost. So if you have signed up for £36 a month, you are stuck with t£36 a month. However, you likely can get whatever data allowance is being offered to new customers for £36 a month rather than what you agreed to when you signed up. This is likely an improvement.
(Also, most carriers will allow you to switch to a lower tariff after 18 months of a 24 month contract. This isn't likely to help anyone on EE until May 2014 though).
The 2009 map shows South Korea in Blue (Facebook dominent) and the 2012 map shows it red (QZone dominant). This is the only territory on the map that I can see that has moved away from Facebook in that time. It's a large, rich, and culturally sophisticated country, too. Has South Korea really moved to a Chinese controlled social network in the last three years? I wouldn't have thought this likely.
Re: Operators should be able to fix contract rates by appropriate finance
This is true, but fixed rate financing is on average more expensive than variable rate financing. A fixed rate loan is a variable rate loan plus a hedge against changes in interest rates, and that hedge costs money. It's cheaper to take out variable rate financing. If you can then pass that variable rate onto the customers through these sorts of price changes, you have essentially managed to receive the hedge for free, as the risk has been assumed by your customers. This is why the networks like to do it this way.
New customers have choice
The trouble is that the networks have very little pricing power with respect to new customers, because there is a lot of competition and a customer can almost always get a cheaper deal somewhere else. Similarly, although a network is free to increase the price for customers who are out of contract and still paying (and I have no problem with this) they once again have very little pricing power for customers who are price sensitive. (Ring up your network, ask for a PAC code, and see how low they will go with the offers to try to prevent you from leaving). The only customers they do have pricing power over are the ones on fixed term contracts who cannot leave, assuming the regulator agrees that they can't leave. So they push it as far as they can.
Fewer subsidised handsets, I'd guess.
You can get yourself a shorter contract (12 months for the best deals, but once month also) by simply going SIM only. If you do, the operators have only promised you the fixed price for a shorter period of time and are so less inclined to put the price up mid contract (plus there is no expensive handset to be paid off from the monthly payments, and issues like the highly inflation sensitive implied interest rate on the time payments for this don't come up) and the customer can go and find a better deal from another network much sooner if he doesn't like what he is being offered. So these sorts of problems are much less serious with SIM only / short contracts than with subsidised handsets / long contracts. If Ofcom enforces fixed prices as suggested here, it is likely to become more financially attractive to go SIM only rather than get a longer contract with a subsidised handset than it is now. Particularly if things like a Nexus 4 for £239 stay around (and stocks are large enough to be able to actually make it possible to buy one).
The downside is of course that you have to pay the cost of the handset up front. Not everyone wants to or can do this. Going forward, though, those who don't are gong to increasingly pay more in total than those who do, I suspect.
Re: People saying prices haven't increased?
Depends. I have a SIM only contract on Three that gives me 600 mins, 3000 (or some vastly larger number than I use) texts and 1Gb of data for £12 a month. You can buy a Nexus 4 for £220 or something, assuming you can find one. (I am guessing that there will be more availability after Christmas. Anyway, there are plenty of good unlocked smartphones you can have for under £300). Over two years that works out at about £21 a month, which is certainly better than I could have got five years ago, notwithstanding the fact that smartphones were much more primitive and there was less to use the data for. So I think prices have come down (or at least not increased) if you shop around. Sure, the networks will gouge you if you let them, but nothing new in that.
In effect, two 4G licences have been sold already at 1800MHz: the one that EE are already using, and the one consisting of the 1800MHz spectrum that EE were obliged to sell as a condition of the T-Mobile/Orange merger, and that has been bought by Three (but which they are not allowed to use until September 2013). Both these companies will be able to offer 4G services fairly decently even if they buy nothing at all in the forthcoming auction. So, unless all the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz spectrum is to be sold as a single lot to one company, any auction will lead to every exisitng operator having some 4G spectrum. Given that, OfCom's choice to sell the spectrum as lots of little lots rather than a small number of prepackaged "licences" probably does make sense. EE and Three will almost certainly buy at least a little spectrum at 800MHz in addition to what they already have at 1800MHz, and O2 and Vodafone will buy possibly larger lots at 800MHz and also some at 2600MHz. Whether EE and Three feel the need to buy anything at 2600MHz remains to be seen. The entry of new players might stir things up a bit, but as it is, though, there is plenty of spectrum to go round.
My understanding is that Vodafone is already building a network on 800MHz in the UK. This means that they pretty much have to win at least 2x10MHz of 800MHz spectrum in the UK, whatever it costs. The fact that this spectrum was rather more expensive in the Dutch auction than was expected might be seen as evidence that the UK spectrum is going to be more expensive than expected. So yes, I can see why the Vodafone share price would take a hit.
It's about map quality, not the app.
I was in Berlin recently, and Apple maps was utterly wonderful. They sourced the map data from some group of Germans who are presumably good at that kind of thing, and had superb 3D views and everything. The Maps app could manipulate it in lots of interesting ways the old Google data based app could not.
On the other hand, I am now in Northern Cyprus, and the Apple Maps app is utterly useless, whereas Google Maps is very good. My feeling is that software guys at Apple got all excited about what they could get the software to do, but failed to understand that it was the maps themselves that mattered, or simply discovered that sourcing good maps was hard.
It could also be that they only tested it in Northern California, which is once again a place where I hear that it works well.
Sadly, though, in most places it remains a debacle. I suspect they will fix it at some point, but they will have done lord only knows how much reputational damage to themselves by the time they do. Meanwhile, my iPad is much less useful as a navigational device than it was a year ago.
Re: All the 2G you can eat
On top of that, T-Mobile is finalising a merger with MetroPCS, which will gain them an already operating LTE network on iPhone compatible frequencies (which they can augment with LTE on their existing 1700MHz spectrum, which is supported by the iPhone) plus more 1900MHz spectrum for more 3G. By the end of 2013 T-Mobile should have an excellent iPhone compatible network - sooner in the big cities
Re: Every successful company has a ...
Scott Forstall was Steve Jobs' attack dog. He started with Jobs and NeXT and then came back to Apple when Jobs did. He clearly didn't work as Tim Cook's attack dog - or at least the fact that he pissed off everyone else so much became more of an issue when Jobs was not there. So Cook got rid of him. At the same time, the rest of upper management got completely reorganised and a couple of people got promoted. We will see how it now goes.
No Japan. No Korea.
Go to Tokyo, Japan, or Seoul, Korea using Nokia maps. There is no detailed mapping of either city. Main highways only, and even then only sparsely. Two of the largest and richest cities in the world are essentially *not covered* by this product
I can only assume that Nokia has only made an effort in countries where they sell phones - they have never sold even a small number of phones in either Japan or Korea. Still, though, WTF?
Refusing to sell people stuff that people want to pay you top dollar for "commercial" or "marketing" reasons is in almost all situations an utterly stupid strategy, which is why Apple doesn't do it, and nor does any tech company I know of, and I am always dubious when somebody tells me that a company is supposedly doing this to "increase the buzz" or something. It's never true.
(Whenever Apple announces a lower number of sales than analysts are expecting, the stock price takes a hit, too. I can't imagine why they would deliberately want that). However, Apple only releases one new model of phone per year, while its competitors sell dozens or hundreds. One thing this means is that Apple has to ramp production up from zero to maximum very quickly. They are good at it, but this is none the less hard. So there are delays of a few weeks for some people who want to buy them early. There is nothing sinister about this, and no conspiracy.
Re: The New iPAD
Yes. Both the new (4th gen) iPad and the new iPad mini will work with Three's LTE when they launch.
The trouble with the European 800MHz band (Band 20) is that it is going to be largely Europe only. Most of the rest of the world (all of the Americas, Japan, Korea, Australia, NZ, most of the rest of Asia) still has the US defined 850MHz band (Band 5) in use, generally for 3G services. As Bands 5 and 20 overlap with one another, you can't have both.
On the other hand, other European led frequency allocations (900MHz and 1800MHz initially for 2G, 2100MHz initially for 3G, and now 2600MHz) have been widely adopted outside Europe, and both 1800MHz and 2600MHz are being used widely for LTE services in lots of places.
Europe is a big market, and there will be lots of hardware that does handle 800MHz band 20, but these will at least initially be devices tailored for the European market. Attempts to produce international "World phones" are likely to skip over 800MHz for a while in favour of 1800MHz and 2600MHz. The iPhone 5 is precisely an example of this (although it doesn't support 2600MHz either). Next year's iPhone will almost certainly support 2600MHz, but I am less certain about 800MHz. If it doesn't, this won't make Vodafone happy.
Where did this headline come from?
Three get 2x10MHz of spectrum - plenty for an LTE network with the relatively small number of customers that they will have using it at first - in September 2013. They are building the network now, knowing that they can switch it on in September next year. From that, I assume they will have working LTE in some cities in September 2013. So why 2014 in the headline? I agree with everybody else that preventing them from using the spectrum until next September is ridiculous.
My assumption is that Three will also buy some 800MHz spectrum in the forthcoming auction, so they might be able to roll out some LTE at 800MHz before that, although this isn't going to help them with the iPhone 5, given that it does not support that frequency band.
My understanding is that it was Metro AG, Germany's largest retailer and the fifth largest in the world. A very large company indeed, but a company that does not operate in the US, probably due to the strength of Wal-Mart. Microsoft didn't do their due diligence before choosing the name in the first place, I would tend to think.
Bob Mansfield seems to be crucial to this..
I think looking at the Bob Mansfield story might shed some light here. Mansfield had been in charge or high up concerning Apple's hardware since 1999. In June it was announced that he was retiring, and it was made to sound like he was saying he had been doing this for a long time, he was tired, and he wanted to spend some time with his money. Then it was announced in August that he was not retiring, and that he would be working on "Special Projects" rather than being head of hardware. Yesterday, it was announced that his new job was "Head of Technologies" in charge of all Apple's wireless products, and I suppose we will find out what this actually means.
It sounds to me that one of the reasons he retired was because he couldn't stand Forstall, and that Tim Cook discovered this after he had announced his retirement and then talked him out of retiring, presumably on the basis that he should get a couple of months rest and that at the end of that time his new job would be ready for him and Forstall would not be there any more. It may actually have at least partly been a "Him or me" situation between Mansfield and Forstall, even if it was not exactly presented that way.
Re: Also sitting this one out
I'm on Three, too. I am also in South East London, and I have not had much in the way of network issues recently. They are cheap, and I am happy enough. As for 4G, Three are launching on 1800MHz next September, and maybe on 800MHz before that - depending on what they do at the auction. Depending on cost, I will probably get a 4G phone around then and stay with them. EE are asking too much for it at the moment.
Nasty trick from T-Mobile.
I have a contract with T-Mobile, which was initially a £20 a month contract. Due to changes in VAT rates it had been increased to something like £20.41 by the end of the contract. At the end of the contract I called to cancel it, but the customer retentions guy talked me out of it, telling me that he would reduce my monthly charge to "£5 a month" if I signed for another term without taking a handset. This was in fact very cheap, so I said yes.
My first bill on the new arrangement came, and I discovered that I was receiving a £15 a month "Loyalty credit" on bills, reducing the monthly charge to £5.41. Now this wasn't exactly the what I had been promised, so I grumbled a touch, but didn't formally complain.
About two months after this, I received a letter from T-Mobile telling me that they were increasing their tariffs for customers mid-contract, and that the terms and conditions allow them to increase tariffs by the rate of inflation. (They also stated that since I had just signed a new contract, they would give me a credit to the amount of the tariff increase for the next six months, just to complicate things further and hope I would not notice in six months, I guess).
However, when I got my first bill, what I discovered that they had done was increase the full amount of the tariff (ie £20.41) by the inflation rate, but my loyalty credit was still £15. So the monthly amount I will be paying at the end of the six months is actually £6.17. This is of course an increase of 14% in what I am paying, which is much more than the inflation rate. (It is also 23% more than the "£5 a month" I was paying). This is a fairly nasty trick, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was illegal. (On the other hand, what I am paying is still cheap for what I am getting).
Re: Strange choice - hit and miss tethering
The trouble with using your phone to provide the internet access for your tablet is that they both have to have charge on their batteries to do this (and you are running down the batteries of both when you do this). One of the reasons why you might carry two devices is so that one can act as a backup when the battery runs out on the other.
Their phones are now good, but they have a damaged brand.
I had a Desire a couple of years ago. It was good in some ways, but the built quality was disappointing, the camera was bad, and the phone was constantly running out of core memory because it did not have enough. So I was disappointed, and went to a Galaxy S2. This had only slightly better built quality, has been replaced under warranty twice due to faulty charging, and has serious problems with the GPS being able to figure out where I am. ("Unable to determine location at present. Try again later"). I've since switched to an HTC One S (which I actually got pretty cheap - you can get it for no upfront cost on £15.50 a month if you shop around - less if you are willing to mess around with cashback deals) and it's easily nicer than the S2. It has an aluminium rather than plastic case and has much better built quality, the GPS works properly, the camera is decent etc.
However, a lot of people bought HTC phones a couple of years ago when they weren't quite ready for primetime, and they subsequently have a bit of a tarnished brand. This is a shame, because I think the present phones are nice.
Yes, but there was no way at all that 800MHz was going to be available until analogue TV was switched off. The 2600MHz band was cleared and ready to go. All it required was for the spectrum to be made available by the regulator and the operators allowed to use it. This should have happened in about 2008. 800MHz probably would have been better at the same time, but something on 2600MHz would have been a great deal better than nothing at all.
It's only the iPhone really.
There's a 1700MHz (AWS) version of the Samsung Galaxy S3. There's an AWS version of the HTC One X and One S. Nokia's phones are mostly multi-band including AWS. Apple is the only big hold-out, but this costs T-Mobile dearly, yes.
T-Mobile knows this, and is therefore repurposing the AWS spectrum for LTE, and switching its 3G (HSPA+) network to 1900MHz as 2G GSM (that presently occupies that band) declines. This is compatible with what everybody else is doing. AT&T is rolling out LTE on AWS (as well as 700MHz) and so likely will Verizon at some point. The iPhone 5 supports LTE on AWS already, so once T-Mobile does this they will have a network using the same bands in the same way as AT&T, so the same phones that work on AT&T will work on T-Mobile as well.
This merger gives T-Mobile more AWS spectrum (some of it with LTE deployed in it already), and more 1900MHz spectrum. When the CDMA network being used by MetroPCS is phased out, they will be in a position to have extensive 3G and 4G networks that are compatible with everyone else.
In the short term, T-Mobile will post-merger have a situation where former T-Mobile customers and former MetroPCS customers will be roaming from different 3G networks to the same LTE network, and at some point where the CDMA 3G network of MetroPCS will have to be switched off without too many customers losing coverage. That will be a good trick if they manage it.
There are two bands to be auctioned: 2600MHz (Band 7) and 800MHz (Band 20). 800MHz has required the switch-off of analogue television etc etc, and what is discussed in this article is true of that band.
However, at the moment, 800MHz is the less useful of the two bands. It is going to be available pan-Europe, but there are very few networks using it *yet*. It is never going to be used in most places outside the US, because 850MHz (Band 5) is already deployed in a great many places outside Europe, and the two bands overlap and so cannot both be deployed in the same place.
The story of 2600MHz is much worse. This was originally known as the "3G relief band" and the spectrum was cleared a long time ago. The original thought was that 2100MHz (Band 1) was going to be filled to capacity with 3G services by around 2005, and 2600MHz would then be deployed for additional 3G capacity. As 3G was not in fact being used to capacity in 2005, there was no hurry to auction the spectrum, and for various reasons Ofcom have still not managed it. Now that 3G spectrum is in fact crowded, everyone wants to build LTE rather than more 3G. 2600MHz has been allocated in a lot of other places though, and there are lots LTE networks in place using it, and there is lots of hardware supporting it - far more than for 800MHz at present. If everyone in the UK had 2600MHz allocations they would happily be running LTE on it now. Undoubtedly they would want to use the 800MHz for additional capacity and coverage (especially in rural areas) later, but things wouldn't be quite as pressing.
It's the delay on getting 2600MHz available that is the real scandal.
The yearly cycle.
The year's flagship Android phones seem to come out in the spring and summer, and the iPhone now seems to be released in September or October. Therefore there is a period of about three months of the year in which the iPhone lags badly in terms of hardware capabilities. Then the iPhone catches up, as it has here.
Re: An opposing viewpoint!
In my experience O2's warranty repairs take about three business days and they give you a loan phone while it is away. Usually the loan phone is just an ordinary phone for calls and texts rather than a smartphone. Yes, one is without one's phone for two or three days, which can be mildly irritating. Still, I don't consider that bad service.
Re: 1800Mhz handsets
The Samsung S2 LTE was 800/1800/2600, although it used an old chipset and probably delivered 20 minutes of battery life.
Samsung in Australia have said that a Galaxy S3 compatible with the 1800MHz LTE networks in that country is coming very soon, and the model number is on their website (GT-I9303T).
1800MHz is rapidly becoming one of the most important bands for LTE, if it is not already. This is a big coup for EE, and it is an even bigger one if there is a compatible iPhone coming in three weeks. "We have high end 4G smartphones running on LTE from Apple, Samsung, and HTC, and none of our competitors will have them for about another year". I can understand why the competitors would be upset.
1800MHz LTE deployments are rather more common than the author of this piece implies, I think. Playing with this map is quite useful.
1800MHz is useful in a lot of places for precisely the reason the EE has found it useful: operators typically already own it, and the demand for 2G GSM services is dropping so spectrum is becoming available. (In Australia, a lot of 1800MHz spectrum got auctioned off a decade ago and was never used because there was not need for that much capacity - but it is being used for LTE now).
2600MHz on the other hand requires new allocations, and 800MHz requires new allocations and the spectrum being cleared.
There are a few phones that support 1800MHz LTE. The international LTE variant of the Samsung Galaxy S2 did, and a compatible Galaxy S3 (GT-I9303T) has been announced in Australia, although it hasn't been released yet. It wouldn't surprise me much if Apple does release a variant of the new iPhone that does support it on September 12. The current iPad only works on LTE networks in the US. They surely want to offer international LTE variants of their devices as soon as possible though. The coincidence of dates (September 11 for the LTE network and September 12 for the iPhone announcement might not be a coincidence, perhaps
There certainly are a few
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