Hybrid cellular-satellite service from AT&T and TerreStar

AT&T and TerreStar have joined forces to give you a cellular phone that doubles as a satellite phone at an affordable price.

Because satellite phones from way back and even up until now, have been generally bulky and expensive, consumers aren’t very keen on having one in their homes or workplaces.

This partnership however, will change that and cellular-satellite phones may become a common gadget today.

Launched in July, TerreStar manufactured a slim-dual mode smartphone that has a full QWERTY keyboard and runs on Windows Mobile. It can send and received emails and can be customized with your choice of apps.

Users who want to get this will have to sign up with standard voice and data packages from AT&T and you can opt to the have the satellite service option with an additional $24.99.

Voice calls via satellite will cost around 60 cents per minute while data sent via satellite will be $5 per megabyte. Chris Hill, AT&T’s VP of mobility product management, assured the public that this pricing is roughly 50% less than other satellite offerings.

“Most companies have procured a satellite phone  for their executives in case of an emergency, but most of those are probably sitting in a desk somewhere and you’d have to spend some time with the manual learning how to operate it,” said Hill. “The intent is to have a device that is exactly like the service you use today… plus having that capability to go into satellite mode when you need it.”

The companies are targeting the homeland defense, homeland security and public safety organizations as well as utility and transportation companies, maritime companies and other enterprises who wants to have another way of contacting others in case cellular service isn’t available such as during natural disasters.

The hybrid service from AT&T and TerreStar will hopefully be available by early part of 2010. Pricing for the device however is still unknown.

Source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/smartphones/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=220300516

AT&T launches video site

My, my. It seems like a lot of companies have chosen to unveil their new products and services this week and that includes giant carrier AT&T which announced their new Web site Thursday.

The Web site, dubbed AT&T Entertainment, offers free streaming ad-supported TV shows and movies to computers. The service is very similar to Hulu.

AT&T Entertainment offers content from major TV networks ABC, NBC and CBS and cable networks like Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, The CW, USA Network, CNBC and others, some courtesy of a partnership with Hulu.

According to the company, this move is part of its strategy to make content available to consumers across their screens: TV, PC and mobile phone. I’m assuming this its first step as there is still no word as to when the content will also be available on the TVs or mobile phones.  😉

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090910/ap_on_bi_ge/us_at_t_online_video;_ylt=AkMKN4RwBkBlhQ8pUhzP3awjtBAF;_ylu=X3oDMTJwaGczNzdvBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwOTEwL3VzX2F0X3Rfb25saW5lX3ZpZGVvBHBvcwM4BHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYXR0bGF1bmNoZXNh

Apple receives a lawsuit…again

Credit: Apple Source: CNet

It seems like Apple’s been on the limelight a lot this month, and it’s not all about good stuff either. Investigations on their exploding products, on their application approval process, and now, several lawsuits make it on Apple’s problem list.

This latest lawsuit is not the first nor the second one filed against Apple, and their U.S. carrier AT&T about their MMS service.

Deborah Carr, filing in the Northern District of Ohio, says that she was led to believe that multimedia messaging was already on the iPhone. She says the public were given false impressions through “print and video advertisements…on television, the Internet, the radio, newspapers, and direct mailers” which all mention the availability of MMS on the device.

According to the lawsuit, customers of the smartphone were told that MMS would be enabled with the release of iPhone OS 3.0 which was on June 17, 2009.

So how can this be when during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 8, Apple and AT&T announced that MMS will be available to 29 carriers as soon as iPhone OS 3.0 is released, but will not be available until late summer for AT&T customers.

Probably because she didn’t pay attention that well? Oh wait, she did. Her lawsuit admits that she is aware of the notice in Apple’s website stating that support for MMS would be available from AT&T in late summer. However, suit says that the notice is a “mouseprint disclaimer” referring to the small font used.

So who do think should win?

Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10321437-37.html

Apple: We did not reject Google App

In a formal response to the Federal Communications Commission inquiry, Apple told the FCC that it did not reject Google Voice and is in fact still studying it.

Google Voice, a VoIP service lets users set up one phone number and like their other phone numbers to it. It can also control which phones to ring depending on the time of the day, etc. Furthermore, it allows users free domestic telephone calls and discounted international calls and texts.

So what’s stopping Apple from approving the app?

The company said that Google Voice duplicated the functions of the iPhone which might confuse readers. The app “appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voice mail,” Apple explained through the letter.

Another concern of Apple is privacy issues.  According to the company, Google Voice copied info about a user’s contacts to Google’s servers and they have “have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways.”

Apple further denies that AT&T has no hand in making the decision as to whether Google Voice will be approved or not, although it did say that it had agreed not to allow any applications that sent voice calls over the Internet, bypassing AT&T’s network, without the phone company’s permission.

AT&T has previously sent its letter of response to FCC dated August 21. The letter explains that the phone company had “no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store” and that it was “not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/22/technology/companies/22apple.html

AT&T improves 3G coverage

AT&T subscribers rejoice!

No longer will you be complaining about the wireless carrier’s lousy 3G coverage because they’ve started rolling out the 850 MHz spectrum 3G band last week (finally!).

The company started in Atlanta and would expand throughout the year to the other 350 areas where AT&T offers 3G coverage.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has already experienced the improvement. He reported getting solid service in an area that was previously spotty. He was told by AT&T that the improvements being done should be complete in the coming weeks.

This would really be good news considering the amount of complaints on the carrier’s service.

In a recent survey of iPhone users, the results showed that half of the users chose AT&T as their biggest problem with the smartphone (ouch!). From that half, 23 percent said the biggest problem was the carrier’s coverage, while 32 percent complained about being locked in with AT&T which could reflect users’ dissatisfaction with the service (double ouch!)

Along with the 850 MHz spectrum, the wireless carrier also plants to upgrade its HSPA 3G network from 3.6 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps later this year.

Hurry you guys!

Source: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090820/tc_pcworld/attservicemayactuallybegettingbetter

Google CEO leaves Apple board

Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO has been on Apple’s board of directors since August 2006. Times have changed however, and competition slowly arose between the two companies as Google develops products that rival Apple’s.

Today, Apple Inc. said that in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest, Schmidt would have to recuse himself from “portions of the company’s board meetings”.

“Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board,” Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, said in a statement.

Google’s products (besides their search engine of course and thier apps) include their Android operating system used in mobile devices that compete with the iPhones.  Another product that would potentially be a competitor to Apple is Google’s free Chrome-based operating system which can rival the Mac systems.

The most controversial and recent issue involving the two companies however is Apple’s rejection of Google Voice and other third-party apps that use it in the App Store. Last Friday, FCC has sent a letter to Apple, Google and AT&T, the iPhone carrier in the U.S., seeking more info about the rejection.

Hmmn, I have a pretty strong feeling that we will be hearing more about this issue in the next couple of days, don’t you think so?

Source: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090803/ap_on_hi_te/us_apple_google_ceo

FCC demands answers from Apple

For all of you going crazy wondering what mysterious standards and processes does Apple employ in choosing the applications they would allow in their App Store, you can start smiling now.

The company’s way of choosing which apps to approve has been a subject of controversy ever since their app store was launched a year ago and has made consumers and developers alike, very curious.

Just last week, one developer got very disappointed because Apple didn’t even bother to explain why his voice app (VoiceCentral) was pulled out after it was approved and on the App Store shelves for four months.

Well, it seems like the guys from U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are even more curious and has written to Apple, AT&T and Google questioning them about this issue.

So, first off:  the letter to Apple.

In a letter sent last Friday, the agency asked primarily why Google Voice has been rejected. The FCC also wanted to know which related applications have been rejected along with it, and what role did AT&T (if there was) may have played in the decision.

The FCC digs deeper too. Now they also want to find out what other applications have been rejected and for the company to provide major reasons for rejecting applications. Apple also is to describe the approval process, and say what percentage are turned down.

Google Voice, a VoIP service lets users set up one phone number and like their other phone numbers to it. It can also control which phones to ring depending on the time of the day, etc. There are rumors that AT&T may be behind the rejections because they might have been fearing competition.

AT&T also received a letter from FCC. PCWorld reports that the letter to the company also pretty much covers the same ground. An additional question asks whether there are any devices on AT&T’s network that are allowed to Google Voice or other apps that have been rejected by Apple.

The last of trio, Google, received a different letter. FCC asked about any communications with Apple about Google Voice and for Google to name other apps from Google and what these apps are for. Lastly, FCC wanted to find out about Google’s standards for choosing apps for their own Android mobile platform.

Well, it won’t be long now and we will have the answer very soon because the agency has specifically asked the three companies to have their replies by August 21. Keep posted guys!

Source: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090801/tc_pcworld/fccquestionsappleovergooglevoice

AT&T to power Plastic Logic eReader

AT&T has announced that it will power the upcoming Plastic Logic electronic reader via its 3G network to connect to the web so users can browse, buy and download ebooks instantly.

Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s head of emerging devices said that they are looking forward to empowering the electronic reading device as there is a tremendous market potential for it.

The Plastic Logic electronic has previously revealed a partnership with Barnes & Noble with the latter’s eBookstore integrated into the reader.  The eBookstore was launched last Monday and now offers 200,000 for sale titles as well as 500,000 free public domain books from Google.

A price for the ebook reader has not yet been released. However, in terms of sizes, it is expected that the device will be larger than most of its competitors with measurements comparable to an 8.5 by 11-inch notepad.

The ebook reader will be available to the public by 2010.



Wireless Store from Amazon launched

Amazon has launched a new website focusing on a specialist market – mobile phones! Yep, as mobile phones have increasingly been dominant in the gadget arena especially in these past couple of years, it’s a temptation that’s very hard to resist for the online store.

Amazon Wireless, which was announced yesterday, is a web site that offers cell phones and service plans from AT&T and Verison Wireless. Sprint will coming in soon too.

According to a blog from CNET News, the online store “features Amazon-style shopping, without the rebate hassles that cell phone carriers are notorious for, and free two-day shipping on a large selection of phones.”

The site is still on its beta phase though, and in addition to adding more carriers, they will are also testing different features and gathering input from customers to ensure the best possible customer experience.

“The step-by-step purchase process on Amazon Wireles makes it easy for customers who already have a plan to upgrade their phones.” Says Paul Ryder, vice president of Consumer Electronics for Amazon.com. “If you want to establish new cell phone service, we’ve made it simple to find the right phone, service plan and options for your needs. We’ve also eliminated the technical jargon and frustrating rebate paperwork that customers often face when buying a phone.”

Pretty convenient eh?