Articles by Andrew Martonik

BlackBerry 'Mercury' hands-on: Riding into 2017 on a phone with no name

The BlackBerry brand continues to get much-needed TLC from its new owner TCL.

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Under the new direction of TCL, BlackBerry's smartphone business is poised for a relative revival. It's no big revelation to say that BlackBerry's market share and mind share are nowhere near what they were in its prime, but at CES 2017 BlackBerry is hoping to kickstart a new direction by announcing a new phone.

And even though the company won't actually tell us the specs, price, features, launch date or even the official name, many will recognize this smartphone as the rumored BlackBerry "Mercury." So in lieu of a proper name, that's what we're calling it. The Mercury is real, that much has been established now — it's a solid metal phone that fits the overall size mold of a modern slab smartphone, but manages to fit in a full hardware keyboard on the bottom without a Priv-like slider.


T-Mobile closes deal for 700MHz spectrum, reiterates commitment to LTE rollout

T-Mobile has finally closed a deal to acquire highly-valuable 700MHz spectrum from Verizon, enabling the next wave of network upgrades for the carrier. In the wireless world not all spectrum is created equal, with lower frequencies being more desirable because they travel further distances and better penetrate buildings. Both of these attributes are badly needed on T-Mobile's network as it traditionally operates on much higher frequencies between 1700 and 2100MHz, and T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has a good idea of what they will do with it.

Thew newly-acquired spectrum holdings will improve T-Mobile's LTE coverage in nine of the top 10 and 21 of the top 30 metro areas in the country, simply building on what's already available. These markets include notable cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C. and Detroit. It will also help T-Mobile expand the 10+10MHz networks it currently deploys in many markets to higher 15+15 or even 20+20MHz for even faster LTE speeds.


AT&T to launch in-flight Wifi service with air-to-ground LTE in 2015

AT&T is set to take on the likes of Gogo in a battle for in-flight Wifi, as the carrier announced its plans to offer a service based on its current LTE network. Starting in late 2015, AT&T will begin to implement a new air-to-ground communication between planes and its existing LTE network to provide in-flight Wifi and entertainment to passengers flying in the U.S. (notably omitting international flights). The service will utilize spectrum that AT&T already owns, and the carrier will be partnering with Honeywell to make sure everything goes according to plan. John Stankey, Chief Strategy Officer at AT&T, had this to say:

"Everyone wants access to high-speed, reliable mobile Internet wherever they are, including at 35,000 feet. We are building on AT&T's significant strengths to develop in-flight connectivity technology unlike any other that exists today, based on 4G LTE standards. We believe this will enable airlines and passengers to benefit from reliable high speeds and a better experience. We expect this service to transform connectivity in the aviation industry – we are truly mobilizing the sky."

It isn't clear at this time what airlines AT&T will be partnering with, but the carrier indicates that it "will build on existing relationships within the aviation industry to deliver a better customer experience than what is available from others today." Anyone who has used in-flight Wifi from any provider knows that it can be a hit-or-miss experience, so a new competitor in this space building on a strong existing network could make things interesting.

Source: AT&T (BusinessWire)


AT&T posts $17.9 billion in revenue, adds 625,000 postpaid customers in Q1

AT&T reported its first quarter 2014 results, showing impressive growth in revenues, handset sales and customer acquisition for the quarter. While AT&T operates businesses outside of its wireless division, we're going to focus on this portion. For the quarter, AT&T posted $17.9 billion in revenue including handset sales, up 7 percent year-over-year, leading to $5.1 billion in operating income, up 8.1 percent.

On the customer side, AT&T added 625,000 postpaid customers, its largest first quarter gain in five years. It also added 693,000 "connected devices," but saw prepaid customers dip overall in the quarter mostly due to the loss of over 200,000 reseller subscribers. Of those additions, 311,000 were for postpaid smartphones, while 313,000 were tablets.

AT&T sold 5.8 million smartphones in total for the quarter, making up 92 percent of all postpaid phone sales — which first quarter record. This leads to 78 percent of AT&T's postpaid customers now using smartphones, up from 74 percent this time last year. In terms of connectivity, 57 percent of AT&T's postpaid smartphone subscribers have an LTE-capable device.

One interesting note on the growth was that AT&T says 40 percent of the gross smartphone additions and upgrades came by way of its AT&T Next device installment plan, up from just 15 percent last quarter. Additionally, about 45 percent of all postpaid subscribers are now on a Mobile Share plan, with a full 81 percent now being on some form of usage-based billing (i.e. not unlimited) plan.

Source: AT&T


Facebook taking action against spammy posts in your News Feed

Get ready to see fewer spam posts in your Facebook News Feed. Taking to its official blog, Facebook is letting everyone know that it's taking a harder stance on not showing posts that people deem "spammy." The new effort comes down to blocking out three main types of posts: Like-baiting, Frequently Circulated Content and Spammy Links.


Comcast reported to be considering their own mobile service provider business

Comcast may branch out from cable and landline internet, moving into the wireless service arena in the future. According to a report out of The Information, Comcast has been looking into the idea of creating a nationwide wireless phone network that relies primarily on Wifi with back-up service leased from already-established cellular carriers.