The Netherlands paves the way for carrier-free SIM cards

Imagine it: a world where a SIM card is fully integrated with your device; no need to swap it out when you change carriers or travel overseas. In fact, SIM cards could be easily built into any number of devices, vastly expanding the Internet of Things. This would also end carrier-locked devices, allowing customers true freedom of choice: Any device could be used with any carrier the user chooses.

In most of the world, carrier-free SIM cards are illegal. However, the Netherlands has just become the first country to allow them. A change in the Telecommunications Act means that residents … Read more

Sprint chairman to make plea for T-Mobile merger, despite concerns

Sprint Chairman and SoftBank Chief Masayoshi Son will petition the business community and lawmakers to support consolidation in the mobile market, a new report claims.

Son will host a presentation at the US Chamber of Commerce event in Washington, D.C., on March 11, where he's expected to rail against the US wireless industry and make a plea for business owners and lawmakers to support a possible merger between his company and T-Mobile, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of his plans.

Sprint has yet to make an official merger offer to … Read more

US sues Sprint for allegedly overcharging on wiretaps

Sprint has come under fire from the US government over claims that it tacked on excessive charges for court-ordered wiretaps.

The government filed a complaint against Sprint in US District Court in San Francisco on Monday. The complaint says that government agencies, like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were allegedly overcharged $21 million for wiretaps by Sprint.

"Sprint inflated its charges by approximately 58 percent," the complaint reads. "As a result of Sprint's false claims, the United States paid over $21 million in unallowable costs from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010." … Read more

UppWireless offers $15 BYOD phone service

Looking for dirt-cheap phone service for your smartphone? If it's an unlocked GSM phone that began life on AT&T or T-Mobile, you might want to check out UppWireless.

For as little as $15 per month, you can stock your smartphone with a no-contract SIM card that leverages Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connectivity for calls, text, and data. But is it really as simple as that?

I'll let you know once I've had the chance to test UppWireless for myself. In the meantime, I can tell you that your $15 buys you unlimited calling and texting … Read more

Carriers: down with unlimited data and free services

BARCELONA, Spain -- Cash-strapped carriers moving to 4G mobile networks need to toe the line and avoid the big problem of the 3G era: unlimited data plans.

That was the exortation from Sok Koong Chua, CEO of Singtel, a carrier that offers mobile networks in Singapore, Australia, and several other countries.

"We need to be more discliplined. 4G is bringing so much more capacity to our networks. Let's not repeat mistake of 3G," she said in a speech here at Mobile World Congress, a show run by the organization that represents more than 800 such carriers.

Unlimited … Read more

Ericsson to show off 450Mbps LTE mobile networking

Telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson will show a new variety of LTE mobile networking next week that can reach data rates of 450 megabits per second.

The demonstration, at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, uses a technology called carrier aggregation, which broadly speaking combines signals from multiple base stations and multiple radio frequency bands.

Carrier aggregation is used in the current LTE (Long-Term Evolution) Advanced standard for 4G networks, which generally don't surpass 100Mbps and rarely even come close, but Ericsson goes farther by connecting a single device to three separate carriers, the company said Thursday. It'll … Read more

Mobile group: Expect 250M machine-to-machine network links in 2014

The GSMA, an organization that represents more than 800 mobile network operators, is excited about the Internet of things.

The GSMA has spent years overseeing mobile phone standards, but now expects major growth in the technology for hooking other devices such as environmental sensors, cars, door locks, and power meters to the network, an idea called the Internet of things or machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

In a report announced Monday (PDF) ahead of its Mobile World Congress show, the GSMA said it predicts growth from 195 million M2M connections in 2013 to 250 million this year. Seeing new markets besides the … Read more

US carrier mergers would face tough time getting DOJ approval

US wireless carriers who have the urge to merge will meet resistance in the form of the Justice Department.

In an interview with The New York Times published Thursday, William Baer, assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, said that any merger proposals on the part of the major US carriers would encounter intense scrutiny. Baer cited "much more favorable competitive conditions" in the mobile landscape since the DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011. AT&T eventually withdrew its offer.

"It's going to be hard … Read more

AT&T says no plans for Vodafone takeover

AT&T won't be making any attempt to acquire Vodafone, the company confirmed Monday.

At the request of the UK's Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, AT&T said in a statement Monday that it "does not intend to make an offer for Vodafone." That's in the here and now -- the future being an unpredictable beast, AT&T did say that it "reserves the right to announce or participate in an offer or possible offer for Vodafone."

The statement comes as Vodafone's shares jumped on news that AT&… Read more

Which wireless carriers will follow T-Mobile's lead?

There's no question that T-Mobile's UnCarrier strategy has shaken up the wireless market. But how long will it take for Verizon Wireless to respond to the pressure?

This is the question I answer in this edition of Ask Maggie. There's a good reason why Verizon has consistently had lower churn rates and higher customer addition rates than its competitors. But the tide may be turning for Big Red, as more and more customers are enticed by T-Mobile's lower prices and seemingly customer-friendly policies.

Verizon feels the heat from T-Mobile

Dear Maggie, I have been a Verizon … Read more