LTE in the UK Coming Very Soon
AT&T's FaceTime Fiasco

News and Views for Wednesday August 22

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg (subscription required) gave newcomer to video conferencing a big shot in the arm late yesterday with news of their service launch. Not much is known about the company, but the new free service supports up to 15 simultaneous users and promises screen sharing too and is available for iPhone, iPad, Macs and Windows. It uses either Google Mail/Apps ID or Facebook credentials. Could this be the next Skype? Maybe....

Google Offers and Boingo are expanding the ad/offer supported free Wi-Fi to more locations, reported GigaOm's Kevin Fritchard yesterday. It's a nice experiment and helps with customer acquisition for Google of their Groupon killer play. By teaming with Boingo, Google can pick their spots and test close to where their sales teams are, as well as push new services out via Wi-Fi too. The question that stock market analysts who cover Boingo have to ask is how ad supported Wi-Fi contributes to the bottom line, what impact it has on churn. For example, if I have to see one ad to get online, why will I pay $7.95 a month for Boingo on my mobile devices? If I am only seeing ads three times a month when I travel does that equal the profit per sub they would be losing? Or, are the locations they are picking different than where the business traveler goes, like airports and hotels. More importantly, to keep me paying, I would want to see tiered speeds and service levels, where the free users can only surf the web, and the paid users can use POP3, IMAP, Exchange, stream music and video, use VoIP/Skype/Video and Web collaboration as well as enterprise apps.

T-Mobile is striking out and looking for differentiation in the USA vs. AT&T and Verizon with the return of unlimited data on September 5 here in the USA reports The Verge and others including GigaOm's Kevin Fritchard. Fritchard points out that this is for Smartphones only, not the more data intensive tablets, and it also prevents tethering so PC's can't connect when someone turns their mobile phone into a hotspot. This puts T-Mobile in the same class as Sprint with no caps, no slowing you down and clearly is aimed at getting heavy data users over to their network, and as a competitive offer to the family style share data plans AT&T rolls out this week. The timing wasn't a coincidence. The attractiveness to me is the possibility of 1900 MHZ bandwidth from T-Mo in 2013.

At the same time, Metro PCS is also going UNLIMITED with a $55 a month, all LTE plan for Voice, text and data. They promise "no strings" offer and right now are not setting any time limit on the steal of a deal, reports CNET. Interestingly, the small carrier with big ideas, and the first to roll out VoLTE in the USA is looking for roaming partners, according to PC Magazine. MetroPCS wants to roam onto any LTE network and would use VoLTE for the voice traffic. It's an interesting approach as it would give the 14 market player a huge leg up over oftened rumored merger candidate Cricket.

Verizon Wireless told employees that they can't take any time off starting September 21, and in doing so, signalled the market that the iPhone 5 is going on sale that day, according to TechCrunch. This could be a huge quarter for Apple if the rumors are true of an iPad Mini in the 7.7" form factor, as Venture Beat points out this morning. What would make this a killer device, and be pre-emptive of Google releasing a Nexus7 with 4G/LTE would be if it had voice and LTE built in with all GSM frequencies, including AWS for T-Mobile here in the USA as pentaband device, like the Nokia Lumia 900 and Android Galaxy Nexus are. With the rumor of a new and updated Galaxy Nexus coming, there seems to be a whirlwind of new devices due out, just in time for holiday shopping.

Yesterday Skype added photo sharing to their iPhone and iPad apps. This takes aim at the MMS market where you can send photos over the wireless network. Since Skype already has really good compression built into their apps for file shareing on Macs and Windows PCs, this is a work around to help Skype mobile users avoid MMS charges, but what Skype doesn't point out is that when someone's not on Wi-Fi the data plan caps come in. Don't be surprised if mobile operators start to sell MMS plans like they do for unlimited texting at some point, or bundles and family to family member plans. The new Skype family addition is likely an outgrowth of their acquisition of GroupMe a year ago.

Kipcall has entered into a deal with global dating site WorldFriends. The agreement brings back memories of TalkPlus (Jeff Black and John Todd's too early for prime time baby) and Jangl whose intellectual property ended up at Jajah (where have you gone Michael Cerda). The service promises calling and chatting without phone numbers.




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