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Posts from July 15, 2012 - July 21, 2012

4G-The Have's & Have Nots

When I look at what is available on contract for 4G data here in Portugal where I'm spending two weeks, I'm just about floored at what we're paying in the USA for less speed, data caps and for more money.

Imagine 4G spectrum being used, unlimited data, speeds of 100 megs down, 50 megs up, multiple users options, dongle/USB stick or MiFi/PocketSpot, tablet or smartphone all for....30 euros or 25 Euros depending on the carrier. (That's about what pal Om Malik pays for his broabdand connection at his flat in San Francisco. With those kinds of speeds he could be on a vacation vs. a staycation.)

In Portugal there's Portugal Telecom's TMN charges 24.29 euros a month on a two year contract, and if you want to have multiple users add 12.20 (so what). Their rival, and in my book the better network here along the Lisbon area cost is Optimus, whose Kanguru is working very well inside my iPad. While I'm not getting the Banda Larga as they call it as it's not available on pre-paid (yet), their prices are slightly higher, at 29.90 with a 15 euro charge to share.

But what's interesting are the Samsung devices, including the 8.9" Android tablet, the ZTE made USB stick and the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone. With this plan, the Galaxy SIII and what amounts to 45 euros (about 55 dollars a month at current exchange rates) one would have all the broadband one needs, on the go, or at home at speeds that are 5x what we see in the USA for a lot more money from our leading two carriers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. My guess is the next generation of iPhone's will have the same 4G chips as this technology will move to other countries rather soon, as Portugal is viewed as the best place for wired or wireless broadband as many of the hardware brands do their development and testing here.

It begs two question...why are we the "have nots" given all the attention to broadband buildouts, money being spent to upgrade networks, while the bigger question is why do we have higher prices, data caps, and slower speeds?  We didn't win the space race by being second best. We won because our leader had a vision. In the USA when it comes to the Internet, connectivity the only vision the operators seem to have is on the balance sheet this quarter, not what it takes to be better next year. It's one thing to be profitable, but it's another to be building for the future.

P.S. The services also include unlimited video and music downloads and streaming. That begs one last question. Why in anyone's name did the cable companies in the USA sell off their spectrum rights? 

When In Portugal

There are three or four wireless carriers here in Portugal, all with fast, low cost wireless broadband including Vodafone, Optimus and Portugal Telecom's TMN. Each have comparable pricing but after some four trips here in the past two years or so I've come to the conclusion that:

TMN is best for smartphone voice and data, while Optimus is greatest on tablets and inside data cards and MiFi's. Vodafone is the most convenient, with a shop at the airport.

Now where the differences are:
Vodafone caps you at 25 MB a day of data
Optimus is fabulous on tablets and for dongles/USB sticks data cards offering 1 GIga plans that are 10 Euros via PhoneHouse or direct.
TMN's 4GB plan at 28 Euros can't be beat on the iPhone, BB or Android  smartphones

The best way to compare what's available remains going to the Phone House as their staff are on top of what's what, who has the best deals, and will even cut a SIM down for you, as will the Vodafone shop at Lisbon Airport.