Thursday, August 9, 2007

Regulations may shake up US mobile telephone market

he mercenary US mobile telephone market faces a rough shake-up after authorities set new rules for auctioning airwaves, boosting users' freedom to switch providers and access the Internet by phone.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the rules to come into force next January, when auctions are due to be held for certain airwaves.

They will open up access for consumers to use nearly any wireless device they like to use broadband services and switch mobile telephone service providers without having to buy a new hand set.

"This laboratory of free innovation has the potential to liberate consumers from the restrictive and uniquely American 'locked handset' regime nationwide," said the non-profit Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which lobbies for open markets in telecommunications and other technologies.

The FCC said it had adopted a revised plan for the 700 MHz band spectrum, which is currently occupied by television broadcasters but will be abandoned in the country's switch to digital television in 2009.

Under the new rules, the band will be made available to wireless services in a pro-consumer move "to facilitate the availability of new and innovative wireless broadband services for consumers," the FCC said.

This will "help create a national broadband network for public safety," enabling better communications in emergencies, preventing problems which can occur when different emergency services use different communications equipment.

Such problems came to light in the chaos following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the disastrous flooding that struck the city of New Orleans in 2005.

The measures will also shake up the US market, where mobile phone service providers can restrict the type of handset their subscribers use by applying exclusive standards.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cell phone greetings

Now you can send that e-card with the dancing monkeys to your friend who doesn’t even have a computer.

AG Interactive — the online division of Cleveland-based American Greetings — announced today that it’s launched service that allows subscribers to send the computer-animated messages straight to a cell phone.

“Offering mobile e-cards is yet another way we are incorporating innovation and new technology into our products to ensure there's something for every way people want to communicate today,” said Sally Babcock, AG Interactive’s senior vice president and general manager.

It works in much the same way as the existing e-card system, except instead of the recipient getting an e-mail notice that there’s a card waiting for them, a message goes to their cell phone. If they accept the card, it’s delivered in whatever format works best for their phone and carrier.

Image Semantics, a British mobile messaging company, partnered with American Greetings to get the project rolling.

American Greetings says it counts 3.6 million paying subscribers to its online services.


Samsung Blast appears on T-Mobile

T-Mobile today announced availability of the Samsung Blast, a curious slider phone decked out in glossy black with red accents. The Blast sports a larger keyboard with letters in a QWERTY arrangement sharing keys, about two to a key. We've seen similar layouts on the T-Mobile Pearl, and more significantly, on the Samsung SGH-T719. Generally, we've found the idea to be successful, so we're interested in getting our hands on a review unit of the Blast. Along with the specialized keypad, the Blast also features presets for e-mail from services like AOL and Yahoo.

Otherwise, besides the design, the phone has a solid set of features, but nothing groundbreaking. Compared with the T719, you get the same 1.3-megapixel camera, the same 176 by 220 resolution screen. Of course, the older phone had BlackBerry Connect software, for some serious e-mailing potential, but also cost twice as much as the Blast when it was originally released.

The Blast also features stereo Bluetooth support, and T-Mobile's popular MyFaves plan. It is available as of today, and can be had for $100 with a contract agreement.


Are you hoarding an old mobile phone or two?

A survey carried out by T-Mobile and MORI IPSO shows that the UK has a total of 37 million mobile phone users, who have 52.3 million old mobile phones still lying around – this is an average of 1.39 per user!

The survey revealed that each phone is worth an average of £22.40, so T-Mobile are calling on people to claim their share of this money, and help the environment at the same time.

T-Mobile’s recycling scheme makes it easy for people to recycle old mobiles, and make some money for either themselves or for charity. All customers will receive a recycling bag included with their new phone, and anyone else can pick up a bag from their local T-Mobile shop.

All you need to do is pop your old phone in the recycling bag and post if off freepost and await a decision as to how much your old phone is worth. You can already check on the T-Mobile website to see how much your old mobile is worth before you send it.


Softbank profit up on mobile unit gains

Softbank, which bought Vodafone's Japan unit in April 2006, has launched a price war to grab customers from much bigger rivals NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, as well as personal handy-phone operator Willcom, controlled by the Carlyle Group. (Personal handy-phones operate as cordless phones at home and mobile phones elsewhere.)

Saddled with debt of $12 billion on the Vodafone deal, Softbank has also cut salaries to reduce costs and introduced a new method of selling handsets that allows it to avoid paying commissions to retailers.

Operating profit was $663 million in the three months that ended June 30, up from $456 million in the previous year and boosted in part by an extra month of sales from its wireless unit.

The result compares with an estimate of roughly 35 percent operating profit growth from Credit Suisse and an estimate of 81 percent growth from Mizuho.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nokia Unveils Two New Fashionable Phones

Nokia added two new phones to its stylish collection aimed at fashion lovers, both devices bearing distinctive marks that should propel them to celebrity.

Both headsets boast with diamond-cut design, sharp angled lines, geometric patterns and graphic light-refracting colors- a new approach the Finnish telecom behemoth used to differentiate the models from the soft curves and plush touch of Nokia 7280 or 7360.

The two phones will hit stores’ shelves in the third quarter of 2007, at the estimated retail price (ERP) of EUR 400 (for the high end model) and EUR 200, for the entry-level device.

The first one is 7900 Prism, a “sleek, liquorice-black front” phone with anodized aluminium backcover, also featuring an Organic LED (OLED) main display that supports up to 16 million colors and displays light-focused screensaver graphics.

In addition, the Nokia 7900 Prism features a "living wallpaper", which subtly changes throughout the day according to time as well as battery and signal strength, so that each screen is unique.

For greater personalization, the Nokia 7900 Prism offers a gallery choice of 49 illumination colors. Once selected, this color radiates from under the graphic key-mat as well as from the LED display. Lights are also emitted from the top of the phone to signal missed calls and messages.

Nokia 7900 Prism is dual band 3G compatible, but also boasts with quad band GSM capability, which comes in handy when its owners travel a lot. In addition to a 2 Mpx camera, the Nokia 7900 Prism comes with 1GB of internal memory for lots of pictures, video, contacts and more.

Although one might that think that the smaller price for 7900 Prism’s sibling, dubbed 7500 Prism, means lower specs, Nokia surprised everybody with the addition of a similar 2Mpx camera that record high quality movies, and even a 2GB microSD card, that can store up to 1500 songs. Both phones sport a music player.