Kevin Fitchard

The 5G Opportunity: How 5G will solve the congestion problems of today's 4G networks

This report takes an in-depth look at global 4G network performance across 77 countries. 4G Download Speeds are between 31.2 Mbps and 5.8 Mbps faster at the best hour of day compared with the slowest hour of the day. The US falls in the middle of the pack on 4G downlaod speed experienced by consumers at the fastest ohour of the day, with the best 4G Download Speeds were 1.9 times faster in the late hours of night. The busiest hour of the day (slowest speeds) to be 9pm local time, with the least congested and fastest hour to be 3am.

When will voice-over-LTE matter? When it’s no longer just about voice

After years of delays, voice-over-LTE finally seems to be making its way into mobile networks and phones.

As we purchase new smartphones over the next few years, we’ll find traditional 2G phone calls receding into the past and voice or SMS becoming just another IP service. Today, however, consumers buying new VoLTE phones probably won’t notice much of a difference.

By eventually moving to an all IP network and service delivery platform, voice will just become another feature in a wide-ranging communication service, all of which can be linked to a universal ID: your ten-digit phone number.

Fon begins beta testing a business Wi-Fi network

Crowdsourced Wi-Fi Internet service provider Fon plans to add a business component to its largely residential hotspot footprint.

Now, Fon has launched a global beta program, inviting consumer-facing businesses to install a souped-up version of its Fonera router and offer Internet access to Fon members and the general public.

The new program seems to split the difference between the two models of business Wi-Fi we see today: wide-open networks businesses offer as an amenity to attract customers and closed networks for internal use.

As satellite Internet technology improves, Exede starts boosting its broadband caps

If you’re living in a rural area, “broadband” likely means slow speeds and strict limits on the amount of data you can consume each month.

But Exede, the rural broadband service owned by satellite Internet service provider ViaSat, is starting to close that gap between the city – with its access to cable modem or even fiber connections -- and rural areas.

Exede will start testing a new broadband plan with a 150 GB-per month gap in several regions of the US. It’s calling the new Freedom Plan a “virtually unlimited” service, which is on par with the monthly limits at which many wireline ISPs are capping their lower-tier plans.

If Sprint ever wants to buy T-Mobile, one of them is going to have to fail

Sprint may have given up on buying T-Mobile for now, but wireless industry analyst Chetan Sharma believes it’s only a matter of time before the two renew their courtship. A merged Sprint/T-Mobile is inevitable, according to Sharma, but if the two want to consolidate sooner rather than later, T-Mobile will have to stop performing so damn well. “To be considered a player requiring some regulatory assistance, [T-Mobile] has to probably get back to those levels of losing 300-400K [subscribers] every quarter,” Sharma said.

Wi-Fi hotspot speeds are still faster than 4G in the US, but that could soon change

OpenSignal’s newest report on US Wi-Fi speeds contains a particularly interesting nugget of information: the network measurement firm found that the Wi-Fi speeds we get from public hotspots, in places like coffee shops, hotels and retail stores, are consistently faster than the speeds we see over 4G networks.

But there’s a lot of new network construction going on in the US. That should mean that speeds will kick up a few notches, as more devices that can tap these networks come onto the market.

What’s next for Sprint and T-Mobile? It’s all about the spectrum auction, baby

[Commentary] Now that Sprint has given up on buying T-Mobile, it looks like we’re going to have four nationwide carriers in the United States, at least until a more pliable administration is office.

Sprint and T-Mobile will plan for their futures as independent carriers, and that means they’re almost certainly looking ahead to the 2015 broadcast spectrum incentive auction.

The incentive auction will mark the Federal Communications Commission’s first major release of new mobile airwaves since the 700 MHz auction in 2008 and the Advanced Wireless Services auction in 2006. T-Mobile and Sprint are particularly interested in this band because of where it’s located on the electromagnetic spectrum: 600 MHz. They’re ideal for building a network with greater coverage.

Verizon will start restricting LTE speeds for its heaviest unlimited-plan customers

Verizon Wireless has been trying to coax its remaining unlimited data customers onto its tiered plans for years, and starting this fall it’s providing one more disincentive to remain with its grandfathered all-you-can-eat plans.

On October 1, Verizon will start throttling back LTE speeds on its heaviest unlimited-plan subscribers when they move into congested cells on its networks. What that means is that when the network gets crowded, Verizon will prioritize 4G customers who buy their data by the gigabyte over unlimited plan customers who fall into the top fifth percentile of monthly data usage.

AT&T’s Q2: Hello, new smartphone subscribers; Goodbye, Cricket prepaid customers

AT&T’s second-quarter earnings report was a tale of two carriers. On the one hand, AT&T had a record spring quarter when it came to its core postpaid business, adding 1 million net new customers. But in its prepaid business, AT&T lost 405,000 subscribers, all casualties of AT&T’s acquisition of Leap Wireless.

From Ma Bell’s perspective it’s all good news, since postpaid customers buying premium data plans are far more profitable than pay-as-you-go subscribers. However, no former Cricket customers upgraded to AT&T postpaid plans, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega pointed out, meaning AT&T reached 700,000 smartphone net adds entirely by luring them away from other carriers. So we’re basically seeing flight in two different directions: postpaid customers arriving and prepaid customers leaving.

Syntonic is creating a free-data zone on AT&T’s mobile network

In July a Seattle area startup called Syntonic is offering up a new kind of app and content store to AT&T Mobility customers.

What makes this app store different from, say, the iTunes app store or Google Play, is it comes with a free-data pass. Any app downloaded, video watched or site surfed isn’t counted against your data plan.

Syntonic is taking advantage of AT&T’s new sponsored data program, in which developers or advertisers can the pay the mobile data freight charges that would normally be incurred from consuming their content over the cellular network. The company is basically creating a free zone on the mobile Internet within the borders of its app store.