The original iPhone data carrier continues to improve its LTE and 4G service with numerous investments in network technology across the United States. AT&T has recently announced 4G LTE service in 30 new markets across the country, steadily rolling out the fastest data service to more customers.
Although Verizon Wireless is ahead in the coverage game with more markets on LTE nationwide, speed tests are different. AT&T dominates as the fastest mobile data service, according to independent tests by Consumer Reports, PC World, and Rootmetrics. So where can AT&T subscribers begin enjoying these fast LTE speeds on their iOS devices?
A recent report accused Apple and wireless carriers of purposely slowing down data speeds on iOS devices. The controversy revolved around so-called "throttle coding" in carrier files used for network provisioning. The site AnandTech has now published a thorough report explaining why this is not the case.
Not only does Apple have no incentive to limit data speeds on iOS devices, but traffic is better managed on the network as opposed to locally on individual iPhones. AnandTech also throws cold water on the concept that installing modified carrier files can "magically" increase data speeds on iOS. Basically, nothing on Apple's mobile devices prevents the iPhone or iPad from utilizing whatever is provided by the cellular network.
Wireless carrier AT&T is making progress on its goal to deliver 4G LTE service to over 300 million people by the end of 2014. The latest announcement brings the total number of markets with 4G LTE availability to 190 nationwide. LTE service has been expanded in Denver, Colorado, Louisville, Kentucky, Mount Vernon, Washington and Oxford, Mississippi.
For customers in six other cites, LTE has been switched on. These include Flint, Michigan, Kokomo, Indiana, Morgantown, West Virginia, Petersburg, Virginia, Shelbyville, Kentucky and Springfield Missouri. AT&T continues to be the second largest wireless carrier in the US, six years after it first launched the iPhone in an exclusive agreement with Apple.
T-Mobile did not forget about their customers already using unlocked iPhones on their network. The carrier plans to send out a minor iOS software update that will enable new features like LTE, Visual Voicemail and other "Network/Device optimizations" that are not available at this time. Anyone using an iPhone on the T-Mobile network with iOS 6.1.x or higher will receive the iOS update on April 5.
Previously T-Mobile customers could only use unlocked iPhones on the T-Mobile network, but that has all changed since T-Mobile has now become an official Apple carrier. T-Mobile customers will be able to buy the iPhone 5 (and iPhone 4 and 4S in select markets) starting on April 12. T-Mobile has also stopped subsidizing phones, meaning customers will still have to pay full price for any devices bought directly from the carrier.
One of the advantages the iPhone 5 brings to users is high-speed LTE connectivity. Download speeds have been reported in some cites at over 20 Mbps, exceeding even some wired and wi-fi network connections. AT&T continues to build out its LTE capabilities for subscribers, all part of a $14 billion network expansion.
Nine new cities are now in the AT&T Mobility LTE fold, including Annapolis MD, Denver CO, Louisville KY, Milwaukee WI, Minneapolis, MN, Orlando FL, Provo UT, Tacoma WA and York PA. These additions to the network come hot on the heels of LTE service roll outs and expansions in Bakersfield CA, Little Rock AK and the Florida Keys.
AT&T has decided to stop charging some of its customers for using FaceTime over a cellular connection. iOS 6 customers with an LTE device on any tiered data plan will be able to use the feature at no extra charge. This also includes deaf and hard of hearing customers who qualify for "special text and data-only packages".
AT&T felt it needed to limit the amount of FaceTime calls out of fear that its network was not ready to handle the surge of video calls. The company added it will "also continue to offer FaceTime over Cellular to customers with any AT&T Mobile Share plan, as well as FaceTime over Wi-Fi, which has always been available for all customers".
The iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the other iPhones, but the price has remained the same. Apple will offer the iPhone 5 for $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), and $399 (64GB) on September 21. Pre-orders for the next-generation iPhone open on September 14. If you're looking to upgrade from the now discontinued iPhone 3GS, but $200 is out of your price range, you can now nab an iPhone 4S for $99, or receive a free iPhone 4 with a new contract.
Sprint has announced the names of 100 cities that will be receiving 4G LTE in the "coming months". The announcement comes two days before Apple is expected to announce a 4G LTE capable new iPhone on Wednesday, September 12, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
The Sprint press release names Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. as some of the "major metropolitan areas" in which Sprint 4G LTE is expected to be available soon. Both Sprint and T-Mobile have been playing catch-up with AT&T and Verizon who upgraded to 4G last summer. Sprint plans to complete its 4G LTE nationwide network by the end of 2013. Read on for a complete list of the cities expected to receive the upgrade in the near future.
It's pretty much a sure bet that the next iPhone will support LTE-based 4G, but what Apple lovers really want to know is if it will support worldwide 4G. According to those always wily "people familiar with the matter" and the Wall Street Journal, the iPhone 5 will be able to reach 4G speeds in parts of Asia and Europe as well. The WSJ's source did not outline any specific countries, but did add that the next generation iPhone "isn't likely to work with all carriers' LTE networks in all countries, though it wasn't clear which would be left out."
Apple's first device to offer 4G LTE was the iPad 3, however, it is only supported by Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the U.S., and Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. in Canada. Major U.S. carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing hard to extend their 4G LTE networks, and it's estimated that worldwide 4G LTE will reach around 290 million people by 2015.
Do you hate when your iPhone doesn't automatically switch to 3G if your Wi-Fi connection is too slow? A new feature in iOS 6 will solve this problem. The new option called "Wi-Fi Plus Cellular" allows your iPhone to automatically switch to a cellular connection when Wi-Fi isn't doing the job. iPhone owners can also manage their data usage by toggling specific services on and off. As you can see from the picture below, the cellular option allows you to turn off access to iCloud Documents, iTunes, FaceTime, Passbook Updates and Reading List.
The "Wi-Fi Plus Cellular" option was discovered within the Settings menu in the latest iOS 6 beta by AppAdvice. The blog also discovered a toggle for Shared Calendar Alerts within the beta. When enabled, the new feature will notify you whenever the shared calendar is modified.