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#TBT: AT&T goes with the spectrum FLO; iPhone 5 design leaked; Android’s place in the market … this week in 2010

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

AT&T snaps up Qualcomm’s FLO spectrum
It turns out Qualcomm Inc.’s (QCOM) spectrum for FLO TV is actually worth more on its own — at least to AT&T Mobility (T). The carrier has agreed to buy licenses for the 700 MHz spectrum that the service ran on for $1.92 billion. Qualcomm gets an exit from its failed FLO TV business, selling off its most valuable asset, and AT&T picks up more “beach front property” spectrum for its future LTE network. The deal between the two companies, which was first reported more than a month ago, would have been much more interesting if AT&T had also bought (further) into the FLO TV network and infrastructure in an effort to offload video traffic. Although the service never picked up the scale it needed to make a large enough impact, the mobile broadcast TV network did present an early use-case for the 700 MHz spectrum that carriers are now using to roll out LTE. AT&T did this before with another mobile TV pioneer though, buying Aloha Partners L.P.’s 700 MHz spectrum holdings that it used for a DVB-H trial. Though Qualcomm clearly wanted more than a return on its investment in spectrum. Between 2003 and 2008, the San Diego company paid $683 million for spectrum that reaches a potential 300 million people. … Read more

Feeding the global desire for smartphones
Cheap and stylish are more likely to be antonyms when describing mobile phones. But the global market will reward a smartphone that can deliver on both fronts, a goal that Android phones seem best suited to reaching. That is one conclusion to be drawn from a survey from Nielsen on mobile phone usage by 15-24 year olds around the world. The survey had some interesting insights, such as Italy’s position as the market with the highest percentage of young people owning a smartphone (47%). The U.S. was the only major market surveyed where smartphone owners were more likely to be female (55%) than male (45%). Only one in six smartphones owned by people in the age group surveyed were purchased by parents, so the results can help shed light on what features appeal the most to consumers under 25. For the most part, those features varied by country. In India, practical features were seen as the most important factors in deciding which phone to buy, with 40% saying price was paramount and 12% choosing battery life. In the U.S, price was also important at 22%, while a QWERTY input was next at 14%. … Read more

Leaked sneak peek at iPhone 5
A ‘clone’ of the upcoming Apple iPhone 5 has appeared outing what is claimed to be the new form factor of the next-gen Apple handset. Whilst the fruity tech giant has yet to confirm that the iPhone 5 is in the works, the company’s rigid annual product cycles should see the much mooted device announced around June of next year. Despite having given the iPhone a massive design overhaul earlier this year for the arrival of the iPhone 4, the signal loss issues that plagued the device upon arrival could well see Apple opt for yet another look with Chinese website M8cool claiming the snapped and videoed device below is how version 5 of the Cupertino blower will look. Looking little more than an amalgamation of the 3GS and 4, the leaked iPhone 5 clone features squared-off edges with a slightly curved rear shell. Whilst we are highly sceptical as to the legitimacy of M8cool’s release, we would not be surprised to see the iPhone 5 adopting a dramatically different design form come launch in mid-2011. … Read more

RIM delivers strong quarter
Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, says its third-quarter earnings have jumped 45 percent as sales keep surging overseas despite tough competition in the smartphone market. RIM said it shipped 14.2 million BlackBerrys in the quarter, narrowly beating Apple’s iPhone sales in its latest quarter, which ended in October. Most of RIM’s growth is now coming from markets outside the United States, Canada and Britain, where the BlackBerry is already the business phone of choice. Income was $911 million, or $1.74 per share, in the fiscal third quarter ended on Nov. 27. That was up from $628 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 40 percent to $5.49 billion. In August, RIM launched the BlackBerry Torch, with a touch screen and a slide-out keyboard … Read more

Musings on trade and wireless tech
The US and China are each other’s largest trading partners and the two largest economies on earth. When discussing US/China relations, trade is predictably a central topic—and this year, a particularly contentious one. US politicians have decried China’s “unfair” trade advantage propped up by an artificially undervalued currency—the knee-jerk response? Erect trade barriers of our own. Punish those cheaters. A free-floating Chinese currency might make US-produced goods more competitive—but alternatively, US businesses and consumers also benefit from cheap Chinese goods, subsidized by…well, the Chinese. Thanks! And we often direct the assembly of those cheap goods in creative and innovative ways, adding tons of value and making profits. Yet, official statistics show none of this—trade is often perceived as a competition, a zero sum game, with a winner and a loser (an outdated notion if we’ve ever heard one). We found an interesting story this week that shows just how wrong the notion of trade winners and losers can be. Smartphones, which are quickly becoming ubiquitous, are mostly assembled in Emerging Markets like China. And because of the wonky manner in which trade statistics are calculated, the entire value of an item like the iPhone is considered an export to the US from China by both countries. The iPhone alone reportedly added $2 billion to the much maligned US/China trade deficit in 2009. … Read more

iPhone expected to launch at Verizon
Apple Inc. (AAPL) is looking to hire some new employees for its iOS development team based in Silicon Valley. Four identical job listings that were picked up by AppleInsider suggest that Apple could be working on its own personal navigation tools to implement in future versions of iOS. In the listings, Apple said it is looking for candidates with “valuable knowledge” of navigation software and “deep knowledge of Computational Geometry or Graph Theory.” The latest search for talent on Apple’s part comes more than a year after Apple sought candidates with similar backgrounds to take the iPhone’s maps applications “to the next level.” While Apple has relied on outside development for many of its core applications like maps, Google Inc. (GOOG) has increasingly differentiated its maps product on Android devices with better features like turn-by-turn directions. It’s easy to see why Apple might have some plans of its own down the line. In other Apple news, there is a new round of rumors surrounding the much-expected launch of an iPhone at Verizon Wireless (VZ). Some suggest the announcement could come as early as CES next month in Las Vegas when Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg delivers a keynote. … Read more

LTE expected to hit 1 million subs in 2011
LTE networks will account for 4 percent of the world’s mobile connections within five years, according to a major new report by Wireless Intelligence. The new study, Global LTE network forecasts and assumptions 2010-2015, predicts that global LTE connections will surpass the 1 million mark in the first half of 2011 and will reach 300 million by 2015 as the world’s mobile operators ramp-up rollout of the next-generation network technology. … Read more

FCC to auction more 700 MHz
The Federal Communications Commission is planning to auction 16 licenses for 700 MHz spectrum next July 19. The licenses previously were offered in Auction 73, but were either not sold or the winning bidder defaulted on the payments. Based on proposed minimum bid prices, the agency expects the auction to raise a minimum of $1.42 million. 2008’s Auction 73 raised more than $19 billion, netting AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless nationwide 700 MHz channels, which the nation’s two largest carriers are now building out. Indeed, VZW turned on its 700 MHz spectrum earlier this month. Two of the licenses are 12-megahertz (2 by 6 megahertz) in the A block, (698 MHz-704 MHz, 728 MHz-734 MHz) and 14 are in the B block (704 MHz-710 MHz, 734 MHz-740 MHz). The FCC filed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking around the auction. Comments are due Jan. 12 and reply comments are due Jan. 27. The A block license for Wheeling, W.V./Ohio carries a minimum bid of $118,000. The minimum proposed bid for its A-block counterpart in Lubbock, Texas, is $135,000. A B-block license for Yancey, N.C., has a proposed minimum bid of $188,000. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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