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HTC Does What Google Wouldn't: Sell an LTE Phone That Sidesteps AT&T 290

Posted by Soulskill
from the three-letter-acronyms dept.
schwit1 writes "You won't see it advertised on billboards or television, you won't hear it mentioned in a carrier store, and your less technologically-savvy friends most certainly won't know about it — but quietly, HTC's done something extraordinarily important this month: it's broken AT&T's stranglehold on its nationwide LTE network. It's a move that even Google, for all its money, power, and influence, didn't make with the Nexus 4. HTC is shipping both 32GB and 64GB versions of the One — an early contender for the best phone of 2013 — in a carrier- and bootloader-unlocked version that supports both T-Mobile and AT&T LTE. No strings attached."
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HTC Does What Google Wouldn't: Sell an LTE Phone That Sidesteps AT&T

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  • News at elleven (Score:5, Informative)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @05:23AM (#43534489) Homepage
    company dears to do something in the US (under cover of darkness) which is standard practice everywhere else on this planet. Welcome to the 21th century!
  • Re:News at elleven (Score:5, Informative)

    by sabri (584428) * on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @05:43AM (#43534543)

    It is very common to be able to buy a phone without contract in the Netherlands, and then buy a separate sim-card somewhere.

    You can do that in the U.S. as well. You will just pay the full price.

    The reason why lots of cellphones are carrier-locked, is because the carrier subsidizes the purchase and charges less for the phone than the manufacturer does. Your brand new Nokia 6220 will cost Telfort 300 Euries, but you will only pay 49.95 if you sign a 2 year contract. So in that case, Telfort's business model to subsidize your new phone will be based on the assumption that you will use their service. In order to "force" you to do so, the phone is locked to accept only Telfort Sim cards.

    This model has evolved to certain manufacturers doing only business with certain service providers and basically locking them in. For example, here in the U.S. the first Iphone could only be purchased at AT&T and thus would be sim-locked for the AT&T network.

    The news here is that HTC now breaks that tradition and just offers their cellphone directly to consumers, simlock free. And that does matter.

  • Best phone for 2013 (Score:2, Informative)

    by ta_gueule (2795275) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @06:03AM (#43534597)
    The best phone in 2013 is from 2009. The N900 is still unmatched. In 2013, the N900 screen is crap, the CPU is a joke, it doesn't do LTE and it is still more useful than any other phone. I'm still waiting for a replacement with better spec but I don't see that coming in the near future. This phone is the Amiga of the 21th century. They can up all the specs in their phone, they won't match the N900 until a decade or more.
  • Re:Confusion? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dorianny (1847922) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @06:08AM (#43534617) Journal
    Each carrier uses different frequencies. The majority of phones in the USA are sold by the carriers rather than the manufacturer, which they then sell to the user for a steep discount in exchange for signing up for a multi-year contract. Because it is the carriers rather than the end user who is making the actual purchase from the manufacturer, they typically ask them to do things like place sim-card restrictions and drop support for frequencies they do not use.
  • Re:News at elleven (Score:5, Informative)

    by karnal (22275) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:31AM (#43534959)

    Verizon has sim cards now for the LTE network. I have a few devices (mini wifi router and 4g usb stick) and both require a SIM card; both are on Verizon.

  • Re:Confusion? (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:32AM (#43534963) Homepage Journal

    There's a variety of possibilities here, because LTE has kinda screwed up the standards thing.

    1. It might just mean frequency. For example, T-Mo's UMTS is different from AT&T's in that T-Mobile runs their's on 1700Mhz and 2100MHz, while AT&T runs their's on 850MHz and also on 1900MHz. That said, this seems unlikely, both are running LTE on 1700/2100, though AT&T is also running it on 700MHz.

    2. How the two networks use their frequencies may vary, though I doubt it. Verizon and AT&T choose different ways to handle, for example, uplink and downlink frequencies when running it on their 700MHz allocations.

    3. I don't know if either network supports voice on LTE yet, but there's at least three different ways to implement it and it's not impossible that T-Mobile has selected a different voice protocol to AT&T. No, I'm not making that up - originally, the intention was that voice on LTE would be GSM's pre-existing IMS protocol. Several carriers balked, arguing that it doesn't support what's necessary to ensure there's a consistent quality of service when the network is congested, and as a result there's VoLTE and also, for reasons that remain unclear to this day, a version of GAN (UMA - that "GSM over Wi-fi" thing) all competing in that space.

    Before you rule out (1) and (2) and deduce it must be (3) by process of elimination, (3) is unlikely to be the issue as most phone makers are simply avoiding the entire question by routing voice over 2G or 3G.

    So I don't know. My guess is that this is a regular phone that supports LTE, in all of its forms, on 1700/2100, and maybe on 700MHz too. It probably doesn't support voice on UMTS at all. It may well be standard enough to work on Sprint PCS's LTE too, though as it doesn't support cdma2000/cdmaOne, it's wouldn't be marketed towards Sprint customers as it would suck being limited to being a data phone only, and then only in the few places Sprint has LTE.

    It's probably very boring in practice.

  • Re:News at elleven (Score:5, Informative)

    by NJRoadfan (1254248) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:46AM (#43535041)
    All LTE devices on VZW have SIM cards. They lock their phones by their unique network requirements as they won't work on the other LTE carriers in the Us without multiple band support. The voice part of their phones is still CDMA2000 and they use LTE on 700Mhz Band 13. AT&T uses LTE on 700Mhz Band 17 and 1700Mhz Band 4 with voice using GSM/HSPA.
  • Re:News at elleven (Score:4, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:00AM (#43535113)
    Nice troll.

    With the exception of the iPhone, Verizon has never locked phones to their network, at least as the word "locked" is applied to cell phones.

    VZW uses CDMA for voice. The only other US carrier to do so is Sprint. A VZW phone will work on Sprint, except for the fact that Sprint won't allow any phone they didn't sell on their network. It used to be that Verizon would let you put a Sprint phone on their network, though. Then Sprint went WIMAX for a while, and VZW went LTE.

    In any case, there's nothing which keeps a VZW phone locked to their network. Not being able to use most of their phones on a different network is purely a technology issue. There are some VZW "world phones," which will work on other networks just fine.

    Finally, with regard to locked iPhones, they will unlock them when your contract is done.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:27AM (#43535265) Journal
    The latest policy shift in T-mobile is: no contracts, transparent installment sales of phones, no nickel and diming on data. 500 MB high speed included. 10$ for another 2GB, another 10$ for "unlimited". At the end of quota, no over use fees, but just throttling of speed. Allows 500 MB of tethering. This should shake things up in a regular free market.

    But I am not so sure. Verizon has a huge cash cow, in the form of FiOS. It can use that revenue stream to undercut t-mobile and try to kill it instead of competing with it on a level ground. AT&T has inertia and corporate support helping it. I just hope T-Mobile succeeds just to bring sanity to this market.

    T-mobile got the best deal in the failed merger with AT&T. Apparently that contract gave T-mobile 2 billion dollars if the deal was rejected by the Govt, and more importantly bandwidth in the edge network for T-mobile in some 50 markets. If it plays this hand of cards well, things should shake up in the mobile market in USA.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

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