Apple Watch Series 3: LTE Plan Prices on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell, EE, and Deutsche Telekom

Apple Watch Series 3 is available with built-in cellular capabilities, allowing you to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, stream music, get directions with Apple Maps, use Siri, and more without a paired iPhone.


The freedom comes at a cost, however, as Apple Watch Series 3 models with cellular are priced $70 higher than those with Wi-Fi and GPS only. Also, to access LTE, the watch must be added to your phone bill as an additional monthly charge.

Here's a breakdown of how much participating carriers plan to charge. Some carriers have yet to announce their plans.



Verizon


Verizon said it allow customers to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Verizon will reportedly waive its $30 activation fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Verizon's NumberShare feature.

AT&T


AT&T has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. AT&T is offering a $25 activation fee credit, and a $30 service credit for adding an Apple Watch, within three bills. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via AT&T's NumberSync feature.

T-Mobile


T-Mobile has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to a plan for $10 per month with AutoPay. T-Mobile will reportedly waive its $25 new SIM card kit fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via T-Mobile's DIGITS feature.

Sprint


Sprint has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Sprint will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The carrier has yet to specify whether its activation fee of up to $30 per line will be waived as well, but it would seem likely.

Bell (Canada)


Bell has announced that customers will be able to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $5 per month. There is a one-time $10 activation fee. Bell will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Bell's NumberShare feature.

Bell will not support the Apple Watch's cellular capabilities in Manitoba or Saskatchewan due to the carrier's lack of VoLTE in those provinces.

EE (UK)


EE has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible SIM only or pay monthly plan for £5 per month, with the watch and iPhone sharing the same phone number. The carrier hasn't confirmed if it will be offering an introductory three-month trial, or if there will be an activation fee.

Deutsche Telekom (Germany)


Deutsche Telekom has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for up to €4.95 per month, with the first six months free of charge. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Deutsche Telekom's MultiSIM feature. The carrier didn't specify if there is an activation fee.



Apple Watch Series 3 models will be available to order starting tomorrow, September 15, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. In-store availability begins September 22. LTE-enabled models start at $399 in the United States.


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T-Mobile Offered Fastest LTE Speeds in the First Half of 2017

T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest mobile network in the United States during the first half of 2017, according to a new U.S. Market Report for Mobile Broadband shared this morning by Ookla.

The carrier scored a 23.17 using Ookla's new "Speed Score" metric that combines low-end, median, and top-end performance for both upload and download speeds. Ookla says this is a comprehensive metric combining all factors that "matter to a good network experience" into a single score.

Coming in after T-Mobile was Verizon, with a Speed Score of 21.13, while AT&T came in third with a score of 20.05 and Sprint brought up the rear with a score of 15.39.


According to Ookla, T-Mobile's "tightly-spaced cell site grid" and smaller subscriber base gave it an edge over Verizon and AT&T, both of whom are dealing with higher traffic loads since their unlimited plans were introduced last year.

While Verizon has managed to deliver "consistent and reliable performance" across its network despite the unlimited plans, the rollout of AT&T's unlimited plans resulted in a "notable drop in performance."

Sprint, unsurprisingly, had the slowest mobile network with a Speed Score of 15.39, despite improvements made over the course of the last year. From June of 2016 to June of 2017, Sprint LTE speeds improved by 23.7 percent, but the carrier still can't match the big three.
T-Mobile comes out on top for overall speeds and acceptable speeds at a national level and provides the fastest service in 40% of the largest cities in the U.S. Verizon Wireless has the fastest service in many of the cities we looked at and comes in first on acceptable speeds in the top 100 CMAs, but we suspect their use of depriortization on unlimited could be bringing down their overall performance.

AT&T falls near the bottom in consistency of acceptable speeds and also saw a spoke in low end speeds in Q2 2017. The slowest carrier, Sprint, struggles with consistently providing acceptable speeds but saw big gains in the first half of the year.
While the above chart information covers the United States as a whole, Ookla also compared mobile performance data in the 100 most populated Cellular Market Areas within the country. The rankings were the same, but T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were nearly neck and neck. Across the board, users in populated cellular markets see higher speeds.


Mobile performance by carrier varies greatly from area to area, so while T-Mobile may have the best overall network speeds, AT&T or Verizon could have a significant edge depending on where a user is located. All four carriers are aggressively pursuing improved LTE speeds and network expansion through spectrum purchases, refarming legacy spectrum (like ending 3G networks), network densification, relay solutions, and other techniques.

Across all carriers in the United States, there was a 19.2 percent increase in average mobile download speeds between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with an average speed of 22.69 Mb/s.


Average mobile upload speeds didn't see quite as much improvement, coming in at 8.51 Mb/s for a four percent improvement year over year. When it comes to average mobile download speeds, the United States is ranked 44th in the world. That rank drops down to 65th for average mobile upload speed. In rural areas, performance can be significantly worse, with speeds that are 20.9 percent slower than the nation as a whole. Verizon (51.6%) and AT&T (27.3%) have far more coverage in rural areas than T-Mobile (11.5%) and Sprint (9.6%).

In addition to looking at network performance by carrier, Ookla also shared some data on LTE speeds across carriers on two popular devices: the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7. On T-Mobile and Sprint, broadband speeds were on average slightly faster for the Galaxy S7, with little difference on Verizon and AT&T networks.

Both the iPhone 7 and the S7 see higher mobile network speeds than other devices because they aggregate three component carriers to improve peak and average speeds. On T-Mobile, Samsung has an edge because the Galaxy S7 enables features like higher order modulation and 4-Layer MIMO.


Ookla's report is based on data gathered from its popular Speedtest Intelligence benchmark during the first half of 2017. More than 3 million unique devices performed more than 14 million user-initiated cellular network tests, giving the company a lot of data to work with to figure out trends during the year. For the S7 and iPhone 7 comparison tests, data from 250,278 iPhones was collected and compared to data from 134,742 Galaxy devices.

Additional test results covering minimum acceptable experience, the impact of unlimited data, fastest carriers by city, and more can be read in the full report.


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Verizon Introduces Three New Unlimited Data Plans, Limits Video Quality to 720p For All Customers

Verizon today split its unlimited talk, text, and data plan into three tiers: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, and Business Unlimited. The plans go into effect for new customers starting Wednesday, August 23.


Go Unlimited starts at $75 per month, which is $5 cheaper than the original Verizon Unlimited plan introduced in February. However, while Verizon Unlimited allowed for full HD video streaming, video quality on Go Unlimited is forcibly throttled to 480p, which Verizon and many other carriers refer to as DVD quality.

Go Unlimited customers can also experience reduced speeds if the network is congested at any time, rather than only after exceeding 22GB of data usage in a billing cycle. And while Mobile Hotspot is unlimited, tethering speeds are capped at a maximum of 600kbps from the very first kilobyte of usage.

The original Verizon Unlimited plan allows tethering at 4G LTE speeds for the first 10GB of data, with speeds reduced to 3G afterwards.

Beyond Unlimited starts at $85 per month, which is $5 more expensive than Verizon Unlimited. The plan includes unlimited tethering with the first 15GB of data at 4G LTE speeds, up from 10GB, but video quality is forcibly throttled to 720p quality on smartphones and 1080p quality on tablets.

Beyond Unlimited customers could experience reduced speeds at times of network congestion once they exceed 22GB in a billing cycle, in line with the original unlimited plan. Verizon increases that limit to 25GB for customers who sign a two-year contract when purchasing a new device.

Business Unlimited is designed for four or more lines and starts at $45/month/line. Each line could experience reduced speeds at times of network congestion after exceeding 22GB in a billing cycle, and video quality is throttled to 480p. Unlimited tethering is included with 4G LTE speeds for the first 10GB of data.

AutoPay and paperless billing must be enabled for all of the prices listed above, or else each plan costs $5 extra per month.

Verizon told The Verge that existing customers will be able keep their current plan — including legacy ones. As a bonus, for existing customers on the original Verizon Unlimited plan introduced in February, Verizon is increasing the allowance for 4G LTE speeds while tethering from 10GB to 15GB at no charge.

However, the biggest kicker is that Verizon says, moving forward, HD video on all legacy plans will match Beyond Unlimited's HD quality. In other words, even grandfathered customers will soon be limited to video quality of 720p on smartphones and 1080p on tablets, which is sure to elicit some frustration.

"We're doing this to ensure all customers have a great experience on our network since there is no visible difference in quality on a smartphone or tablet when video is shown at higher resolutions," a Verizon spokesperson said.

As for the increased prices, Verizon says its unlimited data plan from February was an "introductory" price that was bound to increase eventually.

Tag: Verizon

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Verizon Introduces New ‘Up’ Rewards Program With Perks Including Free Months of Apple Music

Verizon today introduced a new Verizon Up rewards program that offers customers perks for paying their monthly bills.


For every $300 spent towards Verizon products and services, including a phone bill, customers will receive one credit, which can be exchanged for one reward. Every month, there are six new customized rewards to choose from, with the selection changing on the first day of each month.

Those rewards include up to four free months of Apple Music for new Verizon customers, and one free month for existing subscribers, along with 20 percent off roundtrip JetBlue flights, three free months of HBO NOW, up to $10 per credit towards their next device purchase, up to 2GB bonus data, and more.

Other rewards partners listed on Verizon's website include Amazon, EA Sports, Google Play, Nike, and Starbucks.

Verizon Up also provides customer with access to a limited number of tickets for sought-after events in sports, music, and entertainment, such as NFL games and Broadway shows, on a first-come, first-served basis. There also appears to be a chance to win tickets to major NFL events, including Super Bowl LII.

The rewards program is available to Verizon postpaid customers enrolled in the Verizon Selects marketing program and residing in the United States. Credits earned expire after 60 days, and all rewards have an expiration date. Additional information can be found on the Verizon Up website, video, and FAQ.

Verizon Up is available through the free My Verizon app [Direct Link] for iPhone and iPad.

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Study Finds AT&T and Verizon Have Slower LTE Speeds After Launching Unlimited Data Plans

In its semi-annual State of Mobile Networks report this week, OpenSignal claims that both AT&T and Verizon have experienced a decline in 4G LTE speeds since each carrier reintroduced an unlimited data plan in February. OpenSignal blames the slowdown on an increase in data demand now that caps have been removed.


From April through June, AT&T's average LTE download speed was 12.92 Mbps, while Verizon averaged 14.91 Mbps, according to crowdsourced data from thousands of users with the OpenSignal app for iOS or Android.

By comparison, OpenSignal's last report measured average LTE speeds for AT&T and Verizon at 13.86 Mbps and 16.89 Mbps respectively, based on crowdsourced data collected from 169,683 users with the OpenSignal app for iOS or Android installed between October 1 and December 31, 2016.

August 2017 Report


AT&T: 12.92 Mbps
Verizon: 14.91 Mbps
Sprint: 9.76 Mbps
T-Mobile: 17.45 Mbps

February 2017 Report


AT&T: 13.86 Mbps
Verizon: 16.89 Mbps
Sprint: 8.99 Mbps
T-Mobile: 16.65 Mbps
T-Mobile was declared as the fastest network in the United States during the testing period. The carrier's average LTE speed was 17.45 Mbps, up from 16.65 Mbps in OpenSignal's last report. Sprint's average LTE speed also rose to 9.76 Mbps, up from 8.99 Mbps in the previous study.

AT&T or Verizon remained the fastest network in select U.S. cities, including Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and San Francisco.

OpenSignal says its data is collected from regular consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage, be it indoors, outdoors, in a city, or in the countryside. For this particular report, it said 5,073,211,200 data points were collected from 172,919 users between April 1 and June 30, 2017.


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Verizon Throttling Netflix Traffic as Part of Temporary Video Optimization Test

Some Verizon Wireless users this week began noticing throttled streaming speeds when watching content from streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and Verizon today confirmed to Ars Technica that it has indeed been throttling speeds as "part of a temporary test" of a "new video optimization system."
"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."
Reports of throttled speeds first surfaced on reddit earlier this week, after Verizon users noticed that Netflix's speed test site was returning streaming speeds limited to approximately 10Mb/s, while other speed test tools, like Ookla Speedtest, were returning normal results. Similar throttled speeds were also seen when using YouTube and the actual Netflix service.


It wasn't clear what was going on until this morning, when Verizon told Ars Technica that it was conducting a temporary test of a new optimization system. According to Verizon, the optimization test did not impact actual quality of video, which is true in most cases, but some YouTube users noticed downgraded quality resolved through using a VPN. Other video services, including Verizon's own Go90 video service, are also impacted.

With Netflix, the 10Mb/s limit doesn't impact Netflix video quality when watching on a mobile device, but it has the potential to be an issue when tethering and watching on a device that can stream Netflix's Ultra HD 25Mb/s video. According to Verizon, the video optimization limits are used regardless of whether a user is tethering.
But will that actually harm your Netflix video? Probably not, as long as you're watching on your mobile device and not tethering. Netflix says its Ultra HD quality video can require 25Mbps but that's apparently just for non-mobile devices. For mobile devices, Netflix offers a few quality settings including "Unlimited," which it says "may use 1GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds."
When Verizon introduced its unlimited streaming data plan in February of 2017, the company said it would not throttle video or manipulate data, and Verizon was noncommittal when asked by Ars Technica if the alleged "temporary test" marked a change in policy. "We deliver whatever the content provider gives us," the company said. "We're always looking for ways to optimize our network without impacting our customers' experience."

As The Verge points out, what customers experienced appeared to be more of a hard cap than network optimization, raising some questions about Net Neutrality.

Verizon says its testing should be completed shortly, after which speeds will presumably go back to normal.

Tag: Verizon

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AirPods In Stock at AT&T and Verizon With Free 2-5 Day Delivery

AirPods continue to have a 6-week shipping estimate when purchased through Apple's online store, but AT&T and Verizon currently have the wireless earphones in stock online with free delivery in 2-5 business days.


AT&T and Verizon sell AirPods for $159, the same price as Apple charges, but the carriers only ship to addresses within the United States, excluding P.O. boxes.

AirPods occasionally appear in stock through Apple resellers, but typically not for very long due to a combination of limited supplies and strong demand. For that reason, prospective buyers should order as quickly as possible.

AirPods, driven by Apple's custom W1 chip for one-tap setup, instantly connect to a nearby iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac when taken out of their charging case. The cord-free earphones use optical sensors and a motion accelerometer to detect when they are in your ears and automatically turn on.

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Double tapping an AirPod invokes Siri by default, which can be used to adjust the volume, change the song, make a call, or get directions.

AirPods deliver up to five hours of listening time on one charge, and a 15-minute fast charge provides up to three hours of listening time. The charging case holds multiple additional charges for more than 24 hours of listening time.


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Verizon Partner Exposes Data of Millions of VZW Customers Who Called Customer Service

Up to 14 million Verizon subscribers may have had their sensitive data exposed by Nice Systems, a partner of Verizon, reports ZDNet. Subscriber records from users who called customer service over the past six months were located on an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server controlled by Verizon partner Nice Systems.

The data, which included customer names, phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and account PIN numbers, was accessible to anyone who found what ZDNet says was an easy-to-guess web address. That PIN numbers were made available is concerning as a PIN number is what's used to verify a customer's identify and make changes to an account.

The customer records were contained in log files that were generated when Verizon customers in the last six months called customer service. These interactions are recorded, obtained, and analyzed by Nice, which says it can "realize intent, and extract and leverage insights to deliver impact in real time." Verizon uses that data to verify account holders and to improve customer service.
There were six folders for the months between January 2017 and June 2017, which included customer calls from several different US regions. Records included "hundreds of fields of additional data" beyond name, phone number, and PIN, like current account balance, a list of Verizon services, and more. No audio files were found, though the log files were based on calls. Some of the data was masked, but it's not clear what was hidden and what was exposed.

Verizon was informed of the leak in late June and it took more than a week for the information to be secured. Verizon told ZDNet it is investigating how information was improperly stored on the Amazon Web Services server. The company also said the "overwhelming majority" of the data has "no external value" and there's "no indication that the information has been compromised."
"Verizon provided the vendor with certain data to perform this work and authorized the vendor to set up AWS storage as part of this project," said a spokesperson. "Unfortunately, the vendor's employee incorrectly set their AWS storage to allow external access."
Verizon customers who have called in to customer support over the course of the last six months should update their PINs as a precaution.

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T-Mobile Will Pay Off Your iPhone If You Switch From Verizon

T-Mobile today introduced a limited time promotion to encourage Verizon customers with select iPhone models to switch to their network.


Starting May 31, when a Verizon customer with an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, or iPhone SE brings their smartphone to T-Mobile, they'll be able to keep the device, and have any remaining monthly payments owing towards it paid off in full, whether it's $1 or $1,000.

The catch is that Verizon customers will be required to pay $15 per month for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance program in addition to their new T-Mobile ONE plan. The insurance program protects an iPhone from loss, theft, and accidental damage, and provides AppleCare+ perks.

The offer will be available at T-Mobile stores across the United States next week. T-Mobile says the balance of any remaining device payments will be provided in the form of a digital prepaid MasterCard in approximately 15 to 30 days.


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Verizon Launches New Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan

Verizon today announced the launch of a new unlimited data plan for its prepaid customers, which offers unlimited data, talk, and text across the United States for $80.

The plan includes unlimited text messages to more than 200 countries, along with unlimited talk in Mexico and Canada. Video streaming, is, however, limited to 480p, and no tethering is included. Verizon also says it "may prioritize your data behind other customers during times/places of network congestion."

"In just months, Verizon has transformed its prepaid offerings to make it easier and more affordable for customers to get access to the best network at a great value, no matter how much data they need," said Tami Erwin, executive vice president of operations for Verizon. "This plan is all about giving our prepaid customers more choice. With data plans from as little as 2 GB to unlimited data, we've got a plan that fits your needs."
Verizon's prepaid plans include no long-term contract and no credit check. Verizon also offers 2GB, 5GB, and 10GB data plans for unlimited customers, along with a $30 basic phone plan with unlimited talk and text.

The introduction of the new unlimited prepaid data plan comes just over two months after Verizon unveiled its postpaid unlimited data plan to compete with unlimited data offerings from AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon's unlimited plan offers unlimited talk, text, LTE data, and 10GB of tethering data for $80 per month.

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