BlackBerry returns not sky high, says analyst

While regulators investigate the legitimacy of claims that BlackBerry’s new Z10 is experiencing higher-than-average return rates – something that the company vehemently denies – at least one firm is coming to the Canadian smartphone maker’s defence. In a report released today, Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek backs BlackBerry’s claims that the new model is on track and abnormal return rates are not an issue. He notes the device is selling well in Asia. “Our checks indicate that builds for Q10 have kicked into high gear and led overall BB10 builds to increase from 2 million a month to 2

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FCC workshop on cramming, bill shock this week

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is hosting a workshop on two very important consumer issues Wednesday – bill shock and phone cramming. The event will take place at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Members of the public are welcome, and the meeting will also be streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live. “Bill shock is the sudden and unexpected appearance of overage charges on wireless bills. Cramming is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on telephone bills,” states a FCC media release. “The workshop will educate consumers about how to protect themselves from both

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This week in wireless

There is never a dull moment when it comes to the ever-changing world of wireless. Here’s a quick Friday digest of some of the stories making headlines this week. Verizon Plenty of news on the Verizon front this week. First, the carrier announced a new prepaid feature phone plan. For $35 a month, you get 500 anytime minutes, unlimited text and unlimited Internet. Any overages will set you back 25 cents per minute. The plan works with feature phones only – smartphone users are out of luck – and Verizon is offering four different discounted devices: LG Cosmos 2, Samsung

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Small carriers withdraw from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

Mounting frustration and perception of favouritism has led three small mobile carriers to cut ties with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). WIND Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile announced their withdrawal from the organization this morning, stating the CWTA has shown a consistent bias in favour of larger providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus. In the eyes of the smaller carriers, the move means the CWTA can no longer claim to speak on behalf of the nation’s mobile wireless sector. “When we were first approached by the CWTA, we were promised clear and fair representation on issues of true industry

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Virgin offering T-Mobile customers $100 rebate

Virgin Mobile is dangling the carrot in front of T-Mobile subscribers, enticing them to jump providers with a $100 rebate. According to information on Virgin’s website, those switching from a $60 a month T-Mobile plan to Virgin’s $55 a month unlimited plan will receive faster speeds after data limit caps and a subsidized Samsung Galaxy S II for $299.99. The phone retails at T-Mobile for $413.99, with no contract. The two-year cost difference is pegged at $1,320 versus $1,440. Tack on the additional savings from the $100 credit and $114 device subsidy, and it all adds up to $334. Perhaps

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Users spend 2 billion minutes a day Skyping

Skype has proved itself a popular way for people around the world to stay in touch without racking up pricey phone bills. Ever wonder just how many people are using the VoIP app? Well wonder no more – according to the company, it adds up to two billion minutes per day. As Mashable points out, that’s the equivalent of watching 16 million movies, or travelling from Earth to the moon 225,000 times. “Skype has been growing in its number of minutes at double digit rate for a steady time,” Elisa Steele, Skype corporate VP of marketing, was quoted as saying.

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AT&T tops in Gartner wireline report

Gartner Inc. has released its new report Critical Capabilities for U.S. Wireline Telecom Services, examining the major service providers’ capabilities in the American marketplace. Of the eight studied, AT&T landed on top with the best solutions and services for businesses of all sizes. The study looked at seven key capability areas: multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services, SIP trunking, dedicated Internet, metro private line, managed and redundant broadband, Ethernet WAN and managed routers. “AT&T’s overall rating reflects its depth of product capabilities across the portfolio and explicit strengths in such areas as metro and optical networking and managed broadband, where competitors’

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T-Mobile sees boost after eliminating contracts

T-Mobile’s move to a contract-free environment seems to be paying off. The wireless provider released its first quarter results this week, and says its net customer base grew by 579,000 unbranded and 3,000 branded subscribers. It’s a big increase over this time last year, when the company was reeling from the loss of 349,000 subscribers. And the no-contract trend may be gaining momentum. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam says that his company is open to the possibility of eliminating contracts and phone subsidies, and that a switch to a new model would be “pretty easy.” Verizon already allows customers to purchase

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Canadian merchants to charge back credit card fees?

Canadian consumers may find themselves in the same position as their U.S. counterparts when it comes to credit card swipe fees. The Consumers’ Association of Canada issued a warning this week that depending on the outcome of a decision by the country’s competition tribunal, merchants may soon be permitted to tack additional fees on to credit card transactions to help cover their own costs. “It’ll be like striking the marketplace with lighting. It’ll disrupt the whole way that we pay for our goods,” Consumers’ Association of Canada Vancouver president Bruce Cran was quoted as saying. “Nobody knows about it but

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AT&T to introduce HD voice

AT&T is preparing to start routing voice calls over its LTE network, making way for the introduction of HD voice. The news was announced at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit in California by AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne. “HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy,” Rinne was quoted as saying, adding past issues with call failure and other technical issues have been resolved. “I think we’ve taken that off the table in terms of a competitive challenge.” But the technology won’t work through AT&T alone: Devices on both ends of the call must be equipped to handle HD

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