The U.S. wireless industry is rolling out more consumer-friendly billing practices, fending off a plan by communications regulators to impose new rules against unexpected charges.
Guidelines unveiled on Monday by the wireless trade association, CTIA, will see companies send alerts to customers when they near or reach monthly limits on voice, text and data services, and before they incur international roaming charges.
The guidelines are similar to rules the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was contemplating, and the regulator is backing off its plan for now.
For the first time in history, wireless subscriber connections have surpassed the population in the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands), which means the wireless penetration rate in the U.S. is 103.9%, according to a survey connected by CTIA- the Wireless Association.
Live from the CTIA Enterprise and Applications show in San Diego, California, M2M Zone has seen many important announcements from M2M companies, including u-blox (Thalwil, Switzerland), a wireless chip and module company. On Monday, u-blox announced a CDMA module for the U.S. market, as well as partnership with Sprint (Overland Park, Kan., U.S.A.).
Sprint Nextel (Overland Park, Kan., U.S.A.) confirmed that it will sell the next version of Apple Inc's (Cupertino Calif., U.S.A.) iPhone, ending months of speculation about whether it would become the third U.S. operator to sell the device. While carrying the device should help Sprint keep subscribers from fleeing to other operators, some analysts worried whether the costs would outweigh the benefits because Apple phones come at a steep premium to other devices.
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This M2M Zone conference will brief telecom and enterprise executives on current trends revolving around the explosive growth in machine-to-machine communications (M2M). Three panel sessions will explore major current issues, including the trend towards truly international deployments, use of M2M in the public sector, and the integration of M2M with backbone IT systems.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Clearwire Corp (Kirkland, Wash., U.S.A.) is in talks with U.S. wireless operators, including AT&T Inc (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.) and Verizon Wireless (New York), about selling network capacity while it also eyes raising new funding through equity, debt and vendor financing, according to top company executives.
Clearwire, which needs $900 million in new funding, is also open to selling wireless spectrum, but is not running a sale process, Chief Financial Officer Hope Cochran told Reuters.
If AT&T Inc (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.) fails to convince U.S. regulators that its proposed purchase of Deutsche Telekom AG's (Bonn, Germany) T-Mobile USA should go ahead, the pair may end up having to settle for a lesser relationship. While it wouldn't be as attractive as an all-out marriage, a network partnership would sidestep the regulatory heat and give the spectrum-hungry companies more capacity to support high-speed wireless services, according to analysts.
Chris King, Chief Regulatory Officer at eMeter (San Mateo, Calif., U.S.A.), a global smart grid software platform provider, is urging policymakers to adopt a universal smart grid vision for consumers in response to slow deployment of consumer-oriented smart meter functionality.
On Thursday, Sprint (Overland Park, Kan., U.S.A.) a U.S. mobile operator, announced that it would be discontinuing its Premier program by gradually phasing it out over the next few months. The Premier program, implemented in 2009, allowed customers of over 10 years or customers who spent a certain amount of money per month on their wireless plan, privileges such as early and discounted phone upgrades and trials of unreleased products.