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October 2, 2014
Location-based services are entering a new era of opportunities for wireless carriers, with applications
for network optimization and personalized offerings for mobile subscribers that are based on the ability to
leverage collect and analyze large amounts of location data, according to market research firm ABI.
“Location for wireless carriers is no longer about navigation applications,” said Patrick Connolly,
senior analyst for ABI.
“Overall, location-based services will become an essential tool in network optimization and customer experience management, as
we move to LTE, heterogeneous networks and personalized subscriber packages. While this in itself gives
a clear return on investment, there is also significant upside on new exciting areas such as retail/indoor,
financial/banking, big data analytics and advertising.”
ABI expects direct carrier revenues in this area to reach about $2 billion by 2019 “with far greater
ABI cited an increase in joint ventures between wireless carriers to provide scale in this area,
as well as announcements of solutions such as Verizon’s Precision Market Insights and Smart Rewards;
AT&T’s Location Information Services; SK Telecom’s Indoor Location; Sprint’s Pinsight Media; and
Orange’s Data for Development.
“Wireless carriers have been sitting on a location goldmine for too long, fearing a privacy
backlash,” Connolly said. “But through careful segmentation of aggregated, anonymous analytics and advertising,
coupled with clear opt in/out options and third-party approval of anonymity, carriers can
overcome these unnecessary fears, while giving subscribers the power to choose how their data
is used, if at all. Demand is growing for location-based information and there is always a need for
a Google alternative. Carriers are well placed in the analytics, retail, financial and advertising spaces to
be just that.”
In other mobile news
There's been some rumors flying around these past few days that Vladimir Putin wants to take
Russia off the internet in case of an emergency, like war or anti-government protests, according
to recent reports. Reports which, of course, the Kremlin denies categorically.
It's difficult what to believe or not when it comes from Putin these days, after all the
nasty things he's done so far in 2014.
It’s easy to dismiss such a decision as the madness of Vlad (as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has
said the man is living “in another world”), except that in the calm, well-mannered halls of European
governments, leaders are also calling for building similar Internet walls against outside countries.
In February 2014, Merkel and French President Francois Hollande discussed a few ways to create
a “European Internet.” This week, representatives of sixteen European countries called for the EU
to take several measures to protect their citizens’ data from outside countries.
The enemy they are most seeking to protect that data against is the United States. Of course, not
everybody might agree to that concept.
“The EU must impose its data protection standards on third countries, otherwise they will do
it first. I am thinking particularly of the United States,” said the Luxembourg representative
It’s no secret that the NSA spying scandal has made Europeans very protective of their data. In
Germany, when the news broke out that the U.S. had tapped Merkel’s phone, more than 700,000 Germans signed up
for encrypted messaging services that very same day.
Now, a Der Spiegel report written last week states that the NSA’s “Treasure Map” program
had infiltrated wireless carrier Deutsche Telekom, gaining access to the private information of
millions of Deutsche Telekom users is prompting a new scramble for secure data services based
The German government made its own privacy move in June by canceling a contract with U.S.-based
Verizon Wirelees in favor of DT, which incidentally is partly owned by the German government,
saying it wanted more “technological sovereignty.”
At the EU level, punitive actions are being discussed against companies caught sending personal
data outside the EU without permission, including fines equal to €100 million or 5 percent of the
company’s global turnover.
The European privacy efforts are not at the same level as Russia attempting to cut its entire
Internet off from the rest of the globe, but they do mark a new political stage in the development
of the internet, where countries are trying to build virtual borders.
It's all part of a spectrum of isolation-- one that moves from in-country data centers and
restrictions on outside companies to cutting off those companies or even the outside Internet entirely.
The ability of European countries to create walls to stop U.S. spying is questionable as long
as the internet continues to be dominated by U.S.-based companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.
That is unless they want to exit the global Internet entirely, Putin-style... Given that
the Web is known for being lawless and hard to control, there’s also some question whether Russia
can accomplish its goal of internet isolation.
Observers seem to come down on both sides, but some countries have had some success in restricting
Internet utilization recently ? the semi-successful attempt to shut down Twitter and YouTube in
Turkey this spring comes to mind.
But even if Putin can't create a Russia-only Internet, he can probably disconnect his country
entirely. After all, Russia has already done that once to another country. Just ask Estonia, and now
In other mobile news
If you simply couldn't wait a single day to order your shiny new iPhone 6 and went the prepaid
route by ordering T-Mobile's no-contract iPhone 6, you may have no idea what to do once it arrives on your
It is said that when the new iPhone 6 arrives, most people simply don't know what to do next.
There is no information in the box about activating the phone, creating a T-Mobile account, porting
your current number, or anything else for that matter.
And if you're not currently a T-Mobile customer, you don't already have a SIM card you could just
pop in your new iPhone 6 either.
For the record, if you are a T-Mobile subscriber and do have a matching SIM card, it's probably
just a matter of popping it in the device.
Because calling customer-service departments ranks up there with getting a tooth filled,
we went to T-Mobile's Web site. Surely they'd have some big, splashy banner-- "New iPhone 6
owners, click here!" No, not at all.
In true honesty, we simply couldn't find anything related to activating an iPhone. After a Google
search, we did find T-Mobile's phone-activation page, but the first thing it asks for is an activation
code, which was nowhere to be found.
So we went to plan B-- find a T-Mobile store and get help from a real human. The store locator
told me there was a T-Mobile outlet in our nearby Walmart.
Easy enough, right? Except, no-- Walmart apparently no longer handles prepaid T-Mobile phones,
only postpaid. Whatever that means.
Ultimately, we gave in and called T-Mobile customer service. After a 7-minute wait on hold, a
heavily accented gentleman who I could barely understand told me, sure enough, I'd need to talk to
the Prepaid Department, and transferred us over there.
That's when it got really worse. This time, we had a very difficult conversation with a heavily
accented woman, who seemed to be working from a script and got totally thrown when we diverted her
She asked for our T-Mobile account number. We explained that we didn't have an account,
that's why we were calling T-Mobile.
After a very long silence that felt like 15 minutes, she asked for our phone number. Er, which
phone number? We went around and around like this for some time.
We frequently had to repeat ourselves, and she frequently asked questions that didn't pertain
to what we wanted -- which was simply to create a new line of service and port our existing number.
In the end, it seemed like everything was all set -- but we still found ourselves without
a confirmation number, any kind of T-Mobile account information, or even a phone number to call
back for updates.
A day later, when we still didn't have any mobile service, we decided to visit the "real" T-Mobile
store in our nearby mall. There, we had to pay $10 for a new SIM card, despite the fact that the
iPhone 6 had arrived with a T-Mobile SIM already installed.
The sales rep we'd spoken with on the phone didn't mention this. And if she had, would we be looking
at a week-long wait to get the SIM in the mail?
The whole thing didn't make any sense. Also, two sales reps at the store had no idea that T-Mobile's
Simple Starter Plan ($45/month for unlimited talk/text and 2GB of capped data) even existed in the first
When we insisted that it did (having seen it online), they "found" the option and got me all
signed up. Finally!
Note to anyone who might be porting a number from Virgin Mobile: You'll need to supply T-Mobile with
your Virgin Mobile account number, and the only way to get that number is to call Virgin Mobile.
To conclude, this was a terrible customer-service experience from start to finish. Maybe some crucial
document got left out of the box, or maybe T-Mobile assumes people who order a phone from Apple will
instinctively take it to an Apple or T-Mobile store for activation.
Maybe the oversight actually lies with Apple, although we strongly doubt that. Whatever the case,
we suspect anyone new to T-Mobile will run into the same head-scratcher-- Just got my new iPhone 6. Now what?
New customers will need to buy a Nano SIM for the T-Mobile iPhone 6, even if it came with one.
The key takeaway is this-- for new customers, the fastest way to get your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus
activated on T-Mobile is to take it to a proper T-Mobile store, by which we mean a standalone store,
not one haphazardly integrated into a Costco, Walmart, or the like.
We have no doubt that you could accomplish the same thing at an Apple Store, but those aren't
nearly as ubiquitous. And good luck getting anywhere near one in these initial post-launch weeks.
You can also call the toll free number 1-877-453-1304 to take a stab at getting your phone activated
by a T-Mob rep.
Oh, and if you're porting your number from another wireless carrier, make sure you have the corresponding
account number and PIN/password.
Finally, if you don't mind waiting a bit, you can head to T-Mobile's Bring Your Own Phone page.
Although the iPhone 6 isn't listed and doesn't even appear if you search for it, just scroll down a
bit and select the T-Mobile SIM Starter Kit - Nano SIM.
It's $10, but it's "free with the promo code FREESIM." Thanks a lot, T-Mobile! We want our $10 back.
From there you can choose a plan and so on. Just keep in mind it'll probably take at least a few days
for the device to arrive in the mail.
According to a T-Mobile representative, if you paid full price for the iPhone 6, it's already
unlocked. That means you can take it to any other GSM carrier, including AT&T, Consumer Cellular,
Cricket Wireless, H2O Wireless, Straight Talk, and so on.
As with T-Mobile proper, you'll need a SIM card, and you'll have to go through the porting process
if you want to bring your number. But that's the beauty of the unlocked phone-- You're not tied to a
single wireless carrier for two whole years.
It looks like Apple fans that wish to buy the new iPhone 6 may have to wait a while longer
to get their hands on the devices as Apple's subcontractor Foxconn struggles badly to ramp up its production,
says the Wall Street Journal.
Overall demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have Foxconn's factory workers in high
gear, working 24x7 to get the units out as quickly as possible.
The iPhone 6 seems to be running into the same old story-- not enough supply to meet demand.
In an effort to ease the problem, Foxconn has brought more factory workers on board to make the
iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus at its plant in Zhengzhou, China.
But the complexities of manufacturing both phones appear to be taking their toll, the Wall Street
Journal said today, citing the usual "people familiar with the matter."
More than 200,000 Foxconn workers are stationed at the Zhengzhou factory with the sole job
of assembling the new iPhones and some of its key components.
The plant is also running 100 production lines 24 hours a day to keep up with demand for
the popular phones. So what exactly is the issue?
Foxconn is the only supplier manufacturing the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and is responsible for
most of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 units, the Journal's sources said. With larger screens and other
enhancements, the two new phones also represent a dramatic shift from last year's models.
As such, most of the burden and work is on Foxconn's shoulders. That contrasts with Foxconn's
obligation last year when it initially made only the iPhone 5S and just a small number of iPhone
5C units before it eventually dropped the 5C altogether.
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Source: ABI Market Research.
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