AT&T

Now more smartphones than feature phones in U.S. as AT&T tweaks "unlimited" data offering

Friday, March 2, 2012 - 11:15am

iPhoneThere are now more smartphone owners in the U.S. than feature phone owners, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. "Feature phones" are more basic than smartphones and usually don't support apps or other web-based features.

“Nearly every major demographic group — men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well off — experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration," Pew noted. Boy Genius Report has more coverage here.

Meanwhile, AT&T yesterday responded to customer complaints regarding its "unlimited" data plan. Previously the company was throttling data speeds for "unlimited" data plan customers after they consumed 2GB of data in a billing period. AT&T has now upped that limit to 3GB.

Eliot Van Buskirk made some calculations about how much web radio or music one could listen to before hitting the 3GB throttle point. Find his analysis at Evolver.fm here.

CNN Money reports "we are running out of wireless bandwidth"

Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 12:20pm

CNN Money's chart using FCC dataCNN Money recently reported that "the supply of wireless data in the United States -- the stuff that lets us use the Internet on our smartphones and tablets -- is fast disappearing," writes Eliot Van Buskirk in Evolver.fm.

He argues that, if true, that may pose problems to media services like Internet radio. Van Buskirk encourages web radio services to offer offline playback options (like Slacker and most on-demand services) as one solution.

He also notes that customers of at least one mobile carrier, AT&T, "are already feeling the squeeze." The carrier is apparently throttling unlimited data users' mobile speeds after they consume less than 2GB of data in a billing period.

Sean Ross ran into that issue earlier this year (RAIN coverage here), though he noted such a issue probably wouldn't impact most mobile web radio listeners.

A new study from wireless bill analysis firm Validas found such behavior on the part of AT&T to be "pointless... throttling does nothing to alleviate network bandwidth issues."

You can find Van Buskirk's article here and more on Validas' study in Boy Genius Report here.

Sean Ross: Though industry insiders may hit limits, mobile web radio growth has "quashed concerns"

Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 11:00am

Mobile web radioNearly two years ago, AT&T and other U.S. mobile providers began implementing monthly data limits. Representatives from mobile companies pointed to web radio listening as one of the culprits of high data usage (more here) and observers worried such caps would impede the growth of mobile Internet radio.

Since then though, the growth of mobile web radio has "pretty much quashed the concerns from two years ago," writes respected industry journalist Sean Ross.

Likewise, Pandora CFO Steve Cakebread recently said "the impact of data caps for Pandora listeners is almost non-existent." More than half of Pandora's listening now happens on a mobile device (RAIN coverage here). Other web radio services have an even higher percentage of mobile listeners.

However, Ross did find that those in the industry who tune in to radio for a living can run up against carrier's data limits. He recently received a notice from AT&T that he was in the top 5% of data users. "I can say that there are more occasions when I ask myself if streaming is really worth it," he writes, but notes that "none of these are likely concerns for a civilian listener."

Ross points to other annoyances about streaming AM/FM in general, including awkard and at times "unlistenable" stopsets and the difficultly of finding which app offers a particular station's stream (iHeartRadio? Radio.com? Some other aggregator?).

You can find Sean Ross' column at Radio-Info.com here and more on Pandora CFO Steve Cakebread's comments in Radio Survivor here.

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