Sprint calls it quits with QChat

Proving you don’t ever mess with a classic, Sprint (NYSE:S) has decided to abandon QChat and shift its push-to-talk efforts back onto the network which popularized the service: Nextel’s iDEN network. A Sprint official told PhoneNews that while Sprint would continue to support existing QChat handsets in the market, no new CDMA PTT phones were in its roadmap. Instead Sprint will focus on PTT as one of the principle services on its newly reinvigorated iDEN network.

Nextel set the gold standard for PTT services a decade ago and since then no one has been able to replicate it. many carriers have introduced push-to-talk solutions using the 2G  voice channel or VoIP, but they’ve been of limited success. The main barrier for those services has been matching the sub-second session setup times of iDEN, which none of the alternate technologies have been able to achieve. Operators also underestimated the potential size of the PTT market. While Nextel drew a loyal subscriber base of blue collar workers and emergency personnel, the service failed to appeal the mass consumer markets–with the possible exception of the youth market. Much of the early enthusiasm for PTT in the business and consumer markets dissipated in 2007 as customers wearied of its intrusiveness and found alternatives in SMS.

Are MIDs over before they started?

Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), that category of not-quite-smartphones and not-quite-netbooks, has been the subject of skepticism since Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) first introduced (i.e. made up) the category last year. Today it appears that even MID supporters are losing faith. The DigiTimes reported today that several members of Intel’s Mobile Internet Devices Innovation Alliance (MIDIA) have quit development of MIDs due to very weak shipments. more…

TelephonyOnline wins Min’s award for USF audit column

We’re proud to announce that TelephonyOnline was the winner for best online column in min’s 2009 Editorial & Design Awards, which recognize excellence in content and design among consumer and business-to-business media.The award is for a December 2008 column titled “What the FCC didn’t tell us about the USF audit.” In the column, TelephonyOnline contributing editor Joan Engebretson questioned statements from the FCC, which estimated that small rural carriers had been overpaid by $970 million for providing phone service to high-cost areas.

Joan did her own analysis of the data and determined that the FCC’s estimate was too high, overstating the overpayment by a factor of five or more.

We congratulate Joan for her excellent work.

After Windstream buys Iowa, is Consolidated next?

What’s next for Windstream (NYSE:WIN)? As it announced its fourth acquisition in six months yesterday (its biggest buy yet, in fact), the company’s CEO, Jeff Gardner, maintained that, although he’d focus on execution and integration, he wasn’t done with M&A.

“A number of private companies could be opportunities for us in the future,” he told Connected Planet Tuesday. “There’s not a lot of public companies left out there, but there are a couple.”

A couple is right. In a note yesterday, Stifel Nicolaus analysts said Consolidated Communications (NASDAQ:CNSL) and Alaska Communications (NASDAQ:ALSK) are about the only publicly held acquisition targets Windstream has left. And given the unique integration challenges posed by Alaska’s geographic isolation, the analysts said, “We view Consolidated as the next, most logical potential target for Windstream.” more…

Prepaid mobile broadband gaining traction

AT&T (NYSE:T) this week became the latest operator to explore prepaid mobile broadband, further validating the trend toward pay-as-you-go wireless services. Previously prepaid operators like Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and Virgin Mobile were the only ones interested in being prepaid data operators, while the big operators stuck with their big monthly contracts. The landscape, though, is shifting as both AT&T and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) have taken up prepaid data plans.

Likely neither operator expects that prepaid will supplant postpaid, but given the high cost of monthly data plan, the length of the contracts required, and the onerous data caps applied for going over one’s data budget, they’re likely getting wise to the fact that a contract plan isn’t for everyone. The prices they’re charging–$50 for 500 MB of usage–also ensures that a postpaid plan will always be more attractive if you can afford the cost and contract commitment. But with daily and weekly options, prepaid would be far more attractive to intermittent users.

The question is whether the big operators’ more restrictive plans can hold up to far more competitive pricing in the market. Virgin, now owned by Sprint (NYSE:S), is charging $60 for 1 GB of capacity. Leap Wireless charges $40 for unlimited access to its EV-DO network, while Clearwire (NYSE:CLWR) is charging $45 a month for unlimited access to its WiMax networks and $30 a month for 2 GB. The advantage AT&T and Verizon have over Clearwire and Leap, though, is nationwide network availability, which is nothing to scoff at.

Android disrupts smartphone market in one more area — price

Thought getting an Android phone for $199 was a good, on-par deal with Apple’s iPhone?

How about getting one for just $30 — or less?

While Apple has held the iPhone price steady at $199/$299 price points (while reportedly mulling an entry-level iPhone priced at $99), Wal-Mart.com (along with partner LetsTalk) is currently selling the HTC Droid Eris for just $30more…

Connected Planet Podcast: Google Chrome

Google released its Chrome operating system, built around security, simplicity and speed, to the open-source community last week. Designed for netbooks, the OS is expected to give Microsoft a run for its money. Ian Drew, executive vice president of marketing at chipmaker ARM, discusses what Chrome means to the industry, and outlines ARM’s plan for Google’s netbook OS, as well as its mobile OS Android.

Listen to this podcast HERE.

Windstream acquires Iowa Telecom

Windstream (NYSE:WIN) is acquiring Iowa Telecom (NYSE:IWA), the company announced today, in its biggest acquisition since the initial merger that created the rural carrier in 2005.

Windstream’s $1.1-billion purchase comes just three weeks after its $643 million acquisition of another carrier, NuVox, and two weeks after it closed its acquisition of D&E Communications. Two months ago, the company acquired a small triple-play provider, Lexcom, for $141 million. more…

Apple takes its turn in AT&T-Verizon Ad War (Video)

So you didn’t think Apple — whose I’m a Mac ad campaign represents the gold standard of classy yet pointed tech advertising mudslinging — would stay quiet forever in the mobile wars, did you?

For weeks, we’ve seen Verizon and AT&T battle over coverage maps, lost toys and more. Now, Apple has lodged its response, defending AT&T’s network and in particular the ability of the iPhone to keep a call live while a user simultaneously surfs the mobile Web — something Verizon’s network can’t support.

Can you network do that, Apple asks? See the video after the jump.

more…

AT&T ad hits back at Verizon (sort of) - Video

Verizon Wireless has been somewhat unmerciful in criticizing AT&T’s network and the iPhone in TV commercials rolling out the new Droid phone.

Now, AT&T is hitting back. Check out its new “Postcards” ad (video) after the jump.

more…

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