Today's Top Stories
Lenovo will begin shipping its new ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook by the end of August. The new ultrabook is designed specifically to appeal to business users and includes a number of Lenovo's security apps and Intel's vPro technology. The new ultrabook is .71-inches thick and weighs in at 3 pounds. This is about twice as thick and twice as heavy as a third-generation iPad, but thinner and lighter than most ultrabooks.
What makes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon attractive to business are the design features that make this device suitable for travel and everyday use. The X1 Carbon gets its name from what Lenovo calls a "roll cage" made of carbon fiber. In addition, the X1 Carbon features a carbon fiber top. The result is extremely light--Lenovo says in its announcement that it's the lightest 14-inch laptop available--and very thin.
The X1 Carbon will be available in four configurations, starting with a Wi-Fi-only model that has an Intel i5 processor, a 128GB solid state drive and Intel HD 4000 graphics running a 1600x900 display that's anti-reflective. Other models include 3G connectivity, a larger SSD and Intel i7 processors. All include a built-in webcam, USB 3.0 and wired Ethernet (via USB) connection.
Lenovo has designed the flat-black case so that it will fold nearly flat, which may be useful in some circumstances. There's also a new glass touchpad that reportedly is much more responsive than the touchpads available on other ultrabooks. The touchpad will support gestures including multitouch, which should make it work well with Windows 8. The keyboard has backlighting and continues Lenovo's new "island style," which is flatter than Lenovo's previous keyboard, but fits into the very thin profile as a result. These are not the chiclet keys used by some competitors. Unlike virtually every other ultrabook, Lenovo includes a trackpoint rubber-tipped pointing device--a boon for users who don't like touchpads, and for precision uses where touchpads don't work so well.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn't cheap, starting at $1399 and selling for as much as $1849 in the fully loaded version. The availability is rumored for August 18, but that hasn't been confirmed by Lenovo. At a Beijing press conference, Lenovo would only say it would be out this month.
Intel: More than 140 ultrabooks in pipeline
Intel's ultrabook-tablet hybrid could be next big thing
Read more about: ultrabook, Carbon
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Verizon Wireless is offering small- and medium-business users access to Microsoft Office 365 through a program that would simply add the $6 monthly charge to users' phone bills. In addition to offering Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite to its mobile users, Verizon Wireless is also providing tier-1 support, including help with setting up Office 365, help with migration from other cloud-based suites such as Google Apps, and access to integration services. Verizon will handle the tier-1 support, and according to the company will provide "seamless" access to tier-2 support provided by Microsoft.
Sprint (NYSE: S) announced a similar service with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Office 365 on July 31, but only said that the offer will be available "later this year." The Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless offer for Office 365 is available as of Aug. 6.
The Verizon Wireless package is part of the company's Small Business Essentials with Microsoft Office 365. It includes access to the Office 365 productivity suite, which includes web versions of Microsoft Word, Outlook, Exchange, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Verizon Wireless is also offering anti-virus protection and anti-spam features. Office 365 includes Microsoft Lync, which provides corporate secure instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, and desktop sharing.
According to Michael Schaefer, executive director of small- and medium-business marketing for Verizon Wireless, Office 365 will work with Windows Phone, iOS, Android phones and BlackBerry devices. Schaefer said that it will not support Android tablets. "We'll be distributing it through retail and indirect stores, outside sales and online," Schaefer said. He also said that Verizon Wireless is integrating its services with GoDaddy for domain name registration services.
"We've created a website called the Verizon Wireless Small Business Advisor," Schaefer said. He noted that the website will recommend apps for each platform that are chosen for their quality and, where possible, so that they can work across platforms. Schaefer said that the Small Business Essentials with Office 365 is available for postpaid wireless customers.
"We're extending this to the mobility space," Schaefer said. He added that Verizon Wireless is training its staff in Verizon stores, third-party stores and online to be able to help small business more effectively. While Verizon Wireless is charging the same price for Office 365 that you can buy it from Microsoft, Verizon Wireless is adding a number of services that increase the value.
Microsoft unveils touch-optimized version of Office
Microsoft announces Office 365 for Government
Read more about: Office 365
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AT&T will end its GSM voice service and other 2G services no later than January 1, 2017, an AT&T spokesperson told FierceMobileIT. That along with the acquisition of companies such as NextWave Wireless, which hold unused spectrum, point to a major move on AT&T's part to greatly expand the spectrum available for LTE, and to AT&T's other high-speed wireless choice, HSPA+.
"To help support the explosion of mobile Internet usage and give our customers a great experience, we plan to fully discontinue service on our 2G wireless networks by approximately January 1, 2017. This will enable us to free up spectrum for added capacity on our mobile Internet network," an AT&T (NYSE: T) spokesperson said in a prepared statement. "Well in advance of this change, we will reach out to our relatively small percentage of 2G customers and offer them options to meet their needs."
The AT&T spokesperson declined to discuss with FierceMobileIT exactly what measures the company was planning to take for its existing customers, how many customers there are, or what type of communications are involved. In addition to voice, 2G communications typically involve M2M, or machine to machine, and telemetry applications.
The AT&T action follows an announcement by Sprint (NYSE: S) that it was shutting down its 2G iDEN service by the end of June, 2013. Like AT&T, Sprint needs the spectrum space for its LTE build-out. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless has nearly completed its roll out of LTE service, but it still maintains its 2G CDMA service. Likewise, T-Mobile has told FierceMobileIT that the company plans to retain its 2G service, although it is allocating less of its spectrum to that service. "We have no plans to leave GSM," T-Mobile Senior Vice President Dave Mayo said. Mayo noted that the company has a large number of business users who have devices that need 2G service, and that it has a large number of international roaming customers who need GSM. Mayo also noted that T-Mobile still
sells some GSM-only phones.
AT&T did say that 2G service would be shut down on a market-by-market basis and that the company would work with customers currently using 2G services to help migrate them to other services.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T light up more cities with LTE
The wireless industry needs new ideas in managing spectrum shortage
Read more about: NextWave, GSM, iDEN
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A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that 60 percent of wireless operators plan on decommissioning their legacy networks over the next five years. An example of these decommissioning plans can be seen in AT&T's announcement that it would end 2G service before 2017, and in Sprint's decommissioning process, which is eliminating its iDEN network. It is already underway and will be complete by June of 2013.
According to Dan Hays, principal and US wireless advisory leader at PwC, wireless networks are rushing to decommission 2G, and some 3G networks, over the next five years. "In general, network decommissioning is driven by a number of factors," Hays said. "but primarily it's reducing operating costs. It's increasingly expensive to maintain multiple generations of equipment." Hays published his findings in a report available from PwC.
"Network decommissioning is a game of leapfrog," Hays said. "Once 4G is at critical mass, operators will decommission 2G and move to 4G."
But Hays said that in some cases the operators are paying scant attention to the needs of their customers, especially the needs of enterprise IT departments. He said that this is especially the case when companies use 2G and 3G data for something besides handsets. That can include everything from machine to machine communications to telemetry to remote diagnosis for service calls.
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AT&T announces end of 2G service by 2017
Sprint may shut down iDEN service as early as June 30, 2013
Read more about: Decommissioning, 2G
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T-Mobile USA has begun the process of switching to a nation-wide deployment of LTE services in the next year. To accomplish this, the company began by building out its backhaul infrastructure, contracting with a wide variety of fiber and Ethernet providers to create a 30 to 50 megabit per second connection between virtually every tower in T-Mobile's network and the public service telephone network.
What this means is that T-Mobile customers are already seeing speeds far in excess of what they might see with other companies, when they connect using the existing HSPA+ 4G network. It also means that they will be able to see speeds that are even faster as LTE rolls out in their area. Effectively, T-Mobile is delivering 4G speeds in excess of those experienced by the LTE customers from other carriers with HSPA+. The primary reason for this is because T-Mobile started by building out its infrastructure first, since existing customers would benefit immediately.
"This means we won't be waiting for backhaul for LTE deployment," said Dave Mayo, T-Mobile's senior vice president of technology strategy. "We're close to being done with our backhaul program." Mayo said that because the company wasn't constrained as to who they could use for backhaul services, T-Mobile could be more flexible. "We think of alternate backhaul vendors as cable companies, power and light companies, even some local exchange carriers," Mayo said.
Because of the lack of constraints (such as the ones faced by wireline companies that have to use their own products for infrastructure), T-Mobile was able to be more flexible. "We moved faster because we started earlier," Mayo said, "and we were able to make choices. We tried to drive the best deal." Mayo said that a critical factor when buying backhaul services is how long it would take to deploy the network connections they were buying.
What this means is that T-Mobile customers are already seeing higher speeds, even before LTE if fully rolled out in the U.S.. But what's equally important is how fast the company moved to get their infrastructure ready. "Very close to finishing," Mayo said. "We have another couple of thousand sites to go, and a handful that we need to find an alternative solution for."
Mayo explained that there are some towers for which there are no network fibers available and some of those will use microwave relays. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has already started its LTE deployment, but it isn't saying how far along that deployment is, or where the LTE sites are up and running. But Mayo did say that the implementation is moving very quickly.
Mayo noted that T-Mobile is eliminating the old T1 lines from its system, and that all but a handful have already been replaced with fast network connections. He did say that many of T-Mobile's competitors still use those slow T1s. He also said that the company has nearly reached its goal of building out all of the sites it needs for LTE deployment. "Our aspiration is to have 37,000 modernized sites," Mayo said.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T light up more cities with LTE
T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm resigns suddenly
Read more about: LTE, backhaul
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