It's Friday, which serves as a cruel reminder that Melissa Black's viral video has been removed from YouTube. It's also a day where we will go ahead and recap the biggest stories to hit the cellular world here in the US. So without any further delay, here are the biggest headlines from this week.
Cell phone bills might start to shrink.
The FCC is apparently a little perturbed by all the hidden fees that seem to creep into our wireless bill each month. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is spearheading the charge. The issue revolves around cramming, a practice used by telecom companies to hide confusing, or in some cases fees for services never rendered, in billing statements. The FCC is also looking into ways to help prevent bill shock, a problem that will probably see a sharp increase beginning next month due to the next story on this list.
Verizon Killing off Unlimited Data
It has been something everyone knew was an inevitability. Starting on July 7th, new Verizon customers, or existing customers upgrading to a data plan will no longer have an unlimited option. Verizon is switching to a tiered system. When a user goes over their allotted data, they will be hit with overage chargers, similar to when customer exceed their monthly minutes or text message allotments. AT&T already does this, while T-Mobile will begin throttling data speeds to 2G levels when customers go over their minutes. Sprint is the last of the 4 major carriers to still offer truly unlimited data plans.
RIM Begins Massive Layoffs
Research in Motion, the Canadian company that manufacturers the Blackberry has been struggling lately. Their stock has plunged by nearly 66% in the last three months and investors are heading for the hills. On top of that, they haven't released a new phone since 2010, and their Playbook tablet has faced poor sales and at least one major recall due to hardware and software issues. As a result, RIM has begun a series of layoffs. No word on how many people will get pink slips, but given the financials, it's likely to be a very large number.
After 3 Year Wait, Apple Granted Touch Screen Patent
Apple files hundreds of patents, including a patent they filed three years ago regarding how users navigate a capacitive touch screen. Capacitive touch screens comprise pretty much every phone and tablet on the market today. Basically, it covers multi-touch navigation, i.e. using two fingers to zoom in on a particular web page or photo. If Apple wants, it can basically prevent any other manufacturer from using this technology moving forward. More likely, they will charge manufacturers a truckload of money to license the technology, and that cost will likely be passed down to the rest of us.
AT&T Confident Merger Will Be Completed Q1 2012
They've faced steep opposition from both houses of congress and the FCC, yet AT&T remains confident that their pending merger with T-Mobile will be approved and completed by the first quarter of 2012. While AT&T insists this means better coverage for everyone, not everyone is thrilled. T-Mobile store franchisees are trying to sell their stores before being forced out of business. It was reported this week that nearly half of all T-Mobile stores are located within 1 mile AT&T stores, and they will be among the first thing that AT&T cuts should the merger go through.
The iPhone 5 is Coming in September
iPhone rumors are dubious at best. First we heard that the iPhone 5 was coming in August. Then we heard that there wasn't going to be an iPhone 5 this year, it was going to a revamped iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone 4S, which would run on all four major networks. Now we are again hearing that the iPhone 5 will arrive in 2011, more specifically, September. One thing we do know for certain. When the iPhone 5 does eventually arrive, it will be radically different from a design standpoint than any other previous version of Apple's iconic phone.
Posted by David Yi, Social Media and SEO Assistant at Wireless Emporium