T-Mobile has today unveiled what it hopes will be the next-generation of network maps, breathing new life into the carrier coverage maps of old. T-Mobile says that its new “Next-Gen Network Map” is the industry’s first crowd-sourced map, and reflects “near real-time customer experiences.”
Apple has been adding a lot of new imagery in its Maps app for the 3D flyover mode that initially launched in just a handful of countries. Over the last year it has added coverage for a ton of new locations in the US, UK, France, and Canada, and over the last week readers have reached out to note the addition of two major cities for the feature: Cape Town, South Africa and Helsinki, Finland.
We can’t be sure that France is the only location to get new 3D Maps data today, so let us know in the comments if you notice any additions in your city.
In somewhat related Maps news, TechCrunch has confirmed earlier reports coming from Israeli publication Calcalist that Facebook is currently in discussions with mapping company Waze to acquire the company for close to $1 billion. You might recall that Apple is currently using Waze data in its Maps application and for a brief while was rumored to be in talks to acquire the company. Apple could presumably replace Waze’s free crowd-sourced map data with another Maps provider that offers similar data, but it’s unclear at this point how important Waze is as a Maps source or if an acquisition might affect Apple’s Maps app.
Update: A 9to5Mac reader has chimed in clarifying that the new hotspot only offers the free 500MB plan on the new Sprint-enabled 4G service. For 3G coverage, users will have to pay an additional $3.99 per month:
Although their website and press release say the new Overdrive comes with free data every month, there’s apparently a string. Apparently only the 4G data is free, see my email thread with customer service below. This is wholly inconsistent with what their website or press release indicates… This tactic is as deceptive as when FreedomPop first went live. At that time, they said the devices were “free with deposit” but it now turns out that if you keep the device for 12 months or more, the deposit is forfeited. That forfeiture is buried deep within the TOS, and not likely understood by consumers until it’s time to return their hardware.
Wireless provider FreedomPop, the company providing access to free monthly data plans through a number of hotspot devices and iOS device accessories, today announced it is expanding its 3G coverage through Sprint’s network to provide nationwide coverage to its customers.
“The biggest criticism with our service to date has been the coverage gaps in certain parts of the country,” said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop’s CEO. “Starting today, FreedomPop users can connect to the Internet across the entire nation leaving no reason to continue paying high monthly Internet bills for Internet from large, expensive carriers.”
In addition to the network expansion, it is also now accepting preorders for its latest hotspot device dubbed “Overdrive Pro” (pictured above):
The FreedomPop Overdrive Pro becomes the company’s first device to run on Sprint’s network. The Overdrive Pro will allow up to five devices to connect to it and get speeds up to 8 mbps down. In addition to FreedomPop’s free 500 MB plan, users can also purchase a 2 GB or 4 GB 4G/3G plan with no contract or annual commitment at rates up to 50 percent less than major carriers.
Solavei, the T-Mobile MVNO offering $49-per-month unlimited on the carrier’s newly enhanced HSPA+ network, today announced the availability of nano SIM cards for unlocked iPhone 5 owners. That means iPhone 5 customers will now be able to sign up to the unlimited voice, text, and data plans by purchasing a nano SIM direct from Solavei for $9.
Solavei®, an affordable contract-free mobile service provider, today announces the availability of nano SIM cards, compatible with the iPhone 5, and widening the company’s phone compatibility to include all major smartphones. For $49 per month, members can now bring popular phones such as Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII or Google’s Nexus 4 to Solavei and enjoy unlimited voice, text and data mobile service.
For those unfamiliar, on top of unlimited $49 per month plans, Solavei offers users the ability to offset their bills by earning monthly income from recommending others to the service. For every three users you sign up, the carrier will put $20 toward your monthly bill. Signing up an additional six will pay your entire bill and earn you a bit of extra money. Solavei said it uses the system in lieu of traditional advertising and noted it has paid out over $6.5 million through the program: Expand Expanding Close
AT&T just revealed its 4G LTE now blankets over 150 million people across the United States, more than doubling where it stood at the end of 2011 in terms of people covered, and now it plans to push full steam ahead by expanding to 103 markets total, with more expected by the end of 2012.
The carrier further noted its 4G LTE coverage is “part of the nation’s largest 4G network” that services 3,000 more 4G areas than Verizon currently does (although much of that is slower HSPA 4G).
Moreover, as AT&T’s 4G LTE coverage continues to widen, customers can access 4G speeds “outside of 4G LTE areas on the nation’s largest 4G network, unlike competitors, whose smartphone customers fall back to slower 3G technologies when outside of LTE coverage.”
4G LTE expansions announced today:
El Paso, Texas
Saratoga Springs, N.Y,
South Bend-Mishawaka, Ind.
Bridgeport, CT expansion (in Fairfield County/Danbury)
South Detroit expansion (in Monroe/Downriver)
Today’s expansion notice comes just two days after the carrier also announced its 4G LTE network would light up in Daytona Beach, Fla. Denver, Colo., Louisville, K.Y., Milwaukee, Wis., Provo-Orem, Utah, Tacoma, Wash., York, Pa., and Washington D.C.