Verizon Will Slow Data Speed for Top 5% of Data Users

Verizon logoVerizon Wireless has announced that they will be slowing data speeds for certain customers. This slowing down will start in October of 2014. It won’t affect all users the same way. They are focusing on the customers who use the most data.

It ties into Verizon Wireless’ Network Optimization policy (which was created in 2011). The purpose of the Network Optimization policy is “to ensure that all data customers would have the best network experience”. Something new has been added to the Network Optimization policy that will go into affect in October of this year.

The new change will affect a specific group of Verizon Wireless customers. From their statement:

Starting in October 2014, Verizon Wireless will extend its network optimization policy to the data users who: fall within the top 5 percent of data users on our network, have fulfilled their minimum contractual commitment, and are on unlimited plans using a 4G LTE device. They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwith applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand.

The slowed speed will not be a permanent thing. The top 5 percent of data users will only experience it when they are using a cell site that is currently at peak usage. When the cell becomes less busy, the normal bandwith speed will return. Verizon doesn’t consider the slowed speed to be “throttling”.

Review of the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 5510L

Verizon MiFi I have been thinking about getting a portable mobile hotspot for a while. There are two basic reasons I have been looking for one. The first is I occasionally have coffee at a local Starbuck kiosk in a Kroger near me and it does not have any Wi-Fi service. At those coffee shops that do have Wi-Fi service it is often slow or the service just stops working altogether for no apparent reason. The second reason is because of security. I have listen to enough Security Now and read enough about using public wi-fi to know it is not the most secure environment. Before you say it, I know I could simply use my phone as a hotspot and tether my device to it. I have done that before, but it quickly killed the phone’s battery and to be honest I rather have a device that is specifically made for this purpose.

There were a couple of things that I was looking for in the device itself, first obviously it needed to work in my area of West Virginia. This automatically removed any Tmobile devices or services such as FreedomPop neither which work in my area. The second thing I was looking for was something that didn’t require a contract. I am already dealing with enough contracts and didn’t want to deal with another two-year contract. I wanted something that I would pay for on a weekly or monthly basis.
I ended up picking up the Verizon Novatel Jetpack Mifi 5510.With the Verizon Novatel Jetpack MiFi you can buy plans by the week or by the month. A single week plan cost $15 for 250MB, 3GB for $60.00 a month and 10GB for $90.00 a month. The first thing you have to do is activate your device, which requires you to type in a 20 character number which is printed on the back of the sim card, which is the size of my thumb nail in light blue ink. The first time I called the numbers especially all the zeroes ran together so I ended up hanging up, writing the number down and then calling back. After that the activation went fine. When you do the activation make sure you have a way to write down the number they give you.

The Jetpack 5510e is rectangular in shape with rounded corner. It is made of hard plastic. Some people complain that it feels cheap. Personally I think it feels fine, but I don’t have anything else that I can compare it to. The back is easy to open and the battery is replaceable. Unlike some portable wi-fi devices the Jetpack Mifi 5510 has no microSD slot or external antenna port. There is an LED screen on the front and on the home screen you can see the battery life, notifications, signal strength and number of devices connected. You can also change screens to see the Wi-Fi name and password, software updates and more importantly data usage. You can change screens and make selections using the function keys on the device. These function keys can be a little finicky but not too bad once you get use to it. Once I activated and register my device I was able to connect and my iPad mini with no problem. I used it for about 30 minutes to test it and it was great.

There are a some problems with the Jet Pack 5510. First it is an US only device, so if you need something for overseas travel this is not the device for you. Second like I said before some people think that it feels cheap and the function keys are finicky. I read some of the comments on the Verizon site and some people were trying to use this as a replacement for their home or office network, that is not what this device is for , first it would be way too expensive and second it is not built to run 24/7. After using it twice now this week I have to say I am overall happy I purchased it and went without a contract.

Want a Sneak Peak of the HTC Droid DNA? Verizon Has Announced One

The new Android phones continue to come out at an amazingly fast rate. While you may have just begun to lust after the Nexus 4, which will be out in a few days, another phone is already about the be launched. The HTC Droid DNA may not be a “flagship” Google phone like the Nexus line, but it promises some great thing.

Aside from the upcoming LG  Nexus 4, the HTC Droid DNA will be one of the first phones to come with the new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, which packs a ton of feature updates such PhotoSphere.  Reports are also indicating a 5 inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 pro quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel primary camera, polycarbonate matte case and of course LTE.  All of those specs remain unconfirmed at this point, but they come from multiple sources.

Verizon plans to unveil the new handset at an event Tuesday morning in New York City, but now they have quietly pushed out another announcement as well.  A day before their NYC show, they will be holding a special live unboxing tomorrow, November 12th.  The page explains that users will need to “add Verizon Wireless to a circle on Google+ for an exclusive invite to our Hangout on Air Unboxing Event.”  Are you looking for a new phone?  Which would you prefer, the Nexus 4 or the HTC Droid DNA?  Or are you planning to go with a different device?

Samsung Galaxy S3 Update

Samsung Galaxy S3About a month ago I retired my trusty Sprint Evo 4G (original Wimax version) and got a Samsung Galaxy S3.

My initial impression of the Galaxy S3 was quite positive. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time now with the Galaxy S3, so I want to give a bit of an update on my experience with it. I drive a truck over the road and also use it as a podcast aggregator and playback device, so I am spending even more direct time with my phone than the average consumer might.

The Sprint version of the S3 is currently using the so-called “Ice Cream Sandwich” Android 4.04.

Battery life is excellent compared to the three previous smartphones I’ve had over the past several years using the stock battery that came with it.

The large 4.8” inch AMOLED LCD high resolution touchscreen is superb, with excellent color saturation. The extremely thin form factor allows me to easily carry the phone around in a front pocket.

Performance remains excellent even though I’ve installed several dozens and dozens of apps. App performance is rock solid. I had many of the same apps on my HTC Evo that would sometimes crash or cause problems that run perfectly on the Galaxy S3. I attribute this performance increase to more primary phone memory and perhaps better overall hardware design architecture. It’ likely that people that experience problems with certain apps are really experiencing lack of enough physical memory in their device in the same way that desktop computers experience fewer crashes and more overall stability when they have more physical RAM in which to execute the program code.

The Galaxy S3 has excellent WiFi performance. Connected to a Verizon MiFi 4G WiFi hotspot the WiFi has no slowdown issues even when simultaneously using Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth functionality works pretty well overall, but not quite as good as the HTC Evo. I have a JVC Stereo-Bluetooth-capable stereo in my pickup that functioned just fine with the Evo in speakerphone mode that doesn’t work properly with the Galaxy S3. I can hear callers through the stereo speakers but they cannot hear me through the return channel microphone. I don’t know if there is a Bluetooth version number conflict that could possibly resolve the problem via a JVC firmware upgrade, or if the problem might be resolved when Sprint and Samsung release the next “Jelly Bean” version of Android for the Sprint version of the Galaxy S3.

This problem with the S3’s Bluetooth not working properly with my JVC stereo is even more perplexing, since it works perfectly well with the other Bluetooth devices that I own, including a Tango TRX high fidelity Bluetooth stereo speaker that also can work as a speakerphone.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with the Galaxy S3. This is one of the most amazing pieces of technology I’ve ever owned.

In my opinion, the Galaxy S3 is currently the best phone on the market today.

GNC-2012-03-15 SHOW 750

Congrats to Kurt W, Laura V, Joe C, James A, for winning. (2x) iPad, (2x) Mac Mini, (3x) Apple TV, (2x) Roku, (2x) Google TV, (1x) Sony Bloggie Sport, (1x) iDAPT, (1x) Axis IP Cam! on our show 750 giveaway tonight! Big thank you to my wife and kids, and everyone else that has had to sacrifice for my twice weekly recording of GNC.

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Verizon Touchscreen Jukebox

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Verizon unveiled something cool and unexpected – a touchscreen photo jukebox.  This isn’t what you would expect from the words “Verizon touchscreen”.  It’s actually a touchscreen jukebox with karaoke and a photo booth. all rolled into one large LCD screen.  The whole thing runs on the Verizon 4G LTE network so there are no wires involved in this setup.  It’s a plug-and-play setup.

TPN’s own Jeffery Powers stopped by the Verizon booth and got a first-hand demonstration of how it works.  The touchscreen allows for seamless scrolling through all of the music, but even better, you can snap a photo and immediately upload it to email, Facebook, or other locations.  The photo editor has multiple filters to allow the user to choose the exact photo they want.

Users may or may not like the fact that their video is also captured during karaoke, but that aside, the device is available right now, although it’s probably more for the bar than the home.  Users can even access the device from their phone, so there’s no need to walk over to the touchscreen.  Head over the Verizon Innovation site for more info.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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Wi-Ex zBoost Signal Boosters for Cell Phones

zBoost by Wi-Ex logo

zBoost by Wi-Ex is a range of signal extenders that will improve cell and mobile phone coverage in weak areas. Todd and Don discuss zBoost’s latest products from Sharon Cuppett, VP of Wi-Ex (and they get a mention on Wi-Ex’s blog)

Wi-Ex launched two new products at CES, the first being the zBoost 4G-V, a signal booster for 4G frequencies on Verizon, the largest mobile carrier with over 100 million subscribers. A whole 4G product line is under development, including dual- and tri-band boosters. Available in Q2 2012 for around $220.

The second is an in-car booster, the zBoost zForce, which comprises a cradle for the phone and a magnetised antenna for the outside of the vehicle. Powered from the cigarette adaptor, the zForce can boost coverage by about 10x, eliminating dead spots and increasing range in rural areas. Retailing at only $99, it will be available shortly.

(You’ll have to watch the Blue Microphone interview to realise this, but in this video Sharon borrows Don’s phone to demonstrate the zForce and then walks off with the phone at the end of the interview!)

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor, for the TechPodcast Network.

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Intouch Remote Health Monitoring

Intouch Health InTouch Health along with Verizon had developed the RP Express and the RP 7 Mobile Robot and other similar devices to allow doctors to access their patients from remote locations. The RP Express is a mobile device for an individual to carry in the field. The RP 7 Mobile Robot is made for hospitals or other medical facilities. Both devices allow you to plug in medical instruments including EKGs, Ultrasound equipment and other devices directly into the machine allowing doctors to take and read vital signs from anywhere in the world. The video and audio are in real time and work over the Verizon 4G network, or wifi. (I am not sure what happens if the 4G or wifi networks are not available, hopefully there is a solution to that problem.) The doctor can control the RP 7 Mobile Robot and the RP Express from any computer that has the control station installed on it. The RP 7 robot allows for 178 degree field of view.

These devices are FDA cleared for connection to diagnostic medical devices on wifi. They are still going through the approval process for the 4G version. They hope to have those versions available for hospitals later this year. It is nice to know that now people in remote areas have a way to get access to the medical care, including the specialist that they need.

Interviewed by Jamie Davis of The Pod Medic and the Tech Podcast Network

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GNC-2011-12-29 #733 Soapbox Time!

Happy New Year, this is an epic show. For those of you that are long time supporters of the show thank your for your continued and ongoing support. For the Haters well I can’t say what I really want to say.

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GNC-2011-12-12 #728 Biggest Goof of the Year!

All good intentions have a serious consequence when executed incorrectly. You will get a nice chuckle out of my goof up this weekend.. This show has some interesting topics that should make us all sit back and say hmmm..

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Listener Links:
Aliens Close to Mercury?
Moon Rocks MIA?
Panic Button Pushed at Campus.
No Deci-Bull!
Kindle Touch Jailbreak.
Google to Park Jets for a Trade.
Skype Monitoring!
47 Year Old Television Signal?
Dish & T-Mobile?

Links to articles talked about in this Podcast are on the GNC Show Notes Page [Click Here]

Credits:
Jack Ellis – Executive Producer
Mike Baine – Associate Producer

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