Filed under: Wireless

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France fines Google over Street View data grab

France’s online privacy watchdog said Monday it has fined Google Inc.  100,000 euros, or around $144,000, for unfair data collection from wireless networks through the company’s Street View mapping service and localization program Latitude.

Last May, Google disclosed that the camera-equipped cars it uses to take pictures for Street View, which has provided panoramic views of city streets since it was launched in 2007, had for several years inadvertently collected personal data from unsecured wireless networks across the world. The revelation prompted scrutiny from authorities in a number of countries, including France and the United Kingdom. Get the full story »

AT&T: T-Mobile 3G phones will need to be replaced

AT&T says that if its deal to buy T-Mobile USA goes through, T-Mobile subscribers with “3G” phones will need to replace those to keep their wireless broadband service working. Get the full story »

How a tiny cube could cut cell phone bills

LightRadio blocks are smaller than a Rubik's Cube. (Alcatel-Lucent)

As mobile data usage skyrockets, wireless companies are spending billions each year to maximize capacity, and consumers end up footing the cost in the form of higher cell phone bills. But a cube that fits in the palm of your hand could help solve that problem.

It’s called lightRadio, a Rubik’s cube-sized device made by Alcatel-Lucent that takes all of the components of a cell phone tower and compresses them down into a 2.3-inch block. Unlike today’s cell towers and antennas, which are large, inefficient and expensive to maintain, lightRadio is tiny, capacious and power-sipping. Get the full story »

AT&T, T-Mobile deal may mean higher prices

AT&T’s surprise $39-billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc. could lead to more consolidation in the U.S wireless industry, leaving the market with just two dominant providers — and the prospect of higher rates and fewer choices for consumers.

If approved by regulators, the newly expanded AT&T Inc. would have 130 million subscribers, allowing it to leapfrog arch-rival Verizon Wireless and its 94 million customers to become by far the nation’s largest wireless carrier. Sprint Nextel Corp. would be a distant third.

U.S. Cellular to launch 4G network by year’s end

Mary Dillon at U.S. Cellular's corporate office in Chicago in June 2010. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Chicago-based wireless carrier U.S. Cellular plans to launch its 4G network by the end of the year, Chief Executive Mary Dillon said Thursday.

Responding to an audience question at a breakfast sponsored by the Executives’ Club of Chicago, Dillon said the company has recently finished trials for its 4G network, which uses a technology called Long-Term Evolution, or LTE. Verizon Wireless and AT&T use the same technology, though the latter company has yet to commercially launch its LTE network. Get the full story »

Verizon rolls out 4G HTC Thunderbolt phone

Verizon displays the HTC Thunderbolt during the Consumer Electronics Showin January. (AP/Isaac Brekken)

Verizon Wireless announced on Tuesday the first mobile phone for its 4G network, unveiling a handset by Taiwanese manufacturer HTC that will be available  March 17.

Verizon lit up its 4G network in Chicago and 37 other cities in early December. The inaugural 4G devices were USB modems that enable connectivity for a laptop. The carrier’s first 4G phone is the ThunderBolt by HTC, which will cost $249.99 with a two-year contract. Get the full story »

iFans line up again — this time for iPad 2

The iPad 2 line formed early outside the Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue. (Phil Velasquez/Tribune)

They could have placed an online order early Friday morning. They could have waited until next week.

But that is not the way of Apple fans. That’s why hundreds of them lined up outside the Michigan Avenue Apple Store Friday to buy the iPad 2, the company’s second-generation tablet computer. Get the full story »

Aircell upgrades to put Wi-Fi on international flights

Itasca-based Aircell, which provides inflight Wi-Fi on airlines, said Thursday that it is upgrading its service and will introduce technology enabling international service by 2015.

Aircell’s Gogo Wi-Fi service is available on a number of carriers, including United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It currently uses a land-based system, where base stations connect with Wi-Fi hotspots on aircraft. Passengers can buy the service on their flight, accessing the Web on laptops or mobile devices. Get the full story »

CEO resigns in Clearwire management shakeup

Clearwire Corp. CEO Bill Morrow has resigned, two other top executives are leaving and the finance chief is moving to an operational role in a massive management shakeup at the wireless service provider.

Morrow will be replaced on an interim basis by Chairman John Stanton, according to the company, which is seeking billions in funding to expand its high-speed wireless network. Get the full story »

Apple to start iPad 2 sales online in wee hours

Apple Inc. will kick off online sales of its new iPad in the early hours Friday before its evening store launch of the tablet computer.

Consumers can start buying the iPad 2 on Apple’s website at 3 a.m. Central time Friday while customers who want to purchase it in a store will have to wait until 4 p.m., Apple said. Get the full story »

Sprint reportedly reopens talks for T-Mobile

Sprint Nextel Corp. and Deutsche Telekom AG  are again discussing options for combining Sprint with the German company’s U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile USA, though a deal is unlikely in the near term, people familiar with the matter said.

A deal would combine the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the U.S. and create a substantial counterweight to industry leaders AT&T Inc.  and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc.  and Vodafone Group. Get the full story »

Android climbs to top of smart phone heap

Android is now the most-used smart phone operating system in the United States — a stunning race to the top from a platform that didn’t exist 25 months ago.

Nearly one third, or 31.2 percent, of U.S. smart phones ran Google’s Android OS in January, according to a study released Monday by comScore. That outpaced the 30.4 percent of American smart phone owners who use BlackBerry devices, which are made by Research in Motion. Get the full story »

China Mobile says Jobs wants an iPhone for it

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has expressed interest in developing an iPhone based on China Mobile’s fourth-generation telecoms standard, the chairman of the Chinese telecoms operator said Friday.

“Jobs has said he’s very interested in developing an iPhone that will run on TD,” China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said on the sidelines of the Chinese Communist Party’s consultative meeting. Get the full story »

‘Daily deals’ come to Bing with a reported glitch

Microsoft has launched a daily deals service, integrating offers from industry leaders such as Groupon and LivingSocial into its Bing search engine for the desktop and mobile devices.

The move puts Microsoft into the daily deals space, but as an aggregator rather than a direct provider of discounts. Yahoo! launched an aggregation service, Local Offers, in November. Get the full story »

Verizon hints at new iPhone

A Verizon Communications executive hinted at a new version of the iPhone and said Verizon Wireless will replace its unlimited mobile data plans with usage-based pricing around the middle of summer.

Verizon’s shares fell 2.4 percent on Tuesday after its chief financial officer, Fran Shammo, said a new iPhone would hurt quarterly margins whenever it arrives. Get the full story »