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Sprint, Verizon to demand Wi-Fi on phones

updated 10:00 am EDT, Fri July 10, 2009

Sprint Verizon Demand WiFi

Both Sprint and Verizon have said late Thursday that they're working to add Wi-Fi to their smartphones to address a significant gap in their networks. Talking to FierceWireless, Sprint business product marketing head Jeff Clemow says his carrier decided months ago to require that all its smartphones use Wi-Fi and will soon put the requirement into effect. As a consequence, a 2010 version of the BlackBerry Tour will add Wi-Fi to the existing EVDO Rev A-based 3G it depends on so far; it only ships without due to a need to get the Tour to stores.

Verizon says it also plans to add BlackBerries with Wi-Fi at a later date but can't confirm whether or not this involves an upgraded Tour or other devices. It usually has identical devices to Sprint, however, and high-profile leaks have confirmed a BlackBerry Storm sequel with built-in Wi-Fi, mending one of the common complaints with the original touchscreen phone from RIM. A handful of other smartphones from Verizon already have Wi-Fi.

Both attitudes are at least partial reversals of attitude, particularly for Verizon. The latter has regularly insisted that Wi-Fi be stripped out of phones, including the Storm. It's widely understood that the company has previously done so to force customers into signing up for data plans or to otherwise use its services.

However, the absence of Wi-Fi iss believed to have hurt these carriers and driven some potential customers to AT&T and T-Mobile, both of whom offer phones like the BlackBerry Curve 8900 or Apple's iPhone and depend heavily on Wi-Fi as a marketing advantage. AT&T recently bought out access point provider Wayport and thousands of access points that provide free Internet use to some of its customers, particularly iPhone owners; T-Mobile's HotSpot Calling feature depends on Wi-Fi to provide unlimited calling when not on the cellular network.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Great they finally realized that their customers don't like getting screwed, good for them.

    What I don't understand is, why not just require a data plan, on Rogers you pay 25 bucks or get it bundled into the plan or value pack, and you have to get it to get the phone at a subsidized price, this takes care of 95% of people who want a smartphone. You tell them they have to get it they just say OK, and if they're doing it over wifi what do you care? I mean their smartphone still works, they still pay their bill, and they get to use WiFi. What's the big deal?

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's the point!

    That is precisely the point here! Verizon required WiFi to be stripped out of their devices because they didn't require data plans with all those older smartphones. So, if you buy a smartphone without WiFi, you HAVE to use Verizon's data, one way or another. They are now seeing how AT&T is still selling tons of smartphones, even with the REQUIRED data plan, so they are now changing their mind. With the required data plan, WiFi is actually good, since it offloads some of that data traffic away from Verizon's data network, while still charging for unlimited data access. It took them two years to figure this out... No wonder Verizon doesn't have the iPhone; their greed is constantly in the way of common-sense thinking...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Grand

    Yes, just what we all want, required data plans. Maybe there's a lot of people who don't want to spend an extra $30 a month just to have the pleasure of 'always being connected'..

  1. svxdan83

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Required Data Plans

    What difference does it make if the data plan is required or not? The people that want a constant connection will always shell out the money, regardless if it is bundled or an add-on feature.

    If you don't want to be burdened by the extra price, just buy a PocketPC or an iPod touch. Either of these devices would operate without being tied down to any cellular carrier and would allow for WiFi usage right out of the box.

    Why anyone continues to bother with Verizon or Sprint is beyond me. I'm not sure which is worse... that they keep selling CDMA phones to their customers, or that the customers keep paying for it. How many times do you have to shove your hand in boiling water before you stop and realize its a bad idea??

    Personally, I'll stick with a cell carrier whose phones can be swapped out by changing a SIM card at the drop of a hat.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Required data

    If you don't want to be burdened by the extra price, just buy a PocketPC or an iPod touch. Either of these devices would operate without being tied down to any cellular carrier and would allow for WiFi usage right out of the box.

    What is it with you people? All of a sudden the cell phone companies are your friends and the decisions they make are in your benefit?

    Why, because I don't want the cost of a data plan, should I then haul around two devices when an un-data plan iPhone or Palm Pre or WinMo phone would suit most of my needs at a cheaper monthly price?

    I would have spent more and got an iPhone to replace my Razr and iPod touch, but I'm not willing to spend the extra money per month for something I don't need (the data plan). There isn't that many times when I'm not in proximity to an access point and I have to get on-line for some reason.

    Is all this because you have to get a data plan with an iPhone, and, as such, don't want to feel like your wasting your money every month when others aren't paying the extra $30?

  1. MhzDoesMatter

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Maybe our needs have changed.

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