Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Verizon’s app store closes up shop
Verizon Wireless’ attempt at cashing in on the “app store” craze appears set to come to an end as the operator said it plans to shutter the storefront by March 27, 2013. The carrier noted that most of the applications available through its branded offerings are already available through competing storefronts for the Android and BlackBerry operating system that its Verizon Apps offering targeted. Verizon Wireless said it will start removing the application from Android and BlackBerry devices beginning in January. That could be good news for some device owners that have voiced opposition to carriers increasingly placing native applications on smartphones that users are unable to remove. For those application developers that actually provided apps for the store, Verizon Wireless said it will continue making payments until the offering is shut down. “There’s now a whole new tech landscape in which both consumers and developers can interact like never before,” Verizon Wireless noted. “We’re evolving our strategy to further simplify today’s experience and meet the needs of tomorrow.” Verizon Wireless initially launched its application store in early 2010, looking to gain a foothold into the then rapidly growing, though still early application market. … Read more

Smartphones beat out laptops as the most popular device to connect to Wi-Fi
For the first time, smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular way to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots, according to a report compiled by Informa Telecoms & Media and released by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA). The study also found that a fifth of operators surveyed plan to launch next generation hotspots by the end of 2013. The WBA focused its report on the next generation Wi-Fi experience, noting that this trend is set to accelerate as the industry moves toward the deployment of next generation hotspots (NGH), based on open industry standards. WBA stated that the industry is moving toward new standards to make it easier to access Wi-Fi networks at home and abroad; operators want to deploy NGH technology to make it easier for end users to access Wi-Fi hotspots and replicate the cellular mobile broadband experience in terms of ease of access and security. … Read more

Carriers tally lessons learned after Sandy
AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless say that 99% of their cell sites impacted by Hurricane Sandy are back up and running, thanks to crews who worked round-the-clock and planners who were ready for the storm well in advance. “The principle lesson is that you have to prepare, prepare, prepare and marshall all your resources well in advance so that once a storm has passed you can move into place,” said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. “We had equipment staged about a week before the storm.” Carriers deployed mobile cell sites like the Verizon Wireless cell-on-wheels pictured here. COWs are temporary mobile cell sites that connect up to landline networks. Also used were cells-on-light-trucks that use microwave communications and can tow a mobile generator to supply power; and generators-on-trucks, which supply power to the temporary cell sites. All of these were needed during the past week, as well as industrial strength pumps that were used to remove floodwaters from cell sites. New York City has been one of the most challenging areas in which to restore coverage, but AT&T says it now has almost 97% of its New York cell sites back up, and that even crowded Manhattan is almost fully restored. … Read more

US Cellular sells markets to Sprint Nextel
In a move that marks a significant operational shift, U.S. Cellular Corp. said it was selling its operations in Chicago, St. Louis and a handful of markets in the Midwest to Sprint Nextel for $480 million. The transaction, which is expected to close mid-2013, will include both spectrum assets in the 1.9 GHz band and approximately 585,000 customers. The deal has U.S. Cellular abandoning many of its core Midwest markets in favor of more rural areas where it has deeper penetration and less intense competition from larger rivals, however it will maintain its operational headquarters in the Chicago area. The carrier said the announcement is “designed to increase focus on markets where it has strong positions and streamline operations to increase overall efficiency and effectiveness.” “In the dynamic wireless marketplace, we have a clear strategy to accelerate profitable growth and increase return on investment over the long term, and we are taking decisive steps to achieve it,” said Mary Dillon, president and CEO of U.S. Cellular. … Read more

AT&T kicks off Project Velocity IP network investments
AT&T kicked off an investor conference in New York with news that it will invest $14 billion in broadband during the next three years. $8 billion of that will go to wireless, and $6 billion will go to the carrier’s wireline infrastructure. AT&T says its three biggest growth areas are wireless data, strategic business services, and U-verse, which is bundled phone, cable and Internet service. The carrier says this investment will expand its potential in all of these areas. AT&T says it will expand its LTE network to cover 300 million people by the end of 2014. Previously the target was 250 million people by the end of 2013. The company also says that 99% of the customer locations in its wireline service areas will get high speed Internet access, either through IP wireline or LTE. “These are things we’ve done before – logical extensions of proven technologies and already successful businesses,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “We are very confident in our ability to execute this plan.” The company said that after the investment period for the project, dubbed Project Velocity IP, it expects 90% of its revenue to come from the high-growth areas of wireless, wireline data and managed IT services. … Read more

AT&T adds LTE-based PTT
AT&T has announced a new Push-to-Talk (PTT) service that runs on its LTE network, targeting business and public safety customers with new ruggedized devices and the promise of new perks as well as service quality that is comparable to legacy technologies. The carrier already offers several devices that can be used for the Enhanced PTT service, including two BlackBerry devices and the Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro, and two other Samsung Galaxy devices onto which the new PTT service can be downloaded. The Galaxy Rugby Pro is an Android smartphone built to military specifications with full device encryption and corporate email support. AT&T is working on bringing two others to its lineup: the Sonim XP5560 Bolt, designed for “businesses that operate in the most extreme environments,” and the Samsung Rugby III, a ruggedized flip phone. Some of the devices are free through AT&T Business Solutions with a two-year contract. … Read more

Microsoft invests in Brazil
The software giant Microsoft announced it will invest U.S.$98.24 million (R$200 million) focused on research, development and innovation in Brazil. The company said it will boost national competitiveness, while unveiling a series of planned initiatives to establish an advanced technology laboratory (ATL) located in Rio de Janeiro. The ATL in Brazil will be the fourth in the world and combine local capacity for technological innovation and advanced engineering with applied research expertise from Microsoft and its partners. The new lab will be responsible for developing innovative technologies that bring tangible benefits to users in a short span of time, principally for Brazilians but not limited to them. The focus will be on information retrieval and data analysis to develop technologies that improve users search experience in Brazil. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

The post #TBT: Buh-bye, Verizon app store; lessons learned from Sandy; AT&T kicks off Project Velocity IP … this week in 2012 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.