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Saturday 30 June 2012

Fresh Out of the Oven: Cell Phones Etc. V3

Today we’re very excited to let you know that we’ve rolled out a major revision of Cell Phones Etc.. This is technically the 3rd major release in our history, but it represents the first since bringing together a small, extremely dedicated team to work on the site full-time.

Together, we’ve rebuilt things from the ground up, top-to-bottom, front-to-back….and we think you’ll agree it’s:

Sexier: thanks to a lovingly overhauled design and user interface

Faster: thanks to cleaner, more beautiful code and a shiny new set of servers

Richer: thanks to our largest, most detailed database of phones and plans ever

Better: thanks to things like the handy new filters you’ll find in the comparison tools (yes! you can finally search phones by operating system)

Everyone here is working extremely hard to create the Web’s most helpful mobile phone guide. We hope you’ll agree this is a step in the right direction. As always, we’d love your feedback.

That’s it for now, but we’ll be pushing out features on a regular basis and tweaking often so stay tuned for some more announcements soon!

Cell Phone Tech Specs - The Overhaul
Sometimes the truth is ugly. terms of ugliness, our aging specs database was, behind the scenes, as ugly as O’Donnell vs. O’Reilly. No longer. Today we bring good news.

We’ve scrubbed our data to its bones, got strict with structure and toiled away to denormalize things. What does that all mean? Basically, it means faster, more accurate specifications.

The most exciting part, beyond all the technical rattle, is that we’ve added 41 brand new bits of information about each phone. You’ll now find details on GPS types, Bluetooth protocols, Wi-Fi support and much more.

Delivering you the most comprehensive and accurate phone specs out there is pretty darn exciting for us geeks. Today, we believe we got close but…we’re not done yet.

More more more
Today we’re announcing more. More expert reviews in our collection (about 1,000 new summaries) and more buying options for Canadians, including thousands of choices from eBay. And…umm…yes….more to come.

More MVNOs. More Choice.
Lots of you have been asking us to include more cell phone carriers in our cell plan comparison tool. Today we began to respond.

You can now compare the rates of SpeakOut, PC Mobile and Petro Canada alongside the other major carriers. Regional carriers such as SaskTel Mobility and US carriers are also on our to-do list.

More choice is a good thing. We hear you.

More or Less…Your Choice
Alex rolled another small function live this morning. It’s a pretty simple yet useful feature we should have had long ago - the ability to adjust the number of phones or plans returned on one page. By default we’re serving up 20 results per page. If your bandwidth or patience for scrolling is running thin, you can slim it down to 10. If you’re sporting a quick connection and you’re handy with the scroll wheel you can crank it up to 30. Hopefully there is something in there to suit everyone.

Now Sporting Review Sorting
We’ve been working hard to get more and more reviews for each and every phone. Reviews from users just like you as well as reviews from the pros - all pulled together into one spot. Response to this has been good but many of you have let us know that all this selection has made it hard to find the reviews that you really needed.

Today we hope that we’ve moved one step closer to addressing some of those concerns. We’ve just rolled live the ability to sort reviews by freshness, rating and helpfulness (as voted on by visitors).

Check out the iPhone 3G ratings as an example.

In the future we hope to turn out some other neat ways to find the reviews that are relevant to your needs. Stay tuned.

In the news…

Consumer commando Ellen Roseman of the Toronto Star looks at low-cost cell plans in today’s paper. In her column, Ellen discusses new competition coming to Canada thanks to last year’s wireless auction.

She mentions Public Mobile, set to launch this fall with $40 plans, Globalive’s similar offering and other potential entrants including DAVE, Novus, Videotron, Shaw and EastLink. Ellen’s advice? “Better deals await you, so don’t lock in a long-term rate now.”

You can catch the full article here including a resource supplement that includes 10 money saving tips from us here at Cell Phones Etc..

Technology reporter Paul Brent of CTV News in Ottawa is doing a 3 part series on cell phones. As part of the series, Paul dropped some questions our way about the future of wireless in Canada and how you can save money.

You can catch our response here and watch this great video feature online at the CTV website.

In a recent article titled “Cellphone extras add up quickly”, Tim Lai of the Vancouver Sun investigated what consumers should be aware of when shopping for a new cell phone plan or looking to improve their existing service.

It’s a quick read with some good tips including a couple offered up by us. Thanks to Tim and the Sun for getting in touch and featuring in the article.

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Telekom Austria's Yesss buy in next phase review,

* Next-stage review could take up to five months

* European Commision also has concerns - watchdog

* Hutchison-Orange deal depends on Yesss divestment

VIENNA, June 28 (Reuters) - Telekom Austria's planned acquisition of budget mobile operator Yesss from Orange faces an extended review by Austria's competition authorities, delaying Hutchison 3G's agreed $1.6 billion takeover of Orange Austria.

The BWB competition watchdog said on Thursday it feared the combination of Telekom Austria and Yesss would have negative consequences for the Austrian market and above all for consumers, who would likely face higher prices.

It said it regretted that the parties involved had been unable to agree concessions after four months, and said the next-phase review by the Austrian cartel office could take at least five months.

"The disappearance of Yesss's aggressive price policy would remove the only competitor to Telekom Austria's current 'bob' brand. BWB fears price increases as a result, since competition in the prepay segment would end," BWB said in a statement.

The disposal of Yesss by Orange, the main brand of France Telecom, is a condition of Hutchison 3G's agreed deal to buy Orange Austria - which is being probed in parallel by the European Commission.

"Here the Commission also has numerous concerns," BWB said.

Hutchison 3G's deal to buy Orange Austria follows a cluster of outbound mergers and acquisitions from Asia as firms with large cash piles and low debt buy assets in Europe, where economies are struggling with a deep debt crisis.

France Telecom is carrying out an portfolio review aimed at exiting low-growth mature markets. It recently agreed to sell Orange Switzerland to private equity group Apax Partners.

BWB said Telekom Austria and Yesss together would have more than 39 percent of the voice-calls market and more than 53 percent of the market for consumer broadband plus mobile deals.

Hutchison shares closed down 1.7 percent in Hong Kong before the news, while Telekom Austria firmed 0.2 percent in Vienna and France Telecom slipped 0.3 percent in Paris by 0913 GMT. ($1 = 0.8028 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Michael Shields) 

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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Rogers waiving the Activation Fee until June 24th,

Canada-based Rogers Wireless will be waiving its customary activation fee charges this weekend, according to a Mobile Syrup report. Customers who purchase a new device or upgrade their existing devices from now through the 24th will have the activation fee waived, saving a bit of the upfront costs associated with new devices. Of course, you’ll need to be on an approved Rogers Wireless plan to qualify for the credit; talk and text family plans, the $45 and $54 talk and text individual plans, and mobile internet stick plans are excluded from the sale.

Activation fees are already one of the most controversial fees charged to mobile phone users, so it’s always a plus when carriers decide to have sales to waive them. Carriers charge these fees because the costs associated with upgrading to a new device or activating a new line of service have reportedly increased, thus requiring them to charge more money to offset this growing expense. Customers hate paying these charges because they feel those fees are already baked into the cost of the device and corresponding 2 or 3-year service plan.

Rogers Wireless customers looking to upgrade should do so before the end of the day Sunday to qualify for the activation fee credit. Of course, with the Galaxy S III set to launch next Wednesday, it may be worth the extra $35 activation you’d pay if you waited until Wednesday. Though, the HTC One X is an equally capable device and is currently available on Rogers.

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