International data roaming is broken. Can MVNOs fix it?

If you travel overseas and want to maintain your mobile data connection, you’re either going to pay criminal roaming rates or endure tremendous hassles avoiding them. But a new breed of virtual operators like Voiamo are looking to create the first truly international plans.

FreedomPop brings its freemium 4G model to the home

The mobile virtual network operator plans to take the “M” out of MVNO. Using Clearwire’s WiMAX network, FreedomPop will start selling in January a residential broadband service with the same incentives as its mobile service, including 1 GB a month of free data.

Enter Telcel América: A Straight Talk for Mexican nationals

Mexico’s biggest mobile brand launched in the U.S. but as an MVNO. Owned by América Móvil, Telcel América resembles its sister operator Straight Talk in that its plans include unlimited everything. In Telcel’s case they also include unlimited calling to mobile phones in Mexico.

Republic Wireless opens unlimited plans to all comers

After a year and countless waves of beta trials, Republic Wireless is finally swinging open the doors for a commercial launch. New customers can now order its latest Motorola smartphone from its Website and sign up for its dirt-cheap $19 unlimited everything plans.

RadioShack goes mobile, starts reselling Cricket service

RadioShack joins the ranks of the mobile virtual network operators, partnering with Leap’s Cricket Communications to resell its prepaid smartphone and feature phone plans. The deal both expands Leap’s retail presence and allows RadioShack to sell service plans, not just handsets.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson invests in social bandwidth MVNO Karma

Karma not only encourages its 4G customers to share their connections with strangers, it rewards them with free bandwidth for doing so. The Dutch transplant’s social bandwidth vision now has a new convert. Venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson is participating its seed funding round.

Better smartphones help pre-paid market boost U.S. phone sales

Historically, U.S. consumers are addicted to subsidized smartphones that carry lengthy contracts, but sales growth of pre-paid, no contract phones has nearly doubled in the past year. Apple’s iPhone may eventually help this market too, but improved Android handsets sold by pre-paid providers are boosting sales.

Virtual carrier Ting gets its first LTE phone, the Galaxy S III

Sprint isn’t holding anything back when it comes to supporting its MVNO partners. Ting will not only get access to a device Sprint started selling only last month, but it will gain immediate entry onto Sprint’s brand new LTE network — permissions other carriers would never grant.

Meet GSM Nation, an MVNO selling any smartphone you desire

Exclusive: This fall unlocked smartphone retailer GSM Nation will launch a virtual operator service, pairing T-Mobile’s HSPA+ speeds with the 200-plus smartphones it sells online. The company is breaking the link between operator and device and dispelling the notion that phone subsidies actually save consumers money.

MVNO Jolt adds WiMAX to its mobile data mix

Clearwire may be preparing to transform itself into an LTE operator, but that hasn’t stopped it from selling its WiMAX service to other carriers. The latest to jump on Clearwire’s bandwagon is MVNO Jolt Mobile, which is making the odd pairing of GSM with WiMAX.

Why would Amazon become a virtual operator? It already is one

Reports are coming from Japan that Amazon is forming an MVNO. If true, it would be an interesting experiment for Amazon, expanding its mobile business beyond selling devices, apps and e-books to selling connectivity itself. But I suspect this is nothing more than an experiment.

Straight Talk SIM: The BFF of a Galaxy Nexus or iPhone

Own a Galaxy Nexus, iPhone or other GSM handset? If so and you’re tired of the cost and long-term contract, Straight Talk’s SIM card may be an option. The no-contract deal is $45 for unlimited voice minutes, messages and HSPA+ data on either AT&T or T-Mobile.

Republic Wireless goes unlimited – this time for real

Republic Wireless is dropping the “so-called” from its so-called unlimited data plan, revealing that it has lifted all restrictions on smartphone Internet use. While Republic’s customers are sure to be happy, let’s see how long it lasts. Unlimited is a hard business model to make work.

Stimulus Money to Halve Solar Costs? Think Again

Can the stimulus money really help to drive down the price of solar electricity by half in the next five years? Yes, according to a White House report on Tuesday touting the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But think again.

Chips tell the story

Ever since Cisco and HP announced their poor results, investors have been reacting with a sense of panic, and lot of hand-wringing.…