Uber just cut prices in 48 markets

This hasn’t happened in awhile. Uber just slashed its cost in 48 of its U.S. markets. The last time it started giving such big discounts was half a year ago, at the start of summer.

The discounts will apply to the newer cities that didn’t seen the boon of the first round of cuts (sorry, San Francisco – you’re already a beneficiary). Miami, Tucson, Baltimore, Dallas and many other places are the new recipients. The percentage of the price cut varies depending on market.

This time, Uber is so confident that the cuts will result in more rides taken, and therefore more money for drivers, that it’s guaranteeing driver earnings.

Here’s how: It analyzed company data to determine average driver earnings in each city during slow, normal and busy times of the day (pre–price cuts). That number varies across the country, as you might imagine. If a driver makes its app available, accepts at least one trip, and has an acceptance rate of 90 percent while its app is on, then Uber says it will automatically give the driver the average hourly rate in wages if they don’t automatically earn it.

It’s telling its drivers in each market what that fare is, so the drivers themselves can track whether Uber is carrying through on its promise.

The reason Uber feels comfortable taking that financial risk is because it has the data from its more mature markets to support its theory. It cut prices in other cities over summer and never had to return them to pre-cut levels, because the number of rides people took increased. “This is really a move to replicate the success we’ve seen in other markets,” Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s regional manager for central parts of the U.S. and Canada, told me.

He explained that although cities may have cultural and transportation infrastructure differences, Uber still believes it can make more money and drive usage by lowering fares in all types of locations, from more rural to urban. “What you see as a city develops is that as Uber expands its presence and the system becomes more efficient, people rely on the system more,” Macdonald said. “People start to ditch their cars. That’s a common thread you see across markets.”

In its blog post announcing the changes, Uber pointed to Chicago as one such example. Drivers’ average hourly wages increased from $19.10 an hour to $21.34 an hour from December 2013 to December 2014, despite the fact that the company rolled out permanent price cuts for passengers during that time.

According to Uber, price cuts in Chicago led to increased driver earnings per hour

According to Uber, price cuts in Chicago led to increased driver earnings per hour.

NYC and 13 more cities get T-Mobile’s iPhone-friendly upgrade

T-Mobile saved the biggest cities for the end of the year. T-Mobile revealed that it has completed its HSPA+ network upgrade in 14 more cities including metropolises like New York, Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth. In those cities iPhones can now tap into T-Mo’s 3G network.

Sprint launches LTE in clusters; promises 6-8 Mbps speeds

In addition to turning up its 4G service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio, Sprint went live in 10 cities and communities in the surrounding areas of those metro markets. It also tried to set expectations for average data speeds on the network.

Sprint LTE network goes live July 15 in five cities

Sprint has revealed the official launch date of its new LTE network: July 15. That Sunday it will turn on its new 4G service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio, promising speeds that far exceed what it can provide over its CDMA networks.

AT&T launching smart home pilot in Atlanta and Dallas

AT&T’s Digital Life program may have started overseas, but this summer AT&T will offer its new connected home service in two U.S. trial markets, Atlanta and Dallas, where it will install home monitoring and automation devices that homeowners can access from a browser, smartphone or tablet.

Today in Cleantech

NRG Energy is rolling out EV chargers in Dallas based on a subscription plan similar to cell phone contracts. The interesting part of the plan is that NRG Energy will install the home charger in exchange for a three year contract at $50 a month. What’s of concern is the $90 plan where in addition to the home charging station, drivers can access NRG’s fast DC chargers at places like malls. What’s going on with the EV charging infrastructure right now is a land grab aimed at locking up key charging real estate and making charging networks proprietary. This is an awful system for EV owners and for the automakers selling EVs. Imagine having to subscribe to one gas company and only being able to fill up at Chevron.  Charging stations need to function with a simple financial transaction per charge so that competition between charging stations can occur and so that drivers can have access to the maximum number of stations. EV sales are already slower than hoped. Let’s not make this more complicated.

Nokia Siemens sets up LTE shop in Silicon Valley

The hub of mobile infrastructure in the U.S. may be in North Dallas, but the allure of Silicon Valley is bringing more telecom vendors to the Bay Area. Nokia Siemens is the latest, announcing the opening of one of its Smart Labs in Mountain View.