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printed August 20, 2014
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AT&T to Sell HTC One for Windows, Too

Yesterday, 6:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T chimed in this evening to say it, too, will carry the HTC One for Windows. AT&T said pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. Verizon is selling the phone starting tomorrow.


Hands-On: Sharp Aquos Crystal for Sprint

Yesterday, 5:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 10:01 PM

Sharp debuted its first phone for the U.S. market in years this week. The Aquos Crystal boasts a nearly bezel-less design in a compact form factor. Here are our initial impressions.

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Steve Ballmer Leaves Microsoft's Board

Yesterday, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Steve Ballmer today resigned from his position on Microsoft's board of directors effective immediately. Ballmer left the company's CEO post just six months ago, but said in a letter to current CEO Satya Nadella he felt his new obligations as owner of the LA Clippers, among others, will keep him too busy to participate meaningfully on Microsoft's board moving forward. Ballmer succeeded Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates. He wished Nadella and Microsoft well, and will remain a large shareholder in the company.


Google Offers Photo Sphere App to iPhone

Yesterday, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today published a version of its Photo Sphere app for iOS. The app allows iPhone owners to stand in one spot and capture a 360-degree view of whatever is around them. Photo Spheres can be published to Google Maps or shared with various social networks. Before today, Photo Sphere was only available to Android smartphones (similar apps are already available to iPhones from other companies). Photo Sphere is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Hands-On: HTC One for Windows Phone

Yesterday, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC gives Windows Phone fans what they've always wanted: A premium device with Microsoft's operating system. Here are our initial thoughts on HTC's latest device.

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HTC One Trades Android for Windows Phone

Yesterday, 9:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 9:32 AM

HTC today announced the One for Windows Phone, a variant of the One (M8) that swaps Google's mobile platform for Microsoft's. The One for Windows Phone runs the latest operating system from Microsoft and carries over a few HTC apps, such as Blinkfeed, the HTC duo-camera, SenseTV, Video Highlights, and BoomSound. The One for Windows Phone adopts some of the M8's motion gestures, such as double-tap to wake, but also loses a few. Apart from the operating system, the hardware is identical to the One (M8) with Android. It has the same 5-inch 1080p HD screen, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, Ultra-pixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera, and premium aluminum design. The HTC One for Windows Phone is exclusive to Verizon Wireless. It is available online from VerizonWireless.com beginning today and reaches Verizon stores August 20 for $99 with a new contract or $30 with Verizon Edge.

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Sprint Formally Debuts Sharp Aquos Crystal

Yesterday, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 1:41 PM

Sprint today announced the Sharp Aquos Crystal, a mid-range handset that it will sell later this year. The Sharp Aquos features a nearly bezel-less design, with narrow edges running along the top and sides of the phone. The screen measures 5 inches and offers 720p HD resolution. The device offers a handful of software features developed by Sharp, including Clip Now, which takes screen shots with a swipe and makes them easily sharable via link. Speaktoit Assistant is a natural language assistant that can perform a number of tasks, such as answer questions, open apps, place calls, and send texts. The device comes with Harman Kardon Clari-Fi and LiveStage audio technologies for improved music reproduction, and Direct Wave Receiver technology, which uses the display panel to create sound for phone calls. The device runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes the usual suite of Google services, in addition to OfficeSuite for editing Microsoft documents. Other hardware features include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The Aquos supports microSD cards up to 128GB. The camera captures 8-megapixel still images and 1080p HD video. It also has a 1.2-megapixel camera for selfies. The Aquos will cost $240 at full retail, or $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $10 with Sprint. Sprint subsidiaries Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will also sell the device at the price of $150. Virgin and Boost do not require contracts.


ZTE Cleared in Patent Case Versus Interdigital

Yesterday, 6:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The U.S. ITC recently upheld an earlier ruling that found ZTE innocent of violating patents held by Interdigital. Interdigital alleged that ZTE infringed on select patents related to mobile technology. The ITC made its initial determination clearing ZTE of wrongdoing in June. This week's decision puts the matter to rest. The ITC cleared ZTE in a separate case against Interdigital in December. ZTE said it was pleased with the ITC's decision and is committed to protecting its intellectual property. Patent-holding firms such as Interdigital often use litigation to generate revenue.


LG to Adopt G3's User Interface for Most Phones

Yesterday, 6:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced plans to follow the trickle-down approach with its user interface. The company said it will push the UI found on this year's G3 handset, including the simplified camera software and adjustable keyboard, to its mid-range and entry-level handsets. LG said most devices released during the second half of the year, including smartphones and tablets, will adopt the newer user interface.


Sprint Doubles Down on Data with Family Share Pack

Monday, 6:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced new shared data plans that offer twice as much mobile data as comparable plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's Family Share Pack includes four lines with unlimited talk and text and 20GB of shared data for $160 per month. AT&T and Verizon have similarly-priced plans that include only 10GB of data. T-Mobile's shared plan costs $100 per month. Further, Sprint is offering a huge incentive to families that port their numbers from another carrier. Sprint will give families with up to 10 lines unlimited talk/text and 20GB of shared data for only $100 per month through 2015, plus an additional 2GB per line. Under this promotion, a family of four would have up to 28GB of data per month and a family of 10 would have up to 40GB of data per month. The promotional $100 plan pricing will be available from August 22 to September 30. Last, Sprint is offering to cover the ETFs - up to $350 per line - for families that break their contract to sign up with Sprint Family Share Pack. All new devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company will debut new plans for individuals later this week.


NAB Sues FCC Over Reverse Auction Rules

Monday, 5:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The National Association of Broadcasters today asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to help it challenge some of the rules set by the FCC for the forthcoming reverse spectrum auction. The NAB contends the rules adopted by the FCC don't follow the guidelines set by congress strictly enough and will result in harm to the NAB and its constituents. The NAB is most concerned over changes to the methodology that will be used to determine television coverage areas and population served. "Under this new methodology, many broadcast licensees will lose coverage area and population served during the auction's repacking and reassignment process, or be forced to participate in the auction and relinquish broadcast spectrum rights." Further, the NAB believes the rules will leave broadcasters - even those that choose not to participate in the auction - with bills totaling $500 million to cover repacking expenses. "Local broadcasters should not be forced to go out of pocket to help multi-national wireless giants," argued the NAB's Rick Kaplan. The NAB insists today's legal action is not meant to delay the auction, which is expected to kick off next year. It hopes to come to an agreement with the FCC in time to keep the reverse auction on schedule. The auction is asking TV broadcasters to give up their airwaves, in the 600MHz band, so that it can be sold to wireless network operators. The CTIA Wireless Association expressed disappointment in the NAB's action. "As the FCC Commissioners and members of Congress continue to emphasize, the wireless industry needs more spectrum as soon as possible to be able to meet mobile broadband demand. To help meet that need, we will continue to work with the FCC, NAB, and other affected stakeholders to ensure that the Commission is ready to hold the auction on schedule in mid-2015."


Verizon Quietly Drops Pricing for Single Lines

Monday, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless introduced a new, cheaper plan over the weekend that applies to single lines of service. The plan costs $60 per month and includes unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data. The monthly price drops further to $50 for customers who finance their handset via Verizon Edge. Data overage charges cost $15 per 1GB. The same service offering previously cost $90 per month under the company's More Everything plans, which required a $40 connection charge per line plus $50 for the minutes, messages, and data. The $60 pricing was previously available only to select customers as a loyalty incentive. Sprint may unveil new, cheaper plans as soon as August 19 during a scheduled press conference. Carriers are increasingly looking to service pricing as a way to compete, which benefits customers.


SoftBank and Sprint Working with Sharp on Edgeless Phone

Monday, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank, which owns Sprint, today said it has chosen Sharp to supply it with low-cost smartphones. The handset deal with Sharp includes Sprint, which will also sell phones made by Sharp. The first such device is a handset called the Sharp Aquos Crystal, which the company revealed today. The Crystal features an edgeless design. SoftBank believes its combined scale with Sprint will allow it to sell the Sharp Aquos Crystal at a low cost. SoftBank's announcement coincides with a Sprint event scheduled for August 19. The event invite reads "Time to take the Edge Off," which could be a reference to the edgeless design of the Aquos Crystal. According to Sharp, the Crystal includes a 5-inch 720p HD screen, Snapdragon 400 processor, and runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Sharp has not sold handsets in the U.S. for several years.


Fire OS Update from Amazon Improves Battery Life

Saturday, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Saturday, 8:35 AM

Amazon today made available Fire OS 3.5.1 for the Fire Phone. The update (version 111009920) adds a range of new features to the Fire Phone. For example, the Lenticular Photo tool now allows owners to paste together 11 images into one rather than just three, and the email carousel now allows owners to delete emails directly from the home screen. The update adds the ability to pin favorite apps to the front of the home carousel; create folders of apps or content in the app grid; and, with a double-press of the home button, quick switch to other running apps. The system update also makes improvements to video sharing, which now permit high-resolution videos to be sent via MMS or email. Last, Fire OS 3.5.1 makes dozens of updates to system apps in order to improve battery life. Fire Phone owners can download and install the update over the air, or install it manually via USB. The update is free.


BBM for Windows Phone Leaves Beta

Friday, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today updated BBM for the Windows Phone platform to version 1.01. The app has officially graduated from beta status. The update, though minor, squashes a number of bugs in the app, as well as boosts performance, such as start-up time. BBM for Windows Phone is free.


Vringo Loses Patent Appeal

Friday, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A U.S. court today handed Vringo a defeat in its patent claims against Google and other companies. Earlier, Vringo won a guilty verdict against Google over how search results are filtered. Google appealed and today's decision effectively overturns the earlier verdict. The court declared both Vringo's patents invalid and tossed the case. Vringo said it is evaluating its options. There's no word from Google yet about its exoneration. Vringo purchased the rights to a wide swath of mobile technology patents from Nokia in 2012 and has sued several companies, including Google and ZTE, in order to protect its intellectual property.


Sprint CEO: 'Disruptive' Prices Coming Next Week

Friday, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's new CEO, Marcelo Claure, told company employees that it will debut "very disruptive" service prices as soon as next week. Claure made the remarks during a company-wide town hall meeting. Claure's dialog covered a range of topics and was often frank about Sprint's standing in the market. "When you have a great network, you don't have to compete on price," said Claure. "When your network is behind, unfortunately you have to compete on value and price." Claure told employees the company will give them the tools they need to more effectively sell their services, including Framily plans. "We're going to change our plans to make sure they are simple and attractive and make sure every customer in America thinks twice about signing up to a competitor." Claure admitted to employees that the network overhaul has taken too long, but that its spectrum holdings are vast enough to give Sprint plenty of fighting power. Claure didn't elaborate on what the new pricing structure will be, but indicated he wants Sprint to be seen as the incumbent challenger - a role T-Mobile has been all too happy to play for the past year and a half.


Samsung to Buy SmartThings

Friday, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it has agreed to purchase a startup called SmartThings. SmartThings, which is based in Washington, develops technology for the Internet of Things. It sells a home controller device for $99, but has also created an online service to help developers design and create their own internet-enabled and smartphone-controlled gadgets. The company claims 8,000 apps and 1,000 devices use its platform. SmartThings will move its operations to Palo Alto, Calif., where Samsung has a developer facility, but SmartThings' CEO Alex Hawkinson said the company will be run independently. The move is largely seen as a way for Samsung to counter steps made by Google and Apple to expand the functionality of their smartphones and tablets to control household items. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


AT&T Pushing Windows Phone 8.1 to Lumia 1020

Aug 14, 2014, 12:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said owners of the Lumia 1020 can download and install the Windows Phone 8.1 update. The improved operating system adds Cortana, Action Center, the Word Flow keyboard and other features. The system update is free.


T-Mobile to Squelch Data Speeds of Terms Violators

Aug 14, 2014, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has confirmed reports that it may throttle down the data speeds of customers who it says violate the company's terms of service. "A very small number of our customers are misusing their Simple Choice Unlimited data service in violation of their rate plan and terms and conditions by bypassing the default tethering feature or engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "This type of usage can negatively impact our ability to offer affordable unlimited data. In order to protect all T-Mobile customers, we will be reaching out to these people to educate them on our terms and conditions of service, but if the misuse continues, they could have their data speeds reduced for the remainder of their billing cycle." Enforcement of the terms of service is set to go into effect August 17 and applies only to customers with T-Mobile's $80 Unlimited Simple Choice plan. T-Mobile's action follows closely that of Verizon Wireless, which recently said it plans to throttle the data speeds of its unlimited LTE customers in certain scenarios. The FCC has queried all the carriers on their network management policies in response.


OmniVision Receives Buyout Offer from Chinese Investors

Aug 14, 2014, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OmniVision today indicated it has received an acquisition offer from China-based venture capitalists. Hua Capital Management offered $29 per share for OmniVision, which values the company at about $1.67 billion. OmniVision makes camera sensors for smartphones and tablets. Its chips are found in devices such as the Apple iPhone. OmniVision's products compete with those from Sony, Samsung, and others. OmniVision, which is based in California, said it is evaluating the offer.


Microsoft Brings Live Lock Screen App to Windows Phone

Aug 14, 2014, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today made available the Live Lock Screen application for Windows Phone 8.1. The Live Lock Screens were first announced as a WP8.1 feature back in April. The app, which is being offered as a beta, lets users change the way the clock is displayed and adds more image options for wallpaper. The app also adds the ability to set just an accent color or make use of the preloaded Lock backgrounds as your wallpaper. Last, wallpaper images can be set to change every hour, every four hours, every 12 hours, daily, or never. Live Lock Screen Beta is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.


Samsung Intros New Exynos Processor Alongside Alpha

Aug 14, 2014, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung has debuted a new mobile application processor dubbed the Exynos 5430. The 5430 falls in the Exynos 5 Octa family and uses a big.LITTLE chip configuration. The processor has two banks of four chips each. One bank uses four ARM Cortex A15s at 1.8GHz for intense calculations, and the other bank uses for ARM Cortex A7s at 1.3GHz for low-power tasks. Samsung said the Exynos 5430 is its first mobile processor built using 20nm low-power High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. Samsung claims this delivers a boost in performance while also reducing power consumption needs by 25% compared to its 28nm chips. The 5430 is capable of powering WQHD (2560 x 1440) and WQXGA (2560 x 1600) displays, as well as supporting a range of high-definition media capture and playback capabilities. The Exynos 5430 will first appear in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which is expected to ship in September.


Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone Gains Voice Memos

Aug 14, 2014, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook recently rolled out an update to the Facebook Messenger application for Windows Phone devices. The update introduces one new feature, the ability to record and send voice messages to other Facebook users. The update also cuts down on data usage. Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Store. The app is now necessary for messaging Facebook users, as Facebook is pulling the messaging capabilities from its main Facebook mobile app.


AT&T Targeting LTE Multicast for 2015

Aug 14, 2014, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently indicated it plans to deploy LTE Multicast beginning next year. LTE Multicast is a technology that allows network operators to push video content to a large number of subscribers at a time, rather than broadcast individual streams to select users on demand. It is a more efficient way to deliver video content to a large number of devices over LTE. "You should expect that you'll see us begin to roll out Multicast capabilities as we move through next year," said AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey. "Initially, we'll be doing it on a targeted basis and we'll be doing it in some specific areas where we think there's immediate deployment." AT&T had earlier said it was exploring the possibility of LTE Multicast, but hadn't committed to any sort of timeline. AT&T is likely to use the 700MHz D and E blocks it purchased from Qualcomm for LTE Multicast. Verizon Wireless, too, said it plans to deploy LTE Multicast in 2015 and it will begin adding LTE Multicast capabilities to handsets beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.


Cellular One to Shutter Montana and Wyoming Networks

Aug 13, 2014, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cellular One has indicated it plans to cease offering wireless service in the states of Montana and Wyoming. Cellular One has advised its customers there to find an alternate provider before August 31, which is when it plans to halt operations. Cellular One is endorsing AT&T and waiving ETFs so customers can switch their service. AT&T is offering Cellular One customers a $100 gift card, and will wave activation fees. Cellular One's retail outlets in Montana and Wyoming will be rebranded to AT&T. In a letter sent to customers earlier this summer, Cellular One said its business model "simply did not support the significant capital investment required to upgrade its Montana network to the 4G technology needed to remain competitive with the large national service providers." Sprint has assumed Cellular One's cell tower leasing rights, though it hasn't purchased any of Cellular One's spectrum, equipment, or customers. Small, regional carriers are finding it increasingly hard to compete against the national providers, which have enough revenue to invest in their networks on a country-wide level.


RadioShack No Contract, Spot Mobile to Cancel Services

Aug 13, 2014, 10:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Two low-cost providers, RadioShack No Contract and Spot Mobile, have decided to call it quits. RadioShack didn't operate a traditional MVNO, but branded and resold Cricket Wireless' service as its own. Now that Cricket is owned by AT&T, and RadioShack No Contract struggled to win over customers, the company will cease selling the service. According to RadioShack, customers who purchased the service will be able to continue using their device and will be transitioned to Cricket Wireless. RadioShack will honor its 30-day return policy so those who recently purchased a RadioShack No Contract device can get a refund. RadioShack's retail business is also hurting and the company plans to close a wide number of stores this year. Separately, Spot Mobile, an MVNO that resold access to T-Mobile's network, also decided to shut down. Spot Mobile has already ceased processing account refills, and will shut down service altogether September 7. Spot Mobile said customers can port their number out to their carrier of choice.


HTC to Offer Zoe, Other Apps to All Android Phones

Aug 13, 2014, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is prepared to make a version of its Zoe application available in the Google Play Store. The app is intended for all Android devices, which will be able to shoot their own Zoes and share the creative video-making process with others. HTC's Zoe is a camera feature specific to a select few of its smartphones, such as the HTC One (both M7 and M8). The new app will allow Samsung, LG, and other Android devices to shoot video clips and pair them with themes and pictures to create 30-second masterpieces. The critical element of the new app is the ability to share Zoes online and contribute to them. For example, HTC envisions multiple people using Zoe to capture an event, such as a wedding, and then adding their own clips to a longer community video that provides for a more compete representation of the event. Zoe will reach the Play Store later this week. HTC is not stopping at Zoe, according to Re/Code. HTC plans to make other apps available to all Android devices. The company has already broken out some of its proprietary apps, such as the gallery and calendar, so they may be updated more frequently outside of full OS upgrades. HTC has assembled a team of 260 people, collectively called HTC Creative Labs, to work on its apps both for HTC and non-HTC phones. HTC didn't say which apps might arrive next.


Samsung Refreshes Its Design Language with Galaxy Alpha

Aug 13, 2014, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy Alpha, an Android smartphone that breaks ties with Samsung's plastic past and introduces metal. The Galaxy Alpha has a metallic frame forming the four outer edges of the device, which has a glass front and textured plastic back panel. At 6.7mm thick, the Alpha is one of Samsung's thinnest phones. The Alpha features a 4.7-inch 720p display and is powered by an octa-core processor (four 1.8GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores). It includes 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, but does not support microSD cards. The Alpha has a 12-megapixel main camera and 2.1-megapixel user-facing camera along with a wide number of Samsung's camera tools, such as Shot & More, Selective Focus, and Beauty Face. It can shoot 4K (Ultra HD) video. Connectivity functions include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and NFC. The Alpha also offers Ultra Power Savings Mode, Download Booster, Quick Connect, and Private Mode, which can be secured with a fingerprint thanks to the fingerprint scanner built into the home button. Samsung said the Galaxy Alpha will ship beginning in September. It will be sold in a variety of colors. Samsung did not detail which markets will see the Alpha first.


Boost Adds LG Realm to Prepaid Lineup

Aug 12, 2014, 4:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 12, 2014, 5:20 PM

Boost Mobile today announced the LG Realm, an inexpensive Android handset, which is available contract-free beginning today for $80. The LG Realm, also sold as the Optimus Exceed 2, runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes several LG features, such as Knock Code, QSlide apps, and QuickMemo. The Realm features a 4.5-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3; a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage; a 5-megapixel main camera with VGA front-facing camera; and a 2100mAh battery. The LG Realm is HD Voice-capable. The Realm is available from Boost's web site and select retailers.


T-Mobile Snags A Bit More 700MHz Spectrum

Aug 12, 2014, 12:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently asked the FCC for permission to buy spectrum licenses from Actel, a company owned by CenturyLink. The deal includes 13 licenses that cover various small cities in portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The total number of POPs contained in the markets is about 6.5 million. T-Mobile told the FCC the purchase will help it improve its service offering to customers in those regions. No terms were disclosed in the FCC filing. T-Mobile also recently agreed to snap up another small sliver of 700MHz spectrum from I-700 A Block. Those licenses cover Evansville, Ind., and Henderson and Paducah, Ky.


New, Reversible USB Connector Finalized

Aug 12, 2014, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The USB Promotors Group has finished developing the design and specifications for the USB Type-C plug and port. The Type-C connector will replace the Type-B connector (microUSB) found in most modern mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. One of the key aspects of the Type-C connector is that it is reversible and can be inserted either way (much like Apple's Lightning connector). The Type-C connector will support USB 3.1, providing for theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, and 100W of power for charging batteries. According to the USB Promoters Group, USB Type-C will be fast and powerful enough for laptops, in addition to smartphones and tablets. The Type-C connector will not be compatible with existing USB ports, but the USB Promoters Group claims an extensive array of adapters will be made available during its introduction. It's unclear how long it will take hardware manufacturers to adopt the new standard, but the USB Promoters Group is already offering companies the technical details they need to get started.


Verizon Reschedules VoLTE-Only Phones for 2016

Aug 12, 2014, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has moved back the timeframe for deploying handsets without CDMA chipsets by two years. The company plans to debut VoLTE service by the end of 2014, but will continue to use its CDMA network for the bulk of voice calls for another two years. Verizon earlier had said VoLTE-only devices would appear this year. "For us, when we launch a new technology, we have to make sure our quality is strong because the CDMA network was so strong," said CFO Fran Shammo to investors. "We don't go before we know it's ready." Shammo's comments indicate Verizon isn't yet confident in the quality of its forthcoming VoLTE service, which was originally expected to kick off last year. T-Mobile has expanded the reach of its VoLTE service to 200 million people, and AT&T launched VoLTE in a limited fashion across the midwest earlier this year. Sprint hasn't said if or when it will deploy VoLTE. Verizon's Shammo said the company will finish deploying LTE on its AWS spectrum holdings by the end of the year. Verizon is using the AWS spectrum to supplement the LTE coverage and capacity provided by its 700MHz spectrum. Shammo also noted the company is looking at LTE Broadcast technology, but any sort of deployment is about a year away.


Pantech Files for Bankruptcy

Aug 12, 2014, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Pantech filed for court receivership today, which is the South Korean equivalent of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has seen its share of the global market drop precipitously. More importantly, it is no longer able to compete against the likes of LG and Samsung in its home market, according to The Wall Street Journal, where a month long sales ban further crippled the company. Pantech has spent the last few years juggling with its finances. Last year, it accepted investments from Samsung and Qualcomm, which own 10% and 12% of the company, respectively. Even with these investments, Pantech owes creditors about $961 million - or double the amount of assets its has. Pantech only brought three models to the U.S. in 2013, and hasn't brought any in 2014. If Pantech's court receivership is accepted by the bank, it will have about a year to come up with a restructuring plan.


HTC's Desire Range More Broadly Available in US

Aug 11, 2014, 3:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today expanded the availability of the Desire 816 and Desire 610 in the U.S. First, Virgin Mobile has committed to selling the Desire 816, which will be available beginning August 12 for $299. The 816 is an inexpensive phablet, which features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, plastic shell, and BoomSound speakers. Virgin Mobile does not require contracts. Second, HTC is making the Desire 816 and Desire 610 available to U.S. consumers directly via its web site. The 610 has a 4.7-inch screen and BoomSound speakers. The 610 is also available from AT&T's GoPhone prepaid brand for $200. Both devices run the latest version of Android and HTC Sense 6.0.


T-Mobile Intros New Pay As You Go Plans

Aug 11, 2014, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a refresh to its Pay as You Go plans. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile's low-cost offering will charge one flat rate of $0.10 per voice minute or per message. The plan will require a monthly minimum spend of $3, providing customers with up to 30 minutes of talk, 30 messages, or a combo thereof. The plan does not require credit checks, deposits, or annual contracts. Customers will also be able to buy LTE day passes. The data passes cost $5 for one day (up to 500MB of LTE) or $10 for seven days (up to 1GB of LTE). The new Pay as You Go plans can be paired with a wide range of devices.


Virgin Mobile's Custom Plans Now Available at Walmart

Aug 11, 2014, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Virgin Mobile USA's Custom plans launched at Walmart stores today. The plans, which were announced last month, allow customers to add only the service they want and alter their service day-by-day if they need to in order to manage their expenses. Virgin Mobile Custom allows families to activate up to five lines on a single account starting at $6.98 per line. The Base plan includes 20 texts and 20 voice minutes per month. Customers can choose to add unlimited texting for $10 or unlimited voice for $18. The Unlimited talk and text plan costs $35 per month. Customers can also choose select add-ons, such as unlimited access to Facebook or music streaming, which can be added monthly at as needed. Virgin Mobile Custom plans are available to three devices, including the ZTE Emblem, the LG Pulse, and the LG Unify, at select Walmart stores.


Microsoft Debuts Entry-Level Nokia 130 Handset

Aug 11, 2014, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced the Nokia 130, a simple, inexpensive handset meant for first-timers and emerging markets. The candybar-style phone runs the Series 30 platform and includes a 1.8-inch screen, stereo headphone jack, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. According to Microsoft, the Nokia 130 supports both video and audio playback, and includes an FM radio. The phone has a flashlight, but no camera. The Nokia 130 will reach select markets this quarter. Pricing is expected to be about $25 and it will be sold in single- and dual-SIM variants. Microsoft Devices Group includes the handset division of Nokia, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year. Microsoft's Jo Harlow said though the company is killing off Nokia's Android/X devices, it still believes there is a good market opportunity for entry-level phones in addition to its Lumia Windows Phone devices.


HTC One (M8) to Add MirrorLink Support for Cars

Aug 11, 2014, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC and the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that a forthcoming software update will make the One (M8) MirrorLink compatible. MirrorLink is a connectivity tool for pairing smartphones and cars. It works across smartphone platforms and car manufacturers, and, according to the CCC, is the only vendor-neutral standard available. With MirrorLink aboard, the One (M8) will be able to connect to select in-car infotainment systems,m allowing drivers to more safely access their phone's content when behind the wheel. It's unclear how many cars currently support MirrorLink, but the CCC hopes with HTC's support more will choose to support it. Apple and Google both recently announced their own connectivity solutions for cars, which are expected to appear in iOS 8 and Android Release L, respectively. HTC said it will add MirrorLink support to mode devices down the road.


FCC Asking All Carriers to Explain Throttling Policies

Aug 8, 2014, 1:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today indicated the agency has sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile with questions pertaining to their network management policies. The issue bubbled to the surface recently when Verizon announced plans to throttle its heaviest unlimited LTE subscribers. In a letter to Verizon, Wheeler called the policy management criteria "deeply troubling." Verizon responded and claimed its policies do not differ from those of its competitors. Wheeler is not convinced. "'All the kids do it' was never something that worked for me when I was growing up," said Wheeler. "My concern in this instance - and it's not just with Verizon, by the way, we've written to all the carriers - is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues ... such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them." AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have not yet responded publicly to the FCC's query.


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