Senator Charles Schumer of New York today reintroduced the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act. The bill was first proposed a year ago, but was never acted upon by congress. The act would make it a federal crime to alter or change the unique device identification or IMEI number of a wireless device. Together with the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. wireless network operators last year created a database of stolen device IDs. The database is used by the network operators to deny voice and data services to stolen devices registered on the list. The impetus behind the database and the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act is to make it difficult or impossible to activate stolen devices on wireless networks, which reduces the resale value of stolen phones and curbs the theft of mobile devices.
C Spire Wireless today announced a forthcoming expansion of its LTE 4G footprint that will see coverage extended to a half million POPs across Mississippi. According to C Spire, the expansion will begin in August and wrap up in November. When complete, 205 new cell sites will provide LTE 4G coverage to 71 new cities across 51 counties. Further, C Spire plans to expand its existing 4G LTE service in 21 cities and 6 counties in southern Alabama and along the Florida panhandle by the end of the year. C Spire already operates LTE in 37 Mississippi markets, covering some 1.2 million POPs. Earlier this year, C Spire inked a nationwide LTE roaming agreement with Sprint.
AT&T today confirmed that its GoPhone customers can now access its HSPA+ and LTE 4G data networks. The change means that owners of devices such as the iPhone 5 or other LTE-capable equipment will be able to browse the web at faster speeds. "Starting today, new AT&T GoPhone customers have the option of connecting to our nation's largest 4G network if they purchase a 4G or 4G LTE device at full retail price or bring their own 4G or 4G LTE device," said AT&T. GoPhone customers who already have HSPA+ or LTE-capable equipment will receive an over-the-air update that enables HSPA+/LTE network access on June 12. GoPhone customers have to be on the $25, $50, or $65 monthly plan in order to access the faster data speeds.
Dish Networks came out swinging in response to reports that Japan's SoftBank will allow the U.S. to name a member to Sprint's board of directors in its attempt to diffuse any worry about national security. "A Dish-Sprint will be better for national security by preserving domestic ownership, control and accountability over Sprint's national wireless network and fiber backbone network, which provides classified services to government, law enforcement and military customers," the company said. Dish was sure to point out that if Sprint accepts its offer, the result will be a company that it financed, run, and wholly owned by Americans. It played the fear card by noting, "Dish is not foreign-controlled; Dish does not operate infrastructure dependent on Chinese equipment; Dish does not own nearly a third of the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba; Dish was not affiliated with a company that admitted bribing Chinese officials for telecommunications contracts." Further, it reiterated that it believes its offer for Sprint is better in that it places a higher value on the company and brings with it additional spectrum and an existing customer base. Beyond its rhetoric, Dish took steps to ascertain financing for its proposed acquisition of Sprint. The Wall Street Journal reports that Dish has received signed commitment letters from five banks. It has now raised $12 billion of the $25.5 billion in funding it needs to purchase Sprint. Sprint is currently negotiating with Dish over its proposal, though Sprint's board of directors still recommends the SoftBank deal over Dish's.
Nokia has filed new complaints against HTC with the U.S. International Trade Commission and courts in California, alleging that the company is infringing on its intellectual property. Nokia already has claims against HTC in motion that are separate from its latest filings. "We began actions against HTC in 2012 to end the unauthorized use of our proprietary innovations and technologies," said Nokia. "Since then, HTC has shown no intention to end its practices; instead it has tried to shift responsibility to its suppliers. We have therefore taken these further steps to hold HTC accountable for its actions." Last month, a court in Germany found that STMicroelectronics, a supplier of microphones, had violated an agreement it had with Nokia when it sold parts to HTC. HTC says it was free of guilt in that case. The nature of Nokia's new complaints were not immediately specified.
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Microsoft did not infringe on a patent held by Motorola. The full commission's decision upheld an earlier ruling by an administrative law judge and puts the matter to rest. The case began in 2010 when Motorola accused Microsoft of violating five of its patents. Four of the patents were eventually dropped from the case, leaving just one pertaining to how Microsoft's XBox gaming system used Wi-Fi. Microsoft declared the ruling a "win" for its customers, adding that it "confirms our view that Google had no grounds to block our products."
Verizon Wireless today made Verizon Cloud, its backup and storage service, available to the Apple iPhone. Verizon Cloud lets customers sync their smartphones and tablets to Verizon's servers. It offers 500MB of storage for free, and up to 125GB of storage for $9.99 per month. Verizon says the free option should be enough to backup settings, calls, messages, and contacts. Verizon Cloud was made available to Android devices last month. The application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry OS 10.2, which is expected to arrive before the end of the year, was recently detailed by BlackBerry Product Manager Michael Clewley. According to Clewley, BB OS 10.2 will add support for unicode emoji, support for multiple alarms, a timer, and support for level 1 notifications. An SDK for BlackBerry OS 10.2 is expected to arrive in June, with the full operating system following several months later.
AT&T has added a new administration fee to the monthly bills of all its customers. The fee amounts to 61 cents, which, when multiplied across AT&T's entire customer base, amounts to about $500 million in extra revenue per year for the company. An AT&T spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the fee is less than that charged by its competitors. It went into effect May 1.
HTC today announced that the HTC One smartphone is its first HTCpro Certified smartphone. Devices certified as HTCpro meet certain security standards that make it more appealing as a choice for business customers. Chiefly, it meets the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 and offers 256-bit encryption. Further, it includes IPsec VPN for accessing corporate networks securely, and includes mobile device management APIs that can be used by businesses to control the One remotely. The One is available from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA.
Samsung today indicated through one of its official Twitter accounts that the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S 4 is now available. It costs $199.99 for the 16GB model with a new contract.
SoftBank has signalled to the U.S. government that it will let officials elect a new person to Sprint's board of directors. This person would be responsible for overseeing national security concerns. The move is an unusual concession on SoftBank's part, and is being taken to allay U.S. governmental fears about foreign country ownership of a telecommunications company. The government is also pursuing the right to approve certain telecommunications equipment purchases, and wants Sprint to remove Chinese equipment from its affiliates. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has already approved the deal, but it is still undergoing review within the U.S. Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, in addition to the FBI. The deal must also be cleared by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.
Google continues to make small improvements to its Chrome browser for the Android platform and today it was updated to version 27. The latest stable release changes the search omnibox to show the search terms rather than the search URL, and makes it easier to jump to other searches in the search history. The app now also allows for full-screen browsing. Last, Google says the browser loads pages 5% faster. Google said that a new version of Chrome will soon be available to Apple's iPhone and iPad, and will bring with it voice search tools built into the browser. Google also updated the Google Play Magazines application and gave it a brand new user interface for the magazine library. Both Chrome and Play Magazines for Android are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Twitter today increased the security it offers to users of its microblogging platform by adding two-step authentication to the sign-in process. The process requires that users add a mobile phone number to their account. With the two-step authentication enabled, Twitter will send an SMS to that number with a code that must be entered in addition to the username and password in order to gain access to the Twitter account. The code will be sent each time the person logs in via the web, but is not required for subsequent sign-ins through Twitter apps. This new security feature is optional.
Verizon Wireless today announced a new company called Viva Movil, which is meant to help address the Latino population in the U.S. The company was founded by Jennifer Lopez, who serves as its chief marketing officer. Viva Movil is a partnership between Brightstar Solutions, for distribution, and Moorehead Communications, a Verizon Wireless retailer. The company will use social networking and online commerce to connect with the Latino population. The company is a retail chain that sells Verizon phones and tablets on Verizon's network with Verizon service plans. The stores will be designed in a way so that they are appealing to the Latino community, and all staffers will be bilingual. The company's web site is up and taking orders, and the first Viva Movil retail store will open on June 15 in New York City. Other markets, such as Los Angeles and Miami, will follow throughout the year.
Cricket today showed a sneak peek of two Samsung phones coming this summer. The Admire 2 sports a 4-inch screen and 4G LTE, while the Galaxy Discover is more basic with its 3.5-inch screen and stock Android interface. We checked them out. Read on for our first impressions.
Google today announced the availability of a new version of its Drive app for Android devices. Google Drive has been updated with a number of user interface tweaks to make it easier and faster to access files and documents. Documents are now laid out in cards that offer large previews of the content within the document. Users can swipe from card to card and document to document, viewing previews as they go. The app now also lets users download and store copies of files to their Android device. Another new feature of Google Drive lets Android device users snap photos of documents, which are then converted into PDFs and automatically uploaded to Drive for safe keeping. Google says that Drive's optical character recognition feature will allow the text of those documents to be searchable. Last, Google Drive for Android updates the editing tools for spreadsheets, making it less cumbersome to make changes from mobile devices. The new version of Google Drive for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Samsung today confirmed that it has made a $48 million investment in competitor Pantech, which gives it 10% ownership of the company. "The investment is aimed at solidifying our relationship with Pantech, a key component customer of Samsung," said the company in a statement. "Samsung will have no involvement in Pantech’s business management in any way or form." The two competitors already collaborate on semiconductor and display technologies. Pantech sells a mix of feature phones and smartphones in the U.S. through AT&T.
Clearwire's board of directors has approved Sprint's increased bid for the company. It is recommending that shareholders vote in favor of accepting the bid and allowing Sprint to purchase the remaining portion of Clearwire that it does not already own. Sprint increased its offer for Clearwire from $2 billion to $2.5 billion to win over investors unhappy with the original offer.
At a press briefing this morning, Cricket revealed that it plans to enable LTE roaming later this year on bands 4 (1700) and 25 (1900). Band 25 LTE is used exclusively by Sprint in the U.S. Band 4 (AWS) is used by many carriers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and soon, Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be Cricket's first phone to support band 25 roaming.
Cricket today announced plans to offer two new Samsung Android phones this summer: the Admire 2 and the Galaxy Discover (already offered in a GSM variant by Net10.)
- The Admire 2 is a new, mid-range Android phone with 4G LTE, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and Samsung's TouchWiz interface and camera features on top of Android 4.1. U.S. Cellular carries it as the Axiom.
- The Galaxy Discover is a basic Android phone with a 3.5-inch display, 3-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and stock Android 4.0 interface.
Cricket today announced that it will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S 4 on June 7 for $599.99. A financing option starts with a $59.99 down payment, plus monthly payments.
Verizon Wireless has begun selling more specific data generated by its customers to third-party companies, reports the Wall Street Journal. The data being offered includes details such as locations, travels, demographics, and web-browsing habits. The data is anonymized, so it can't be identified to individual customers, and is packaged in groups of customers rather than by person. The data, which is compiled by a company called Precision Media Insights, is sold to organizations such as the government, malls, billboard owners, and stadiums, which can then gain a better understanding about the people who frequent their businesses, what they're doing, and the general area in which they live. Verizon warned customers in 2011 that it might use their data in this manner. The Journal reports that subscribers can opt out via Verizon's web site. Information about government and corporate clients is not shared, and Verizon says that it complies with applicable laws regarding customer privacy. The Journal says that AT&T is looking to sell similar customer location data, but has not yet chosen to do so.
Coolpad announced the Quattro II on the sly during an event at the CTIA trade show. Phone Scoop took a quick look at the company's latest low-cost wonder.
Coolpad today revealed the Quattro II 4G, an Android smartphone slated to land at C Spire Wireless in the next few weeks. It features a 4.5-inch qND display, dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM, and 5-megapixel camera. It will run on LTE 4G and is capable of VoLTE calls. It offers 4GB of storage and included supports microSD cards for expanded storage. It ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
We spent some time with the new Lumia 620 for Aio, AT&T's new prepaid experiment. This cute little phone has a unique design. Here's what we thought of it.
We spent some time with Nokia's new flagship phone, coming soon to T-Mobile USA. The Lumia 925 displays an evolution of Nokia's industrial design that uses more metal to achieve a thinner, lighter body. Find out how it stacks up against the competition in our hands-on.
Nokia today revealed that its LiveSight augmented reality technology is now being in both its HERE Maps and in a new version of Foursquare for Windows Phone. LiveSight is already available in Nokia City Lens, and uses object recognition to provide additional information and details about what the device owner is looking at through the camera. Within HERE Maps, LiveSight acts similar to Google's Street View feature, which gives people an on-the-ground view of locations and points of interest on any given map. It is also able to tag places such as restaurants, shops, and other locations. The same technology has been added to the Foursquare application for Windows Phone, though it is only accessible from Nokia's Lumia devices. The Foursquare app takes advantage of LiveSight to help users seek out and find venues with the help of image recognition.
Powermat today announced that it has merged with PowerKiss. Powermat, based in the U.S., makes and markets wireless charging accessories. It backs the standard supported by the Power Matters Alliance. Before today, PowerKiss, which is based in Finland, backed a competing standard. Now that the two companies are one, they are together throwing their weight behind the PMA wireless charging standard. The PMA is mounting a challenge to competing standards Qi and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Earlier this year, the PMA won support from AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Starbucks, and ZTE. Further, AT&T mandated that its handset partners incorporate the PMA wireless charging standard into their devices by 2014. Verizon Wireless supports the Qi standard. The consumer electronics industry has yet to settle on a single standard.
CAT today announced the availability of the B15, a rugged Android smartphone. The device, which debuted earlier this year, runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and has a 4-inch WVGA display that works with wet fingers. It also includes a 5-megapixel camera, a MediaTek dual-core 1GHz processor, GPS, Wi-Fi, and support for microSD cards. The device is fully ruggedized and can withstand up to 30 minutes in three feet of water as well as multiple drops to concrete from six feet. CAT says it is "impervious" to dust and dirt. The B15 is being built and distributed for CAT by Bullitt Mobile. It costs $349 and can be used on the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile USA.
Sprint today announced plans to offer its first tri-band LTE products later this summer. The three devices include the Novatel Wireless MiFi 500 LTE, the Netgear Zing Mobile Hotspot, and the Netgear 341U USB Modem. All three devices will be able to access LTE in the 800MHz, 1900MHz, and 2.5GHz bands. Right now, Sprint is primarily deploying LTE in the 1900MHz band, but it will begin to offer LTE in the 800MHz band starting later this year after Sprint shuts down its iDEN network on June 30. The 800MHz spectrum will offer better in-building coverage when compared to the 1900MHz spectrum. Sprint has officially launched LTE in 88 markets, but it says it will cover 170 markets in the coming months. The 2.5GHz spectrum is currently owned by Clearwire, and Sprint says it will eventually be used to offer high-speed service in densely populated regions. The exact pricing and availability details of the three tri-band LTE devices will be announced at a later time. Sprint has not yet said when it will offer tri-band LTE smartphones.
Verizon Wireless today announced plans to use small cells to supplement its LTE 4G network in select areas around the country beginning in the second half of the year. Verizon calls the use of small cells a "balanced approach to network capacity." They will be deployed in areas where capacity is constrained due to high concentrations of users, such as shopping malls and business districts. Verizon will use small cell equipment from Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent. Verizon did not specify any exact locations where the cells would be added. According to Verizon, its LTE 4G network already covers 95% of its existing 3G footprint in some 497 markets.
Sprint today announced that its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will both offer the Samsung Galaxy S III beginning in June. The GSIII will include support for Sprint's LTE 4G network. Pricing and exact availability was not shared.
Opera today announced that its WebKit-based Android browser has graduated from beta status and is now available to all from the Google Play Store. The browser had been in testing for the last several months so Opera could fine-tune the WebKit rendering engine. Previously, Opera used its own Presto rendering engine. Opera's customizations include a revised Speed Dial screen, simplified tab management, and deep browsing history support. The browser also offers server-side compressions should users wish to conserve mobile data usage. The browser is free to download and runs on devices with Android 2.3 and up.
Boost Mobile today announced a new mobile wallet application for its Android smartphones. Boost Mobile Wallet is a mobile banking service targeted at the underbanked that lets Boost Mobile customers send money to people in 135 countries, pay bills, top-up prepaid wireless accounts, transfer funds between accounts, as well as deposit checks directly from the phone. The app is accompanied by a re-loadable prepaid Visa debit card that can be used for transactions at retailers around the country. The application itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. The wallet app can be used to make payments directly at select retailers in Los Angeles, San Diego, and portions of New Jersey. Boost expects to roll the payment service out nationwide beginning this summer.
Sprint today submitted a revised offer for Clearwire and increased its bid from $2.97 per share to $3.40 per share, now totaling about $2.5 billion. Sprint hopes the improved offer will give Clearwire's board and investors the incentive they need to approval the deal. Sprint is looking to purchase the 50% of Clearwire that it does not already own in order to gain control over the company's 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, as well as ease SoftBank's 70% equity acquisition of Sprint. SoftBank had initially limited Sprint's bid to $2.97, but has approved the new offer. Though Clearwire's board approved the initial offer, it met fierce resistance from several large shareholders who were unhappy with the terms. Clearwire's board will assess the new proposal and make a new recommendation to shareholders, who will vote on the matter May 30.
Kyocera's new Hydro XTRM for U.S. Cellular sits at the high end of the Hydro lineup, with upgraded features like 4G and extra durability. You could also think of it as a "Torque Lite". Read on for our first impressions of this interesting new Android phone.
Kyocera's water-proof Hydro gains a better-equipped cousin in the Hydro Edge for Sprint and Boost. Packing better tech into a thinner profile, the Edge is a step up on paper, but how does it stack up in person? We take it for a quick spin in our hands-on report.
Kyocera today announced the Hydro Edge and Hydro XTRM, building on the success of the original Hydro. Like the original, the new models are affordable Android phones that are fully water-proof. The new models are slightly higher-end, however, both sporting a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, 4-inch glass display, 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, and Android 4.1. Both models also feature the unique Smart Sonic Receiver tissue-conduction speaker technology found in the Torque. Both have 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of built-in storage, and a memory card slot.
- Hydro Edge: Coming to Sprint and Boost this summer, this CDMA model also sports HD Voice and a back-side-illuminated camera sensor. Its processor clocks in at 1 GHz.
- Hydro XTRM: On sale with U.S. Cellular starting today, this model steps up with 4G LTE, a 1.2 Ghz processor, a front camera, shock (drop) resistance to military standards, and a large 2,000 mAh battery.
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