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printed October 21, 2014
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Sprint Trims 452 Jobs at Headquarters

Yesterday, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently disclosed another round of job cuts, this time impacting its Kansas City headquarters. The company said it reduced its headcount by 452 people, mostly in the IT and administration aspect of the company. The cuts are in addition to workforce reductions the company put in place earlier this year. Sprint's headcount is now fewer than 33,000. It ended 2013 with 38,000 employees. Job cuts impacting the company's Kansas City operations number more than 900 as Sprint seeks to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The company said more cuts are on the way, but most of them should be acted upon by the end of the month. Sprint appointed a new CEO, Marcelo Claure, in August. Claure has stepped up efforts to streamline the company's operations.


Kyocera Torque XT Now On Sale at Sprint Stores

Friday, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 3:51 PM

Sprint and Kyocera today announced the Torque XT, a minor update to the original Torque. The two updates include compatibility with Sprint's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, and the improvement on onboard storage to 20GB. Otherwise, all the features are the same as the original Torque. The XT has a mil-spec rating of 810G for protection against shock, temperature extremes, solar radiation, and vibration. It has an IP rating of 67, which means it can sit in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, as well as spend the day in the sand on the beach. The device includes standard Kyocera features, such as the Sonic Smart Receiver for phone calls, and MaxiMZR and Eco Mode for managing battery life. The Torque XT has a 4-inch WVGA screen, 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel main camera, and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone includes WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0, and runs on Sprint's LTE network. The device is based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes an array of business-friendly features, such as support for VPNs, mobile device management suites, and Exchange ActiveSync. The Kyocera Torque XT is available today via most Sprint sales channels. Sprint is asking for $0 down followed by 24 payments of $15 with Sprint Easy Pay.


Transit Wireless to Start Phase 3 of NYC Subway Project

Thursday, 2:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 2:51 PM

Transit Wireless and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority today said more New York City residents will gain access to cellular service when using the subway. To start, Transit Wireless has completed Phase 2 of the project, which means 11 new stations in Manhattan and 29 stations in Queens are now connected with cellular and Wi-Fi service. Phase 3 will add service to Flushing Main Street Station in Queens, as well as stations in Lower Manhattan, West Harlem, and Washington Heights throughout 2015. Transit Wireless' project has seven phases in total, which will eventually bring connectivity to all 277 subway stations in New York by 2017. Wireless service is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


Apple Debuts New Multi-Carrier SIM Card in iPad Air 2

Thursday, 2:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 2:35 PM

Apple today revealed the iPad Air 2, and along with it a new way to handle SIM cards. According to Apple, the new Apple SIM gives iPad Air 2 owners unprecedented flexibility when it comes to choosing an LTE service provider. "Whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you -- with no long-term commitment," explained Apple. "And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip." The multi-carrier SIM is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S., as well as EE in the U.K. The iPad Air 2 supports 20 different LTE bands, similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The carriers named by Apple have not yet discussed the particulars regarding no-contract data plans. There's no word on why Verizon Wireless isn't included in the list of U.S. carriers. It's possible that the Apple SIM will find its way to future Apple products, including its iPhones.


Google Shows Off Nexus 6 Smartphone, Nexus 9 Tablet

Oct 15, 2014, 11:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 15, 2014, 11:28 AM

Google today announced Android 5.0 Lollipop and with it the first few devices to run the new operating system, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 is a large-screened smartphone made by Motorola. It has an aluminum frame and a 6-inch quad HD display with a 13-megapixel main camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization and HDR+ for improved low-light shots. The device has stereo-speakers with high-fidelity sound and comes with a turbo charger for fast charging. Google claims the device can get up to six hours of battery time after plugging it in for just 15 minutes. The Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November. Google will sell an unlocked version through the Play Store, and the Nexus 6 will also be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The device costs $649 at full retail, which is $200 more than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 9 tablet is made by HTC and features an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen with a brushed aluminum design. It is run by a dual-core Tegra K1 64-bit processor with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. Other features include an 8.0-/1.6-megapixel camera configuration; BoomSound speakers; dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE; and a 6,700mAh battery. The Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. The Wi-Fi model starts at $399.


FCC Suggests No Joint Bidding for Largest Carriers

Oct 14, 2014, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC wants to prevent the country's Tier 1 operators from filing joint bids in future spectrum auctions. The FCC recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking covering the matter, and is looking for comments on its belief that powerful carriers shouldn't be allowed to collude on spectrum purchases. The FCC also hopes to receive comments about whether or not the largest carriers can submit joint bids with smaller carriers. The FCC had already floated the idea earlier this year when Chairman Tom Wheeler said Sprint and T-Mobile should not be allowed to form a joint venture for the purpose of purchasing spectrum. The NPRM further looks to define what "designated entities" are allowed to do with their spectrum. Designated entities can be small businesses or rural phone companies. Under the current rules, DEs have to build their own wireless networks before allowing others to access the spectrum, but the FCCs proposal would allow them to lease their spectrum to larger carriers without first deploying their own service. The FCC's new rules won't be finalized before the November 13 AWS-3 auction, but likely will be for the 600MHz incentive auction scheduled for mid-2015.


Boost and Sprint Announce Sharp Aquos Crystal Availability

Oct 10, 2014, 10:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost, Sprint, and Sprint Prepaid today revealed launch details for the Sharp Aquos Crystal. Boost is selling the Aquos Crystal beginning today for $150. Boost does not require contracts. Sprint will sell the Aquos Crystal beginning October 17 for $0 down and 24 payments of $10 with Sprint Easy Pay, or $240 outright. Last, Sprint Prepaid is selling the Aquos Crystal at Best Buy locations today for $150, and will sell it at RadioShack stores beginning October 21. The Sharp Aquos Crystal features a nearly borderless design, 5-inch display, 8-megapixel camera, and Harmon Kardon music enhancements.


Boost Mobile to Begin iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Sales Oct. 17

Oct 10, 2014, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today said it will offer the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus beginning October 17. Boost is charging, in general, about $100 less than Apple is for the iPhones. Boost is selling the iPhone 6 for $550, $650, and $750 for the 16-, 64-, and 128-GB models, respectively, and the 6 Plus for $650, $750, and $850 for the 16-, 64-, and 128-GB models, respectively. Boost is a prepaid carrier operated by Sprint. It doesn't require contracts.


Sprint Ups Business Shared Data Plans to 800GB

Oct 10, 2014, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has again doubled the size of shared data plans it offers to business customers. Early this week, Sprint increased its Business Share Plan data allotments by a factor of two. Now, it has doubled them again. Businesses can put up to 50 lines on plans with 240GB, 320GB, or 400GB for $400, $540, and $675, respectively. Businesses can put up to 100 lines on shared data plans with 600GB or 800GB for $1,010 and $1,350, respectively. The doubled Business Share Plans are available through October 31.


Sprint, T-Mobile Want FCC to Eye AT&T's Spectrum Spree

Oct 10, 2014, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint, T-Mobile, and others want the FCC to "carefully scrutinize" a number of AT&T's proposed low-band spectrum acquisitions. AT&T has asked the FCC for permission to purchase 700MHz spectrum from a range of small companies around the country. AT&T's competitors argue its low-band spectrum purchases should trigger the FCC's spectrum screen and require extra examination for their effects on competition. Low-band spectrum is highly valued for its propagation characteristics, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless already control a significant amount of low-band spectrum around the country. Sprint and T-Mobile claim the FCC has yet to fully define what triggers the spectrum screen with small-scale deals. They believe AT&T is taking advantage of the FCC's lack of clarity on the issue. AT&T responded by saying, "AT&T is confident that after a careful, enhanced factor review, the Bureau will conclude that both of these small deals will cause no harm to competition and will result in significant public interest benefits."


Sprint to Kill Off WiMax Once and for All On Nov. 6, 2015

Oct 7, 2014, 3:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today confirmed it will permanently shutter its WiMax network on or around November 6, 2015. The company had previously said it would operate the failed 4G network until "the end of 2015." Sprint said it has identified 6,000 "redundant sites that we expect to decommission and terminate the underlying leases," as part of the process, which will save the company some money. According to Sprint, it has already begun to notify customers about the pending changes. The company said any WiMax/3G devices still in use will continue to have access to Sprint's 3G service after WiMax goes off the air. "Most WiMax subscribers are upgrade eligible due to the age of their device," said a Sprint spokesperson. "In addition, offers are being planned for targeted postpaid WiMax subscribers prior to the WiMax network shutdown." Sprint plans to refarm the WiMax spectrum for LTE. Last year, Sprint shut down its iDEN network has already begun to roll out LTE on the iDEN network's old airwaves.


Google Voice Now Supports MMS on Select Networks

Oct 7, 2014, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has enabled MMS within Google Voice on more than 100 networks in North America, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S. Google Voice was previously limited to sending and receiving only SMS messages. For the moment, Verizon has not enabled MMS via Google Voice, and Google didn't say whether or not it intends to. Some of Google Voice's features have recently been ported to Google's Hangouts app/service, such as the ability to make voice calls.


Sprint Targets Businesses with New Shared Data Plans

Oct 7, 2014, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced new Business Share Plans that offer companies up to 50 lines and data packages ranging to 200 GB. The plans start at $90 per month for 20 GB that can be shared by up to 10 lines. The 50-line, 200 GB plan costs $675 per month. Sprint is also offering singe-line business plans that include unlimited talk, text, and data for $65 per month. Sprint said customers who port a number from another carrier will receive a $150 bill credit per line in addition to a minimum trade-in credit of $150 per device swapped for a new phone. The bill credits are only available until October 31.


Sprint to Slice Unknown Number of Jobs

Oct 3, 2014, 5:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it plans to cut an unspecified number of jobs over the course of the next month. The cuts will include management-level and non-management jobs across the company's business units. Sprint expects to take a charge of about $160 million during the quarter to cover the cost of severance packages. Sprint said the job cuts will eventually help reduce expenses. The company made a similar series of cuts in January. Sprint employs about 38,000 people.


Sprint Offering Free Calls to Mexico Through 2015

Oct 3, 2014, 10:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 3, 2014, 10:27 AM

Sprint today announced a new promotion that provides new customers with 500 free minutes of calling to Mexico and eight other countries through 2015. The promotion, which is limited to new lines of service, includes calling to Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Spain. Once customers exhaust their 500-minute monthly allotment, calls to Mexico will cost $0.01 per minute. Sprint said rates will vary to the other countries that are part of the promo. New customers can sign up for the Sprint Mexico & More 500 plan between now and December 5, 2014. Once the promotion expires in December 2015, customers will pay $5 per month for the plan. Existing Sprint customers can add Sprint Mexico & More 500 for $5 per month.


Kyocera Hydro Vibe Latest Sprint Phone to Gain Wi-Fi Calling

Oct 2, 2014, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said a software update will add Wi-Fi Calling to the Kyocera Hydro Vibe. The update is rolling out now and should reach all Vibes in the coming weeks. Wi-Fi Calling lets customers make calls and send messages over Wi-Fi networks for free.


List of Spectrum Bidders Holds No Surprises

Oct 2, 2014, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC revealed on Wednesday that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless - three of the nation's top four carriers - plan to participate in the upcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction. Dish Networks also plans to bid for airwaves, alongside myriad smaller entities. According to the FCC, 80 companies plan to make bids for AWS-3 spectrum, though 47 of the applications were deemed incomplete. The auction begins November 13, but completed applications and down payments are due from all bidders by October 15. Sprint does not plan to participate in this auction. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.


Sprint Responds to AT&T's 'Double Data' Promo with Its Own

Oct 1, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 1, 2014, 9:58 AM

Sprint today moved to counter a mobile data promotion recently launched by AT&T by debuting its own. Beginning today, subscribers to Sprint's Family Share Pack plans will be able to double their data allotments. Families with the 32, 40, and 80GB plans will receive 60, 80, and 120GB, respectively, for the same monthly fee they're already paying. Customers have to visit Sprint stores or call in to customer support by October 31 to receive the new data packages. Additionally, Sprint is waiving the access charge for handsets, tablets, and mobile broadband devices on 20GB or higher data allowances for customers who switch their number to Sprint. Sprint is offering a similar double-data promotion to its business customers, as well.


FreedomPop Trots Out $89 Liberty Tablet

Oct 1, 2014, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FreedomPop today announced a new direction for the company, as it plans to sell more low-cost hardware using its own brand. The first device to bear the FreedomPop name is the Liberty, a tablet that has a 6.7-inch screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. The Liberty includes a dual-core 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The main camera captures 4-megapixel images and the selfie camera captures VGA images. The Liberty supports memory cards and includes a 2,400mAh battery. FreedomPop is marketing the Liberty as a phablet, but it is limited to Wi-Fi and does not include cellular capabilities. Liberty owners will receive 200 voice minutes and 500 messages for free; both services will require an active Wi-Fi network to function. (Some of FreedomPop's devices include cellular capabilities and roam onto Sprint's network.) Liberty said a larger, 10-inch tablet with LTE, called the Frenzy, will arrive next month. Further, a FreedomPop-branded, LTE-equipped Android smartphone will show up at some point down the road. The FreedomPop Liberty costs $89 and ships today. Last, FreedomPop said it plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy Note II and Note 3 in the days ahead for low prices.


Pebble Adds Health and Fitness Powers, Drops Prices

Sep 30, 2014, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Pebble today announced a software update for its devices and lowered the prices of its hardware. The software update targets health and fitness apps, and allows Pebble smart watches to track activity in the background. For starters, Misfit, Jawbone, and Swim.com have updated their apps to take advantage of the new health and fitness powers. Jawbone's new Up app will mirror some of the functionality offered by its own fitness tracking wearables, and Swim.com will allow swimmers to track distance, pace, strokes, and efficiency in their workouts. In order to boost appeal of its wearables, Pebble is dropping prices. Beginning today, Pebble costs $99 and Pebble Steel costs $199 (both prices reflect a $50 drop). Last, Pebble's wearables will be sold from a wider selection of stores, such as Sam's Club, Fry's, and Sprint.

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RadioShack May Gain Second Life Thanks to Shareholders

Sep 26, 2014, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A major RadioShack shareholder plans to invest more cash in the business in order to improve its liquidity. RadioShack is facing a cash crisis. As of last month it had just $30.5 million in the cash and owed creditors $658 million. Standard General is still discussing the particulars with RadioShack and its other creditors. The hedge fund, along with new, unnamed investors, believe they can buy out RadioShack's loans and get the company back on its feet. Standard General raised its stake in RadioShack from 7.08% to 9.8%, making it the single largest shareholder. The investors hope to shore up RadioShack ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season. RadioShack sells cell phones and wireless service from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless alongside other consumer electronics.


Big Four Carriers to Sell Samsung's Connected Gear S

Sep 24, 2014, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will all offer its Gear S smartwatch "this fall." Samsung didn't say when the device will actually go on sale. The Gear S differs from Samsung's other wearables in that it has a cellular radio inside and can make/receive phone calls and messages. Pricing has yet to be revealed for the device itself, as well as for the plans connecting it to cellular networks. In an email, T-Mobile said the Gear S will be available for purchase on its Equipment Installment Plan, which breaks down payments over time.


Karma MVNO Intros LTE Hotspot

Sep 23, 2014, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Karma, an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, today announced the Karma Go, an LTE 4G hotspot. Karma's first hotspot relied on Sprint's WiMax network. The company announced plans to transition to LTE late last year. The Karma Go is available for preorder beginning today. It will be $99 for a limited time, and heavily discounted for existing Karma customers. The MSRP of the device is $149. Karma expects the new hotspot to ship in December.


Samsung Note 4 Available Oct. 17, Preorders Start Sept. 19

Sep 18, 2014, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 18, 2014, 9:05 AM

Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.


Sprint, Boost, and Virgin to Sell the HTC Desire 510

Sep 16, 2014, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 16, 2014, 3:55 PM

Sprint today announced it and its prepaid brands will all soon offer the HTC Desire 510. HTC announced the 510 last month. It is an entry-level handset with LTE 4G on board. It features a 4.7-inch display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of built-in storage. The main camera captures 5-megapixel images, and the user-facing camera captures VGA images. Connectivity features include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and DLNA for sharing media. The 510 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes HTC Sense and Blinkfeed. Sprint plans to sell the device with its postpaid service. It will reach Sprint stores on September 19. It will cost $9 per month with Sprint Easy Pay. The full retail price is $216. Sprint didn't spell out the contract price. Boost Mobile will begin selling the Desire 510 on September 22 for $100, and Virgin Mobile will begin selling it on September 23 for $100. Neither Boost nor Virgin Mobile requires contracts. The Desire 510 is also being sold by Cricket Wireless.


AT&T Also to Sell LG G3 Vigor

Sep 15, 2014, 5:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T chimed in today to say it, too, will offer the LG G3 Vigor to subscribers. AT&T didn't specify how much the device will cost, nor when it will go on sale. Sprint also plans to sell the Vigor.


Sprint to Sell LG G3 Vigor

Sep 15, 2014, 2:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 16, 2014, 3:56 PM

Sprint today announced the LG G3 Vigor, an affordable smartphone that places the volume and screen lock keys on the back, like LG's flagship devices. The phone has a 5-inch 720p HD display and quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor under the hood to keep costs low. Stand out features include LG's suite of specialized apps, such as Knock Code and Knock On, LG Gate for enterprise security, as well as QSlide Apps, QuickMemo, and LG's Smart Keyboard. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and is compatible with Sprint Spark. Sprint services on board include HD Voice and Wi-Fi Calling. The full retail price of the LG G3 Vigor is $312. Sprint also offering the G3 Vigor for $13 a month with Sprint Easy Pay.


Sprint Prepaid Reworks Plan Pricing

Sep 15, 2014, 9:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's branded prepaid service, called Sprint Prepaid, today dropped the cost of its service plans. The three new plans mirror those offered by Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA brands, but are available under the Sprint name. All three include unlimited talk and text, but vary in the amount of data available each month. The $35 plan includes 1GB of data, the $45 plan includes 3GB, and the $55 plan includes 6GB. The new plans are available to Sprint Prepaid beginning today. Sprint Prepaid does not require contracts.


Sprint to Sit Out AWS-3 Auction

Sep 12, 2014, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today confirmed that it will skip an upcoming spectrum auction. "Sprint has decided not to participate in the FCC's AWS-3 auction, but will continue to evaluate the opportunities presented by the upcoming 600MHz incentive auction," said Sprint spokesman Jeffrey Silva to Bloomberg. Auction 97 will see 1,614 spectrum licenses sold by the government to wireless network operators. The auction will start November 13, with a trial auction scheduled for November 10. The spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. AT&T, Dish Networks, Verizon Wireless, and many smaller companies plan to participate in the auction. The FCC has another auction, for 600MHz spectrum, scheduled for mid 2015. AT&T and Verizon already have significant low-band spectrum holdings, while Sprint does not. Sprint is more interested in the 600MHz spectrum for this reason. Low-band spectrum is valued for its propagation characteristics.


RadioShack Weighing Bankruptcy

Sep 11, 2014, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack is considering whether or not to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as its cash reserves dwindle. The company ended its most recent quarter with just $30.5 million in cash on hand, with debts totaling $658 million. It has lost money 10 quarters in a row as electronics buyers shun the chain for larger retailers or the web. Filing for bankruptcy would help protect RadioShack's remaining cash reserves, and could set the stage for a reorganization of the firm. The company is also weighing taking on investments and cited liquidation as a last resort. Earlier this year RadioShack announced plans to close 1,100 stores, but later reduced that number to 200 after investors balked. RadioShack sells wireless service from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, as well as several prepaid brands.


Republic Wireless to Reduce Roaming Availability

Sep 10, 2014, 2:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless recently unveiled a change in policy regarding roaming. The company, citing high costs for its customers to roam onto the wireless networks of competing carriers, will reduce the amount of roaming data allowed each customer to just 25MB per month. Further, the company will throttle back the speeds available to customers when they roam. The changes go into effect September 15. In addition to this change, Republic Wireless said it is working to deliver an option to customers that will allow them to roam more than 25MB for an optional fee. Republic is still working out the details of that plan. Republic Wireless is an MVNO that operates on Sprint's network, but it prefers that customers make calls and send messages via Wi-Fi. It offers access to Sprint's network when subscribers are out of range of Wi-Fi hotspots.


Sprint Announces iPhone 6 Leasing Program, Unlimited Data

Sep 9, 2014, 6:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new program that will make it easier for customers to afford the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Sprint's iPhone 6 leasing program allows subscribers to obtain the iPhone 6 for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $20 (16-GB version). The 64-GB model costs $25 per month and the $128-GB model costs $30 per month. After two years, customers can turn the device in and receive the next-generation iPhone under the same terms. The iPhone 6 Plus will cost $5 more per month for each storage variant. Additionally, Sprint said the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be eligible for a new Simply Unlimited plan that offers unlimited talk, text, and data for just $50 per month for a single line. Sprint does not throttle data speeds, nor does it charge overages. Sprint's already-announced family plans (four to ten lines) are being offered at the existing rates. Families looking to finance the iPhone 6 can make use of Sprint's Easy Pay program. Last, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are Sprint Spark-compatible, which means they operate on Sprint's faster LTE service.

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FCC Dubious On Future Wireless Mergers

Sep 9, 2014, 4:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today suggested the agency will take a long, hard look at any proposed mergers between wireless companies. "We will continue to be skeptical of efforts to achieve scale through the consolidation of major players," said Wheeler at the CTIA trade show in Las Vegas. Sprint and its parent company SoftBank abandoned plans to acquire T-Mobile just last month after meeting with resistance from lawmakers. The FCC also shot down AT&T's attempted purchase of T-Mobile in 2011. The FCC has repeatedly suggested it prefers to have four national wireless network operators for increased competition. Wheeler also warned operators that the FCC may yet take a more active interest in regulating how they manage their networks. "One of the constant themes on the record is how consumers increasingly rely on mobile broadband as an important pathway to access the internet," said Wheeler. According to Wheeler, Microsoft agrees. It said there is "no question that mobile broadband access services must be subject to the same legal framework as fixed broadband access services." The FCC has new net neutrality rules on deck for approval in the months ahead.


Sprint Says Its Trade-In Program Beats T-Mobile's

Sep 9, 2014, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today matched T-Mobile's move to increase the appeal of its trade-in program. Beginning immediately, Sprint will meet or beat all AT&T's, T-Mobile's, and Verizon's buyback pricing on all new lines of service to ensure the best trade-in values. T-Mobile on Monday said it would meet or beat competitors' trade-in programs, as well as give customers a $50 credit if they find a better deal. According to Sprint, T-Mobile's program is limited to one trade-in per line. Sprint's program isn't offering $50 in additional credit, but Sprint will accept up to three trade-ins per line and up to five trade-ins per calendar year. Further, Sprint customers can trade in old devices any time. Sprint offers up to $300 for trade-ins, depending on the phone and its condition, which can be put towards new purchases or account credit. Sprint has always been serious about accepting device trade-ins and has a significant recycling program.


Sprint Signs 15 More Rural Carriers to LTE Initiative

Sep 5, 2014, 10:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced it has forged LTE 4G roaming agreements with 15 more rural network operators. Today's additions boost the number of carriers participating in Sprint's Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program to 27. According to Sprint, the roaming agreements extend across 565,000 square miles in 27 states, covering more than 38 million people. The agreements allow Sprint customers to roam onto the LTE networks of the rural carriers and vice versa. Roaming agreements allow Sprint to gain LTE coverage in areas where it doesn't own spectrum or has not yet deployed LTE. Some of the new participants include Bluegrass Cellular, Blue Wireless, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, Public Service Wireless, and Syringa Wireless.

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Boost Mobile Drops Prices, Increases Data

Sep 2, 2014, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced a new promotion that offers twice as much data across its prepaid plans for less money. Beginning September 3, Boost is dropping the price of its three main plans From $40, $50, and $60, to $35, $45, and $55, respectively. All three plans include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan jumps from 500MB to 1GB of data; the $45 plan jumps from 2.5GB to 5GB of data; and the $55 plan jumps from 5GB to 10GB of data. The promotion runs through November 3, after which the prices go back up to their normal rates and the data allotments drop back down to their normal limits. Shrinkage does not apply to the promotional rates. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network.

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Sprint Selling the HTC One (E8)

Aug 29, 2014, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 29, 2014, 11:59 AM

Sprint today added the HTC One (E8) to its roster of Android smartphones. The E8, which was announced earlier this year, is a plastic version of the M8. It carries over many of the same features, such as the 5-inch full HD screen, BoomSound speakers, 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, and 2,600mAh battery with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and HTC Sense 6.0. The device trades the M8's 4-ultrapixel camera for a standard 13-megapixel sensor. The Sprint E8 includes Sprint Spark, Wi-Fi calling, and HD Voice. It is being sold in gray or white online and via telesales. With Sprint Easy Pay, the HTC One E8 can be purchased for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $20.84. Alternately, it costs $99 with a new two-year contract or $499 at full retail.


Spint, SoftBank to Sell Sony Xperia Phone

Aug 29, 2014, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and SoftBank will for the first time sell a flagship smartphone from Sony, according to Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. Sony is prepared to announce new devices at the IFA trade show in Berlin on September 4. One of the new devices is expected to be a flagship model that will succeed the Xperia Z2. Sprint and SoftBank will sell this as-yet-unnamed device in the U.S. and Japan, respectively. Sony has struggled in the U.S. market for years, and often fails to win distribution agreements with U.S. carriers. It regularly sells devices directly to consumers (at full price) through its own web site. Scoring a distribution agreement with Sprint would be a major win for the company. Neither Sprint nor Sony commented on the reports.


Sprint Gives Samsung GS4 International Wi-Fi Calling

Aug 28, 2014, 10:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said an over-the-air software update to the Samsung Galaxy S4 with Sprint Spark will allow owners to use Sprint's Wi-Fi Calling service when traveling abroad. The service lets people connect calls for free over Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi calls don't count against plan minutes.


Sprint Adds Avatars to Visual Voicemail

Aug 28, 2014, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new service that will allow customers to add animations and avatars to their voicemail messages. The service is available to Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA customers with select Android handsets. The base service includes 12 free avatars and 12 free backgrounds that can be paired together in any combination along with voice effects in order to create unique animations. The avatars are lip-synced with the caller's voicemail (up to 20 seconds for free, up to two minutes with premium subscription). According to Sprint, the content library will be updated often, with new free and paid avatars and backgrounds appearing each week. Sprint customers can use their own voice, or an optional voice effect with variable pitch to make the message more fun. The avatar messages can be shared via voicemail, email, SMS, and even posted to Facebook. Further, messages can be sent to any user on any network, and can also be viewed on the web from desktops or tablets. Devices compatible with the service will receive an update to the visual voicemail application beginning this month. The initial list of compatible devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, and Note 2; the HTC EVO 4G LTE and HTC One. Sprint said more devices will be made compatible with the service over time.


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