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printed October 1, 2016
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Sprint and Verizon Resume Sales of Galaxy Note7

Sep 21, 2016, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and Verizon Wireless are once again selling the Samsung Galaxy Note7. Both companies' web sites list the device for sale and also reveal where the phone can be found at local stores. Supply of the device is limited, but determined consumers can buy the phone. Samsung and its carrier partners halted sales of the device early this month after Samsung discovered a quality issue with some batteries. About 2.5 million devices in total were recalled due to the possibility of fire risk, though the actual number of impacted devices isn't clear. Incidences of burns, fires, and explosions blamed on the phone have been reported in the media. On Tuesday, Samsung said about 500,000 replacement units are now available to original Note7 buyers who have yet to exchange their phones. Samsung and its carrier partners are pushing a software update to the Note7 so owners know whether or not their device is safe. Recalled devices will display an alert stating such, while safe devices will display a green power indicator in the status bar.


Sprint Says It Has Improved NYC Network Performance

Sep 20, 2016, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today talked up coverage improvements it has made across New York City. For example, using two-channel carrier aggregation Sprint has doubled the download speeds and capacity of its 2.5 GHz cell sites around the metropolitan area. Sprint said it is already working to bring three-channel carrier aggregation to NYC, which will eventually deliver download speeds in excess of 200 Mbps on compatible devices. The company has also stepped up coverage in transportation hubs, such as the Oculus, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Queens Midtown Tunnel. Sprint expects to add coverage to the Lincoln and Holland tunnels in the months ahead, as well as complete its deployment of LTE within the entire New York City subway system. Sprint is kicking off a major marketing campaign in the metro area today to call attention to its improved service.


Sprint to Sell MediaTek-Equipped Variant of LG X Power

Sep 16, 2016, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and Boost Mobile today revealed plans to sell the LG X power smartphone. The X power, announced by LG earlier this year, features a 4,100mAh battery that delivers up to two days of battery life. The version sold by Sprint and Boost Mobile differs from other versions of the phone in that it relies on a 1.8 GHz octa-core Helio P10 MediaTek processor, rather than a Snapdragon chip from Qualcomm. The 64-bit MediaTek processor is accompanied by 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The X power also includes a 5.3-inch 720p screen and runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Other specs include an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and 5-megapixel front camera with selfie light. The phone accepts memory cards up to 128 GB. The phone reaches Boost Mobile stores today for $130 and will hit Sprint stores September 23 for $150.


Kyocera DuraForce Pro Coming to Sprint

Sep 14, 2016, 1:15 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC has approved a new Kyocera smartphone with LTE bands unique to Sprint, and a model number indicating it's a variant of the recently-announced DuraForce Pro. The DuraForce Pro is a rugged, washable Android phone with dual rear cameras, a fingerprint reader, NFC, fast charging, and wireless charging. It went on sale with AT&T this week, and another FCC approval indicates it will come to Verizon as well. Past Kyocera models have rarely been offered on more than one or two carriers.


Boost, Virgin to Sell iPhone 7 Starting September 23

Sep 9, 2016, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, will sell the Apple iPhone 7 beginning September 23. Boost and Virgin will not be selling the iPhone 7 Plus. The company didn't provide specific release details, but customers should expect to pay full retail price for the handset. The 32 GB iPhone 7 costs $649.


Sprint Talks Up Its Free iPhone 7 Deal

Sep 8, 2016, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today unfurled its own offer for a free iPhone 7. New and existing Sprint customers can get a 32 GB iPhone 7 at no cost as long as they trade in a working iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy S7, or Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and sign up for any Sprint rate plan. Sprint didn't provide specifics about any possible differential in the trade-in value of high-capacity devices. Preorders start on Friday, September 9 at 12:01a.m. Pacific Time.


SoftBank Closes Acquisition of ARM

Sep 6, 2016, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank has finalized its purchase of ARM Holdings. SoftBank runs one of Japan's largest wireless networks and is the majority parent company of Sprint in the U.S., while ARM designs and licenses the Cortex-branded mobile processors often found in today's smartphones and tablets. SoftBank believes it can help ARM license its technology in new markets and continue to innovate in order to push into new categories, such as the Internet of Things. The deal was valued at $32 billion.


Sprint Adds High-Quality Video Option to Unlimited Plan

Aug 26, 2016, 9:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 26, 2016, 9:56 AM

Sprint today moved to appease its video-loving customers with an add-on that provides unlimited HD video streaming. The Unlimited Freedom Premium plan costs $80 per month for a single line or $140 for two lines and includes 1080p HD high-quality video, music streaming at 1.5Mbps, and gaming at up to 8Mbps. The plan supplements the Unlimited Freedom plan, which costs $60 per month but includes only 480p standard-definition video streaming, 500Kbps music streaming, and 2Mbps gaming. Sprint said for a limited time customers who sign up for the Unlimited Freedom plan will be upgraded to the Unlimited Freedom Premium plan (through 10/31) at no extra cost.


Google Gives Nexus Phones Access to WiFi Assistant

Aug 24, 2016, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 24, 2016, 11:32 AM

Google this week made its WiFi Assistant feature available to all Nexus devices. The tool is a direct carryover from Google's Project Fi. The WiFi Assistant lets Nexus owners automatically and securely connect to more than one million free, open WiFi hotspots that are certified by Google. Users won't be required to sign in or set up accounts to access the WiFi. Moreover, Google manages the connection and ensures it is protected. Google says the tool can help improve average connection speeds and lower monthly data consumption, regardless of which wireless carrier provides cellular service to the phone. The Google WiFi Assistant is available to Nexus devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Nordic countries. Google says it will roll out over the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi for calling and data, but also hops onto Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular when WiFi is not available.


AT&T Signs Interconnect Agreement with Cuba Carrier

Aug 22, 2016, 9:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has signed an interconnect agreement with Cuba's Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA). The agreement will eventually allow AT&T customers to roam on ETESCA's network when traveling to Cuba. AT&T hasn't said when it will make such roaming available and will announce pricing at a later date. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already have similar agreements in place with ETESCA.


AT&T Spearheading Robocall 'Strike Force'

Aug 19, 2016, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.


Samsung Accessories Land Alongside Note7

Aug 19, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


Sprint Debuts Unlimited Plan of Its Own

Aug 18, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced Unlimited Freedom, a service plan that provides unlimited talk, text, and data for two lines at $100 per month. Sprint says the Unlimited Freedom plan offers "optimized streaming" for "video, gaming, and music" and "unlimited LTE data for most everything else." Specifically, video resolution is capped at 480p resolution when streamed over the network, while games are capped at 2Mbps, and music is capped at 500Kbps. The first line costs $60 per month, the second line costs $40, and lines three through eight cost $30 each. A family of four costs $160 per month before device payments, taxes, and fees. Further, Sprint's Boost Mobile prepaid brand has a simpler, unlimited offer called Unlimited Unhook'd. For $50 per month, Boost customers get unlimited talk, text, optimized videos/music, and unlimited data for everything else. Additional lines cost $30 per month for lines two through five. Boost is offering a starter line, too, that costs $30 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Both Sprint's and Boost's new unlimited plans will be available starting August 19.


Sprint's 3-Channel LTE Reaches 295Mbps

Aug 12, 2016, 2:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it has achieved peak download speeds of 295Mbps using three-channel carrier aggregation on the HTC 10 smartphone. Carrier aggregation pairs together multiple segments of spectrum to improve speed and capacity. The company has already deployed two-channel carrier aggregation in 237 markets around the country. It markets this service as LTE Plus, offering 100Mbps downloads to nearly two dozen devices. The company plans to offer 200Mbps service once it deploys three-channel carrier aggregation, though it declined to specify when that might be. The HTC 10 is one of several handsets that supports three-channel carrier aggregation, which binds together three spectrum bands. Sprint will enable three-channel carrier aggregation on supported devices (HTC 10, HTC 9, Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, LG G5) through a software update one the technology has launched.


Sprint Adds Unlimited Data to Open World Program for Rio Games

Aug 1, 2016, 12:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said customers who travel to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be able to talk and text for free, as well as use an unlimited amount of high-speed data for free. The Open World program already covers a number of countries across Latin America, but normally only includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of data. Sprint is adding free, unlimited LTE in Brazil specifically for the impending games. The free data offer is valid during the entire month of August. About 100,000 American athletes, coaches, and family members are expected to travel to Rio for the games. Customers can enroll in the Sprint Open World program at any time.


FCC Wants Carriers to Step Up Anti-Robocall Efforts

Jul 22, 2016, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today asked the country's major telephone providers to improve consumer tools for blocking robocalls. The FCC said robocalls continue to be one of the top complaints filed by consumers. Wheeler sent letters to AT&T, Bandwidth Comms, Frontier, Level3, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon asking them to make blocking tools available to consumers as swiftly as possible. "Consumers want and deserve more control over the calls they receive," wrote Wheeler in a blog post. "I am calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective. All of these companies have been asked to respond within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues." The FCC said it will continue to investigate consumer complaints against robocalls and prosecute whenever possible.


Japan's SoftBank to Buy UK's ARM for $32 Billion

Jul 18, 2016, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 18, 2016, 8:39 AM

SoftBank today announced plans to buy ARM Holdings for $32 billion. SoftBank runs one of Japan's largest wireless networks and is the parent company of Sprint in the U.S., while ARM designs and licenses the Cortex-branded mobile processors often found in today's smartphones and tablets. SoftBank's board of directors has fully approved the acquisition, which will be made in all cash. ARM's board and shareholders have yet to approve the deal. SoftBank believes its existing business relationships around the world will expand ARM's ability to license its technology in new markets. SoftBank said it will help ARM to continue to innovate in order to push into new categories, such as the Internet of Things, by increasing investment in ARM's research and development. The company believes SoftBank and ARM share a common culture and long-term vision, and can together create a strong combined entity moving forward. SoftBank said it is committed to ARM's U.K. operations, where it will double the number of employees over the next five years. "ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the Internet of Things," said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. The deal is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.


Samsung Flagship Phone, Likely Note 7, Clears FCC

Jul 14, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.


Google's Project Fi Earns An International Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Project Fi subscribers now have access to faster wireless speeds when traveling around the world. Google partnered with mobile network operator Three to increase the number of countries in which Fi is available to 135, as well as improve mobile data speeds by a factor of 10 to 20. Project Fi customers were perviously only able to roam at 2G speeds when abroad, but now have access to faster 3G/4G service. Google does not charge Fi subscribers any extra access fees when traveling; the data rates are the same at $10 per 1 GB whether at home or abroad. Google said new Project Fi customers can buy a Nexus 6P for $349 ($150 off) for the next week. Project Fi requires a Nexus smartphone. The service uses a mix of WiFi and cellular service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to maintain a strong, fast connection.


Sprint Drops 'Galaxy Forever' Leasing Program

Jul 8, 2016, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has discontinued its Galaxy Forever lease program after just four months. Similar to its iPhone Forever program, the Galaxy Forever program allowed customers to lease a Galaxy S smartphone, make 12 payments, and then trade in the device for a new Galaxy S handset. The Galaxy Forever program applied to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge and was pitched as a simpler way to upgrade to new equipment each year. Sprint customers can still lease the S7 and S7 edge, but won't be able to enjoy the annual no-cost upgrade. The Galaxy Forever program is no longer available from Sprint's web site, and Sprint stores confirmed to Fierce Wireless than the program has in fact been cancelled. Sprint did not provide a reason for the change. The iPhone Forever program is still available.

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Sprint Giving Away 60 Days of Amazon Prime

Jul 1, 2016, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said customers who add Amazon Prime to their account during the month of July will be eligible to receive 60 days of Prime benefits for free. Sprint charges $10.99 per month for Amazon Prime, which is added to wireless bills as a subscription. New subscribers will receive the first two months (60 days) at no charge. After the 60-day period ends, Sprint will begin to charge the $10.99 monthly subscription fee, or customers can cancel the Prime subscription. Existing customers who already subscribe to Prime via Sprint do not qualify for the free 60 day promo. Amazon Prime includes Prime Video and Prime Music streaming services, Prime Photo online storage, video games, early access to deals, and free two-day shipping. Amazon charges $99 per year for Amazon Prime. Sprint customers who add it to their subscription will end up paying $132 for Prime over the course of a year.


FCC Incentive Auction Racks Up $86B In Clearing Costs

Jun 29, 2016, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2016, 12:11 PM

The FCC today said that the reverse portion of its incentive auction is now complete. Bidding for 600 MHz television airwaves is over, and the cost to clear the 126 MHz spectrum target exceeded $86.4 billion. The FCC expects to begin the forward portion of the auction soon, which will see wireless companies bid on the spectrum blocks. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, but Sprint is sitting out. The auction drew lots of interest from individual bidders, too. It's not clear how much the FCC expects to make from auctioning off the airwaves moving forward, but bidders will need to meet or exceed the $86.4 billion at a minimum. The airwaves are vital low-band spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. "Today, bidding concluded in the reverse auction, establishing the cost for clearing 126 MHz in the TV band for wireless use," said the FCC's Gary Epstein in a prepared statement. "Strong participation from broadcast stations made this initial clearing target possible. Now the action shifts to the forward auction, which will give wireless bidders the opportunity to compete for this beachfront spectrum to meet America's growing mobile data needs."


Motorola's Refreshed G Series Streets July 12

Jun 28, 2016, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


US Cellular Coverage Reaches Google's Project Fi

Jun 28, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Project Fi app in order to take advantage of cellular coverage offered by U.S. Cellular. Earlier this month, Google said it planned to supplement Project Fi's coverage with U.S. Cellular. The freshly updated app allows Fi subscribers to capitalize on that expansion. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which improves Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi also relies on WiFi. The Project Fi app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service is only available to select Nexus smartphones.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Summer with Free LTE In Europe

Jun 23, 2016, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its customers will be able to use an unlimited amount of high-speed mobile data across Europe this summer. Specifically, customers can enjoy the highest-possible speed, up to and including LTE 4G, throughout the European Union between July 1 and August 31. T-Mobile customers can already use unlimited 2G data in more than 140 countries. The high-speed summer roaming includes unlimited free texting and $0.20-per-minute voice calls, but not tethering. T-Mobile may terminate or restrict service for misuse or excessive roaming. T-Mobile is also giving every person who flies in the U.S. this weekend (including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers) a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi on their smartphone. The free WiFi offer is available from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 on all domestic flights that offer Gogo WiFi. Last, T-Mobile added Belize to its list of Simple Global countries, which means T-Mobile customers can use 2G data and send messages for free, and make low-cost calls when traveling to Belize. Free roaming in Belize begins July 1.


Project Fi Earns More Coverage Thanks to U.S. Cellular

Jun 8, 2016, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has supplemented Project Fi's cellular coverage with the addition of U.S. Cellular. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which will boost Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi subscribers will begin to roam onto U.S. Cellular's network where coverage exists over the coming weeks.


Sprint Rolls Out BOGO Offer for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

May 20, 2016, 9:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today launched a buy one, get one free promotion for Apple's latest iPhones. The offer includes both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. Customers must have an eligible upgrade and initiate at least one new line of service in order to qualify for the offer. Sprint said customers may purchase the iPhones on a monthly installment plan, lease the iPhones, or lease one and buy the other. However customers choose to pay for the iPhones, the cost of the second handset will be offset by a service credit applied each month. Sprint is also offering to cut $200 from the price of the latest iPads for customers who buy a new iPhone and iPad together on an installment plan. Sprint didn't say how long the buy one, get one offer will be available. It has offered similar programs for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 smartphones.


Sprint Customers Can Stream Soccer Tourney for Free

May 19, 2016, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said its customers will be able to stream all the 2016 Copa América Centenario soccer matches on their phones of free. The tournament, which is being held in June, will be streamed via the fuboTV app. Sprint is giving its postpaid and Boost/Virgin prepaid customers free access to the fuboTV app for 60 days. After the trial ends (60 days for Sprint, 30 days for Boost/Virgin), customers can continue the subscription for $9.99 per month, or drop the app. In addition to free access to the live matches, Sprint will not count streamed games against customers' data buckets. Sprint is sponsoring the tournament, which is taking place in the U.S. for the first time, and will have an on-site presence at all the games. The sponsorship includes several giveaways and awards that customers can access through the fuboTV app.


Sprint Packages 40GB Shared Plan with Amazon Prime

May 13, 2016, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the Amazon Better Choice XXL plan, which includes 40GB of shareable LTE data and a year of Amazon Prime. Subscribers also get unlimited talk and text, Sprint Global Roaming, international texting, and mobile hotspot. The Amazon Better Choice XXL plan costs $100 per month, which does not include per-line access charges ($20) and monthly device payments. This plan, which is available to new and existing customers, requires subscribers to sign a one-year contract. Customers not interested in signing a contract can still choose to add Amazon Prime to their monthly bill for $10.99. Amazon Prime includes online storage for files and photos, as well as Amazon Music and Amazon Video streaming services, and expedited shipping on purchases made from Amazon.com.


Republic Wireless Partners with GSM Carrier, Adds GSM Phones

May 11, 2016, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless today said it has partnered with a new GSM-based carrier to help increase its service availability around the U.S. Republic launched as a WiFi-first service in 2011, and partnered with Sprint so customers could make calls, send messages, and surf the web when away from WiFi. Republic's new carrier partner is likely T-Mobile, though Republic Wireless did not say so directly. Republic will work with both Sprint and T-Mobile moving forward. With the new GSM partnership in place, Republic is set to expand its selection of devices to include some newer, top-tier Android phones. Beginning in July, Republic will offer the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, S6, and J3, the Google Nexus 6P and 5X, and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition — all of which run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Republic said financing will be available for each handset. Customers will be able to bring their own GSM-based device if they so wish. Last, Republic said it is prepared to roll out new service plans. One such plan costs $20 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Republic will share more details about its new service plans in the weeks ahead.


FCC, FTC Query Carriers and Phone Makers Over Security

May 9, 2016, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC and FTC today asked carriers and phone manufacturers how they handle security updates for their devices. The FCC sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers, while the FTC queried Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. In particular, the agencies want to know: the factors carriers/OEMs consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular phone; data on the specific phones sold in the U.S. since August 2013; the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices; and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities. The government said the line of inquiry is to help it further understand how these companies do or do not protect consumers. "Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered," said the FCC. "To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched." Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android devices, but individual phone makers lag badly. Apple provides occasional updates.


T-Mobile Signs Roaming Deal with Cuban Carrier

May 9, 2016, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has signed an interconnect and roaming agreement with Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba, allowing its customers to call Cuba as well as roam when visiting Cuba. T-Mobile says its U.S. customers can call Cuban landlines and wireless phones for $0.60 per minute when they subscribe to the Stateside International Talk feature for $15 per month. The deal also allows travelers to use voice, text, and data service in Cuba, though roaming won't be available until the summer months. Sprint and Verizon forged interconnect and roaming agreements with Cuba last year.


Sprint to Sell HTC 10 Starting May 13

Apr 29, 2016, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said the HTC 10 will reach its stores on May 13. Sprint is not offering a lease option for the HTC 10, as it does for Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S phones. Instead, Sprint will finance the phone for 24 months with payments of $26. An unlocked version of the HTC 10 is already available for sale directly from HTC.com for $699. The phone includes a 5.2-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor, and high-quality sound. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.


Older Sprint Galaxy Phones Get a Taste of Marshmallow

Apr 22, 2016, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.


Sprint Says LTE Plus Now Available In New York City

Apr 15, 2016, 8:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced that its LTE Plus wireless service is available across all five boroughs of New York City. LTE Plus relies on Sprint's three LTE bands (800 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2.5 GHz) and carrier aggregation to improve capacity and speed. In particular, Sprint says it doubled the speeds available from some 900 of its 2.5 GHz cell sites around the city. It has also added coverage in areas popular with tourists. Sprint is working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Transit Wireless to bring service to all 279 of New York's subway stations. LTE Plus delivers peak speeds in excess of 100Mbps on capable devices.


Sprint Reneges On the BlackBerry Priv

Apr 11, 2016, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint appears to have had second thoughts about selling the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. In January, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the device — initially an AT&T exclusive — would reach Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Since then, T-Mobile and Verizon have launched the Android-based slider. Sprint has not. When questioned on Twitter, the official SprintCares account told consumers, "Sorry to say but we will no longer carry the BlackBerry Priv. If this changes in the future we will update customers." When asked directly, a Sprint representative said to Phonescoop, "At this time, Sprint does not have an availability date to share for bringing a smartphone from BlackBerry into our device lineup." BlackBerry has not commented on Sprint's change in plans. BlackBerry sold only 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter and cut the Priv's retail price from $699 to $649.


Sprint to Sell Certain Network Assets for $2.2 Billion

Apr 7, 2016, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has agreed to sell select network assets to a company called Network LeaseCo and then lease back those assets for an unspecified sum. The move is meant to boost Sprint's cash position and will eventually add $2.2 billion to the company's coffers. Sprint will rely on the assets as collateral to generate loans from SoftBank and other external entities. Sprint has about $6 billion in cash on hand and will use the $2.2 billion infusion to cover debts. In 2008, Sprint made a similar move by selling many of its cell towers to TowerCo. Sprint then leased back access to those towers.


FCC Pushes Privacy Rules Forward

Apr 1, 2016, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC on Thursday followed through on plans to tackle consumer privacy. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The FCC's goal is to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. The FCC also believes consumers should be able to opt-out when they wish. "[This] proposal would give all consumers the tools we need to make informed decisions about how our ISPs use and share our data," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "and confidence that ISPs are keeping their customers' data secure." Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC will continue to shape the policy over the next few months and present it in more final form before fully adopting it.


Walmart Slashes Price of iPhone By $100, Galaxy By $150

Apr 1, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today said customers can save big bucks on Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones for the next three months. Walmart has cut the price of all iPhones by $100 (including the new iPhone SE) and all Galaxy phones (including the Galaxy S7) by $150. The rollback begins today and lasts through the end of June. The reduced prices will be available only in Walmart stores, and only to customers of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is not participating in the rollback program.

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FCC Says Netflix Throttling Actions Aren't Its Concern

Mar 31, 2016, 4:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the agency doesn't intend to investigate Netflix's throttling practices for customers of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Wheeler said web sites and other edge providers fall outside its purview and didn't violate any regulations. Netflix admitted to throttling the speed of video streamed by AT&T and Verizon customers due to those carriers' data overage policies. Netflix doesn't throttle the speeds of video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers.


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