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printed November 22, 2014
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Wireless Carriers Set Indoor 911 Location Framework

Nov 17, 2014, 9:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.


FreedomPop Launches Free International Calling

Nov 12, 2014, 9:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FreedomPop today made a free international calling plan available to all Android and iOS smartphones. Smartphone owners need only download the FreedomPop Free Talk and Text app and they'll have access to 100 free voice minutes good for calling 52 countries, including Mexico, the U.K., Canada, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Argentina, and India. The service will be able to reach as many as 170 countries by the end of the year. People who want more voice minutes can purchase them starting at $5 per month. FreedomPop is also offering customers the ability to obtain an international number to help reduce the cost of calls for friends and relatives who live abroad. For example, a U.S.-based customer could get a local number for Paris, France, which friends and family in France would be able to call at local rates. The international number costs $5 per month. FreedomPop is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, though the Free Talk and Text app works over any internet connection, be it Wi-Fi or another carrier's LTE data network.


Sprint Drops Access Charge for Some Plans

Nov 11, 2014, 4:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will drop the per-device access charge for its $80 and $90 Family Share plans from $25 per month to $15 per month. The change goes into effect November 14.


Sprint to Sell Nexus 6 November 14

Nov 11, 2014, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said the Nexus 6 smartphone will reach its retail stores, web site, and telesales channels on November 14. Sprint is offering the Nexus 6 through its Easy Pay program for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $29. Alternately, Sprint customers can pay full price for the Nexus 6, which is $696. The Nexus 6 can be used with a number of Sprint's service plans, including the Sprint Family Share Pack and Sprint Unlimited $60 plan.


Verizon Selling Samsung Gear S Today for $349

Nov 7, 2014, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.


Defense Mobile Targets Vets with Low-Cost Service

Nov 7, 2014, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.


Nexus 6 Now Available Directly from Motorola

Nov 6, 2014, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola recently began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 on its U.S. web site. Both the white and blue models are available in 32GB and 64GB variants for $649 and $699, respectively. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model at the moment. Google is also selling the Nexus 6, though its supply is currently exhausted. The Nexus 6 will be made available from wireless network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, later this month. Shipping times have yet to be announced.


Boost Mobile Extends Double Data Promo

Nov 4, 2014, 1:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today extended a promotion that offers customers twice as much mobile data for a reduced price. The promo was originally announced in September and meant to expire on November 3. Boost will continue to offer the promotion for an unspecified amount of time moving forward. Right now, all three of Boost Mobile's plans include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan includes 1GB of data; the $45 plan includes 5GB of data; and the $55 plan includes 10GB of data. Once the promotion expires, the prices will each go back up by $5 per month and the data allotments will drop back down to their normal limits. Shrinkage does not apply to the promotional rates. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network.


Sprint Weighing a Change to Phone Subsidies

Nov 4, 2014, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company may scrap phone subsidies at some point down the road. Speaking to investors, Claure noted that its installment and leasing programs are beginning to gather steam, which make the possibility of change much simpler. Historically, wireless network operators have subsidized the cost of handsets that are sold with contracts. Customers agree to a one- or two-year term in exchange for a reduced sale price for whatever device they choose. The carrier recoups the remaining cost of the handset over the term of the contract. T-Mobile upended this arrangement with its Simple Choice plans, which scrap the subsidy in favor of monthly device payments. Claure said if Sprint chooses to follow this path, it won't be until next year.


US Carriers Agree to Sell Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Nov 3, 2014, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.


Sprint Says Customers Can Now Lease Samsung Galaxy S5

Oct 31, 2014, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has expanded the availability of its "iPhone for Life" leasing program to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 Sport. Beginning today, new and existing customers can get an S5 or S5 Sport (16GB model) for $0 down and $20 per month via the Sprint Lease program. Customers lease the phone for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, customers can turn in their GS5 or GS5 Sport for a new device; purchase the GS5 or GS5 Sport for the remaining balance; continue leasing the phone on a month-to-month basis; or return the device and terminate their service. Existing Sprint customers who lease a GS5 or GS5 Sport between now and January 15 will receive a $15 monthly bill credit. The loyalty credit applies to those Sprint customers on Unlimited My Way, My All-in, Simply Everything, and Everything Data (Share) plans. Sprint didn't say how long the service credit will be applied to customer bills.


Madstar Mobile Latest Sprint MVNO Looking to Disrupt

Oct 31, 2014, 7:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Madstar Mobile today announced itself as "the newest national wireless carrier." The MVNO resells access to Sprint's 3G/4G networks and claims to offer the benefits of postpaid and prepaid services at the same time. It bills for service on a postpaid basis, but it doesn't require credit checks, deposits, or contracts. Madstar says customers can cancel their service at any time with no fear of ETFs. The company offers a range of feature phones, smartphones, and access points. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phones or finance them with monthly payments. For example, the HTC One (M8) is available for $665 or as low as $29 per month on an installment plan. Other handsets in Madstar's roster include the Apple iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, Kyocera Kona, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Alternately, customers can bring their own compatible device and port their existing wireless number if they wish. The least expensive service plan costs $22 per month and includes 250 voice minutes, 250 messages, and pay-as-you-go data. Plan pricing jumps by $11 increments, with the most expensive option topping out at $88 per month. It includes unlimited voice minutes, messaging, HD Voice, and 2GB of data "Our goal is to provide subscribers with a cost effective, convenient and reliable wireless service using the device of their choice,” said David Pearsall, Madstar Mobile's founder & CEO. "Wireless devices and service have become a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable to everyone without the need to prepay now for the right to service later." The company is based in New Milford, Conn.


FCC Approves 70 Bidders for AWS-3 Auction

Oct 30, 2014, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. 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.


Samsung Gear S Goes On Sale Nov. 7

Oct 30, 2014, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.


Sprint Lights Up 17 More Spark Markets

Oct 28, 2014, 3:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today launched its Spark service in 17 new markets scattered around the country. Spark uses three different spectrum bands to ensure the best possible LTE connection and speed. The new markets include Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Bay City, Flint, Midland, and Saginaw, Mich.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Henderson, N.C.; Cleveland, Columbus, Mount Vernon, New Philadelphia, Tiffin, and Youngstown, Ohio; Ogden, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Sheboygan, Wisc. Sprint says Spark is available in 46 markets and will meet its goal of covering 100 million POPs by the end of the year. Sprint sells 38 devices that are compatible with Spark.


Sprint Improves Its Least-Expensive Data Plan

Oct 23, 2014, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently added a new tier to its range of data plans, this time targeting those who don't need huge buckets of mobile broadband each month. The new offering includes 1GB of shared data -- twice as much as before -- for $20 per month. Customers need only add a smartphone access charge of $25 and they'll receive unlimited voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and 1GB of shared data for a total of $45 per month.


Sprint Trims 452 Jobs at Headquarters

Oct 20, 2014, 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

Oct 17, 2014, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 17, 2014, 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

Oct 16, 2014, 2:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 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

Oct 16, 2014, 2:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 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.


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