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printed April 27, 2015
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Defense Mobile Sheds Beta Label, Mission Is Go

Wednesday, 3:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers 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. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.


Google's Project Fi Wireless Service Offers Refunds for Unused Data

Wednesday, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 12:49 PM

Google today announced Project Fi, which relies on a combination of cellular and WiFi networks to keep users connected wherever they roam. Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide the cellular component. Google says Project Fi can automatically connect to over one million verified WiFi hotspots around the U.S, and all connections are encrypted. The goal is to make communicating simple no matter what device or network is being used. Calls made through WiFi connections will seamlessly hand-off to cellular networks with no interruptions. Google says Project Fi users' phone numbers "live in the cloud," so they can talk and text from just about any phone, tablet, or laptop. Project Fi takes a new approach with respect to billing. The basic plan costs $20 per month and includes talk, text, WiFi tethering, and international coverage in 120 countries. Google then charges $10 per gigabyte of cellular data in the U.S. and abroad. So, 1 GB of data costs $10 per month, 2 GB costs $20 per month, and so on. The unique idea here is that Google will refund people for the data they don't use. For example, subscribers who pay $30 for a 3 GB plan, but only use 1.4 GB, will receive a $16 refund from Google for the unused data. Google is offering Project Fi through an early access program. It requires the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which Google says was developed with Project Fi in mind. Nexus 6 owners can request invites starting today.


Google's Wireless Service to Launch Wednesday

Apr 21, 2015, 7:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is prepared to launch its wireless service as soon as tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google's wireless service will rely on the mobile networks operated by Sprint and T-Mobile, in addition to WiFi. The service will only be available to the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which will be able to dynamically weave from network to network in order to find the strongest signal for calls, messaging, and mobile browsing. In what the Journal calls a key development, customers of Google's wireless service will only pay for the actual data they consume each month, rather than fork over money for buckets of data. Google confirmed last month that it is preparing a mobile service, but has not verified the Journal's details. Google's Sundar Pichai said during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona the company's wireless service will be offered on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Specifics such as pricing are still unknown. Sprint and T-Mobile both have large MVNO programs, which is, in effect, how Google's service will operate. Sprint and T-Mobile may renegotiate with Google if its service gets too big.


HTC Offering Camera Improvements to AT&T One M9

Apr 21, 2015, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.


AT&T to Sell LG G Flex 2 April 24

Apr 20, 2015, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on April 24. The handset will be available at a variety of price points. The full retail cost of the phone is $708.99 and the two-year contract price is $299.99. Customers interested in monthly payments can snag the G Flex 2 for $23.64 per month with an AT&T Next 24 plan, $29.55 per month on a Next 18 plan, or $35.45 on a Next 12 plan. The G Flex 2 is a second-generation curved phone. It has a 5.5-inch full HD screen that is semi-flexible. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 810 processor and has a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Sprint has been selling the G Flex 2 since March.


AT&T, Verizon Thwart Microsoft's App Deal with Samsung

Apr 16, 2015, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.


Sprint to Perform House Calls with 'Direct 2 You' Service

Apr 13, 2015, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new service called Direct 2 You, wherein a Sprint technician will bring the store experience to customers who purchase a new phone. According to Sprint, some customers prefer to shop from home, but are uncomfortable setting up their new device on their own. With Direct 2 You, customers can make purchases from afar and still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up the phone, transferring content from the old phone to the new one, and tutorials to ensure the customer understands how to use their new device. Sprint said customers can choose to receive their Direct 2 You service at home, job site, or other location. The company is launching the service in its home market of Kansas City today, with plans to expand to Chicago and Miami on April 20, and the rest of the country by the end of the year. At launch 30 techs will be working in the field, but Sprint is preparing an army of about 5,000 technicians to perform the service. Techs will also be able to teach customers how to learn a new operating system if they're switching from an Android device to the iPhone or vice versa. Sprint said eligible upgrade customers will receive a message from Sprint with an offer to try Direct 2 You when it's time for them to update devices. Customers can then choose to respond and set up a Direct 2 You appointment. Sprint's Direct 2 You service will be offered free of charge.


Sprint Takes a Page from T-Mobile, Offers Free Roaming

Apr 10, 2015, 10:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new program called International Value Roaming. Customers who add International Value Roaming to their plan will be able to use mobile data and send/receive text messages for free in select countries. The data roaming may be free, but like T-Mobile's offering Sprint is limiting roaming speeds to 2G. Customers who want access to 3G and higher speeds when roaming will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. The International Value Roaming program also includes reduced charges for voice minutes, which cost 20 cents each. Eligible countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.


Sprint to Open 1,435 RadioShack Stores April 10

Apr 9, 2015, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint said it will re-open 1,435 RadioShack stores tomorrow that it acquired from General Wireless. The move will double the number of company-owned stores and give Sprint a much wider retail footprint around the country. The stores will be co-branded Sprint-RadioShack, but Sprint will be the main brand associated with each location. Sprint plans to build a store-within-a-store covering approximately one third of the retail space in each location. It will use this space to sell Sprint-, Virgin-, and Boost-branded hardware and service plans. Sprint said RadioShack's products and accessories will also be available at each location. General Wireless is holding into about 310 RadioShack stores. Sprint acquired the stores as part of RadioShack's bankruptcy restructuring.


Sprint Updating iPhones with WiFi Calling

Apr 8, 2015, 3:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it is bringing WiFi Calling to Apple's iPhones. The carrier will push out a small system update over the next few days that will allow owners to make phone calls over WiFi. The feature is available to the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, and 6 Plus. Calls made via WiFi will not count against customers' voice plan minutes. Sprint said traveling customers will be able to make free WiFi calls from more than 200 countries around the world. According to Sprint, 25 of its handsets are now capable of using its WiFi Calling service. WiFi Calling is available at no additional charge when calling to a U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico phone number.


Cricket Offering Free Service to Switchers

Apr 8, 2015, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today said new customers who switch to Cricket from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost, and other competitors will receive one free month of service after completing two months of service. In order to qualify, customers must subscribe to a $50 or $60 rate plan. The offer will only be available for a limited time.


Judge Approves Sale of RadioShack Stores

Mar 31, 2015, 2:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A U.S. judge has given RadioShack permission to sell its 1,740 stores to Standard General, a hedge fund that plans to operate the stores with Sprint. One of RadioShack's creditors, Sulas Capital Partners, had opposed the sale. RadioShack declared bankruptcy in February after spending more than a year attempting to rebuild its business. Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will own about 30% of each store's real estate, in which it will sell Sprint wireless goods and services. The remaining 70% of the stores' footprints will be used to sell RadioShack's branded electronics. RadioShack hopes to close the deal as soon as April 1.


Sprint Settles Lawsuit Over Nextel Merger for $131 Million

Mar 31, 2015, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today settled a class-action lawsuit regarding its 2005 acquisition of Nextel for $131 million. Investors claim Sprint executives defrauded shareholders by inflating stock and bond prices after Sprint closed its acquisition of Nextel. The merger was troubled from the start, as Sprint struggled to integrate the two companies and lost hundreds of thousands of Nextel subscribers. At the same time, executives claimed the company was receiving billions of dollars in benefits and improving its subscriber base. Sprint was eventually forced to write down $29.7 billion in lost value. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay out $131 million. The settlement still needs to be approved by the court.


Sprint Will Be First to Sell HTC One M9 In Stores On March 27

Mar 26, 2015, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Mar 26, 2015, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Mar 26, 2015, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Seniors Wireless Adds Doctor Access to Wireless Plans

Mar 25, 2015, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Seniors Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, announced a new service that gives subscribers direct phone access to a doctor at all times. TeleMED Assist provides customers with unlimited calls to doctors for emergency, urgent, or non-urgent purposes 24/7. Over-the-phone medical consultations are included in the service, which costs $30 per month for singles or $40 per month for couples. TeleMED Assist is a separate service and does not require a Seniors Wireless telephone account. Seniors Wireless offers a handful of standard service plans ranging from $10 to $30 per month. The company has several handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, S5 and Note 3, the Sharp Aquos Crystal, the LG Vigor, and the Apple iPhone 4. Seniors Wireless competes with GreatCall, which also offers access to health professionals over the phone. Both target the over 55 set.


LG G Flex 2 Arrives on US Cellular March 26

Mar 24, 2015, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular today said it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on March 26. Customers can choose from several different payment options. The phone costs about $630 at full retail, but U.S. Cellular is also offering contract pricing ($150 with two-year commitment) or monthly payments ($31.50 for 20 months). U.S. Cellular will have both the silver and red models on hand. The device features a curved design, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and Snapdragon 810 processor. Sprint is already selling the G Flex 2, but other carriers have yet to announce their plans.


Sprint Pitching Galaxy S5, Tab 4 Combo for $100

Mar 16, 2015, 11:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a smartphone/tablet bundle that combines the Samsung Galaxy S5 or S5 Sport and the Galaxy Tab 4, plus service, in one monthly payment. The offer costs $100 per month, which includes a Sprint Easy Pay lease on the smartphone and the tablet. The service includes unlimited talk, text, and data on the smartphone line, and up to 2GB of data on the tablet line. Sprint says the deal saves customers as much as $300 over a two-year period.


Sprint Marketing the Alcatel Retro to Seniors

Mar 13, 2015, 2:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the availability of the Alcatel OneTouch Retro, a simple flip phone with accessibility features on board. The device, which is also sold as the Speakeasy and Fling, is being marketed to senior users as well as those who are hard of hearing or visually impaired. The phone can verbally describe the user interface so visually impaired users can navigate through the menus. The text-to-speech engine offers variable speeds and can read notifications and messages, too. The Retro features large buttons, multiple font sizes, hearing aid support, and has a high-contrast black-and-white screen. The phone also includes a music player, 2-megapixel camera, and Bluetooth. The Alcatel OneTouch Retro is available at Sprint stores today for $4 per month with Sprint Easy Pay or for the full retail price of $96. Retro is also available through Sprint Prepaid for $19.99.


Sprint Offering to Cover All Costs for Switchers

Mar 13, 2015, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today launched a new effort to sway consumers to give up their current carrier in favor of Sprint with a promise to reimburse them for all the costs associated with switching. Sprint said it will cover the early termination fees and the remaining installments on phone payment plans for anyone who ports their number to Sprint. In order to get the reimbursement, prospective customers will need to activate a new device on Sprint Easy Pay, iPhone for Life, Sprint Lease, or pay full retail price for a new phone. They'll also have to turn in their existing handset in good working condition. Switchers will have to upload a copy of their final carrier bill to Sprint's web site within 60 days of activation, and the reimbursement will be sent in the form of an American Express Award Card. Sprint said it has created a prepaid return kit to make the process easier. Sprint will send the reimbursement within 15 days of receiving the completed forms. Sprint's move highlights the competitive nature of the wireless industry and the lengths to which companies will go to attract and retain new customers.


Sprint's Galaxy Note 4 Gains Android 5.0 Upgrade

Mar 11, 2015, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can expect to update their devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop over the next few days. The update adds Material Design, support for Android TV, improved multitasking, actionable lock screen notifications, and improves battery efficiency. The update is free and can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Sprint Offering Open Enrollment for Insurance Program

Mar 6, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said customers who declined to enroll in its Total Equipment Protection program when they bought their phone may now do so through the end of the month. Pricing for Total Equipment Protection ranges from $9 to $13 per month, depending on the device. Sprint's insurance program, which is run by Asurion, offers protection from loss, theft, accidental damage, device malfunction, and threats to private data.


Sprint to Sell Motorola Moto E Across Its Prepaid Brands

Mar 6, 2015, 10:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it plans to sell the Motorola Moto E from Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid this month. The Moto E, which has a larger screen and supports LTE 4G, is available in white from Boost Mobile beginning today for $99.99. The black model is available today from Sprint Prepaid at Best Buy and RadioShack stores. Sprint said Virgin Mobile (via Walmart) will offer the Moto E beginning March 9. The device has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop.


Sprint's Galaxy Note 4 Earns Its Lollipop Update

Mar 6, 2015, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint said it is pushing the Android 5.0 Lollipop update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. In addition to the new operating system, the update improves Sprint's WiFi calling service. The update is rolling out over the next few days.


Google Wireless Service May Require Nexus 6

Mar 6, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's forthcoming wireless service will only be available to the Nexus 6 handset at launch, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, the Journal says Google's wireless service will "weave together" access from T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular services, in addition to WiFi. The service won't be available to older Nexus handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and Nexus 4. The Nexus 6, made by Google's former Motorola unit, went on sale last year and is available directly from Google online. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed plans to offer wireless service on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Android 5.0 Lollipop is able to automatically pick the best wireless service (cellular or WiFi) based on a given app's needs. Google did not comment on the Journal's report.


Google Says Google-Branded Network to Launch in Months

Mar 2, 2015, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said the company will announce Google-branded wireless service at some point in the coming months. The comments were made by Google's Sundar Pichai, who was speaking at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Pichai says Google hopes to use the service to highlight newer technologies, not compete with incumbent companies. Google will work with wireless carrier partners to offer the service, rather than create a network of its own. Various reports have suggested that Google is prepared to partner with Sprint and T-Mobile, but Google still hasn't confirmed any details.

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Sprint Intros Service Plan Only for Best Buy Customers

Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently announced the Best Buy One Plan, a plan that includes a smartphone and service for a single monthly price. According to Sprint, Best Buy shoppers (who have good credit) can lease an iPhone 6 16GB with unlimited talk, text, and data for no money down for $65 per month. The lease program lasts two years. Best Buy customers may also lease an Android smartphone with unlimited talk, text, and data for $75 per month. Prices don't include taxes and fees, and final price will vary depending on the phone leased. Customers interested in leasing for a period of only one year can do so for an extra $10 per month. Customers who activate a new line of service before March 28 will also receive a $200 Best Buy gift card. The Best Buy One Plan is only available at Best Buy stores.


Global Rollout of LG G Flex 2 Underway

Feb 25, 2015, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the global launch of the G Flex 2, its second-generation curved handset. LG said major carriers in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, and the U.K are rolling the device out first. Sprint has already said when it will sell the phone, though AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have remained mum on their G Flex 2 plans. LG said a second wave of operators in North and South America, Europe, and Asia will begin selling the G Flex 2 later in March. LG first revealed the G Flex 2 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.


Ting Delivers On Promise to Add GSM Support

Feb 24, 2015, 7:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Ting, an MVNO that until today only resold access to Sprint's network, has added service from an unnamed GSM network. Anyone may sign up for the service, which Ting is offering as a beta. It requires users to purchase a Ting SIM card to be used with an unlocked, compatible GSM handset. Ting said international roaming and international long distance is unavailable for the moment. Ting's beta service for GSM devices does not require an invitation, it is open to all. Ting offers a la carte service and only charges for what people use. Prices start at $15 per month for 100 minutes, 100 messages, and 100MB of data. Ting did not say which GSM network it is riding on, but the coverage map suggests it is using T-Mobile.


Sprint Now Offering 12GB Share Plan for $90

Feb 20, 2015, 11:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new option within its range of Family Share Pack plans. Customers can get up to 10 lines with unlimited talk, text, and 12GB of high-speed data to share for $90 per month. Sprint has dropped per-line smartphone access charges from $25 per month to $15 per month, but will waive access charges completely (for a period of one year) for customers who port their number from another carrier. Tablets cost $10 per line and mobile broadband devices cost $20 per line. Sprint is also still offering to pay the ETFs for customers who break their contract to switch to Sprint (up to $350 per line, four lines max). All devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay or the Sprint iPhone for Life Plan.


Gemalto to Investigate SIM Card Hacking Claims

Feb 20, 2015, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Gemalto found itself at the center of a new hacking scandal this week after The Intercept reported the SIM card maker was compromised by the NSA and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Intercept claims the U.S. and British spy agencies stole the encryption keys for SIM cards so they would be able to secretly monitor cell phone users around the world. With the keys in hand, the agencies could snoop around completely undetected by the targets or the network operators, and could do so without warrants. SIM cards are used in most mobile phones to identify the customer and allow the device to access the network. They are protected by light encryption, but only to prevent fraud -- not hacking. Possessing the encryption keys to the cards allowed the agencies to bypass the built-in security measures completely. In order to do this, the agencies monitored Gemalto employees and eventually broke into Gemalto's computer systems. The hacks took place in 2010, and Gemalto was completely unaware of the breech until contacted by The Intercept. The company issued a statement today, saying, "Gemalto is especially vigilant against malicious hackers, and has detected, logged and mitigated many types of attempts over the years. At present we cannot prove a link between those past attempts and what was reported yesterday. We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such sophisticated techniques." Gemalto is the world's largest manufacturer of SIM cards and ships about two billion SIM cards per year. The company is headquartered in The Netherlands, but has a large office in Texas and a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all use Gemalto SIM cards in their mobile devices, as do 450 other mobile network operators around the globe. The Intercept's report is based on documents released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.


Sprint Raising More Capital for Network Expansion

Feb 19, 2015, 2:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is looking to raise more cash for covering a variety of expenses. To that end, the company today kicked off a sale of $1 billion in senior notes. The company said proceeds from the note sale will be used for general corporate purposes, debt maintenance, and network expansion and modernization. The company has held numerous such sales over the last few years to keep up with the costs of building and deploying its LTE 4G network.


Sprint to Sell LG G Flex 2 March 13

Feb 19, 2015, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will sell the LG G Flex 2 beginning March 13. Preorders for the device commence Feb. 20. The G Flex 2 will be available via Sprint Easy pay, which costs $21 per month for 24 months. The suggested retail price is $504. Sprint didn't say how much the phone will cost with a two-year contract. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.


Sprint LTE and Spark Footprints Continue to Grow

Feb 19, 2015, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 19, 2015, 9:34 AM

Sprint today launched LTE service in 24 new markets and Spark service in an additional 24 markets. The company's LTE footprint now reaches 270 million POPs, while its Spark footprint reaches 125 million POPs. Some of the new LTE markets include Flagstaff, Ariz.; Maui and the Big Island, Hawaii; Terra Haute, Ind.; Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria, Calif.; and Washington, D.C., Arlington, and Alexandra, Va. Some of the new Spark markets include Camden, N.J.; Nashua, N.H.; New Haven and Milford, Conn.; Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News, Va.; Peoria, Ill., Providence, R.I.; and Spokane, Wash. Sprint said it will add Spark coverage to Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Nashville, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. later this month.


Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead to Retire

Feb 18, 2015, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Dan Mead, who has served as the CEO of Verizon Wireless since 2010, plans to retire according to filings the company made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mead will remain on the board of directors and serve as executive vice president and president of strategic initiatives. He'll stay in that role until Verizon Communications finalizes its sale of certain landline and FiOS assets to Frontier Communications. Once that is completed in mid 2016, Mead will retire fully. Mead has been replaced by John Stratton, formerly Verizon's executive vice president and president of Verizon's global enterprise and consumer wireline business. Stratton's new title is executive vice president and president of operations. He'll be in charge of both the wireless and wireline businesses. Both Mead and Stratton report to Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam. AT&T and Sprint have also installed new CEOs in the last six months. Glen Lurie succeeded Ralph de la Vega at AT&T and Marcelo Claure took over for Dan Hesse at Sprint. T-Mobile's John Legere has been serving as CEO since fall 2012.


Verizon Sees No More Big Spectrum Grabs In Its Future

Feb 17, 2015, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 17, 2015, 10:10 AM

Verizon today said it doesn't believe it will need to make any more large spectrum acquisitions following the results of the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. Verizon netted 181 spectrum licenses at a cost of $10.4 billion. The licenses cover 192 million POPs, or about 60% of Americans. Post auction, Verizon now has 40MHz of AWS spectrum covering 95% of the country's major markets, and 60MHz of mid-band spectrum covering about 84% of the population. Verizon may, when the opportunity arises, make small spectrum acquisitions or even lease spectrum, such as Sprint's 2.5GHz airwaves. For now, however, the company will focus on making the most-efficient use possible of its existing spectrum resources. Verizon said carrier aggregation will help a lot, and indicated that small cell deployments will further fill in a lot of gaps. Verizon also said it plans to more aggressively refarm its PCS spectrum, converting it from 3G to LTE 4G. Verizon's winnings ranked third in the AWS-3 auction, behind AT&T's massive $18 billion expenditure and Dish Networks' $13 billion. AT&T and Verizon have been forced to sell some assets in order to keep their balance sheets in order. For example, Verizon recently announced plans to sell some of its landline and fiber business assets to Frontier Communications. It is also selling some of its cell towers.


Sprint Delivering Lollipop to LG G3

Feb 16, 2015, 9:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said owners of the LG G3 should be able to update their devices to Android 5.0 Lollipop beginning today. Lollipop adds a wide range of new features, including Material Design, improved notifications, updated lock screen, upgraded Google Services, integrated messaging, and support for Google TV. The update also improves battery performance. Users can download and install the update over the air.


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