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printed July 31, 2015
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More Phone Makers, Carriers Support Android for Work

Yesterday, 8:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said support for its Android for Work program has swelled to 40 companies thanks to the addition of new carriers, phone makers, app developers, and management providers. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in the U.S., and Rogers, Bell Canada, and Telus Mobility in Canada have thrown their weight behind Android for Work, marking the first time carriers have joined the program. This means people/businesses will be able to ask their carriers to provide the security, device management, and productivity tools included in Android for Work. Samsung is working with Android for Work, too, in conjunction with its own KNOX services. Silent Circle's forthcoming Blackphone 2 is another handset that will support Android for Work. Google says more than 10,000 businesses are testing, deploying, or using Android for Work. The program is meant to help offer secure connections to corporate information, the ability for IT to manage devices remotely, and access to Google's productivity apps.


Boost Mobile Adding Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate to Roster

Wednesday, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the Alcatel OneTouch Conquest and Elevate, two low-cost Android handsets. Shared features between the two handsets include support for LTE, 5-megapixel rear cameras, 2-megapixel front cameras, and the Google Now launcher.

  • Conquest: The Conquest (pictured) features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust. The larger of these two smartphones boasts a 5-inch 720p HD screen with Dragontrail Glass and 1.2GHz quad-core processor. The Conquest runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and costs $129.99.
  • Elevate: The Elevate has a 4.5-inch FWVGA display and quad-core 1.1GHz processor. It relies on a 2,000mAh battery to get it through the day. The Elevate runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and costs $99.99.
The Conquest is available today and the Elevate will become available in August. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network and does not require contracts.


Sprint Offering 10GB to 4-Line Family Plans for $100

Wednesday, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today introduced the Sprint Family Share Pack, a plan that includes unlimited talk and text and 10 GB of shared data for four lines for $100 per month. Sprint Family Share Pack subscribers can quadruple their shared data to 40 GB for $20 more (total of $120 before taxes and fees). There are some catches. First, the offer is only available to families that switch active lines from another carrier to Sprint. Moreover, customers will need to purchase new handsets via Sprint's Easy Pay program. In exchange, Sprint is offering to cover all ETFs and remaining handset payments that might be incurred by customers who switch. The Sprint Family Share Pack is being offered for a limited time.


Moto G to Come In CDMA and GSM Variants

Tuesday, 2:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola has revealed there will be at least two variants of the Moto G handset for the U.S. market. The first model, XT1540, is the GSM model that includes EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE. This model is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The second model, XT1548, is the CDMA model, though it also supports GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE for world roaming. Motorola specifically said the Moto G will be offered by Sprint Prepaid, U.S. Cellular, and Virgin Mobile. None of these carriers has yet voiced support publicly for the Moto G. The Moto G, now in its third generation, has a 5-inch 720p screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 13-megapixel camera, and support for memory cards. It costs $179 and is available directly from Motorola.com.


Boost and Virgin Add Data Packs for Prepaid Plans

Tuesday, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Wireless USA brands today made available new data packs for customers seeking a bit more data. The $5 pack provides 1 GB of high-speed data and the $10 pack provides 2 GB of high-speed data. Boost's existing plans offer unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, but limited buckets of LTE 4G data. Virgin's plans offer a variety of talk, text, and LTE data buckets ranging from 1 GB to 3 GB. The $5 and $10 data packs can be added to any of Boost's or Virgin's plans.


Sprint Spreads the LG Tribute 2 to Virgin and Sprint Prepaid

Jul 20, 2015, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the LG Tribute 2 is now available from Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid. The Tribute 2 has LG's signature rear-placed buttons, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG's Knock Code, QuickMemo, and selfie camera tools. The screen measures 4.5 inches and offers 854 x 480 resolution. The Tribute 2 also includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of ROM. Virgin Mobile is selling the phone as the LG Tribute 2, but Sprint Prepaid has rebranded it to the Tribute Duo. It costs $99. Sprint-owned Boost Mobile is already selling the Tribute 2.


ZTE Max+ for Boost Bumps Up Specs

Jul 17, 2015, 8:10 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 17, 2015, 10:08 PM

Boost Mobile today listed the new ZTE Max+ for sale on its web site. The spec bump improves the memory, processor, and battery compared to original Max. The internal storage memory has been boosted from 8 GB to 16, and the RAM has also been doubled, from 1 GB to 2. The processor has been updated to the newer Snapdragon 410. The embedded battery receives a modest boost from the already-large 3,200 mAh up to 3,400 mAh. The design is also updated, featuring a rounded gold back. Other specs are similar, including the huge 5.7-inch 720p display, 8-megapixel main camera, 1-megapixel front camera, and memory card slot. The Max+ runs Android 5.1 and supports HD Voice. Like the original Max, the Max+ supports 4G LTE, but only in the primary band of the Sprint network, not the two other bands necessary for the faster Sprint Spark service. The Max+ is selling for $199, which is $100 less than the original Max at its debut.


Sprint Prepaid to Sell HTC Desire 626s for $130

Jul 15, 2015, 11:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced that its Sprint Prepaid service will offer the HTC Desire 626s in marshmallow white beginning July 19. The phone costs $129.99. Service plans start at $35 per month and do no require contracts.


HTC Debuts New Desire 626 and 526/520 Range

Jul 15, 2015, 2:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today revealed a new family of Desire handsets. The 626 series (pictured) and 526/520 series share many features, though the former is a bit more mid-range and the latter is decidedly entry-level. Traits common to the 626, 626S, 526, and 520 include Qualcomm's 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor; 2,000mAh batteries; single-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS/GLONASS; support for 2 TB memory cards; and Android 5.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense.

  • 626/626S: In keeping with prior Desire designs, the 626/626S are formed of polycarbonate and have variable color combinations. These larger Desire handsets have 5-inch 720p HD screens and 8-megapixel main cameras with 720p video capture. The 626 has 16 GB of storage, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The 626S has 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera.
  • 526/520:The 526 and 520 share most design features, but differ in some key specs. They have a simple appearance and cheaper materials. The 526, intended for Verizon, has a 4.7-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1.5 GB of RAM. The 520, intended for Cricket Wireless, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
HTC said these phones will become broadly available from many U.S. carriers, including T-Mobile and MetroPCS, AT&T GoPhone and Cricket Wireless, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. Pricing, colors, and availability will vary by carrier.

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Sprint's Direct 2 You Reaches Dallas, DC, Detroit, Tampa

Jul 13, 2015, 4:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today expanded its Direct 2 You service to Dallas, D.C., Detroit, and Tampa. The service is live in these cities and a number of smaller cities and towns in the surrounding areas. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician brings the store experience directly to the homes of customers who purchase a new phone. Customers still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up a phone, transferring content, and device tutorials. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge. Sprint said more cities will be added throughout the year.


ROK Mobile Expands Coverage and Retail Presence

Jul 8, 2015, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ROK Mobile, a music-focused MVNO, today said it has significantly expanded coverage by partnering with "the nation's largest 4G LTE network." ROK Mobile didn't name its new partner, but said customers can now enjoy cellular network access in more places. The carrier has already partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile, so the new partner is either AT&T or Verizon Wireless. ROK also announced plans to expand its retail availability across the country this month. ROK Mobile services will be available at "independently owned and operated" mobile phone stores nationwide starting in a few weeks. ROK didn't name its retail partners, but said it plans to be in 10,000 locations by the end of the year. ROK Mobile bundles wireless and music streaming services together for $49.99 per month. For that, users get 5GB of LTE 4G, unlimited calling and messaging, and unlimited access to ROK's 20 million tracks. Consumers interested in ROK Mobile need to supply their own Sprint- or T-Mobile-compatible handset. The service works on Android and iOS devices through ROK's mobile app.


Sprint Kicks Off Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime On July 10

Jul 7, 2015, 2:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime on July 10. The phone has a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and a 2,600mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and is compatible with Sprint's LTE 4G network. Other radios include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi (with support for WiFi calling). Sprint said the phone will be available through its retail stores, web site, and telesales. The phone will cost $10 per month for 24 months with no money down; $30 (after $50 rebate) with a two-year contract; or for the full retail price of $240, sans contract. The Galaxy Grand Prime is already available from Cricket Wireless.


Helio Quietly Reboots On Sprint and Verizon's Networks

Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Helio, an MVNO that shuttered its doors years ago, is back. The company announced its return via Twitter and is once again offering prepaid service. The company operates on Sprint's network. Unlike before, however, Helio has a roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless, too, so customers will have greater network access when out and about. The basic service cost $29 per month, which includes unlimited voice, unlimited messaging (including international text), and unlimited 2G data capped at 128Kbps. Helio's web site does not say if or when it might offer 3G or 4G service. The $29 monthly plan includes all taxes and fees. The company supports a BYOD program, but requires handsets compatible with Sprint's network. It also sells a handful of older smartphones on its web site, including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, for $249 and $299, respectively. Helio said it will sell its own branded handsets soon. Helio is offering the first month of service for free with no commitment. Helio was originally launched in 2006 as a joint venture between SK Telecom and Earthlink. It was folded into Virgin Mobile, another Sprint property, in 2008. Helio ceased all operations in 2010. Helio is now backed by a company called UBI.


Sprint CEO Derides T-Mobile's 'Misleading' and 'Fake' Moves

Jul 2, 2015, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has had enough of T-Mobile CEO John Legere's brash attitude. Claure had harsh words for Legere after Legere poked fun at Sprint's latest promotion, the All-In calling plan. "I give credit to @sprint for swinging the bat when they do – but #allin is a swing and a miss, guys! #sprintlikehell," said Legere via his personal Twitter account. Claure responded by saying, "I am so tired of your Uncarrier [baloney] when you are worse than the other two carriers together. Your cheap misleading lease imitation is a joke. You trick people to believe that they have a $15 iPhone lease payment when it's not true. You tell them they can upgrade up to 3x but you don't tell them the price goes up to $27 when they do. You say one thing but behave completely different. It's all a fake show. So it's really #Tmobilelikehell." Legere did not respond to Claure's accusations. Legere is known for his direct approach and use of profanity to make fun of T-Mobile's competitors.


Sprint to Test New Stores with Dixons Carphone

Jul 2, 2015, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new partnership with Europe's Dixons Carphone that will see the companies test 20 new retail stores in various markets around the U.S. Dixons Carphone is a renowned electronics retailer. Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will open and staff 20 retail stores that will be managed by Dixons Carphone Connected World Services (CWS) division. Sprint said it will also adopt some of CWS's best practices across its own retail stores, web site, and telesales. The end goal is to provide a better shopping experience for Sprint customers. If the pilot is successful, CWS will be given the responsibility to run more of Sprint's stores under an equally-funded joint venture. Sprint also recently expanded its retail footprint to 4,500 locations thanks to the addition of 1,435 RadioShack stores. Sprint says about 300 locations will include a store-within-a-store layout this month, with the rest to follow by the end of the year. The stores are co-branded RadioShack and Sprint, and include new signage and new interior designs that more closely resemble Sprint stores. Sprint acquired RadioShack's stores earlier this year.


CTIA Says Smartphones Better Protected Against Theft

Jul 1, 2015, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.


Sprint Allowed to Settle Cramming Charges for $50M

Jul 1, 2015, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has settled accusations with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it over-billed customers for unwanted services. In May, the FCC fined Sprint $68 million for adding third-party services to customer bills without customer permission — a practice known as cramming. A U.S. judge is allowing Sprint to escape with a $50 million settlement, rather than the full amount. The FCC fined Verizon for $90 million in May also, and this week's settlement marks the end of the ordeal for both companies. Last year, the FCC tagged AT&T for $105 million and T-Mobile for $90 million to settle cramming complaints.


Sprint Forced to Backtrack On Throttling After Outcry

Jul 1, 2015, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint was forced to remove a speed limit on its new All-In plans after customers were quick to complain. On Tuesday, Sprint revealed a service plan called All-In that offers monthly service and phone payments bundled together for $80 per month. In the fine print, Sprint disclosed a policy to throttle mobile video speeds to 600kbps at all times for network management purposes. That didn't sit well with customers, who took to social media to voice their concerns. Sprint later admitted that it has slowed mobile video speeds for a period of two years. The practice runs afoul of the FCC's new net neutrality rules, which prohibit broadband providers — wireless or wired — from throttling speeds of select apps or services. After a drubbing from customers, Sprint changed its policy. "At Sprint, we strive to provide customers a great experience when using our network," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. "We heard you loud and clear, and we are removing the 600kbps limitation on streaming video." That doesn't mean Sprint won't protect its network from heavy users. "During certain times, like other wireless carriers, we might have to manage the network in order to reduce congestion and provide a better customer experience for the majority of our customers," said Claure. AT&T has been sued by the FTC and the FCC over its network throttling practices.


Sprint Found In Violation of Prism Patents

Jun 30, 2015, 3:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint was found culpable of infringing on two patents held by Prism Technologies. The patents in question pertain to accessing protected computer resources and were used by Sprint in its "Simply Everything" and "Everything Data" plans, according to Prism. Sprint was ordered to pay a fine of $30 million. Sprint rejects the decision and said it will appeal. "We believe the evidence is clear that Sprint does not infringe the patent. Sprint plans to pursue post-trial motions," said Roni Singleton, a spokeswoman for Sprint, in a statement provided to RCR Wireless. Prism has similar cases pending against T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular.


Sprint's All-In Plan Includes Phone and Service for $80

Jun 30, 2015, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.


European Union to Ban Roaming Charges

Jun 30, 2015, 7:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The European Commission today agreed to make cellphone roaming charges illegal beginning in 2017. The change in law means European wireless network operators will not be allowed to charge roaming fees for customers who travel across the 28-country continent. Additionally, the European Commission also adopted some net neutrality regulations to prevent service providers from discriminating between different types of internet traffic. European carriers, such as T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom, warn the rules will reduce investment across the region, but regulators see the new laws as a win for consumers, who are often charged high fees when they travel. The new rules are specific to Europeans who go to other European countries. U.S. residents traveling abroad can still expect AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to charge roaming fees for accessing wireless networks in Europe and elsewhere.


Sprint Debuts Best Buy One Family Plan for $100

Jun 29, 2015, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today unwrapped a new option for customers looking to save money on family plans. The Best Buy One Family plan costs $100 per month and includes unlimited data, voice minutes, and messaging for two smartphones. Additional lines cost $40 each. Sprint says subscribers to the Best Buy One Family plan can lease handsets for as little as $20 per month, so a two-line plan would cost just $140 per month with the device payments added in (taxes and fees not included). The Best Buy One Family plan is available at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores beginning today. Sprint already offers a Best Buy One plan for single lines.


Sprint's Direct 2 You Launches in More Cities

Jun 29, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today made good on its May promise to bring Direct 2 You to New York, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The service is now live in these cities and a number of smaller cities and towns in the surrounding metro areas. Sprint said it will expand Direct 2 You to Detroit, Washington, D.C., Tampa, and Dallas in early July. With Direct 2 You, a Sprint technician brings the store experience directly to the homes of customers who purchase a new phone. Customers can still receive the same benefits as buying in stores, such as setting up their phone, transferring content from their old phone, and tutorials to ensure the customer understands how to use their new device. Sprint's Direct 2 You service is offered free of charge.


Justice Dept. Suggests FCC Limit AT&T, Verizon Auction Participation

Jun 25, 2015, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 25, 2015, 10:06 AM

Officials at the Justice Department are concerned AT&T and Verizon will dominate the upcoming 600MHz auction if more protections aren't put in place by the FCC. The agency filed a letter with the FCC this week suggesting the FCC give more weight to the concerns of companies such as Sprint and T-Mobile, which seek to limit AT&T and Verizon's participation. "The Department recognizes that the Commission must balance competing policy priorities in setting the appropriate reserve levels," said the officials. "In balancing these priorities, the Department urges the Commission to give considerable weight in determining the amount of spectrum included in the reserve to protecting and promoting competition, and the well-established competition principle that those with market power may be willing to pay the most to reinforce a leading position." Sprint, T-Mobile and others have asked the FCC to set aside 40MHz of spectrum that cannot be bid upon by AT&T and Verizon. So far the FCC has agreed to a 30MHz reserve, though the rules aren't yet final. T-Mobile, in particular, has fired off plenty of rhetoric in opposition of the two larger carriers' participation in the auction. AT&T and Verizon have responded in kind. The Justice Department didn't explicitly state that the FCC should bump the reserve to 40MHz, but it strongly implied that might be the best course for the FCC to take. The FCC hopes to lock down the rules soon, but the auction won't take place until mid 2016.


Boost Offering to Slice MetroPCS, Cricket Bills In Half

Jun 19, 2015, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 19, 2015, 12:23 PM

Boost Mobile today introduced a limited promotion aimed at enticing MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless customers to switch. Boost will cut the monthly service fees in half for Metro and Cricket customers that sign up for Boost service between now and July 20. Boost says the halved bills can save Metro and Cricket customers between $20 and $30 per month for up to one full year. For example, MetroPCS is charging $40 a month for unlimited talk/text and 2.5GB of LTE data. Customers who port their number to Boost can get that same service plan for $20 per month. Similarly, Cricket charges customers who have unlimited talk/text and 10GB of data $60 per month. Boost will charge only $30 for that same plan. After the year-long promotion expires, customers will automatically be migrated to the Boost plan with a comparable amount of monthly data. Boost operates on Sprint's network. Sprint is offering a similar promotion to customers who switch from AT&T or Verizon Wireless.


Sprint Stops Throttling Heaviest Users

Jun 18, 2015, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is no longer slowing down the wireless speeds of its heaviest users. Sprint altered its policies in the wake of the FCC's net neutrality rules, which went into effect June 12. Sprint had been throttling those customers who consumed the most mobile data in areas where its network was congested. Sprint said it thinks its network management policies should be accepted under the new rules, but made the change just in case. "Sprint doesn't expect users to notice any significant difference in their services now that we no longer engage in the process," said Sprint. Under the FCC's net neutrality rules, network operators are not allowed to slow down internet speeds.


Deutsche Telekom Shopping T-Mobile to Comcast

Jun 17, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Deutsche Telekom is discussing with Comcast the possibility of the cable firm buying T-Mobile US. Deutsche Telekom is talking to several other companies, including Dish Networks, but Comcast is seen as the primary contender thanks to its stronger finances. Deutsche Telekom hoped to sell T-Mobile to AT&T several years ago and then to Sprint last year. The company has gone on the record saying it will explore every possibility with respect to its U.S. wireless company. Neither Deutsche Telekom nor Comcast commented on Reuters' report, which cited unnamed sources.


FreedomPop to Forgo Acquisitions for Now

Jun 17, 2015, 7:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FreedomPop today put to rest months of speculation that the company would be acquired by a larger competitor. FreedomPop says it has declined multiple offers and will instead remain a separate entity. In order to do so, however, it secured $30 million in Series B financing from Partech Ventures. "We ultimately decided it was premature to sell on the cusp of exponential traction," said Stephen Stokols, FreedomPop's founder and CEO. "Following on accelerated growth and our pending global expansion, we are confident we will create massive value within the next 12 to 24 months at which point we could revisit exit options." FreedomPop offers free and low-cost wireless service mostly via WiFi. It also resells access to Sprint's network.

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Sprint Offers Cuba Calling Plan of Its Own

Jun 15, 2015, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the availability of Sprint Cuba 20 Plus, a calling plan add-on that provides access to friends and family in Cuba. The Sprint Cuba 20 plan costs $10 per month and includes 20 voice minutes to any line in Cuba. Additional minutes cost 70 cents each. Sprint customers who subscribe to the Sprint Cuba 20 plan can call and send messages to Mexican and Canadian numbers without paying extra international charges. The plan offers discounted rates to 180 other countries, as well. The Sprint Cuba 20 plan can be added to customer accounts starting today. MetroPCS also announced a Cuba plan today, but Metro's is packaged in with an existing international calling plan.


Verizon: T-Mobile's Legere 'Is Simply Wrong'

Jun 12, 2015, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless fired back at T-Mobile CEO John Legere after he entreated Americans to ask the FCC for help. T-Mobile wants 40MHz of spectrum in the upcoming 600MHz spectrum auction to be set aside for smaller carriers. The FCC has agreed to 30MHz. Legere insists 40MHz is the minimum needed to keep the U.S. wireless industry competitive, and he claims AT&T and Verizon are trying to shut it out. Verizon begs to differ. "T-Mobile is more than welcome to participate in any auction the FCC holds. No company can prevent another from participating. The last time large swaths of low-band spectrum came to auction in 2007, for example, T-Mobile could have participated. It chose not to," said Verizon in a post to its public policy blog. Moreover, Verizon points out that it is in fact T-Mobile that has pushed Verizon out of the 600MHz auction and not the other way around. "Some companies can attempt to bake rules into an auction to prevent other companies from participating fairly. Mr. Legere and T-Mobile are" doing exactly that. "For example, T-Mobile — and Sprint and Dish — lobbied for and received from the FCC a set aside of spectrum in the upcoming auction that only they are allowed to bid on. Verizon can't. AT&T can't." Verizon further argues that qualifying Sprint and T-Mobile as "small carriers" is disingenuous at best, given the size and valuation of their parent organizations (SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom, respectively). Verizon also stuck a barb in the side of Dish Networks. "The FCC doesn't need to give additional handouts to global companies with the financial wherewithal to compete. Nor should it be handing out discounted spectrum to companies [Dish] with a track record of not investing in networks or serving consumers. The record of the U.S. wireless marketplace is clear: if one invests in networks, innovates and meets consumer needs, success can follow, with no need for government assistance." The FCC hasn't made a final decision on the 40MHz request, but is leaning on leaving the concession at 30MHz.


T-Mobile CEO Takes FCC Auction Fight to the Public

Jun 11, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CEO John Legere wants your help. In a recent blog post, Legere appealed to John Q. Public to aid in T-Mobile's pursuit of 600MHz spectrum. The FCC is set to approve final rules for the auction, which T-Mobile believes don't set aside enough of the valuable low-band spectrum for smaller carriers. T-Mobile has crusaded since last year in an effort to raise the reserved spectrum from 30MHz to 40MHz, which it says is needed to keep the American wireless market competitive. As it stands, AT&T and Verizon own the bulk of the low-band spectrum available with their 700MHz holdings. T-Mobile desperately wants the 600MHz spectrum. Legere is asking consumers to reach directly out to the FCC ahead of the vote in a last-ditch attempt to sway the FCC's decision. "If smaller competitors can't get more spectrum in this auction," said Legere, "it could put an end to all that pro-consumer competitive pressure. Imagine what that would look like! Every consumer in America loses. You'll face higher bills, stifled innovation, crappy customer service — all the usual AT&T and Verizon treatment! It would be a nightmare for American wireless consumers!" Legere is known for his unfiltered approach in leading the Uncarrier. T-Mobile isn't alone. Sprint and other carriers hope to see more of the low-band spectrum kept from AT&T and Verizon. The 600MHz auction won't take place until mid 2016.


ROK Mobile Now Available Sans Invite

Jun 11, 2015, 10:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ROK Mobile today re-launched in the U.S. as a service available to anyone. The MVNO first got off the ground in July 2014, but required an invitation. ROK says anyone in the U.S. can now join its service. What sets ROK Mobile apart is that it bundles wireless and music streaming services together for $49.99 per month. For that, users get 5GB of LTE 4G, unlimited calling and messaging, and unlimited access to ROK's 20 million tracks. The music service lets users create radio stations, personalize playlists, explore music based on moods and preferences, and streaming is ad-free. The company claims to offer a cost advantage over competing music services such as Spotify and Rdio because the cost is bundled into the wireless plan. For now, users will need to supply their own Sprint or T-Mobile compatible handset. The service works on Android and iOS through ROK's application. ROK Mobile said it will have news regarding its own handset offering in the near future.


RingPlus To Offer Free Phone Service

Jun 10, 2015, 6:59 PM   by Rich Brome

RingPlus today announced a new mobile phone service plan that is ad-supported, but completely free to the customer. The ads take the form of ringback tones, which RingPlus customers hear on outbound voice calls, after dialing but before the other party picks up. The free monthly plan includes 200 voice minutes, 50 text messages, and 10 MB of 4G LTE data. There are no ads associated with text and data use. RingPlus is also adjusting pricing on its paid plans, which offer larger usage allotments. Plans from $2-10/month offer larger buckets of usage. Plans from $20-50/month offer unlimited voice and text, and data buckets ranging from 1 GB to 5 GB. Overage on all new plans is 2 cents per minute, text message, or MB of data. MMS messages run 4 cents / message, and international texts are 3 cents / message. All RingPlus plans are no-contract and do not carry an activation fee. The new plans will be available from ringplus.net starting June 13th at 3pm. RingPlus is an MVNO using the Sprint network. Customers may use their own Sprint phone, or - starting soon - buy a new phone from RingPlus.

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Alcatel Conquest Coming to Boost

Jun 10, 2015, 2:30 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today approved the Alcatel One Touch Conquest for Boost Mobile. FCC documents show an Android phone with a colorful design, tri-band LTE, Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, a camera with flash, and a front camera. Slots on the side accept a memory card and the SIM card. The battery does not appear to be removable. The phone would be Alcatel's second phone for a Sprint brand, and first smartphone. Alcatel has made significant inroads into the U.S. market in recent years, mostly with T-Mobile.


T-Mobile Implores FCC to Set Aside More Low-Band Spectrum

Jun 3, 2015, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray filed a letter with the FCC asking it to raise the amount of spectrum set aside for competitive carriers in the forthcoming 600MHz reverse auction. The FCC has already agreed to reserve 30MHz of spectrum for carriers other than AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile wants the reserve set at 40MHz. The Uncarrier has already made this abundantly clear. Ray's latest comments follow a report suggesting the FCC is leaning toward leaving the reserve set at 30MHz, which T-Mobile argues would favor AT&T and Verizon. "Mobile broadband providers need largely unimpaired, low-band spectrum to compete effectively in the wireless marketplace, but the two dominant providers currently hold more than 73% of all low-band spectrum available for commercial use across the entire industry today," said Ray. "Increasing the reserve to at least 40MHz of largely unimpaired spectrum will give competitive carriers an opportunity to secure the low-band spectrum necessary to provide more extensive and more reliable service in urban and suburban areas, and deploy new competitive services in less populated areas of the country." AT&T and Verizon have vast amounts of 700MHz spectrum, which each has used for its LTE 4G network. T-Mobile has some 700MHz, but not nearly as much as its competitors. The 600MHz auction is seen as the last opportunity for T-Mobile, Sprint, and others to win low-band spectrum, which is highly valued for its propagation characteristics.


Sprint Parent Greenlights Network Plan

Jun 3, 2015, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank has given Sprint the go-ahead to begin its network improvement plan. The nation's third-largest carrier plans to densify its LTE 4G network to improve coverage and capacity. "Sprint has developed an approved network plan in partnership with SoftBank that will allow for a cost-effective network build on an accelerated timeline," said the company in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Last month, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure predicted the company would have the number one or number two network in the country within two years. Sprint's Next Generation Network plan it to use small cells and macro cells to fill in its coverage gaps. The company is already evaluating proposals from telecommunication gear suppliers. Sprint has not said how many new cells it will install, but it did commit to offering voice over LTE, and said WiFi will also play a key role in its network plan. Sprint's coverage trails that of larger competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless.


Boost Mobile Scores Live Sports App

Jun 2, 2015, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.


Sprint Prepaid Now Offers Rollover Data

Jun 2, 2015, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint Prepaid today announced the availability of rollover data for its month-to-month service. Customers' unused data will automatically roll over to the next month, and won't expire. Sprint is allowing customers to amass a total of 30GB of rollover data in their account. Sprint Prepaid offers three plans, all of which include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan has 1GB of monthly data, the $45 plan has 3GB, and the $55 plan has 6GB. In addition to rollover data, Sprint Prepaid is offering customers who make nine on-time payments the option to upgrade to a smartphone lease. Both the rollover data and smartphone lease are only available from Best Buy stores. 


FCC Likely to Side with AT&T and Verizon in Spectrum Fight

May 29, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC is close to making a final decision regarding how much spectrum to set aside for smaller carriers in next year's 600MHz auction and T-Mobile isn't going to be happy. The FCC has already set aside 30MHz of the airwaves in question for smaller carriers, thereby limiting how much spectrum AT&T and Verizon — the nation's two largest carriers — can acquire. T-Mobile has been pushing the FCC to increase the allotment to 40MHz, but Reuters reports the FCC is prepared to move forward with the 30MHz limit in place. AT&T and Verizon already control about two-thirds of the nation's low-band spectrum, which is highly valued for its propagation characteristics. T-Mobile and Sprint would like access to more low-band spectrum, and the 600MHz auction is their best opportunity to acquire it. Reuters' sources suggest the FCC's decision could still change, but T-Mobile's request is likely to be denied. The 600MHz auction is scheduled to begin in mid-2016. The FCC wants the rules locked down before the end of 2015.


Sprint CEO Predicts It'll Have Top Network In Two Years

May 28, 2015, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure believes the company will have the number 1 or number 2 network in the country within 18 to 24 months. Claure made the comments while speaking at the Recode Conference. "I can tell you we're making progress, and I can tell you the area of focus will be the continued building of our network," he said. Many third-party network ranking businesses place Sprint's network in last place when compared to the performance of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Claure says Sprint has already made some improvements and notes the company has deep resources thanks to majority owner SoftBank. He has spent a lot of time with SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son in order to craft a viable network improvement plan. Claure has already helped stop customer losses. When he joined Sprint as CEO last year, Sprint was losing close to 700,000 customers per quarter. In the most-recent quarter, Sprint added 1.2 million customers. "I think the patient is doing well now," said Claure said. "The patient is in stable condition." Claure didn't provide specifics about Sprint's plan, but the company does have large spectrum holdings in the 800MHz, 1900MHz and 2.5GHz bands. Many of its devices now access LTE in all three bands, which Sprint markets as Sprint Spark.


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