Sprint rolled out a promotion today that takes direct aim at rival AT&T. The company is offering DirecTV customers who switch to Sprint 12 months of free service. The offer includes unlimited talk and text and up to 2GB of LTE 4G data. Sprint said it will pay the ETFs for those who switch, as well as any remaining equipment payments up to $300. Customers will be responsible for a $36 activation charge and monthly taxes and fees. Once the 12-month promotion ends, users will be moved to a $50 monthly service plan (for a single line). The free year of service does not include Sprint's international services, and data overages are charged at $0.015 per MB. The promotion will be available from Aug. 28 through Sept. 30. DirecT was recently acquired by AT&T.
T-Mobile today added its network to the Competitive Carriers Association's LTE data roaming hub. The move gives CCA members and their customers access to T-Mobile's LTE 4G network for data roaming purposes. The Hub, which launched several years ago, is a collection of roaming agreements between small, rural carriers and large, national ones, such as Sprint and T-Mobile. The purpose of the Hub is to give larger carriers access to the rural networks of regional carriers, and give those regional carriers access to the metropolitan LTE 4G networks of larger carriers. T-Mobile has participated in the hub from a management perspective for some time, but had not yet contributed access to its own network. T-Mobile's network is strong in urban centers, but the carrier lacks the rural coverage available from other competitors.
Samsung is inviting a select number of people to beta test Samsung Pay in the U.S. In order to trial the mobile payment platform, consumers need to have a Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, or Note 5 smartphone. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular are supporting Samsung Pay at launch, Verizon Wireless is not. The beta requires users to have an active Samsung account and a MasterCard or Visa credit/debit card from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust, or U.S. Bank. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and MST for tap-and-go transactions. Apple Pay and Android Pay, in comparison, use only NFC. Consumers can request an invite to test Samsung Pay from Samsung.com.
The FCC has filed a citation against a Queens, New York, man for operating equipment in the 1900MHz band that is interfering with Sprint's network. Sprint filed a complaint about interference issues on March 10. The FCC investigated and determined the interference is being caused by an unknown device or devices on property owned in Queens by Jian Chang. "The device at this location is injecting noise into the Sprint network and degrading or blocking service to Sprint's customers," said the FCC. When asked for help, "Chang refused to assist the agents and refused to allow the inspection of any offending transmitter." The FCC sent Chang an official notice about the interference issue and received no response. The FCC says Chang is violating multiple rules, such as those prohibiting the "operation of an intentional, unintentional, or incidental radiator subject to the conditions that no harmful interference is caused. Any equipment or device subject to the provisions of this part [of the rules]…shall be made available for inspection by a Commission representative upon reasonable request." Chang has 30 days (from Aug. 19) to respond to the FCC's citation and inspection request. Chang may be fined up to $16,000 per day up to a total of $122,500 until the issue is resolved.
Sprint today expanded its Direct 2 You service to the metropolitan areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Seattle. The service is live in these cities and 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. It is already offered in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington, D.C. Sprint is also offering special promotions to Direct 2 You customers. Beginning today, people who complete a Direct 2 You appointment will receive a free gift, such as Motorola Bluetooth headphones or Harmon Kardon Bluetooth speaker. The promotion also includes a chance to win a cruise for two, or a paid-for trip to the Super Bowl next year. Every Direct 2 You customer will be entered to win a $250,000 cash prize if they post a picture of themselves with their Direct 2 You tech to Twitter or Instagram.
SoftBank has purchased yet more shares of Sprint stock, boosting its stake in the company to just over 80%. SoftBank shelled out $73 million for about 16.8 million shares. Earlier this month, SoftBank made an $87 million investment in Sprint. The moves have helped Sprint's stock price rally, increasing the company's value by about $6 billion. SoftBank believes Sprint's turnaround plan will work and CEO Masayoshi Son said he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Sprint recently fell behind T-Mobile in terms of subscribers.
Sprint will soon stop asking customers to sign two-year contracts when purchasing new phones, says the Wall Street Journal. The change coincides with moves made by its competitors, including T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure told the Journal that it will move to a phone-leasing/financing model, such as the one it debuted earlier today for the iPhone, before January. Claure suggested that its parent company, SoftBank, will help it offset some of the costs associated with leasing — rather than selling — handsets to customers. SoftBank last week spoke of plans to create a subsidiary that might help finance some of Sprint's handset-related costs. The wireless industry has been transitioning from the subsidized, contract model to leasing and/or financing programs since T-Mobile announced its first Uncarrier move in 2013. AT&T is the lone national carrier still offering yearly contracts in addition to financing plans.
Sprint has kicked off a new program that lets customers upgrade to "the latest" iPhone at any time. Starting today, new or upgrade-eligible customers can lease a 16GB iPhone 6 for $22 per month. When a new iPhone becomes available (possibly in late September), those customers will be able to go into Sprint stores and swap their iPhone 6 for the new iPhone with no change in monthly lease payments. Sprint is offering to reduce the lease payment to $15 for customers who trade in old smartphones under several conditions. Current customers who are upgrade eligible and new customers who port to Sprint can get a new 16GB iPhone 6 today for $15 per month as long as they turn in an old smartphone. If these customers upgrade to the latest iPhone after Dec. 31, they will see their lease change to $22 per month. Separately, new or existing upgrade-eligible customers can turn in any smartphone and lease the 16GB iPhone 6 for $15 per month. If these customers then upgrade to the new iPhone before Dec. 31, they will get to keep the $15 monthly lease payment until their next upgrade. This promotion, which mirrors one recently revealed by T-Mobile, is meant to entice customers to sign up sooner rather than later. Sprint hopes prospective customers who may be waiting for Apple to reveal a new iPhone will jump on a new iPhone in the next few weeks. The iPhone Forever program is offering those new customers some protection, assuring them they'll be able to get the latest iPhone when it arrives later this year. Thee plans require customers to activate their iPhone on an individual unlimited plan or family share pack plan.
The majority of U.S. wireless network operators will offer the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless all plan to sell the new handsets from Samsung. The Note 5 and S6 Edge+ will also be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and some Walmart stores. Carriers and retailers will confirm specific pricing and availability details.
SoftBank has been snapping up shares of Sprint, increasing its stake recently by as much as $87 million. Despite SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son's misgivings about the overall acquisition of Sprint, SoftBank said it "is enthusiastic about Sprint's prospects. The SoftBank Group and Sprint teams have been working closely together on Sprint's network strategy to enhance Sprint's competitiveness and reduce its capital expenditures and operating costs." SoftBank didn't say if it plans to continue purchasing Sprint shares. The carrier recently fell behind T-Mobile in terms of subscribers in the U.S., making it the fourth-largest carrier.
SoftBank's plans for Sprint have not unfolded as CEO Masayoshi Son hoped. Son initially believed a merger with competitor T-Mobile would serve the carrier, but was dismayed when U.S. antitrust regulators shot the idea down. "I was thinking to myself: 'I made one of the biggest mistakes in my life,' which was the misjudgment of the U.S. regulatory environment," said Son. SoftBank closed its equity stake in Sprint just two years ago, and the company has already considered selling Sprint to Comcast in the U.S. or Altice in Europe, according to the Wall Street Journal. Son's plan to sell Sprint went nowhere. Son also considered writing off the acquisition as a total loss. Now, SoftBank is facing the costly prospect of improving Sprint's network to entice back customers it has lost to rivals over the years. Sprint plans to install tens of thousands of small cells to improve the density of its network around the country, but is burning cash at an alarming rate and may go broke by mid 2016 if it doesn't reduce expenditures. For legal reasons, SoftBank's hands are tied; it cannot invest too much more money in Sprint's turnaround. It is considering forming two stand-alone entities to help finance Sprint's network and handset-leasing expenses to keep debt off Sprint's balance sheet. Son replaced Sprint CEO Dan Hesse a year ago with Marcelo Claure, who has made some progress in retaining customers, but the carrier still has a long way to go. It recently fell behind T-Mobile, which now stands as the country's third-largest carrier, behind AT&T and Verizon. Masayoshi Son and Claure hope the network densification plan and more consumer-friendly service plans will help put the carrier on a more positive track.
TextNow today announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG Volt, two new additions to its roster of handsets. TextNow is selling the Galaxy S5 for $399 new or $299 refurbished. The LG Volt is just $13.99. Both handsets are more than a year old. The company said its phones, starting with the Moto G, are now available at all Fry's Electronics location. Moreover, TextNow will soon accept cash payments at more than 10,000 varied retail locations around the country, including Gates Petroleum, Sunoco, NMart, and Circle K stores, among others. TextNow Wireless offers all customers unlimited talk and text and up to 500MB of 4G data for $18.99 per month. TextNow runs on Sprint's cellular network but defaults to WiFi whenever possible. TextNow Wireless already offers a number of new and refurbished Sprint devices, including the LG Optimus F3, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Sprint today expanded its Direct 2 You service to Atlanta, Boston, Houston, and Philadelphia. 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. It is already offered in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.
Sprint today made it easier to call family and friends in Canada, Mexico, and other countries through its new Open World program. Sprint customers who enroll in Open World can call or text numbers in Canada and Mexico at no extra charge. Moreover, Open World offers free unlimited calling and texting, and 1GB of roaming data to Sprint customers who travel to Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Paraguay. Sprint will charge customers who exceed the 1GB of free roaming data at the rate of $30 per extra 1GB, and may cancel service of those who roam excessively. Customers will need to have an international-capable handset to take advantage of the roaming services. Sprint permits roaming in countries other than those listed in the Open World program, but it charges $30 per 1GB of data and $0.20 per voice minute. Open World is a limited-time promotion, but Sprint didn't provide an end date. It can be added to Sprint plans for free. Interested customers will need to sign up online, in person in stores, or via the phone. Open World is similar to recent offerings from T-Moble and other carriers.
T-Mobile has lowered the price points of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge a week after Samsung said it would drop the phones' prices. The Galaxy S6 now costs $580, $660, and $660 for the 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB models, respectively. Those reflect price drops of $100 to $200. The Galaxy S6 Edge has similar price cuts, and now costs $680, $760, and $760 for the 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB models, respectively. Samsung reported its second quarter earnings recently and indicated the S6 and S6 Edge were not selling as well as hoped. In response, Samsung said it "plans to firmly maintain its sale of premium smartphones by flexibly adjusting the price of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge." T-Mobile's competitors, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, have yet to follow the Uncarrier's lead, but they likely will in the near future.
AT&T said a problem with its wireline network was to blame for spotty cellular coverage in portions of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee this evening. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers in those four states reported connectivity issues starting in the late afternoon. They took to social media in droves to complain about the lack of service. AT&T provides backhaul coverage for itself and its competitors in the region. "We've pinpointed the issue in the Southeast and are working to restore service as quickly as possible," said AT&T via its Twitter account. Sprint and Verizon took to their own social media accounts to assure customers that the issue will soon be resolved. "Verizon engineers worked with our vendors to identify and resolve the issue and service was restored by 8pm," said Verizon. AT&T has yet to provide specific details about the hardware issue that caused the problem.
Apple has denied a report suggesting it plans to sell phones and wireless service directly to consumers. Apple doesn't own any wireless spectrum, nor does it have any telecommunications infrastructure. The only way it could operate a wireless network would be as an MVNO, or by reselling access to the networks run by companies such as Sprint and T-Mobile. "We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO," said Apple in a statement released to media. Apple very rarely comments on rumor and speculation, but was quick to denounce this particular report, which was published by Business Insider. Apple last year released the Apple SIM card, which lets owners of its iPad tablet easily switch between wireless network operators. The Apple SIM does not work with the Apple iPhone, however, and Apple recently agreed to work with the ITU in supporting electronic SIM cards that are permanently embedded in handsets.
Sprint reported its second quarter earnings today and the numbers reveal it has fallen behind competitor T-Mobile in the total number of customers. T-Mobile, which gained a total of 2 million new customers during the second quarter, reported a total customer base on 58.9 million. Sprint saw net additions of 675,000 customers during the second quarter, but that left it with a total of 57 million. T-Mobile now ranks as the third-largest U.S. carrier in terms of customers, and Sprint ranks fourth. AT&T and Verizon Wireless still hold the top two spots. Sprint reported a financial loss for the quarter of $20 million on revenue of $8 billion. Despite the loss, Sprint reduced churn and ceded just 12,000 postpaid smartphone subscribers, which are considered the most lucrative to hold. The company said it continues to work aggressively to improve its network and cut costs. Sprint is mostly owned by SoftBank, based in Japan. CEO Marcelo Claure has been on board for just about a year. He recently shook up the executive suite and installed a new CFO and COO.
Sprint today made changes to its top executives and named a new chief financial officer. Sprint appointed Tarek Robbiati to the CFO position, where he replaces Joseph Euteneuer, who will leave the company. Robbiati was previously at FlexiGroup and Telstra. "I am delighted to join Sprint," said Robbiati. "Sprint has a unique opportunity to disrupt the U.S. wireless market, and I am eager to help Marcelo and the Sprint team change the game." Günther Ottendorfer is joining the company as chief operating officer of technology. Ottendorfer was previously at Telecom Austria and Optus Singtel. Both Robiatti and Ottendorfer plan to relocate to Sprint's Kansas City headquarters. Last, John Saw, Chief Network Officer, has been promoted to the Chief Technology Officer position. Saw was previously at Clearwire. Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO, said of the changes, "One of my goals when I first arrived as CEO was to strengthen our management team. As I begin my second year here at Sprint, I feel very good about the team we have put together to pursue the great opportunities ahead."
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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, 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 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, 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.