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 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 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 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 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, 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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'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 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.
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.
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, 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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 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.
Wireless network operators are now required to unlock customers' phones once the phones are paid off or no longer under contract. Today's change follows an agreement forged between the FCC, the CTIA Wireless Association and carriers in December 2013. That agreement set a number of provisions, some of which were to be met in May 2014 and the rest by today. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless all agreed to the unlocking policies. Under the terms of the agreement, carriers are required to post clear details that define which phones can and cannot be unlocked to their web site. Carriers are required to unlock all phones upon request as long as customers have fulfilled their contractual obligations. Prepaid devices will be unlocked no later than one year after their initial activation date. Carriers have to unlock devices within two days after customers request that their phones be unlocked, or initiate a request with the OEM to unlock the device, or explain to consumers why their device cannot be unlocked. The carriers have to notify customers proactively once their devices are eligible to be unlocked. Last, carriers have to unlock the devices of all deployed military personnel who are in good standing. The carriers' individual unlocking policies vary slightly.
Sprint CTO Stephen Bye says the FCC's move to reclassify broadband under Title II won't stifle telecom companies' investment in building new networks. AT&T and Verizon have warned the FCC that strict regulation of broadband is likely to decrease investment and harm consumers in the long term. Sprint sees things differently. "Our competitors are going to continue to invest so they are representing a situation that won't play out," said Bye in an interview with Reuters. "The notion that some of our competitors are suggesting that they will stop investing if Title II is brought into effect... That's something we've refused." Bye points to the recent FCC spectrum auction as proof. AT&T spent $18 billion to purchase AWS-3 spectrum licenses, Dish spent $13 billion, and Verizon spent $10.3 billion. All three companies made those investments while fully aware of the FCC's plans for regulating broadband. Sprint does not see Title II reclassification as a problem. "It's one of those topics that is highly charged, highly politicized and we took a step back and said it works in the interest of our customers, our consumers and the industry and we frankly found some of the arguments (of our competitors) to be less than compelling."
Cricket Wireless today announced that all customers on its $50 and $60 plans can now make unlimited calls to Mexico. Cricket's subscribers can call landlines and mobile phones at no extra charge, though Cricket said calls to special or premium services may be blocked. The service also includes unlimited text, picture, and video messaging. The offer is not valid for Cricket's legacy CDMA customers. Cricket's Smart Plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited calling, messaging, and 5GB of LTE data. The Pro Plan costs $60 and doubles data to 10GB. The Advanced Plan, which is available for a limited time, costs $60 and includes 20GB of LTE data and expands free messaging to 35 more countries. Customers can get a $5 monthly discount if they sign up for auto-pay. Cricket is still offering incentives to T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost Mobile customers, who will receive a free month of service for switching. Cricket operates on AT&T's network. AT&T recently acquired Iusacell, a Mexican network operator, and rolled out unlimited calls to Mexico to its own customers for $5 per month.
SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son indicated he'd be willing to sell some of the company's 2.5GHz spectrum assets to keep Sprint funded. Sprint gained a massive amount of 2.5GHz spectrum holdings when it purchased Clearwire. The value of that spectrum has increased tremendously over the last year and is worth more than Sprint itself. The company has received offers for the airwaves. "Sprint has a lot of spectrum compared to other companies," said Son. "In 2.5GHz, it has the biggest bandwidth in the world. Suddenly, what was undervalued in people's view has become very precious." There are no immediate deals in the works, however, and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Sprint's interests come first. "We are open minded to business arrangements that could generate long-term shareholder value," said Claure. "But, first and foremost, spectrum is to be used for Sprint, and then we will look at extra spectrum to see if there's any interest." Sprint is currently deploying LTE on its 2.5GHz spectrum. Analysts cited by Bloomberg believe Sprint is burning through cash too quickly and may be forced to sell the spectrum eventually.
RadioShack today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to sell approximately 1,750 of its stores to Sprint. Under the terms of RadioShack's Chapter 11 filing, RadioShack will sell the stores to Sprint and General Wireless, a subsidiary of one of RadioShack's major investors. Moving forward, these stores will be co-branded Sprint and RadioShack, with Sprint being the primary brand. Sprint will own about 30% of the real estate within each store to sell Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA products. The remaining 70% will be set aside for RadioShack to sell its own branded gear and other electronics. Sprint did not say what will happen to the AT&T, GoPhone, Net10 Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Tracfone phones that are currently offered by RadioShack. Presumably they will be no longer be sold. Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved. RadioShack listed about $1.2 billion in assets and $1.39 billion in debts. A bankruptcy court will have to approve RadioShack's plans before Sprint can make its purchase official.
Sprint today began delivering the Android 5.0 Lollipop system update to the HTC One (M7) and Samsung Galaxy S5. The One gained new lock screen tools, a larger view of recent apps, and a search function within the settings menu. In addition to Lollipop, the GS5 was given a new user interface for the VoWiFi application. Sprint also removed the Lumen Toolbar application. The Android operating system update is free to download over WiFi.
Sprint today offered a snapshot of the progress it has made deploying LTE around the country. According to its fourth quarter earnings, Sprint's LTE network now reaches 270 million POPs, up from 260 million in the previous quarter. Further, Sprint covers 125 million POPs with LTE over its 2.5GHz spectrum. Last, Sprint has finished deploying voice services across its 800MHz spectrum, and has deployed LTE across 60% of its 800MHz spectrum. It plans to cover the remaining 40% by the end of the year. Speaking to media, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company is working on VoLTE and carrier aggregation, but it doesn't yet have a timeframe for deploying these technologies. Sprint lost $2.38 billion during the quarter. It had a total net gain of 842,000 customers (pre- and postpaid), making for a total subscriber base of 55.9 million.
RadioShack and its creditors might sell half the company's stores to Sprint and close the remaining locations, reports Bloomberg. Sources familiar with the companies' plans suggest Sprint would rebrand the RadioShack stores, which would cease to exist as stand-alone electronics stores. Bloomberg's sources said, however, that the deal is not final and may change. Further, a third party may make a bid for the ailing electronics company. RadioShack has been in bankruptcy for months and is seeking a way out of debt. Selling some stores, closing the rest, and selling off assets would help lenders recover some of the money they've lent RadioShack over the last year to keep it afloat. Neither Sprint nor RadioShack commented on Bloomberg's report.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced an initiative along with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless that will see the city's subway system upgraded with LTE 4G. The City of Chicago and Chicago Transit Authority have agreed to fund the project with $32.5 million. The four carriers will undertake the upgrade themselves with a distributed antenna system, or DAS. The existing system has been in place nearly 10 years and is now outdated. Emanuel said the project will deliver continuous 4G coverage along the 22-mile stretch between O-Hare airport through the tunnels and platforms of the Red and Blue Lines. Work on the project actually began earlier this month and will be complete by the end of the year. Los Angeles recently announced a similar initiative. Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., also offer underground cell service in their respective transit systems.
The FCC today adopted rules it first proposed last year that will eventually help first responders to locate people who call 911 from their cell phones faster. Specifically, the FCC wants first responders to be able to better locate people within buildings. With today's technology, first responders still have trouble determining from which building wireless 911 calls originate from, let alone the floor and/or apartment or suite. The FCC has laid out clear, measurable goals for carriers to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. Last fall, the CTIA Wireless Association along with members AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless laid out their own plan to meet the FCC's demands. The FCC said it understands that there's no silver bullet and knows carriers will need to rely on multiple different technologies to reach the benchmarks it has set in place. The FCC said it will allow the operators some leeway in developing their own standards as long as they meet the location accuracy requirements.
Sprint today launched an aggressive promotion aimed directly at T-Mobile. Sprint is promising $200 to T-Mobile customers who port their number to Sprint and turn in their working T-Mobile phone. The $200 trade-in offer, which runs from today through April 9, can be combined with Sprint's ETF buyout. In addition to the $200, Sprint will pay up to $350 per line to cover ETFs and other fees when customers cancel their T-Mobile service. With the two promotions combined, T-Mobile customers stand to receive up to $550 if they switch to Sprint, which should cover any costs associated with terminating their old service and acquiring a new handset.
LG said it will begin selling the G Flex 2 in its home market of Korea on Jan. 30. The phone will reach other markets in the "coming months." Several U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have said they'll sell the phone but none has said when or for how much. The G Flex 2 will cost Koreans approximately $830 when it goes on sale next week. Separately, an LG executive refuted reports that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor overheats. Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Samsung plans to drop the Snapdragon 810 chip from its forthcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone due to overheating issues. "I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip's performance is quite satisfactory," said Woo Ram-chan, vice president for mobile product planning at LG. Woo said the chip emits less heat than other devices. "I don't understand why there is a issue over heat." LG uses the Snapdragon 810 in the G Flex 2.
FreedomPop today announced the launch of a WiFi-only wireless service plan that costs just $5 per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes (via VoIP), messaging, and data use across 10 million WiFi hotspots around the country. FreedomPop is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network. In order to make this new service work, FreedomPop partnered with an unknown number of WiFi aggregators so its WiFi network will be available in public places such as Burger King, McDonalds, Panera, and Starbucks in addition to shopping centers and other outdoor public spaces that offer WiFi. FreedomPop began selling a WiFi-only phablet last year that is compatible with this WiFi service, but the company hopes consumers will connect old phones or tablets to its $5 WiFi plan, too. The service requires an Android device for now. FreedomPop created an Android app that automatically locates and connects to available WiFi hotspots. The new WiFi-only service is available starting today.