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 The existing system has been in place nearly 10 years and is now outdated.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.
Deutsche Telekom, majority owner of T-Mobile, believes the Uncarrier's best chances of success are to merge with or be acquired by another large carrier. Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges, speaking to Re/code, said T-Mobile lacks the scale enjoyed by rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Without that scale, it will be hard for T-Mobile to compete in the long run. "I was intrigued by the idea of having a combination with Sprint and being the 'super-maverick' in the market," said Hoettges, "I hope that the political environment will change at one point in time." Sprint's parent, SoftBank, abandoned the idea of acquiring T-Mobile last year after regulators said the deal would face major hurdles in scoring approval. While Hoettges praised T-Mobile CEO John Legere for enacting change and turning the company around with aggressive promotions, he said T-Mobile cannot hold its current course indefinitely. "The question is always the economics in the long term," said Hoettges. "You have to earn your money back at one point in time."
Sprint today said it is not worried about the FCC's potential reclassification of broadband to a public utility or Title II Telecommunications Service. "Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forbearance, would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services," wrote Sprint CTO Stephen Bye. Sprint's position is not shared by its competitors, which have spoken out against such a reclassification. The FCC is expected to reveal its plans regarding the regulation of broadband on Feb. 5. The plan has been a year in the making since the FCC's previous net neutrality rules were struck down in court.
Sprint today increased the number of devices eligible for its leasing program by adding the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Sprint said new and existing customers can lease the G3 for $15 per month for 24 months or the Note 4 for $25 per month for 24 months. Customers can take the devices home for $0 down. At the end of the lease, customers can turn the device in and lease another or return the device (as long as it is in working order) and terminate their service. Sprint already offers leases on the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5.
One of the top four U.S. carriers has agreed to sell the YotaPhone 2, according to YotaPhone executive Matthew Kelly. Kelly would not specify which of the four carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless) plans to sell the phone, but he said it is coming later this year. The YotaPhone 2 is notable because it has two displays: a standard LCD panel on the front and an e-ink display on the back. The e-ink display can be used to conserve battery power, as it draws about one-seventh as much energy as an LCD screen. The YotaPhone 2 is already for sale in Europe. Pricing in the U.S. is as yet unknown.
Boost Mobile today announced that a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Prevail will reach its stores on Jan. 19. The Galaxy Prevail LTE adds LTE 4G connectivity; improves the screen from 4 inches to 4.5 inches; increases the size of the battery from 1750mAh to 2000mAh; and updates the operating system from Android 4.1 to Android 4.4. Other features include a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and support for Sprint's HD Voice service. The Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE will cost $130. Boost Mobile does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
AT&T will carry the 32 GB version of the G Flex 2 that LG just announced at CES. Sprint will also offer the phone. Pricing and availability date for both carriers will be announced at a later date.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The Core Prime, which is already for sale in select markets, goes by the model number SM-G360. The FCC recently approved two devices with the model numbers SM-G360P and SM-G360V, which fall in line with the model numbering schemes employed by Sprint and Verizon. The Core Prime includes a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Neither Sprint nor Verizon has confirmed plans to sell the device.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to the company's blog today to shed some light on its plans headed into 2015. To start, the company claims it will cover 300 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2015. It currently covers 264 million. T-Mobile will deploy Wideband LTE to a total of 150 markets around the country, though it is already present in about 120 markets. The company said it will eventually provide LTE to 350 markets via its 700MHz spectrum holdings. T-Mobile only recently began to deploy LTE on 700MHz, and didn't say how long it will take to reach those 350 markets. Legere noted MetroPCS, T-Mobile's prepaid service, will continue to see uncharted growth. The small carrier has already made big gains since T-Mobile acquired it in 2013. Legere also took the opportunity to poke fun at T-Mobile's rivals and make predictions about what's to come over the course of the next 12 months. Among others, Legere believes T-Mobile will overtake Sprint to become the nation's third-largest network operator in the very near future. (He had previously predicted by the end of 2014.) Legere says fourth quarter earnings reports, expected at the end of January, will provide the necessary details to make that determination.
T-Mobile today agreed to pay the FTC and FCC a total of $90 million to settle accusations that the company was complicit in allowing third-parties to charge customers for unwanted services. An FTC and FCC investigation found T-Mobile guilty of breaking the law by "engaging in an unjust and unreasonable practice of billing consumers for products or services they had not authorized; and failing to provide a brief, clear, non-misleading, plain language description of the third-party charges on the telephone bills sent to consumers." A minimum of $67.5 million of the fine will be set aside to repay customers who claim they were overcharged. T-Mobile will also pay $18 million to all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia, in addition to $4.5 million to the U.S. Treasury. As part of the consent decree, T-Mobile is prohibited from charging customers for third-party PSMS products or services. It also requires T-Mobile to create a system so customers can verify third-party service charges before they appear on bills. T-Mobile will have to block third-party charges for free; make it easier for customers to identify possible fraudulent charges; and train customer service staff to properly resolve customer complaints regarding unauthorized charges. "Cramming is a significant problem," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "For too long, millions of consumers have been scammed -- billed for bogus charges on their phone bills for services they didn’t request. This is unacceptable. Today's settlement is a win for consumers who have been victimized by cramming. It means compensation for T-Mobile customers who were fraudulently billed for third-party services that they did not want or authorize. And it goes one step further. Today’s action will also help protect all of T-Mobile's customers from bogus third-party charges in the future." Sprint was recently sued for similar practices. AT&T settled cramming charges with the FCC for $105 million earlier this year.
The FCC today granted T-Mobile's petition that the agency "provide guidance on the application of the commercial reasonableness standard" with respect to data roaming rates. T-Mobile filed the petition earlier this year in order to help it and other carriers negotiate better roaming rates with larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Since 2011, the FCC has mandated that all carriers allow competing devices to roam onto their networks at fair prices. The FCC did not suggest or otherwise imply what those fair prices should be. T-Mobile argued the FCC's 2011 mandate did not provide enough guidance for setting rates and the result has been what T-Mobile calls exorbitant fees charged by AT&T and Verizon to roam onto their networks. Sprint and other members of the Competitive Carriers Association supported T-Mobile's position, while AT&T and Verizon Wireless opposed it vehemently. The two larger carriers argued any such guidance could result in reduced rates over the long term and would serve as unnecessary regulation. After weighing the arguments, the FCC agreed with T-Mobile's position that it should offer guidance on reasonable pricing. Specifically, the FCC will adopt T-Mobile's four proposed benchmarks when assessing the reasonableness standard: 1. retail rates; 2. international roaming rates; 3. MVNO/resale rates; and 4. roaming rates charged by other providers. "In our view, the additional guidance we provide under the standard set forth ... will facilitate the ability of parties to negotiate successful data roaming agreements, which in turn will promote the provision of high quality advanced broadband services by multiple service providers in urban, suburban, and rural areas to the benefit of American consumers," said the FCC.
The FCC is prepared to hit Sprint with a massive fine over alleged cramming practices, according to the Wall Street Journal. The FCC says Sprint played a "willful" role in charging customers for text message alerts, horoscopes, sports scores, ring tones, and other unwanted services. The FCC said Sprint was hit with 35,000 complaints over cramming charges during a three-month window in the middle of 2013. The FCC hasn't finalized the fine against Sprint, but three of the five commissioners are prepared to vote in favor of the penalty. AT&T settled with the FCC for a similar amount over cramming earlier this year, and the FTC is suing T-Mobile for the same practice.
Sprint today said fans of Windows Phone will soon have the option to buy the Lumia 635 through several different Sprint brands. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will begin selling the Lumia 635 online on Dec. 23 and in stores Jan. 9 for $99. Sprint postpaid customers will have a shot at the Lumia 635 starting on Jan. 16, though pricing for the postpaid version has yet to be determined. Sprint says the Lumia 635 is the first Windows Phone 8.1 handset to grace its retail shelves. Moreover, it's the first Lumia Windows Phone to be sold by Sprint's prepaid brands. Microsoft first announced the Lumia 635 in April. It features a ClearBlack 4.5-inch LCD screen, interchangeable back panels, 5-megapixel shooter, and Nokia's two camera apps. There is no user-facing camera. It is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and includes 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support microSD cards up to 128GB.
T-Mobile today said it has expanded the availability of Wideband LTE service to a total of 26 major U.S. cities and 120 small metro areas. The newest additions include all of New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey. T-Mobile said central New Jersey and Westchester County, N.Y., will have Wideband LTE coverage very soon. According to T-Mobile, NYC customers are reporting peak download speeds of 100Mbps with average download speeds hovering around 22Mbps. "Wideband LTE" specifically refers to 15x2 or 20x2MHz LTE over T-Mobile's AWS or PCS spectrum, depending on the market in question.
Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will convince customers of Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile to hop on over to Cricket. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket's service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options. Cricket offered a similar promotion over the summer months, but only targeted Sprint and T-Mobile. The current promotion runs through Dec. 31.
Sprint today said it plans to install the Uber application on most of its Android smartphones moving forward. Uber is a ride-seeking app that lets people discover and request rides. Sprint and Uber are offering new customers $20 toward their first ride when they create a new Uber account. Uber requires payment via credit card, but customers can use the app to keep track of their driver as he/she approaches, as well as see estimated costs for their ride. Sprint customers who don't have Uber preinstalled on their device are still eligible to receive the discount. Uber is available from the Google Play Store, the iTunes App Store, and the Windows Phone Store.
Ting, an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, today said it plans to expand its service next year by adding support for GSM devices. Beginning in February, anyone with an unlocked GSM handset will be able to sign up for Ting service. Ting said customers will be able to have both CDMA and GSM handsets active on the same account, even though the phones are running on two different networks. Ting did not name its GSM network partner, but based on the coverage map it is likely T-Mobile.
Sprint reaffirmed its commitment to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform today after the HTC 8XT vanished from its web site. The 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo are the only Windows Phones Sprint has sold this year. Sprint said the phones are still available at a limited number of retail stores, but are no longer listed online. Sprint has not been Windows Phones' strongest supporter, but the carrier isn't ready to give up on Microsoft's mobile platform. "We do expect to bring new Windows Phone devices to our customers in the near future, and Sprint is committed to offering a variety of operating systems to our customers," said Sprint in an email to Phone Scoop. Sprint didn't say which Windows devices it will sell, nor when they might reach stores.
Sprint recently indicated that its years-long Network Vision project is coming to a close. Sprint's 1900MHz LTE network covers 260 million POPs, according to Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer, who made the comments at a Bank of America investor conference this week. Sprint's 2.5GHz LTE network covers 92 million POPs and its 800MHz LTE network will cover 100 million POPs by the end if the year. "I think from a network standpoint we have been waiting to get to this point of having a network that is substantially complete," said Euteneuer. Sprint said it will continue to add coverage in the 1900MHz band as its obtains more spectrum. All Sprint smartphones support tri-band LTE, which Sprint markets as Sprint Spark. Spark-compatible handsets are able to use whichever of the three spectrum bands (800MHz, 1900MHz, 2.5GHz) offers the strongest coverage in areas where all three bands are available. Sprint had previously said Sprint Spark would be available to 100 million people by the close of 2014, and it now appears that goal depends on deploying LTE to its 800MHz spectrum. All the major carriers are supplementing their LTE networks with additional capacity in other spectrum bands. For example, Verizon operates LTE in the 700MHz and AWS bands. AT&T and Verizon cover about 300 million POPs each with LTE. T-Mobile covers about 250 million. Sprint's Euteneuer also noted that Sprint will push an over-the-air update to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the next two to three months to enable Wi-Fi calling.
Sprint today said its Boost Mobile and Sprint customers can now purchase eGift cards directly from their smartphones. Sprint added support for eGift cards to the Boost Mobile Wallet and the Sprint Money Express apps. Both apps already let Boost and Sprint customers manage checks, money transfers, payments, and cash from their device. Now, consumers can buy eGift cards from retailers such as Amazon, Babies 'R' Us, JCPenney, and others. eGift cards are sent to recipients via email with personalized messages from the sender. Boost Mobile Wallet and Sprint Money Express are free to download and use. The new functionality will be added to the app through an over-the-air update. Boost Mobile Wallet works on Android and iOS devices, but Sprint Money Express only works on Android.
Sprint plans to go after AT&T and Verizon customers with an aggressive and enticing campaign. Beginning Friday, Sprint will offer rate plans to AT&T and Verizon customers that are half what they're already paying. For example, an AT&T customer who pays $300 per month will be offered a comparable Sprint plan that costs only $150 per month. The offer only extends to the service costs, including minutes, messaging, and data. It does not include subsidies for device payments. Sprint will waive activation fees and pay up to $350 to cover the ETFs of those who switch, though the new customers will need to turn in their old devices. In order to score the half-price plan, new Sprint customers will need to buy a device from Sprint at full retail price or finance it through Sprint Easy Pay. They'll also have to provide a copy of their most recent wireless bill for verification of the monthly cost. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure hinted via Twitter that the company intends to "launch one of our most exciting promotions ever, especially designed for Verizon and att customers who love to save money." The promotion does not apply to T-Mobile or current Sprint customers.
The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.
FreedomPop today made a free international calling plan available to all Android and iOS smartphones. Smartphone owners need only download the FreedomPop Free Talk and Text app and they'll have access to 100 free voice minutes good for calling 52 countries, including Mexico, the U.K., Canada, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Argentina, and India. The service will be able to reach as many as 170 countries by the end of the year. People who want more voice minutes can purchase them starting at $5 per month. FreedomPop is also offering customers the ability to obtain an international number to help reduce the cost of calls for friends and relatives who live abroad. For example, a U.S.-based customer could get a local number for Paris, France, which friends and family in France would be able to call at local rates. The international number costs $5 per month. FreedomPop is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, though the Free Talk and Text app works over any internet connection, be it Wi-Fi or another carrier's LTE data network.
Sprint today said it will drop the per-device access charge for its $80 and $90 Family Share plans from $25 per month to $15 per month. The change goes into effect November 14.
Sprint today said the Nexus 6 smartphone will reach its retail stores, web site, and telesales channels on November 14. Sprint is offering the Nexus 6 through its Easy Pay program for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $29. Alternately, Sprint customers can pay full price for the Nexus 6, which is $696. The Nexus 6 can be used with a number of Sprint's service plans, including the Sprint Family Share Pack and Sprint Unlimited $60 plan.
Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.
RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.
Motorola recently began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 on its U.S. web site. Both the white and blue models are available in 32GB and 64GB variants for $649 and $699, respectively. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model at the moment. Google is also selling the Nexus 6, though its supply is currently exhausted. The Nexus 6 will be made available from wireless network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, later this month. Shipping times have yet to be announced.
Boost Mobile today extended a promotion that offers customers twice as much mobile data for a reduced price. The promo was originally announced in September and meant to expire on November 3. Boost will continue to offer the promotion for an unspecified amount of time moving forward. Right now, all three of Boost Mobile's plans include unlimited talk and text. The $35 plan includes 1GB of data; the $45 plan includes 5GB of data; and the $55 plan includes 10GB of data. Once the promotion expires, the prices will each go back up by $5 per month and the data allotments will drop back down to their normal limits. Shrinkage does not apply to the promotional rates. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint's network.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company may scrap phone subsidies at some point down the road. Speaking to investors, Claure noted that its installment and leasing programs are beginning to gather steam, which make the possibility of change much simpler. Historically, wireless network operators have subsidized the cost of handsets that are sold with contracts. Customers agree to a one- or two-year term in exchange for a reduced sale price for whatever device they choose. The carrier recoups the remaining cost of the handset over the term of the contract. T-Mobile upended this arrangement with its Simple Choice plans, which scrap the subsidy in favor of monthly device payments. Claure said if Sprint chooses to follow this path, it won't be until next year.
Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.
Sprint has expanded the availability of its "iPhone for Life" leasing program to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 Sport. Beginning today, new and existing customers can get an S5 or S5 Sport (16GB model) for $0 down and $20 per month via the Sprint Lease program. Customers lease the phone for 24 months. At the end of the 24-month period, customers can turn in their GS5 or GS5 Sport for a new device; purchase the GS5 or GS5 Sport for the remaining balance; continue leasing the phone on a month-to-month basis; or return the device and terminate their service. Existing Sprint customers who lease a GS5 or GS5 Sport between now and January 15 will receive a $15 monthly bill credit. The loyalty credit applies to those Sprint customers on Unlimited My Way, My All-in, Simply Everything, and Everything Data (Share) plans. Sprint didn't say how long the service credit will be applied to customer bills.
Madstar Mobile today announced itself as "the newest national wireless carrier." The MVNO resells access to Sprint's 3G/4G networks and claims to offer the benefits of postpaid and prepaid services at the same time. It bills for service on a postpaid basis, but it doesn't require credit checks, deposits, or contracts. Madstar says customers can cancel their service at any time with no fear of ETFs. The company offers a range of feature phones, smartphones, and access points. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phones or finance them with monthly payments. For example, the HTC One (M8) is available for $665 or as low as $29 per month on an installment plan. Other handsets in Madstar's roster include the Apple iPhone 5, Google Nexus 5, Kyocera Kona, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Alternately, customers can bring their own compatible device and port their existing wireless number if they wish. The least expensive service plan costs $22 per month and includes 250 voice minutes, 250 messages, and pay-as-you-go data. Plan pricing jumps by $11 increments, with the most expensive option topping out at $88 per month. It includes unlimited voice minutes, messaging, HD Voice, and 2GB of data "Our goal is to provide subscribers with a cost effective, convenient and reliable wireless service using the device of their choice,” said David Pearsall, Madstar Mobile's founder & CEO. "Wireless devices and service have become a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable to everyone without the need to prepay now for the right to service later." The company is based in New Milford, Conn.
The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.
Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.
Sprint today launched its Spark service in 17 new markets scattered around the country. Spark uses three different spectrum bands to ensure the best possible LTE connection and speed. The new markets include Sacramento, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Bay City, Flint, Midland, and Saginaw, Mich.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Henderson, N.C.; Cleveland, Columbus, Mount Vernon, New Philadelphia, Tiffin, and Youngstown, Ohio; Ogden, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Sheboygan, Wisc. Sprint says Spark is available in 46 markets and will meet its goal of covering 100 million POPs by the end of the year. Sprint sells 38 devices that are compatible with Spark.