Lenovo today announced a workforce reduction that will see close to 2% of the company's 55,000 employees losing their jobs. Most of the more-than-1,000 cuts impact Lenovo-owned Motorola. Lenovo said the job cuts are "part of the ongoing strategic integration between Lenovo and its Motorola smartphone business." The company is still working to align its businesses and streamline its product portfolio. The company claims it is "making adjustments in other areas of the business" to manage costs and improve efficiencies. It insists the job cuts are necessary to ensure the company's long-term future. Lenovo said it "is absolutely committed to Chicago and we plan to maintain our Motorola Mobility headquarters there" where it will pursue research and development for its smartphone business. "We expect to take advantage of local talent to continue developing Moto products there." Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014 for $2.91 billion. It has already cut more than 3,000 people from Motorola's payroll. Motorola's most recent handsets are the Moto Z, Z Force, and Z Play, which are sold unlocked as well as via Verizon Wireless under the Droid brand.
Verizon Wireless today said its prepaid subscribers will have access to VoLTE services, including HD Voice and video calls, starting September 25. Prepaid customers will need to add HD Voice to their account before they can make HD calls, but the add-on will be free. Calls are routed over Verizon's LTE data network rather than Verizon's legacy voice network. HD Voice supports six-way conference calls, one- or two-way video calls, and WiFi calling. As always, both the handset making the call and the handset receiving the call need to have the feature enabled and must be connected via LTE for HD Voice to function properly. Verizon said its prepaid customers HD Voice is available to more than two dozen newer iOS and Android smartphones. All WiFi calls made to U.S. phone numbers are free, but calls made to foreign numbers are billed at international long distance rates.
Charter Communications followed Comcast's lead this week and also disclosed plans to offer wireless service in the future. Charter's offering will mirror that of Comcast's. Charter has an agreement with Verizon Wireless that allows it to sell access to Verizon's network as a wholesaler. Charter will combine that with a network of WiFi access points to provide its cable TV customers with wireless service. Charter believes the wireless offer could convince more consumers to subscribe to its cable TV products. Charter did not say when such a service might launch. Comcast said it plans to launch its wireless service by the middle of 2017.
Sprint and Verizon Wireless are once again selling the Samsung Galaxy Note7. Both companies' web sites list the device for sale and also reveal where the phone can be found at local stores. Supply of the device is limited, but determined consumers can buy the phone. Samsung and its carrier partners halted sales of the device early this month after Samsung discovered a quality issue with some batteries. About 2.5 million devices in total were recalled due to the possibility of fire risk, though the actual number of impacted devices isn't clear. Incidences of burns, fires, and explosions blamed on the phone have been reported in the media. On Tuesday, Samsung said about 500,000 replacement units are now available to original Note7 buyers who have yet to exchange their phones. Samsung and its carrier partners are pushing a software update to the Note7 so owners know whether or not their device is safe. Recalled devices will display an alert stating such, while safe devices will display a green power indicator in the status bar.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts today said the company plans to offer wireless service as soon as the middle of 2017. The service will rely on some 15 million WiFi hotspots Comcast has located around the country, as well as cellular access via Verizon Wireless. The network will operate similar to Google's Project Fi, which prioritizes access via WiFi but relies on cellular when WiFi is not available. The company has had a wholesale agreement in place with Verizon since 2011, and Roberts suggested Comcast will be able to offer competitive pricing. Roberts made the comments at an investor conference this morning, but didn't provide more details about pricing, devices, and exact availability.
FCC documents indicate that the LG V20 variants for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will be the first phones to support LTE in the new band 66. Band 66 includes the AWS-1, AWS-3, and AWS-4 frequencies. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all purchased new AWS-3 spectrum in 2015, but have yet to deploy it. When they do, it will require phones that support band 66. AWS-1 — also known as band 4 — is already deployed by all three companies. AWS-4 is owned by Dish Networks, which has yet to announce firm plans for that spectrum.
Motorola today said it will make its low-cost Moto G4 Play handset available unlocked to U.S. buyers beginning September 15. The G4 Play is the least-expensive variant of the G4 family, which also includes the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus. The G4 Play has a 5-inch display at 720p HD, a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410, and an 8-megapixel main camera at f/2.2. The battery holds 2800mAh and supports rapid charging, but the charger is not included with the phone. Other features include LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, sensors, and micro USB. Motorola said the G4 Play is available for preorder today from the web sites of Amazon, B&H, and Motorola. The phone sells for $149.99. Verizon Wireless plans to make the G4 Play available to its prepaid customers in the coming weeks. Last, Amazon plans to offer a Prime version of the Moto G4 Play for $99.99. Amazon's lower price requires users to view ads on the lock screen.
The FCC's 600MHz incentive auction is proceeding slowly and may need to be reset. After 27 rounds of bidding, the total amount bid has reached only $23 billion, far short of the $88.4 billion clearing cost set during the reverse part of the auction earlier this year. The FCC will likely end bidding on the licenses that attracted the most interest and then go back to the television broadcasters to reset the clearing costs for the remaining licenses to drive demand. Some analysts believe the auction made need to reset prices several times before it can come to an end. The 600MHz airwaves are the last low-band spectrum that will be made available to wireless carriers. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as is Dish Networks and myriad other entities. The spectrum is being sold by television broadcasters, many of which have had the spectrum for decades.
Verizon Wireless today said it has launched LTE Advanced service in 461 markets around the country, covering some 288 million POPs or 90% of Americans. Verizon's LTE Advanced relies on two- and three-channel carrier aggregation to boost speed and capacity. Verizon says LTE Advanced delivers a 50% improvement in download and upload speeds compared to its traditional LTE network. Close to 40 devices sold by Verizon are compatible with LTE Advanced. Many of the newest phones (Galaxy Note7, Moto Z Droid) will support LTE Advanced out of the box, though some devices will require system updates. Verizon customers can take advantage of LTE Advanced's faster speeds at no additional cost.
Verizon Wireless plans to give its prepaid subscribers access to VoLTE services, including HD Voice and video calls in the near future. Prepaid customers will need to add HD Voice to their account before they can make HD calls, but the add-on will be free. Calls will be billed by the minute, even though they are routed over the LTE data network rather than Verizon's legacy voice network. HD Voice supports six-way conference calls, one- or two-way video calls, and WiFi calling. As always, both the handset making the call and the handset receiving the call need to have the feature enabled and must be connected via LTE for HD Voice to function properly. Verizon said it anticipates launching HD Voice for its prepaid customers early this fall.
AT&T today said it has signed an interconnect agreement with Cuba's Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA). The agreement will eventually allow AT&T customers to roam on ETESCA's network when traveling to Cuba. AT&T hasn't said when it will make such roaming available and will announce pricing at a later date. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already have similar agreements in place with ETESCA.
AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.
The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
The FCC today approved new Kyocera phones that seem to match the just-announced DuraForce Pro. One supports both CDMA and LTE 2/4/5/13, a combination unique to Verizon. A separate version compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks was also approved today.
Kyocera today announced the DuraForce Pro, its new rugged Android phone. The DuraForce is positioned as a significantly upgraded replacement for both the DuraForce and the Brigadier models, and comes in versions both with and without CDMA. That implies the phone may come to both AT&T and Verizon, although Kyocera is not announcing carrier partners at this time, just that it will be released "in the coming months." Most specs have been upgraded compared to the DuraForce/Brigadier. The main camera steps up to 13 megapixels, and is accompanied by a wide-angle "action camera" with 135-degree lens and 5 megapixels, plus 5-megapixel front camera. A fingerprint reader has been added to the side, which works with NFC. It's just as rugged and waterproof, but also fully washable (unaffected by soap). The screen can be used while wet and the camera has an underwater mode. The screen is larger (5 inches) and higher-resolution (full HD). The processor is a faster Snapdragon 617. It also has a larger 3,240 mAh battery and both fast charging and wireless charging. Other features a 3.5mm audio jack, memory card slot, PTT, dual front speakers, and barometer. For business users, it supports enhanced MDM, enterprise Wi-Fi, and advanced VPN capability. Its rugged specs include IP68 and U.S. Military rating for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, temperature shock, blowing rain, low pressure, sun, salt fog, humidity, water immersion (up to 2 meters for 30 minutes), and icing freezing rain. The DuraForce Pro runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).
Verizon Wireless has followed T-Mobile in making the HTC Desire 530 available for sale. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. Verizon is selling the phone for $144 at full retail or $6 per month on a payment plan.
Verizon Communications today said it has put former O2 UK executive Ronan Dunne in charge of its wireless business. Dunne will serve as executive vice president and group president of Verizon Wireless, effective in September. Dunne will be responsible for all of Verizon Wireless' operations, such as marketing, wireless, network, customer care, and digital. Dunne will report to EVP John Stratton.
Verizon Wireless today said customers who preorder the Samsung Galaxy Note7 or S7 Edge can snag a free Gear Fit2 fitness band or 256 GB memory card with their purchase. Verizon plans to sell other Note7-related accessories, such as the Gear VR, Gear 360 camera, and Gear IconX wireless headphones online and in stores beginning August 19. Verizon did not detail pricing information for its variant of the Note7.
Verizon Wireless says families of four can get 16 GB of mobile data for $150 per month thanks to a new bonus data promotion. Verizon charges $70 per month for its 8 GB (or, L) plan. Families that subscribe to the L, XL, and XXL plans can score an extra 2 GB of data per line. The bonus data is only available when customers activate a new line or upgrade an existing phone. Verizon says the bonus data will be available to each line as long as it remains active on Verizon's network. Bonus data will not carry over month-to-month. The $150 monthly price includes the $70 data charge, plus $80 in line access fees for four smartphones. Taxes and handset payments are not included. Verizon says the bonus data promotion will be available for a limited time. Customers who activate new lines of service will be eligible to receive a Samsung Galaxy J3 V handset for free ($7 bill credit applied on a monthly basis for 24 months). Verizon will allow new customers up to five free J3 Vs per account.
Verizon Communications today said that it has agreed to buy Yahoo's core internet and search businesses for $4.83 billion. Yahoo's properties will join AOL under Verizon's ownership, to be managed by Marni Walden, EVP and President of the Product Innovation and New Businesses organization at Verizon. Verizon has spent the last few years building up its media business units. Yahoo claims to have more than 1 billion active monthly users, of which 600 million are mobile. Combining Yahoo and AOL will give Verizon control over 25 established brands, including news sites, analytics engines, email services, and advertising platforms. The sale does not include Yahoo's stake in Alibaba, Yahoo Japan, and other entities. Post sale, the remaining business will be rebranded as it transforms into an investment company. Verizon and Yahoo expect the deal to close during the first quarter of 2017, pending regulatory and shareholder approval. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today asked the country's major telephone providers to improve consumer tools for blocking robocalls. The FCC said robocalls continue to be one of the top complaints filed by consumers. Wheeler sent letters to AT&T, Bandwidth Comms, Frontier, Level3, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon asking them to make blocking tools available to consumers as swiftly as possible. "Consumers want and deserve more control over the calls they receive," wrote Wheeler in a blog post. "I am calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective. All of these companies have been asked to respond within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues." The FCC said it will continue to investigate consumer complaints against robocalls and prosecute whenever possible.
Verizon Wireless confirmed plans to disconnect select customers who consume more than 100 GB of mobile data per month. Verizon is specifically targeting customers who have grandfathered-in unlimited data plans and are taking advantage to use extreme amounts of data. "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a very small group of customers on unlimited plans who use an extraordinary amount of data that they must move to one of the new Verizon Plans by August 31, 2016," said Verizon in an email to Ars Technica. "These users are using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB). While the Verizon Plan at 100GB is designed to be shared across multiple users, each line receiving notification to move to the new Verizon Plan is using well in excess of that on a single device." Customers who are cut off will be able to reactivate their account within 50 days as long as they agree to move to one of the current, metered service plans. Verizon hasn't offered unlimited plans since 2011, but customers have been able to hold onto them over the years. Not too long ago Verizon raised the prices of those plans by $20. In 2014 the company attempted to put in place a network optimization plan that would have throttled the heaviest users. The FCC fought Verizon's plan and the carrier eventually dropped it. Verizon says 99% of its postpaid customer base is subscribed to metered data plans.
Verizon Wireless today began accepting preorders for the Motorola Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid, which will reach stores on July 28. The Moto Z costs $624 ($26 per month) and the Z Force costs $720 ($30 per month). Verizon customers may trade in their current flagship smartphone for up to $300 to put toward either Moto Z handset, or older phones for up to $200. Verizon Wireless also shared pricing details on the Moto Mods modular accessories that attach to the back of the Moto Z and Z Force: the JBL SoundBoost speaker costs $80, the Moto Insta-Share Projector costs $300, the Tumi power pack costs $60, the Kate Spade New York power pack costs $90, and Incipio's rear plates cost $15 each. The Moto Mods attach to the Moto Z and Z Force via magnets and enhance the capabilities of the phone. Verizon said that, for a limited time, customers who purchase one Mod with their Moto Z will receive 20% off any additional Mods they buy. The Moto Z and Z Force are Android smartphones. Each has a 5.5-inch quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, USB-C with QuickCharge, and fingerprint reader.
Verizon Wireless added a feature called Always-On Data to its prepaid plans that will keep customers connected even if they use up all their LTE data. In short, people who subscribe to Verizon's prepaid smartphone plans will have access to an unlimited amount of free 2G surfing at 128Kbps once they've consumed their plan's LTE data bucket. Verizon says 2G surfing will be available through the rest of the billing cycle in order to keep customers connected, though many services, such as streaming mobile video, will be significantly curtailed. Verizon added Always-On Data to its prepaid plans on July 17. The move follows Verizon's recent price hike for its postpaid plans, which also provides unlimited 2G access for a $5 monthly fee.
The FCC today published a list of the 62 bidders who've made upfront payments and qualified to bid in the reverse auction for low-band TV spectrum. As expected, the list contains familiar names, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. A significant number of small companies plan to bid, as well, such as Alaska Wireless and Cellular South. Collectively, bidders will need to cough up more than $86 billion to purchase the 126 MHz of 600 MHz airwaves up for auction. The forward portion of the auction begins August 16.
Verizon Wireless is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. The patch plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air. Verizon patched its versions of the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+ earlier this week.
The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.
The FCC today adopted a new set of rules that will govern next-generation 5G networks and technologies. Specifically, the FCC defined and opened up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum above the 28 GHz band. The "Upper Microwave Flexible Use" service will exist in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands for 5G in the U.S. Under the terms set forth by the FCC, the airwaves will be divided into exclusive use licensing, shared access, and unlicensed access to help meet the variety of potential 5G use cases. Opening up this set of airwaves completes what the FCC says is a balanced set of spectrum for wireless broadband in the low, mid, and high frequencies. Wireless companies are still developing the technologies that will eventually become 5G. AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been pushing their tech aggressively and expect to begin real-world trials as soon as late this year.
Verizon Wireless says it is aiming to wind down its 2G CDMA 1x network by the end of December 2019. Approximately 92% of Verizon's wireless traffic travels over LTE now. Those still using the 1x network are mostly legacy machine-to-machine and other business customers who only need occasional network access to deliver small amounts of data, such as remote water meters. Verizon is working with those customers to transition them over to LTE, though it won't abandon them. The December 2019 shutoff is more of a guideline than a hard kill date. Once the 1x shutoff is complete, Verizon will refarm the spectrum for LTE.
T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are sending out the July 1 Android security patch to their variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ smartphones. Google made the security patch available last week. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air.
HTC today said several U.S. carriers will soon offer its Desire 530 smartphone. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 (announced earlier this year) is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. Essentially, small paint dots appear to be sprinkled on the plastic. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. T-Mobile says the phone will go on sale July 13 for $160. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and availability. HTC plans to sell an unlocked version of the Desire 530 online for $179 beginning later this month.
Verizon Wireless today announced major changes to its service plans and how customers manage them. The new Verizon Plan goes hand-in-hand with a completely new My Verizon app for mobile devices. For example, the app makes it easy for customers to see how much data they've used each month through a tool called The Feed, and add more data to their plan if needed. The app provides a simplified bill that's easier to see, understand, and pay each month. Verizon hopes the app's built-in support feature will serve as a stand-in for store visits or support calls for managing customer issues. (Customers can still visit or call whenever they wish.) In addition to the app, Verizon has adjusted its service plan pricing and data allotments. In general, the company added 30% more data to each monthly data bucket along with a modest price increase for each plan. The S plan costs $35 per month and includes 2 GB of LTE data, while the M costs $50 for 4 GB, the L costs $70 for 8 GB, the XL costs $90 for 16 GB, and the XXL plan costs $110 for 24 GB. Access charges and device payments are extra. Verizon's new plan includes carryover data that automatically rolls over each month. Unused data can be accessed for one month only. A new Safety Mode feature, available from the app, allows people to switch to unlimited 2G mode (128Kbps) if/when they reach their LTE limit. With Safety Mode enabled, users won't be charged overages for exceeding their LTE data cap. A tool called Data Boost lets people add data when needed at the cost of $15 per 1GB. The Verizon Plan also adds unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico. The trick is that using many of these features costs extra on the S, M and L plans. For example, Safety Mode costs $5 to use each month when activated, as does unlimited calling to Canada/Mexico. Roaming in Canada/Mexico costs $2 per day. Carryover data does not cost anything to access. The XL and XXL plans don't charge extra fees for using these services. Customers can remain on their current Verizon Wireless plan if they so desire. The My Verizon app is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. The new app and associated features will be available starting July 7.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless have begun allowing some customers to place VoLTE calls to one another. The carriers' deployment of interoperable VoLTE is woefully behind schedule. AT&T and Verizon first promised to launch the improved calling by the end of 2015, but only got as far as limited trials. "Currently, we are working with Verizon to allow our customers to enjoy that clear audio quality and video calling features when placing VoLTE calls to Verizon customers and vice versa," said an AT&T spokesperson to Fierce Wireless. "In December, we saw the first VoLTE exchange between our customers and Verizon's in limited, select areas. We're working with others on this same feature, too." AT&T didn't say which markets support interoperable VoLTE, and Verizon did not comment on the deployment at all. There's no word if or when interoperable VoLTE will expand to a greater number of AT&T and Verizon customers. VoLTE requires both the caller and recipient to have compatible handsets and LTE coverage in order to function properly. VoLTE paves the way for HD voice calling, as well as RCS-based services, such as rich messaging and video calls.
Verizon Wireless today said customers can trade in an old flagship smartphone for up to $300 off a new flagship smartphone. The promotion is limited to certain handsets. For example, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6, and S6 edge/edge+; HTC M9; Apple iPhone 6; and LG G4 and V10 are eligible to trade-in for $300. The phones must be in good working order and good cosmetic condition. Other phones traded in will receive a lesser amount to be determined by Verizon. The program also requires customers to activate a new line, upgrade, or switch to Verizon and then purchase a new device on a monthly payment plan. Customers can use the $300 toward the Apple iPhone 6S or 6S Plus; HTC 10; LG G5; Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, and Note 5; and the Moto Droid Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 .(Customers interested in the Turbo 2 or Maxx 2 are allowed to trade-in phones with broken screens.) Verizon suggests customers perform the trade-in at Verizon's stores, where credit for the value of the trade will be applied immediately, but the company is also offering the promotion through its web site. New customers will receive the $300 via a gift card, while existing customers will be given an account credit. Verizon's didn't say how long the trade-in program will run.
Verizon Wireless today said it will give customers up to $100 to refer friends and family to the network via Facebook or Twitter. Customers will have to do some legwork to receive the reward. The process involves authenticating their MyVerizon credentials and creating an official referral through Facebook or Twitter. The recipient needs to see the referral on Facebook or Twitter, click on it, and create a new Verizon account online or in stores. Verizon is offering $25 for one referral, $50 for two referrals, and $100 for three or more referrals. The new line must be active for 45 days before Verizon will send the corresponding amount via Visa gift card. The social network referral rewards program begins today, July 1.
Verizon Wireless this week retired its content filtering service. The tool was initially made available to account holders in order to prevent devices from accessing certain types of content via the web and the Google Play Store. According to a support page on Verizon's web site, any type of content that was previously blocked is now available to devices. Moreover, devices blocked from accessing the Play Store can now browse through and purchase/download apps. Content Filtering was chiefly used by parents and business account holders. Verizon recommends users reboot the devices on their account in order to ensure proper functionality. Account holders still interested in content filtering services can do so directly on the device, as well as through paid third-party tools. "The growing popularity of apps and decline in web browser usage has created a need for new and different tools and protections," said Verizon to Fierce Wireless. "There are numerous alternatives for security, protection and filtering services in the marketplace to help manage content through the device operating system, through applications downloaded to the device and through Web browsers." Verizon's Content Filtering service went offline June 27.
Verizon Wireless today announced the 4G LTE Network Extender for homes and small businesses. The small box provides LTE coverage in buildings up to about 7,500 square feet, including services such as HD Voice and high-speed data. Verizon says the 4G LTE Network Extender supports up to seven devices at a time, with an eighth channel reserved for emergency calls. The device, made by Samsung's networking business, is self-optimizing and can learn its surroundings to provide better coverage. Verizon says the box needs a wired broadband connection to function. Further, it requires broadband service with minimum speeds of 10Mbps down and 5Mbps up, and Verizon recommends broadband service with 20Mbps down and 10Mbps up for optimum performance. The device does not rebroadcast or boost local signal; instead, it uses the broadband connection as backhaul and creates its own LTE cell for connectivity. Users will be able to transition seamlessly between in-home LTE and Verizon's macro LTE network when stepping outside. The 4G LTE Network Extended goes on sale June 30 for $250.
The FCC today said that the reverse portion of its incentive auction is now complete. Bidding for 600 MHz television airwaves is over, and the cost to clear the 126 MHz spectrum target exceeded $86.4 billion. The FCC expects to begin the forward portion of the auction soon, which will see wireless companies bid on the spectrum blocks. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, but Sprint is sitting out. The auction drew lots of interest from individual bidders, too. It's not clear how much the FCC expects to make from auctioning off the airwaves moving forward, but bidders will need to meet or exceed the $86.4 billion at a minimum. The airwaves are vital low-band spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. "Today, bidding concluded in the reverse auction, establishing the cost for clearing 126 MHz in the TV band for wireless use," said the FCC's Gary Epstein in a prepared statement. "Strong participation from broadcast stations made this initial clearing target possible. Now the action shifts to the forward auction, which will give wireless bidders the opportunity to compete for this beachfront spectrum to meet America's growing mobile data needs."
Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Qualcomm has created what it calls a prototype 5G system and trial platform. The 5G New Radio (NR) prototype is able to function across a wide range of spectrum bands, primarily below 6 GHz, and can achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates and low latency. Qualcomm says the prototype uses some of the designs that may be used in the final 3GPP standard for OFDM-based 5G NR air interface. The 3GPP is already studying the 5G NR, which may become a part of Release 15. The 5G NR includes a base station and end-user equipment for testing 5G technologies. It supports wide RF bandwidths over 100 MHz for testing speed, latency, and the various technologies that make these speeds possible. The prototype is something that telecommunications equipment vendors and wireless network operators will put to use as they work to develop and help define 5G. The FCC recently said more action is needed to push 5G forward. Some U.S. carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, plan to test 5G networks as soon as late 2016 and early 2017. The standard for 5G has not yet been defined, but technology firms of all stripes are hoping to contribute to the final standard.