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.
T-Mobile today said its customers will be able to use an unlimited amount of high-speed mobile data across Europe this summer. Specifically, customers can enjoy the highest-possible speed, up to and including LTE 4G, throughout the European Union between July 1 and August 31. T-Mobile customers can already use unlimited 2G data in more than 140 countries. The high-speed summer roaming includes unlimited free texting and $0.20-per-minute voice calls, but not tethering. T-Mobile may terminate or restrict service for misuse or excessive roaming. T-Mobile is also giving every person who flies in the U.S. this weekend (including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers) a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi on their smartphone. The free WiFi offer is available from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 on all domestic flights that offer Gogo WiFi. Last, T-Mobile added Belize to its list of Simple Global countries, which means T-Mobile customers can use 2G data and send messages for free, and make low-cost calls when traveling to Belize. Free roaming in Belize begins July 1.
Verizon Wireless updated its go90 mobile video app this week, making it possible to push content from the iPhone to TVs via Apple TV and Chromecast. Verizon says the app has a new design with simplified navigation, and now more visibly curates video content based on category, such as action, comedy, drama, or reality. go90 for iOS is more social than ever, allowing iPhone owners to share clips or full episodes via email, text, Facebook, and Twitter. Users willing to register the app will be able to save favorite shows and actors, as well as leave comments on episodes and clips. Verizon Wireless' go90 app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Verizon hasn't said if a similar update is on deck for the Android version of go90. The service is free to most smartphone users, regardless of carrier.
Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update to its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone is receiving the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE. Verizon recently pushed the same update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Verizon Wireless has added the Samsung Galaxy J3 to its lineup of inexpensive smartphones. The J3, which has been for sale from Boost Mobile and other carriers since early this year, has a 5-inch 720p screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 16 GB (postpaid) or 8 GB (prepaid) of storage, 5-megapixel main camera with flash, 2-megapixel front camera, and 2,600mAh battery. Notably, Verizon's version of the phone ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Earlier versions of the phone shipped with Lollipop. The phone costs $168 at full retail, which breaks down to $7 per month for 24 months. Verizon is also offering the phone for $40 with a two-year contract, or for $110 when purchased from Verizon's prepaid service. The Samsung Galaxy J3 is available online starting today. It will reach Verizon's stores on June 23.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules. The decision, which came from a three-judge panel in a 2-1 vote, is a major victory for the FCC and a blow to internet companies such as AT&T and Verizon. Internet service providers and others argue the FCC doesn't have the authority to establish net neutrality rules, but the appeals court disagreed. The FCC's rules set clear guidelines on how internet providers are allowed to treat the data that flows across their networks. The basics prevent internet providers from blocking apps/services, prevent them from throttling data speeds, and prevent them from initiating paid prioritization schemes to give some companies preferred service. The rules also reclassify broadband services under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which will treat them like common carriers. AT&T, an opponent of the rules, said, "We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal."
Verizon Wireless has begun distributing a security update for its versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Both phones will receive the June security patch from Google, which resolves a number of vulnerabilities. Google published details of the June security patch earlier this month. It plugs 21 holes, of which a handful could have led to remote code execution. Verizon says the update also optimizes device performance and takes care of a few other bugs. The update will appear automatically, but may also be initiated manually directly from the phone. The update can be downloaded via WiFi or LTE.
Motorola's new Droids take a modular approach that, at first glance, is compelling. Motorola hopes people will buy into the idea of enhancing their Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Droid Force with hot-swappable modules that add speakers, power, and more to the phones. Here is a first look at these exclusives for Verizon Wireless.
The Lenovo Moto Z Droid and Z Droid Force, announced today, will be exclusive to Verizon Wireless when they go on sale later this summer. Verizon said preorders will kick off in July, but hasn't yet said exactly when the phones will reach stores. Moto said the two phones will eventually be sold unlocked in September. Consumers will be able to buy them directly from Motorola's web site.
Verizon Wireless today said it will begin accepting preorders for the LG K8 V on June 9. This affordable Android smartphone has a 5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 16 GB of storage. The K8 V has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera with selfie light. It packs a 2,125mAh battery, supports Verizon's HD Voice service, and can roam internationally. The LG K8 V runs Android Marshmallow and will cost $144 when it goes in sale June 16.
Verizon Wireless said it will discontinue its $2.99 Visual Voicemail service come July 8. All customers who use the Visual Voicemail app will be transitioned to Verizon's free, basic voicemail service. Verizon says customers won't lose their existing voicemails, but may need to make room in their voicemail inbox, as well as reset their voicemail greeting. The list of phones impacted by the change is significant, including old and new models from BlackBerry, Casio, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, and Samsung. Verizon did not say why it is discontinuing the Visual Voicemail service.
Verizon Wireless has begun pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. The update delivers core features from Marshmallow, such as Now On Tap for contextually relevant search, Doze for better power management, and expanded permissions for more explicit control over apps. The new software also brings with it WiFi Calling, high-quality audio, Android for Work, and refreshed app icons. Verizon recommends that S5 and Note 4 owners download and install the system update via WiFi. The update will reach most devices over the next few days, but users can manually update if they wish.
HTC's Mo Versi said via his Twitter account that the Verizon Wireless variant of the HTC 10 will receive a maintenance update that improves several aspects of the phone. The release chiefly boosts the camera's performance, including the autofocus feature. The update also tweaks performance and solves several bugs. The maintenance release will be pushed out over the air. HTC already delivered this same update to the unlocked/global variant of the 10.
A group of companies have asked the FCC to make discussions about net neutrality violations more open to public discourse. Specifically, 59 internet companies sent a letter to the FCC and asked the agency how it is handling zero-rating services, such as T-Mobile's BingeOn and Verizon Wireless' FreeBee. As it stands, the FCC is evaluating such services on a case-by-case basis mostly in private. They group argues that internet service providers, including mobile networks, have introduced a wide range of zero-rated services that toe the net neutrality line. Due to the volume of cases, decisions on each and every one "would have much the same effect as a new rule, only without the same public participation and transparency," say the companies. The companies believe the public and stakeholders both have a right to participate in defining any new rules. "Zerorating profoundly affects internet users' choices," said the companies. "Giving ISPs the power to favor some sites or services over others would let ISPs pick winners and losers online — precisely what the Open Internet rules exist to prevent. Because mobile networks are i ncreasingly the way most Americans get online, mobile ISPs matter equally. It would be unacceptable not to seek and incorporate broad input and expertise at this critical stage." Some of the companies that signed the letter include Dwolla, Etsy, Foursquare, Medium, Mozilla, Pinterest, Reddit, Upworthy, Vimeo, Yelp and dozens more. The FCC did not immediately comment on the matter.
Verizon Wireless today announced changes to its prepaid service plans. The entry-level plan includes unlimited talk and text, but no data (WiFi only) for $30 per month. The mid-range plan includes unlimited text to Mexico and Canada and 2 GB of data for $45 per month. The top-tier plan includes unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico, and jumps to 5 GB for $60 per month. Previously, these plans offered 1 GB and 3 GB, respectively. Customers who sign up for Verizon's AutoPay service can snag an extra 1 GB of data on either of the latter two plans. Feature phone customers get unlimited talk, text, and mobile web for $30 per month. They may also step down to a combo of 300 voice minutes, texts, or multimedia messages and unlimited mobile web for $15 per month. The new service plans go into effect May 15.
LG plans to shake up the executive ranks within its mobile phone business. The move comes on the heels of LG's first quarter report, in which the company's mobile phone business recorded its third straight loss. "We need to change the way we work to move faster and lighter," said Cho Juno, LG's CEO and mobile chief, in an email to employees. "Other business divisions also need people from mobile communications. We will continue to reshuffle personnel." The LG G5 flagship smartphone just recently went on sale and did not play a prominent role in the company's first quarter results. LG is forecasting second-quarter sales for the G5 of about 3 million. Juno said the company will trim staff in its mobile phone business unit so it can react quicker to changing market demands. Verizon Wireless recently rolled out a buy-one, get-one offer for the LG G5. In order to take advantage of the deal, new and existing customers must purchase two G5s on a monthly payment plan ($26 per month each for 24 months). After completing the purchase, customers can fill out a form to be reimbursed for the second device via Visa gift card. At lease one of the lines must be new. The bogo offer is good for a limited time.
The FCC and FTC today asked carriers and phone manufacturers how they handle security updates for their devices. The FCC sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers, while the FTC queried Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. In particular, the agencies want to know: the factors carriers/OEMs consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular phone; data on the specific phones sold in the U.S. since August 2013; the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices; and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities. The government said the line of inquiry is to help it further understand how these companies do or do not protect consumers. "Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered," said the FCC. "To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched." Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android devices, but individual phone makers lag badly. Apple provides occasional updates.
T-Mobile today said it has signed an interconnect and roaming agreement with Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba, allowing its customers to call Cuba as well as roam when visiting Cuba. T-Mobile says its U.S. customers can call Cuban landlines and wireless phones for $0.60 per minute when they subscribe to the Stateside International Talk feature for $15 per month. The deal also allows travelers to use voice, text, and data service in Cuba, though roaming won't be available until the summer months. Sprint and Verizon forged interconnect and roaming agreements with Cuba last year.
Verizon Wireless today made the Samsung Galaxy J3 available to its prepaid customers. The phone, which has been available from Boost Mobile since earlier this year, features a 5-inch HD screen, 5-megapixel camera, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 2,600mAh battery, and 8 GB of storage with support for memory cards up to 128 GB. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The phone costs $110. Verizon Prepaid doesn't require contracts.
The FCC today announced it has set an initial spectrum clearing target of 126 MHz during the reverse part of the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. Television broadcasters have agreed to part with this spectrum. The FCC then plans to offer 100 MHz in 10 near-nationwide paired blocks to wireless providers in the forward phase of the auction. The majority of the spectrum being given up by television broadcasters will qualify as Category 1, which means it has no or little interference. Some of the spectrum will fall under Category 2, which has a greater degree of interference but not so much that it can't be managed. The FCC is today notifying all the television broadcasters about the status of their applications to sell spectrum. The FCC plans a mock auction for May 24-25, and will kick off the actual reverse portion of the auction May 31. It's unclear how long the reverse auction will take place before the FCC is able to turn around and re-sell the spectrum to wireless companies. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all said they plan to participate in the hunt for low-band spectrum.
Verizon Wireless today revealed new cloud-based storage plans for its customers. Beginning April 17, there will be four storage plans in sizes small through extra-large, mirroring how Verizon designates its wireless service plans. All customers are eligible for the small plan, which includes 5 GB of storage per month for free. The medium plan includes 25 GB for $2.99; the large plan includes 250 GB for $4.99 per month; and the extra-large plan includes 1 TB for $9.99 per month. Verizon said it will automatically upgrade existing Cloud subscribers on 75 GB or higher plans to the new large and extra-large plans. Verizon suggests customers use the cloud storage to save backups of their contacts, messages, photos, videos, music, and other files.