Xfinity, Comcast's wireless service, today said it has expanded its availability to every market in which Comcast has a presence. The low-cost service launched in April, but was limited to just a small selection of markets. Now, Comcast customers can take advantage of the wireless offering and tie it to their existing internet and television service. Xfinity has also tweaked its service plans. Moving forward, the company offers unlimited service (up to 20 GB of high-speed LTE 4G) for $45 per line per month. It also sells access for $12 per 1 GB, which can be shared across all the lines in a plan. Xfinity offers all customers unlimited talk and text and a base 100 MB of data to get them started. Taxes and fees are included in the pricing structure. Xfinity operates on Verizon's network, but will offload data traffic to Comcast-owned WiFi hotspots when they are available. Xfinity says it has 18 million such hotspots positioned around the country. Xfinity offers a number of popular phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Apple iPhone 7. Customers can pay full price up front or over time via monthly installments.
The Asus ZenFone AR for Verizon is the first phone in the U.S. to support Google Tango, the advanced AR (augmented reality) platform for Android. It supports a small variety of apps so far. The most useful so far are online shopping apps that display virtual items for sale (such as furniture, decorations, fixtures, and appliances) in the room you're currently it. We take it for a spin by decorating a dingy subway station. Check out the full video to see Tango in action.
Apple and a handful of technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes if law enforcement is given warrantless access to personal information, such as location data. The companies filed a brief with the Supreme Court, which will soon hear a case about how law enforcement gleaned a suspect's location by taking the data from a third party without a warrant. The case, and the companies' collective opinion, hinges on the third-party doctrine, which has been in place since a 1979 case. The corporations that signed the brief together collect, transmit, and hold terabytes of data and meta-data generated by their customers' use of their services. If the Supreme Court decides data held by third-parties should still be up for grabs, the corporations may have to provide it whenever law enforcement asks. They feel this violates the spirit of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees certain expectations of privacy, and could in turn convince people to use their online services less. "This transmission of data will only grow as digital technologies continue to develop and become more integrated into our lives. Because the data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives, however, users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data," argued the companies. "Fourth Amendment doctrine must adapt to this new reality." The signees include Airbnb, Apple, Cisco, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Oath, Snap, Twitter, and Verizon. The companies filed the brief through the ACLU, which is participating in the upcoming case.
Verizon Wireless recently provided details on the availability and cost of the Moto Gamepad Mod for the Z2 Play and Z2 Force smartphones. The Gamepad, available for preorder via Verizon's web site, will ship by August 25. Verizon said the Gamepad will be available online and in stores. The phone snaps in magnetically via the Mod connector. The pad features a standard set of gaming buttons and joysticks positioned on either side of the screen, in addition to a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port for charging. The Gamepad includes its own 1.035mAh battery, so it won't suck juice from the phone and in fact can provide the Z handset with up to 8 hours of gaming time. The Gamepad will cost gaming enthusiasts $79.99. The Moto Gamepad Mod is a Verizon exclusive, as is the new JBL SoundBoost 2 speaker Mod.
Verizon Wireless has completed refarming its 1900 MHz spectrum in the country's largest city, an effort first begun in 2014. The company recently converted the last remaining 10 MHz block from CDMA 3G to LTE 4G, which means Verizon is running LTE on 20 MHz of its Band 2 spectrum in New York City. Devices that support LTE in Band 2 should have access to Verizon's network in that spectrum in addition to the 700 MHz it already uses for LTE. The refarming leaves CDMA operational only in the 850 MHz band in NYC. This reduces access to Verizon's legacy 3G network. Verizon has committed to running CDMA / 1x through 2019, though it is still expected to convert some of its 850 MHz spectrum to LTE between now and then.
Verizon Wireless today announced Verizon Up, a rewards program for customers that promises free services, device discounts, and event tickets. Verizon claims its reward program is simple and straightforward. Verizon Up is baked into the MyVerizon application, so there are no forms to worry about. For every $300 customers spend on their wireless bill, they'll earn one reward credit. Each reward is worth one credit, so rewards can be earned on a one-for-one basis. Verizon will offer six rotating rewards each month that consumers can take advantage of immediately if they wish. Some examples include four free months of Apple Music, or three free months of HBO Now (both with subscription.) These are what Verizon calls Everyday Rewards, which will include others from the likes of Amazon, Headspace, and Electronic Arts. Up also includes Verizon Awards, which allow people to save credit towards device purchases ($10 per month), discounts on accessories, and bonus data. Verizon Up includes access to high-demand tickets in sports, music, and entertainment, as well as giveaways to events such as the Super Bowl. Verizon Up is free to join, but there are some major caveats. To start, reward credits expire 60 days after they are earned. Earning the credits requires $300 in payments on Verizon services only, which means the taxes and other fees on monthly wireless bills don't count toward the $300 total. Last, but not least, Verizon customers must join Verizon Selects in order to qualify for Verizon Up. According to the FAQs page for Verizon Up, Verizon Selects is a customer data collection program for advertising purposes. "Verizon Selects helps personalize your experiences and make advertising you see more useful across the devices and services you use," explained Verizon. "To do this, the program uses information about your web browsing, app usage, device location, use of Verizon services and other information about you (such as your postal/email addresses, demographics, and interests) and shares information with Oath." Further, Verizon said identifying customer data collected through Verizon Selects is shared with its vendors and partners. Verizon subscribers can sign up for Verizon Up starting today.
You can finally get a phone with Google's "Tango" AR technology in the US. The Asus ZenFone AR goes on sale with Verizon today. With support for Tango apps, it can scan the room and show you life-size, realistic virtual objects placed in the room in real time. It's also a powerful high-end phone with decent specs, especially in the camera department. What's it it like? We checked it out in person and have first impressions to share.
The Asus ZenFone AR is available to U.S. consumers today from Verizon Wireless. The phone, initially announced in January, is the first to support both Google's Project Tango augmented reality platform and Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Asus says its PixelMaster 3.0 camera system uses Sony IMX318 sensors with a TriTech autofocus system. It includes 4-axis optical image stabilization for photos and 3-axis electronic stabilization for videos. Additional camera tools include low-light shooting, optimized presets, manual controls, and 4K video capture. Multiple microphones capture Hi-Res Audio and DTS virtual surround sound. The phone sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and a vapor cooling system. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. Verizon is selling the phone for $648, or $27 per month for 24 months on an installment plan. The phone will include the Wayfair augmented reality shopping application, which lets ZenFone AR owners add furniture and other items to their home virtually to see how it will look before making a purchase. People who order the phone from Verizon will be rewarded with a $25 Wayfair gift card. Asus is also selling unlocked versions of the phone directly to consumers with different RAM / storage combinations. The 6 GB / 64 GB model costs $599, while the 8 GB / 128 GB model costs $699.
Verizon Wireless says it has attained peak download speeds as high as 953 Mbps in a field test conducted on Boca Raton, Fla. The test was completed with commercially available equipment from Ericsson and Qualcomm using Verizon's cell tower and backhaul. The companies took advantage of four-channel carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM on a device equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. Verizon says it reached those speeds via LTE-LAA (licensed assisted access), which bundles together Verizon-owned spectrum with unlicensed spectrum, such as that used by WiFi networks. This type of gigabit LTE service will bridge today's LTE 4G networks with the 5G networks of the future. Verizon says multiple gigabit LTE devices are already available in the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, but it did not say if or when it might begin deploying LTE-LAA across its own network.
Motorola today said the Moto E4 Plus, which it announced in June, will reach various sales channels later this week. The unlocked variant will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry's, Newegg, and Motorola.com starting August 3 for $180. Verizon Wireless plans to sell its own version of the Moto E4 Plus on August 3 too, though Verizon's pricing wasn't immediately available. Sprint, Ting, and other U.S. retailers will stock the Moto E4 Plus beginning August 11, with Republic Wireless to follow August 14. Motorola will also sell an Amazon Prime Exclusive version of the Moto E4 Plus, though pricing on the Amazon model wasn't announced. The Moto E4 Plus boasts a metal design, and improves the screen size compared to the standard E4 to 5.5 inches (still 720p HD) and the battery to a massive 5,000mAh. The phone ships with a 10W charger for rapid power-ups. The E4 Plus also packs a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, and autofocus, and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash.
Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.
Verizon Wireless is throttling the speeds of Netflix and YouTube, according to customer complaints voiced on Reddit. Verizon's customers claim they are seeing Netflix and YouTube streams capped at 10Mbps, and some suggest the capped speeds are leading to degraded video quality. The issue is impacting customers who have limited and unlimited data plans. When asked for comment, Verizon told Ars Technica, "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." Verizon's statement doesn't necessarily reflect what its customers say is going on. If Verizon is indeed throttling the speeds of video apps, doing say may be a violation of the FCC's net neutrality rules that expressly forbid internet providers from throttling content.
Samsung today said the Coral Blue variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets will become available to U.S. buyers starting July 21. According to Samsung, carrier-specific versions for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will be available at Best Buy stores, while the unlocked version will be available at Best Buy and Samsung.com. Customers looking to save some money can take advantage of a promotion at Best Buy stores between July 21 and July 29 that offers up to $400 off the cost of the handset with a carrier activation. Samsung said consumers can save up to $150 of the price of either handset when purchasing the phone directly from Samsung, as well as take advantage of Samsung's trade-on promo. Details concerning the promotions are available from Samsung's web site. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are already available in black, silver, and gray.
Verizon Wireless today added the Sonim XP5 to its roster of rugged handsets. The XP5 is a bar-style feature phone that includes push-to-talk service (with a dedicated PTT button) for the working set. It meets mil-spec ratings for protection against physical abuse and carries an IP69 rating for protection against water, including jet sprays. Sonim says the phone can sit in 6.5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The phone has a 2.5-inch QVGA screen with a proprietary operating system. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera, extra-loud 104dB front speakers, a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, and support for HD Voice. The Sonim XP5 is available from Verizon Wireless for $336, or $14 per month on a payment plan.
Verizon Wireless today said it completed the first test call using VoLTE on its Cat M1 network. The achievement is worth noting because Verizon's Cat M1 network is reserved for machine-to-machine and IoT applications. Adding voice call capability to M2M and IoT gear opens up new doors for device makers, service providers, and app developers who will be able to connect with customers and end users in a new way. For example, the new technology will make it possible to voice-enable alarm panels or medical devices which can in turn allow people to reach out to and speak with people to gain entry to protected spaces or seek help. Verizon used Ericsson's network infrastructure and Qualcomm's modems to make the VoLTE Cat M1 call a reality. The company didn't immediately say if or when it might deploy voice-calling capability on its M2M/IoT network.
LG today announced the X charge, a smartphone that puts a priority on battery life. Similar to last year's X power, the X charge has an enormous battery with a capacity of 4,500mAh. LG claims the battery can push the phone through an "entire weekend" on a single charge. The power cell is embedded within the phone, but it supports rapid charging. Other features include a 5.5-inch 720 display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and LED flash. LG says the X charge also includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with LG's software features, such as Gesture Shot. The LG X charge reaches Xfinity Mobile stores on June 30. The phone costs $180, or $7.50 per month. Xfinity Mobile is owned and operated by Comcast and runs on Verizon's network.
Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. The Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.
Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.
Verizon Wireless today said its prepaid customers will soon have access to the My Verizon account management tool. Beginning June 28, prepaid customers can download and use My Verizon to pay bills, set up auto-pay, add data, and perform other account-related tasks. The app was previously reserved for Verizon's postpaid customers. My Verizon is free to download and will be available to customers of Verizon's $40, $50, $60, and unlimited prepaid plans.
Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.
Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Exalt LTE to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Exalt LTE has the distinction of being Verizon's first 4G LTE basic phone, according to the carrier. The handset includes LTE and UMTS/GSM radios, but the Exalt LTE does not support Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network. That makes it unique among Verizon flip phones. In addition to LTE, the Exalt includes WiFi and a high-quality speaker for HD voice calls over either LTE or WiFi. The Exalt LTE has a 3.0-inch display with 400 by 240 pixels, a 1,470mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Exalt LTE packs 8 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Verizon didn't say what operating system the Exalt LTE runs, nor what processor might be power the phone. The LG Exalt LTE is available online only for $168 at full retail or $7 per month for 24 months.
Verizon Communications today said it has finalized its purchase of Yahoo. Now that the deal is complete, Verizon is merging its Yahoo and AOL assets into a new media company called Oath. Oath encompasses some 50 brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Makers, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and many more. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a former Google exec, has resigned effective today. Yahoo's properties will be managed by Tim Armstrong, who already oversees Verizon's AOL business unit. The $4.8 billion deal was first announced in July 2016. The process suffered a major blow when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. The two companies later agreed to drop the sale price by $350 million, with the final price tag landing at about $4.48 billion. Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses at Verizon, presided over the acquisition. Armstrong will report to her. The company is expected to shed as many as 2,100 jobs as it integrates AOL and Yahoo's properties. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.
BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.
Verizon Wireless today announced new options for its prepaid service. Beginning June 6, Verizon prepaid customers can select from four main plans: 3 GB for $40 per month, 7 GB for $50, 10 GB for $60, or unlimited for $80. All these plans include unlimited talk and text, international text to more than 200 countries,unlimited calling from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico, mobile hotspot, and carryover data. Users who exceed their monthly allotment will be throttled down to 2G speeds for the remainder of the billing period. Video is capped at 480p standard definition, and Verizon will prioritize its postpaid customers when the network is congested. For a limited time, Verizon is offering a $100 credit to customers who port their number from a competing carrier. Verizon prepaid offers phones such as the iPhone 7, Galaxy S8, and Pixel.
Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Play, a second take on the company's popular mid-range flagship. Like the original, the Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. At 5.9mm thick, the phone is a full millimeter thinner than its predecessor. In order to achieve this, Motorola cut the battery capacity from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh. Despite the significant drop in capacity, Motorola claims total battery life is unaffected. Thanks to TurboPower, just 15 minutes of charging stuffs 8 hours of life into the battery. Another significant change is found in the fingerprint sensor, which now doubles as a trackpad for on-screen navigation. In terms of specs, the Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera now relies on phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus with dual focus pixels and an f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless will be the only carrier to sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray or gold later this summer. The phone will cost $499. Motorola will offer the Moto Z2 Play directly to consumers through its Moto Maker web site with the option to improve RAM to 4 GB and storage to 64 GB. Motorola will sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray, gold, blue, and black.
T-Mobile hopes its new "Get Out of the Red" deal will tempt Verizon customers to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is offering to pay the remaining balance on Verizon subscribers' handsets and allow them to use those same handsets on T-Mobile's network. Lots of caveats apply. In order to qualify for the deal, Verizon customers must be in good standing with Big Red and come to T-Mobile with an Apple iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL. These phones have the proper radios to support T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is working to add other devices to the list. Verizon customers will need to port their number to T-Mobile, sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, buy a new T-Mobile SIM card, and sign up for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance plan for $15 per month. Once all these criteria are met, T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on the Verizon iPhone or Pixel, whatever that may be. T-Mobile says customers will be reimbursed for their Verizon iPhone/Pixel balances within 15 to 30 days via prepaid MasterCard. T-Mobile is pitching the idea as an easier way to switch carriers as it doesn't require people to backup or transfer content from one phone to another. The offer works with Verizon handsets because by law Verizon's LTE phones must be unlocked. AT&T and Sprint customers cannot take advantage of this offer precisely because their phones are carrier locked. T-Mobile's Get Out of the Red promotion will be available starting May 31. T-Mobile is, however, throwing a bone to AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile said it will pay off the remaining handset balance and/or early termination fee for AT&T/Sprint customers who port a number to T-Mobile and finance a new device on T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. Last, T-Mobile customers who already have two T-Mobile One plans will be able add two additional lines of service for the price of one. This promo requires autopay.
Verizon Wireless will be the first U.S. carrier to offer a Project Tango smartphone to its customers. The forthcoming Asus ZenFone AR will arrive later this summer, according to Google executive Johnny Lee. The ZenFone AR is significantly smaller than the first Project Tango handset, which was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The ZenFone AR will also be compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Asus first announced the ZenFone AR in January. It sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a vapor cooling system. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. The exact availability is not yet known.
Verizon Wireless has cancelled plans to sell the LG Watch Sport wearable. The device, announced earlier this year, was meant to reach Verizon's network this spring with LTE support. Verizon did not say why it chose to drop the device, though it is offering those who preordered the smartwatch $100 off other connected wearables. The Watch Sport is a circular, fitness-focused smartwatch that can track workouts and health data, such as distance covered and heart rate. It is still available from AT&T. Verizon is focusing on the Watch24 wearable, which is Verizon-branded smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.
Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is available online and in stores. Verizon announced the device earlier this year. The Wear24 costs $349 at full retail, or $299 with a two-year agreement. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels, NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing service plan for $5 per month or as a stand-alone device on Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan. For a limited time, Verizon will provide a $100 Visa gift card to those who trade in any old Android Wear smartwatch.
Verizon Communications has won a bidding war for Straight Path Communications. AT&T announced plans to acquire Straight path for $1.6 billion last month. Straight Path has significant spectrum holdings in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave bands, which will be put to use by some 5G technologies down the road. Once the AT&T deal was announced, Verizon entered its own offer for the spectrum company. Verizon and AT&T have traded bids over the last few weeks. Straight Path this week said it has received an offer of $3.1 billion from a large communications company. While it didn't name Verizon specifically, Straight Path said it will terminate the agreement it had with AT&T. Verizon will pay AT&T a $38 million cancellation fee on behalf of Straight Path. Straight Path didn't indicate when it expects the new agreement to close.
Comcast and Charter Communications today announced plans to work together on future wireless initiatives. Both companies already acts as MVNOs and resell service from Verizon Wireless. Moving forward, Comcast and Charter will collaborate on creating common wireless platforms, developing technical standards, managing device logistics, and exploring emerging wireless technology by sharing resources. The companies believe they can achieve certain efficiencies working together, as well as bring more choice and better products to their respective wireless customers. Comcast and Charter say any MVNO agreements made with wireless carriers down the road will be national in scale, rather than the regional agreements in place today. The companies will test this relationship for a period of one year before committing to a longer arrangement.
Verizon Wireless today added an unlimited data option to its series of prepaid plans. According to Verizon's web site, the new $80 plan includes unlimited high-speed service without a contract, though video is capped at 480p and prepaid customers may see slower speeds when the network is congested. Moreover, the plan does not include mobile hotspot or tethering, nor did Verizon say just how fast its unlimited prepaid LTE service is. The plan also includes unlimited talk and text in the U.S., unlimited messaging from the U.S. to 200 countries, and unlimited talk to Canada and Mexico. For those who don't need unlimited service, Verizon's other prepaid plans include 2 GB for $40 per month, 5 GB for $50 per month, or 10 GB for $70 per month. These plans all include carryover data, but will throttle customers who exceed their monthly data bucket. The new $80 unlimited prepaid plan is available starting today.
Lenovo issued a notice this week warning that the Moto G5 Plus may not be able to connect 911 calls via VoLTE on Verizon's wireless network. The company has identified the bug and expects to issue a software patch in the next week or so. Until then, Lenovo suggests owners of the Moto G5 Plus disable VoLTE calling. This will enable the G5 Plus to make regular cellular calls to 911, though Lenovo reminds people that this will prevent Verizon customers from using voice and data at the same time.
Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch will go on sale May 11. Verizon announced the device earlier this year, but did not have availability details at the time. The Wear24 costs $349, but Verizon will cut $50 from the price for those willing to sign two-year agreements. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels. The Wear24 also includes NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing plan for $5 per month. Otherwise, the Wear24 requires Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan, which provides unlimited talk and text, and up to 1 GB of LTE data per month.
Comcast today revealed details of its forthcoming Xfinity Mobile phone service. The company will use Verizon's 4G LTE network for the service, using an existing MVNO agreement. The service will also automatically, seamlessly leverage 16 million Xfinity wi-fi hotspots for free data, capacity, and coverage. The service will initially be available only to customers who use at least one other Comcast Xfinity product, but will be billed separately. Comcast's main goal is customer loyalty. Plans include unlimited data, ranging from $45 to $65 per line, depending on the Xfinity home services the customer uses. Unlimited LTE data is throttled to slower speeds after 20 GB. For metered data, customers can create their own plan at $12/GB of LTE data. Texting and voice are unlimited. A new mobile app will let users monitor usage and change data plans on the fly. Customers can switch from metered to unlimited at any time via the app, even in the middle of a billing period, and the change will be retroactive without penalty. Customer service will be available via text messaging. The company will offer a range of phones, including the Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and LG X Power. Phones will be available for full price or on an installment plan. The company is launching a large trial of Xfinity Mobile today, open to all Comcast employees. It will launch for consumers in the coming weeks.
Verizon Wireless recently began pushing the Android 7 Nougat update to its variant of the HTC 10 smartphone. The update includes split-screen multitasking, Data Saver, simplified settings, faster app switching, and direct replies from notifications. It also includes the latest security patches. Verizon says the update is rolling out via WiFi over the next few weeks.
Verizon Wireless has created what it says is the first nationwide LTE Category M1 network for IoT devices and services. The Cat M1 network relies on a new class of LTE chipset designed specifically for low-power use cases, such as sensors. The chipset requires less power in order to extend battery life for devices such as water/electric meters and other asset trackers. The Cat M1 network runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network, but is managed separately in a virtualized cloud environment that's built with business customers in mind. Because IoT devices typically have low bandwidth requirements, Verizon created new service plans so businesses can manage their Cat M1 devices. Verizon says plans start at $2 per month per device, and businesses will be able to further save when activating devices and service plans in bulk. Verizon is collaborating with a number of companies to make its Cat M1 service possible, including Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, and Qualcomm. Verizon hopes the low-cost plans with power-efficient devices will convince more companies to deploy IoT equipment. Verizon didn't say if or when Cat M1 might apply to consumer-grade equipment and services.
Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.
- AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
- T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
- Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
- Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
The FCC this week made it easier for carriers to add LTE to their 800 MHz spectrum holdings. Rules concerning the 800 MHz band (CDMA Band Class 0, LTE Band 5) have been in place since 1981 and limit how much power carriers can use to transmit wireless signals across those airwaves. The effect has stymied wide-scale LTE deployments in the 800 MHz band. By relaxing the outdated regulations, the FCC is essentially making it possible for companies that have 800 MHz spectrum to repurpose it for LTE. Specifically, the Commission plans to allow 800 MHz licensees to transmit the same amount of power across the spectrum band, putting it in line with how other, similar spectrum bands are treated. The FCC will demand that carriers take care to prevent interference with public safety's use of 800 MHz spectrum, but the Commission will also eliminate what it calls unnecessary rules and burdens related to application filings and other red tape. Verizon Wireless, which will benefit most from the change, lauded the decision. "The FCC's unanimous adoption today of Cellular Service Reform rules is a big win for wireless consumers," said the company. "Today's order enables Verizon to accelerate the conversion of 850 MHz spectrum from 3G and put it to use for 4G LTE. The upside for consumers is big: Verizon Wireless will be able to provide 4G LTE coverage on cellular spectrum to 20%-30% more of the US geography and also increase peak 4G LTE speeds by as much as 40%." The change also benefits AT&T, though to a lesser degree.