Verizon Wireless plans to use its Network Optimization policy later this year in order to manage its heaviest users. The change in policy applies only to subscribers with an unlimited LTE monthly data plan, who were previously grandfathered in and essentially unrestricted in their use of mobile data. According to Verizon this change only applies to the top 5% of users, who typically consume more than 4.7GB of data per month. Rather than use straight throttling, Verizon will prioritize the traffic of subscribers who pay for tiered data plans (2GB per month, 4GB per month, etc.) The prioritization scheme will be put to work in high-traffic areas when cell sites become congested. The change goes into effect October 1. Verizon has applied similar network management techniques to its 3G customers since 2011.
Verizon Wireless is trialling a new policy on the LG G3 that allows owners to remove bloatware. Like many smartphones, the G3 ships with preloaded applications selected by Verizon. Device owners have no say in which apps are preloaded and may find them useless or uninteresting. Typically, preloaded apps cannot be removed from smartphones. That changes with the LG G3. According to Verizon, preloaded "applications can be completely and entirely uninstalled by the customer via the standard uninstall process." Customers need to use the built-in Android app manager to delete any unwanted apps. Deleting apps frees phones of clutter and clears valuable storage space. Verizon didn't say if it will expand the trial to other devices.
Verizon Wireless today announced it will sell the HTC One Remix beginning July 24 for $99 with a new contract. The One Remix is a rebranded version of the HTC One mini 2, which was announced earlier this year. The Remix relies on the same design language as the full-sized HTC One (M8), but is considerably smaller. The Remix features a 4.5-inch 720p display, 13-megapixel camera, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, and HTC Sense 6.0 with Blinkfeed. In addition to the contract price, Verizon will also offer the HTC Remix via its Edge monthly payment program.
Verizon Wireless today announced the pending launch of Verizon Smart Rewards, a program that will give customers points for performing different account-related activities. The program kicks off July 24 for Verizon's postpaid customers. Those who sign up will receive 10,000 points automatically, and will then earn more points for activities such as signing into the My Verizon tool, selecting paperless billing, paying their bill, and other interactions. According to Verizon, the reward points can then be redeemed as discounts up to 40% with more than 200 brands across a variety of product categories, including groceries, travel, hotels, dining, and goods. Verizon Smart rewards will cover Verizon goods and services, too, such as gift cards and opportunities to win NFL football tickets. Last, the program will include daily deals, auctions, and sweepstakes. It is free to enroll in Verizon Smart Rewards, though Verizon notes customers may also have to also enroll in its Verizon Selects marketing insights program.
Verizon Wireless this week announced that, starting tomorrow, it will allow Allset prepaid customers to use 4G LTE phones and the faster LTE network, as well as mobile hotspot features to share the LTE connection with other devices. Previously, Verizon prepaid customers could only use the CDMA network, which is much slower for data. Customers will be able to bring their own existing Verizon LTE phone (previously used with a post-paid plan) or purchase a new LTE phone such as the LG Lucid 3, LG G2, Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, or HTC One. Prepaid customers will be able to access both bands of the company's LTE network for full capacity and speed, a capability Verizon brands "XLTE". Allset plans start at $45/month for unlimited voice and texting, plus 500 MB of data. An additional 500 MB can be added for $5 and/or by signing up for automatic payments. Additional 90-day data buckets can be purchased at $10 for 1 GB or $20 for 3 GB. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile already allow 4G devices with prepaid service.
Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm recently announced plans to test spectrum-sharing technology in the 3.5 GHz band. The band is used for military radar systems, but the FCC believes the band can be shared with commercial uses in some situations. This new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band is being considered for various licensed and unlicensed shared uses by the FCC. Verizon wants to use the band to add download capacity to its LTE network in high-demand areas like stadiums, college campuses, or airports. The band is currently 3550-3650 MHz, although the FCC is also considering stretching it to 3700 MHz.
Verizon Wireless is now allowing customers to preorder the LG G3 via its web site. Verizon is asking for $99 with a two-year contract, $30 per month with Verizon Edge, or $600 at full retail. The device ships July 17 and is XLTE compatible.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, has decided to rebrand its service. Isis is making the change after the rise of ISIS, a militant group based in the Middle East, has gained worldwide notoriety. "However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering," said Isis. "As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand." Isis said it is still weighing what the new brand name will be. Whatever the name is, the change won't affect the company's product or services. Isis said it will share new details as soon as they are available. Isis launched in November last year. It is available on many Android smartphones and enables tap-and-go mobile payments at select retailers nationwide.
Sprint today revealed it will commence sales of the LG G3 on July 18 in stores, online and via telephone. Sprint is offering several different ways to pay for the device. With Sprint Easy Pay, for example, customers can buy the G3 with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $25. Preorders for the device begin July 11. The company is offering award cards for early adopters of the phone. New and existing customers who buy the G3 between July 11 and July 24 will qualify for a $150 gift card, and those who buy the G3 between July 25 and August 14 will qualify for a $100 gift card. T-Mobile plans to sell the G3 beginning July 16. AT&T and Verizon have yet to announced G3 availability.
Verizon Wireless said its billing system was restored fully early today. The company explained that a software update performed two days ago led to the problem, which prevented customers from accessing their accounts. Verizon's cellular network was not impacted.
Verizon Wireless today confirmed that its billing system is experiencing problems, and in some case preventing customers from accessing or adjusting their accounts. The outages appear to be limited to several states in the northeast, midwest, and south. The problem is not impacting Verizon's cellular network. The company did not say what caused the problem, how many customers are affected, nor how long it might take to resolve.
The CTIA Wireless Association recently recommended to congress that it limit the powers of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the wireless industry. The comments come in response to a white paper published by the House Committee On Energy and Commerce earlier this year. The CTIA, which represents the wireless industry, including companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, believes congress should recognize that the wireless industry is inherently competitive as-is and only needs a "light touch" by regulators. Further, the CTIA believes the FCC's authority to regulate should be limited to areas where competition isn't perhaps as robust as it should be. The CTIA wants the FCC to regulate all wireless products and services nationally in a uniform matter. When it comes to regulation, CTIA says congress should rely on existing antitrust laws when assessing mergers and acquisitions rather than allow the FCC to create new criteria. Last, the CTIA wants the FCC to make more spectrum available, and to have its powers reassessed every few years. "The explosive growth of the wireless industry and its prominent role in the United States economy have all occurred because the FCC has taken a light regulatory touch in general and with respect to competition policy in particular. Fostering the continued expansion of the wireless industry requires the preservation of policies that recognize the competiveness of the wireless marketplace, the evolution of intermodal competition, and the need for periodic evaluation of the FCC and its regulations." The FCC is assessing the viability of several large deals, such as AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV, as well as managing several forthcoming spectrum auctions. The FCC squashed AT&T's attempt to acquire T-Mobile in 2012, and has so far indicated it doesn't view a potential Sprint/T-Mobile merger as a good idea. The FCC has also come under fire for its net neutrality proposals, which might mitigate how wired and wireless companies manage network traffic.
AT&T has bumped up the price of activating new equipment on two-year plans from $36 to $40. The change went into effect June 8. The fee doesn't apply to AT&T Next plans, though AT&T told Fierce Wireless that heavy adoption of its early upgrade program played a role in increasing the activation fee for those signing contracts. AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel claimed "there are administrative and other costs associated with activating or upgrading a device" on two-year plans. Sprint charges a $36 activation fee, Verizon charges a $35 activation fee (waived if customers sign up for Edge within two month), and T-Mobile doesn't charge an activation fee at all for customers who select a Simple Choice plan.
Verizon Wireless has earned the title of America's zippiest LTE network this year from PCMag. The PCMag/Ziff Davis Fastest Mobile Networks 2014 project ranked the speed and reliability of the nation's major wireless network providers in testing that spanned 30 cities and collected tens of thousands of data points across thousands of miles driven by cars. PCMag measured peak and average uploads/downloads, ping times, and web page load times. It used the LG G2, which is sold by all four national carriers. The G2 was placed in cars, and cycled through tests continually using an application developed by Sensorly. According to PCMag's data, Verizon won this year due to the rollout of its XLTE service, which boosted speeds, and its far-reaching coverage in both large cities and rural regions. Nationally, Verizon Wireless saw an average LTE download speed of 19.6Mbps, with peaks surpassing 84Mbps. AT&T saw coverage improve across the country, but LTE speeds actually slowed year-over-year in major markets due to congestion. T-Mobile's LTE network grew significantly in terms of coverage and was often the fastest in major cities. T-Mobile's poor rural coverage, however, hurt its national averages. Sprint's LTE network ranked the slowest of the four and Sprint also suffered from a lack of coverage when compared to Verizon and AT&T. PCMag ranks the major networks each year. The overall scores are weighted 70% on speed and 30% on reliability. In additional to national rankings, PCMag generated regional rankings and city-by-city rankings for the major networks.
Data collected by PCMag for its Fastest Mobile Networks shows the latest smartphones are best able to take advantage of the country's LTE networks. PCMag received crowd-sourced data from 323 different devices across 822 metro areas in the U.S. The key in attaining the best speeds is support for more LTE bands. Specifically, devices that support Sprint Spark and Verizon XLTE showed significantly better performance than devices that don't. For example, PCMag contends that Spark-compatible phones offer twice the LTE performance of non-Spark phones on Sprint's network. Sprint Spark makes use of three different LTE bands to improve capacity and coverage. Similarly, Verizon's XLTE uses two bands to provide capacity and coverage. Older phones, such as the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, may be available at bargain prices, but they don't match the network prowess of devices such as the iPhone 5s/5c and Galaxy S4/S5.
The 3G networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile handily beat those operated by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in PCMag's Fastest Mobile Networks in 2014. AT&T and T-Mobile use HSPA/HSPA for 3G and Sprint and Verizon use CDMA EVDO Rev. A for 3G. For its purposes, PCMag defined 4G/3G based on speed thresholds possible by each network type. It set minimums for average download speeds and then tested the 4G/3G networks accordingly. T-Mobile's 3G network offered the fastest national average download speeds of 8.6Mbps, with a 28.5Mbps peak. T-Mobile's 3G network, for the most part, exceeded the marketing claims made by the company. AT&T's 3G network delivered a national average download speed of 3.8Mbps, with a 15.5Mbps peak. Both Sprint and Verizon saw national average download speeds of just 0.7Mbps, with peaks at 2.5Mbps and 2.7Mbps, respectively. Phones that can't connect to LTE networks fall back to the available 3G networks. PCMag's data clearly shows that AT&T and T-Mobile offer a better 3G experience when their LTE isn't available. Sprint and Verizon's 3G networks are limited by the CDMA EVDO technology used to run them. Though Verizon's 3G network may be slow, its LTE network was ranked the fastest and most reliable by PCMag.
RadioShack today said it plans to close as many as 200 more stores as its turn-around efforts stall. In March, the company announced it would close 1,100 stores by the end of the year. The closures combined will leave RadioShack with about 3,800 stores operating in the U.S. The company blamed its woes on poor sales of smartphones. RadioShack is in the process of updating both its image and its sales strategy with a focus on electronic entertainment devices. It sells devices from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless today said it has completed its purchase of Golden State Cellular. The sale includes spectrum licenses and operating assets covering about 160,000 POPs across 6,000 square miles in Yosemite National Park, as well as Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. Verizon will continue to operate Golden State Wireless as-is for several months as it integrates the two networks. It will eventually add LTE 4G service to the region. Golden State Cellular's 18,000 customers don't need to take any action for the time being. Verizon will notify them when it is ready to transition their service. Verizon and competitor AT&T are in the process of acquiring a handful of small, regional operators in order to expand coverage in rural areas, as well as gain access to more spectrum.
Transit Wireless today said that it has upgraded the cell service found in six different subway stations scattered across New York City. The stations were among the first in the city to gain access to wireless services back in 2011. According to Transit Wireless, the company building the underground network, the stations have been updated to the latest 3G and 4G wireless technologies from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The stations include 34th St. / Herald Square (B, D, F, M, Q, N, R lines); 42nd St. / Bryant Park (7, B, D, F, M lines); Grand Central / 42nd St. (4, 5, 6, 7, S lines); 23rd St., 28th St., and 33rd St. (6 line); and 23rd St. (F, M lines). Transit Wireless has lit up service in dozens of other midtown subway stations and plans to provide service to 29 stations in Queens by the end of summer.
HTC recently indicated that Verizon Wireless will begin pushing the Sense 6.0 system update to the One (M7) this week. The update brings the M7 in line with the software running on the M8. The unlocked variant, the developer variant, and the T-Mobile variant of the M7 have already been updated to Sense 6.0. AT&T and Sprint are both still in the process of certifying Sense 6.0 for their versions of the M7. According to HTC's update status web site, it is also still working to bring Sense 6.0 to the Verizon HTC One max and the AT&T HTC One mini. The Sense 6.0 update for the Verizon One M7 will be pushed out in waves.
Verizon Wireless today said it will officially rollout VoLTE services "later this year." Verizon originally committed to launching VoLTE by the end of 2013, but then delayed the launch for reasons unknown. Though Verizon Wireless did not say exactly when VoLTE will finally get off the ground, it did share a few more details about what consumers can expect. For example, Verizon's VoLTE service will include HD Voice, just as AT&T's VoLTE service will. Verizon said it will have a solid lineup of VoLTE-capable devices when the service goes live, and that other handsets can be VoLTE-enabled through a software update. Verizon pointed out that both handsets must be VoLTE-capable for HD Voice calls to work. Further, Verizon's VoLTE will power instantaneous voice-only to voice-and-video calls in the middle of conversations. Last, Verizon will include other Rich Communications Services, such as larger file transfers, more reliable group messaging, and better location sharing. Verizon didn't say which devices will be VoLTE-ready at launch, nor if it will launch in just a few markets - as AT&T is on May 23 - or if it will roll out VoLTE on a grander scale from the beginning. VoLTE represents the next-generation of voice services via mobile networks.
Verizon Wireless today announced the launch of XLTE service, which is a new way for the company to market its dual-band LTE network. Verizon Wireless initially deployed LTE in the 700MHz band. Verizon's build-out of LTE in the 700MHz band is functionally complete. Verizon began rolling out LTE on its 1700MHz AWS spectrum late last year, and has been slowly adding markets over time. As of today, Verizon says it has initiated service on its AWS spectrum in half its existing LTE footprint. Moving forward, Verizon Wireless will market its dual-band LTE coverage as XLTE in much the same way that Sprint is marketing its tri-band LTE service as Sprint Spark. According to Verizon, XLTE markets offer consumers far more headroom thanks to dramatically improved capacity. With twice the spectrum to work with, XLTE markets can deliver faster peak data speeds when compared to Verizon's 700MHz-only LTE markets. Verizon said a number of its most popular devices are already compatible with its XLTE service, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3; the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c; and the Motorola Droid Maxx, Ultra, and Mini. Customers who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to take advantage of XLTE. They'll automatically connect to Verizon's dual-band LTE network where it is available. Non-XLTE devices will still be able to access Verizon's LTE network as normal. Verizon will continue to roll out XLTE to more markets over time. Verizon didn't say how long it will take to build-out its AWS LTE coverage. Verizon acquired the AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies in 2012.
The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Report and Order with respect to spectrum screens and how'll they'll be used in upcoming spectrum auctions and other spectrum transactions. Moving forward the FCC will stick to its one-third rule, meaning the FCC will analyze on a case-by-case basis transactions that might result in a wireless provider owning more than one-third of the available spectrum licenses in a given market. The FCC will scrutinize low-band transactions in more detail, and will consider a breach of the one-third rule an "enhanced factor" in determining if the transaction should be approved. With an eye on the upcoming auctions, the FCC said it will not set any limits for spectrum aggregation in the AWS-3 auction. It believes more than enough spectrum is available to all carriers in the AWS range and limits are not needed. With respect to the Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction for 600MHz airwaves, it is changing the rules to give small network operators a fighting chance to acquire spectrum licenses. Specifically, the FCC is reserving 30MHz of the spectrum licenses (per market) for those companies that hold less than one-third of the low-band spectrum licenses in that area. Non-national carriers that have less than one-third of the spectrum will be able to bid on all the spectrum that's made available in the 600MHz auction. National carriers that have one-third of the available spectrum or more will not be allowed to bid on the 30MHz reserve, but will be able to bid on the remaining licenses. The FCC believes this promotes competition, though it will limit what AT&T and Verizon can acquire in the 600MHz auction. Together, AT&T and Verizon already own 70% of the country's low-band spectrum. Sprint and T-Mobile combined own only 15%.
Sprint submitted a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission this week in response to the FCC's suggested spectrum screen reforms. The FCC established spectrum screens to help it weigh how much spectrum is owned by wireless network operators in a given market. There is a cap on the amount of spectrum any one carrier can own in a given market. The FCC uses the screen to assess mergers and acquisitions. At present, the screens do not include Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum, which it acquired from Clearwire last year. The FCC wants to change the screen so Sprint's 2.5GHz airwaves are included. If this happens, Sprint will exceed the allowable amount of spectrum in most markets around the country, which could effectively preclude it from acquiring more spectrum. Sprint argued that weighing all spectrum (low-, mid-, and high-band) equally puts it at a disadvantage compared to AT&T and Verizon, which would have lots of headroom to purchase more spectrum. It proposes that the FCC weigh the low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum ranges separately, which would put all four national carriers on more even footing. "By treating all spectrum as equal for spectrum screen purposes, the staff’s recommendation undermines the consistency and sustainability of a 600MHz auction reserve and the overall spectrum holdings package," argued Sprint. "A three-tiered weighted screen would correct the staff recommendation's failure to recognize the relative utility of and resultant impact on competition of using different spectrum bands in wireless broadband networks." The FCC is scheduled to vote on the spectrum screen alteration on May 15.
Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Optimus Exceed 2 to its roster of prepaid phones. The Exceed 2 is a rebranded variant of the L70, which LG introduced earlier this year and is already being sold by MetroPCS. The Exceed 2 runs Android 4.4 KitKat and comes with LG's user interface enhancements, including Knock Code, KnockON, QuickMemo and QSlide apps. The display, which measures 4.5 inches with 800 x 400 resolution, it slightly larger than the original Exceed's, but the device loses support for Verizon's LTE network. It can only access 3G data. The Exceed 2 is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage, a 2,100mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel with WVGA video capture. The Exceed 2 also includes Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and Wi-Fi. The LG Optimus Exceed 2 carries a full retail price of $250, but Verizon is selling it for $80 with its prepaid plans. It is available immediately.
Verizon Communications recently met with Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to convince the agency to abandon its proposed rules for an upcoming auction. The FCC has scheduled a reverse auction for the middle of 2015 that will see television stations voluntarily give up their spectrum, which will then in turn be auctioned off to wireless network operators. The FCC is concerned that AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the country's two largest operators, already have enough low-band spectrum. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed to reserve some of the upcoming airwaves for smaller operators, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, which don't have strong low-band spectrum holdings. Verizon argued "it would be perverse and unjust for the commission to adopt auction rules that subsidize some large multinational companies at the expense of their competitors. T-Mobile and Sprint are large corporations with established, well-financed corporate parents," said Verizon. "They and their parent corporations are more than capable of paying substantial amounts to acquire spectrum in the incentive auction if they choose to do so." AT&T has filed similar complaints with the FCC, which will vote on the proposed rules May 15. AT&T and Verizon own vast sums of 700MHz. The airwaves in question are located in the 600MHz band, and have strong propagation characteristics.
Verizon Wireless today launched LTE 4G service on its AWS spectrum holdings in Louisville, Ky. The company said it made an effort to get the additional spectrum online ahead of the Kentucky Derby, which will be run Saturday afternoon, and draws an average crowd of 155,000. In addition to launching AWS in Louisville and the surrounding areas, Verizon installed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) in Churchill Downs, where the horse race is run, to improve coverage at the event. Beyond Louisville, Verizon expects to light up its AWS spectrum in about 50 markets by the middle of the year. Verizon acquired the AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies in 2012. It is using AWS to complement its 700MHz spectrum for LTE. Verizon has already deployed AWS in New York City and a handful of other markets.
Sony recently posted an image on its official Google+ page that showed a version of the Xperia Z2 with Verizon Wireless branding. According to Sony, the image didn't represent a real device. "A mock-up image was mistakenly posted to the Sony Mobile Google+ page. The image has since been removed and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused," said Sony in an email to Phone Scoop. The image suggested that Verizon might eventually sell the Z2. Sony says't that's not the case. "For our U.S. customers eager to find out more information about the availability of Xperia Z2, we are excited to share that the device will be coming to the U.S. unlocked this summer."
Samsung has confirmed that a limited number of a Galaxy S5 smartphones sold are afflicted with a bug that permanently disables the camera. "We have learned that a limited number of Galaxy S5 devices may have an issue that causes 'Camera Failure' pop-up error message. We ask that customers affected visit their carrier for service under Samsung’s standard limited warranty," said the company in a statement. The GS5 has a 16-megapixel camera. Consumers with affected devices may contact Samsung directly or exchange the device at carrier retail stores. Verizon has reached out to customers via social media, but other carriers have not yet done so, and it isn't clear if their devices are also being affected. The GS5 is sold by most carriers in the U.S. for about $200 on contract or $26 per month with an installment plan.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved T-Mobile's proposed purchase of 700MHz A Block spectrum from Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is paying Verizon $2.4 billion for the airwaves, and is also giving Verizon some PCS and AWS spectrum in return. T-Mobile plans to use the 700MHz spectrum to enhance its LTE 4G network. The 700MHz airwaves are considered beachfront property in the wireless market thanks to their strong propagation properties. Verizon already owns country-wide 700MHz spectrum in the C Block. T-Mobile will eventually use 700MHz alongside its existing AWS spectrum to provide LTE 4G service. Verizon is pursuing much the same target, using AWS to supplement its own 700MHz LTE.
Verizon Wireless recently filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking permission to buy the assets of Golden State Cellular in California and Mobi PCS in Hawaii. Verizon confirmed with Fierce Wireless its plans to acquire Golden State Cellular's spectrum, network assets, and customers in several markets in California, including Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. Verizon will transition Golden State Cellular's 18,000 subscribers to its network within 15 months of the deal's closing. In Hawaii, Verizon will acquire 20-30MHz of PCS spectrum from Mobi PCS, and then lease back 10MHz of that spectrum so Mobi can transition away from being a stand-alone service provider. Verizon said Mobi is still exploring several different ways to exit its wireless business. Both proposal are subject to FCC and other government regulatory approval. Verizon and competitor AT&T have spent the last 12 to 18 months acquiring a significant number of small, regional network operators mostly for their spectrum assets.
Verizon Wireless today made a system update available to the HTC One (M8). The update adds several minor features to the Gallery app, including a copy/paste function, and resolves a number of bugs, such as web connection errors and data syncing when the Dot Matrix case is attached. The system update is free to download and install.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today reasserted his belief that AT&T and Verizon need to be restricted from purchasing too much 600MHz spectrum in the reverse auction planned for mid 2015. Wheeler's comments came in the form of a letter in which he responded to Representative John Barrow. "The Incentive Auction offers the opportunity, possibly the last for years to come, to make low-band spectrum available to any mobile wireless provider, in any market, that is willing and able to compete at auction," said Wheeler. "At the same time, a priority of the auction should be to assure that companies that already possess low-band spectrum do not exploit the auction to keep competitors from accessing the spectrum necessary to provide competition." AT&T and Verizon Wireless both hold significant blocks of 700MHz spectrum. Low-band spectrum is coveted for its propagation properties. Wheeler wants to make sure smaller companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, get a shot at the 600MHz airwaves. Wheeler's proposal involves reserving 30MHz in each market for companies that control less than one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market. This essentially precludes AT&T and Verizon from participating. AT&T believes the conditions are unfair and amount to the FCC picking the auction's winners and losers before it even starts. The company threatened to not participate, which could hurt the auction's ability to raise capital for a national safety network.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lucid 3, a low-cost Android smartphone. The Lucid 3 includes a 4.7-inch qHD display and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It features a 5-megapixel camera with full HD video capture and a VGA user-facing camera for self portraits. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and comes with a wide selection of LG apps, such as Knock Code, QSlide and QuickMemo. Other features include Isis Mobile Wallet, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE 4G, and a removable 2,440mAh battery. The LG Lucid 3 is free with a new two-year agreement, $12.50 per month with Verizon Edge, or $300 at full retail. It is available beginning today.
The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.
Verizon Wireless has added two refreshed LG handsets to its lineup of inexpensive phones. The LG Optimus Zone 2 and Extravert 2 are both sequels that improve specs and features. They are limited to Verizon's 3G network, as neither supports LTE 4G.
- Zone 2: This entry-level smartphone (pictured) runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes a 3.5-inch screen with 480 x 320 pixels, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel camera, 1,700mAh battery, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0. Some of LG's software and apps are aboard, including QuickMemo and Guest Mode. The full retail price is $200, but Verizon is offering the device for just $50.
- Extravert 2: This updated feature phone is a sideways slider that includes a touch screen on the front and a full QWERTY keyboard underneath. It has a 3.2-inch display with 400 x 240 pixels and LG's touch-based user interface for feature phones. Other features include a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth 3.0, media apps, Verizon content, and the Opera Mini web browser. The Extravert 2 costs $200 with no contract, $80 with a two-year agreement, or $8.33 per month with Verizon Edge.
Verizon Wireless today said it will allow more customers to switch to its More Everything plans. Beginning April 17, customers who have month-to-month service can switch to a More Everything plan in order to take advantage of the monthly service savings. According to Verizon, phones moved to More Everything plans with less than 8GB of data will save $10 per month, while those moved to More Everything plans with 10GB (and up) will save $25 per month. Further, Verizon will also allow customers to add a compatible phone they already own to More Everything plans for either $15 or $30 per month, depending on options. Verizon says four smartphones with 10GB of data will run $160 per month - the same as AT&T. The ability to switch to More Everything plans is a limited-time promotion, but Verizon didn't say when the promotion will end.
T-Mobile today announced that it will abolish the practice of charging overage fees beginning in May. The change will apply to all T-Mobile customers, no matter what plan they subscribe to. Overage fees are generally charged when a customer surpasses their monthly limit for voice minutes, messaging, or data use. Further, T-Mobile CEO John Legere challenged AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon to do the same thing. "Charging overage fees is a greedy, predatory practice that needs to go," said Legere. "Today I'm laying down a challenge to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to join T-Mobile in ending these outrageous overage penalties for all consumers – because it's the right thing to do." Legere kicked off a Change.org petition and is asking consumers to sign it in order to force change at T-Mobile's competitors.
Isis recently issued an update to its Android mobile wallet application and added several new features. Isis now works better with location data and can help the owner find offers and stores near them that accept Isis. The app also works more closely with the credit card issuer, which can notify users of special offers available only to them. The app has a new icon, as well. Isis Mobile Wallet is free to download from the Google Play Store, but requires a major credit card from select issuers to use for tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Samsung indicated via its web site that developers will soon be able to buy a developer edition of the Galaxy S5. The device will be compatible with Verizon's network. Samsung didn't say how much the developer edition will cost, nor what special tools might be included, nor exactly when it will go on sale. The standard edition Galaxy S5 launches at most carriers today.