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printed May 22, 2015
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Sprint Partners Making Headway in Rural LTE Push

Yesterday, 6:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint says 16 of the 30 companies who've agreed to participate in its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program have launched their LTE networks. The Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program is similar to Verizon Wireless' LTE in Rural America initiative. Both programs lease spectrum to small, regional providers who build out coverage in their home market areas. Under the terms of the agreement, the larger carriers' customers can roam onto the regional LTE network and vice versa. The idea is to bring coverage to areas where the larger operators might not necessarily like to commit resources to build out their own network. Sprint would not say which of its partners have launched their LTE networks. Some of the partners include SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Phoenix Wireless, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, and United Wireless. "Our partners use a variety of LTE bands, including bands 4, 5, 12 and 25," said Sprint's Adrienne Norton. "We're continuing to work with our device OEMs to enable additional LTE bands to expand coverage for our domestic and international roamers." Sprint's LTE footprint covers about 280 million POPs. T-Mobile, which recently disclosed that it too has leased spectrum to regional operators, also covers about 280 million POPs. AT&T and Verizon Wireless both claim to cover about 308 million POPs.


Some AT&T Partners to Cease Selling Contracts

Tuesday, 4:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 4:27 PM

AT&T today said some of its retailer partners are going to offer only AT&T Next plans beginning June 1. These retailers, like Walmart, may have national footprints, but the change is only being made in some locations that AT&T would not name. AT&T itself will continue to offer contracts at company-owned stores, as well as via its web site, telesales, and most other third-party retailers. "We regularly consider any number of offers that might appeal to our customers," said an AT&T spokesperson to Phone Scoop, "but [we] can share that two year contracts remain a part of our portfolio of offerings." AT&T said it believes customers prefer to have choice. While many of its customers are moving to AT&T Next plans -- which break up device payments over time -- some of its customers still want subsidized handsets and don't mind signing contracts to get them. The change being made by some of AT&T's retail partners does not represent a change in strategy for AT&T. AT&T Next plans are the carrier's response to T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which forgo contracts and also break up device payments over time. Sprint and Verizon have their own device payment plans, too. The device payment plans have become popular with consumers because they don't require contracts and often allow people to upgrade to new phones at a faster rate.


Verizon Expands XLTE to 6 More Markets

Tuesday, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today marked the one-year anniversary of its XLTE service by expanding coverage to six additional markets. XLTE is now available in Marshalltown, Iowa; Madisonville and Owensboro, Ky.; Traverse City, Mich.; Meridian, Miss.; and Martinsville, Va. Verizon's XLTE coverage is available in more than 400 markets. It combines Verizon's 700MHz and AWS spectrum to boost capacity of its LTE 4G network. Verizon says it has more than 40 XLTE-capable devices, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.


T-Mobile Leasing Spectrum In Effort to Expand LTE Coverage

May 15, 2015, 11:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently confirmed that it has leased some spectrum licenses to other carriers in order to help expand its LTE 4G coverage. "We're always exploring opportunities to enhance America's fastest 4G LTE network," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "Over the years, we've bought, sold and leased spectrum to roaming partners and we'll continue to discuss additional opportunities that will benefit our customers. This includes spectrum swaps, leasing spectrum and roaming agreements." T-Mobile did not provide any information with respect to which carriers it has leased the spectrum, nor in which markets. The strategy is similar to one pursued by Verizon Wireless. Verizon launched its LTE for Rural America program five years ago, wherein it leases spectrum to small regional carriers who build out LTE coverage.


Verizon Adds LG Lancet to Windows Phone Lineup

May 14, 2015, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lancet, the first Windows Phone handset to support Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 service. Lancet owners will be able to make high-definition voice calls via Verizon's LTE network. The phone runs Windows 8.1, but carries over some features from LG's Android handsets, such as KnockOn for waking the phone and Quick Memo for capturing screen shots. The Lancet features a 4.5-inch screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The Lancet is a budget-friendly phone. The full retail price is $120, though Verizon is offering the phone for $5 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. The LG Lancet is available online starting today, and it will reach Verizon stores May 21.


Sprint and Verizon Fined Total of $158M to Settle Cramming Charges

May 12, 2015, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today said Sprint and Verizon Wireless have agreed to pay $158 million to settle charges that they fraudulently charged customers for third-party services -- a tactic referred to as cramming. Specifically, Sprint will pay a total of $68 million, $50 million of which will go back to customers, $14 million of which will go to state governments, and $2 million of which will go to the federal government. Verizon will pay $90 million, with $70 million to go to consumers, $16 million to states, and $4 million to the fed. In addition to the fines, Sprint and Verizon agreed to a slew of other enforcement actions. They will no longer be allowed to offer premium SMS services. For all other services, they must: obtain clear consent before initiating charged, clearly mark charges on bills, and make it easy for customers to block such third-party services. The FCC has been on a tear this year, coming down hard on companies that take advantage of consumers.


Verizon to Buy AOL for $4.4 billion

May 12, 2015, 6:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 12, 2015, 6:28 AM

Verizon Communications today revealed plans to buy AOL for $4.4 billion. In a memo to employees, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said the deal will strengthen both companies' push into mobile and video content. "The future in front of AOL and the industry requires scale, mobile, and video – and partnerships. In our lifetime, we will see the connection of the world on very large and very fast networks – and to play in that world with our strategy requires us to take the natural steps to secure our ability to shoot for the stars. This deal is aimed at the stars and we are going to pursue the joint vision of building the most significant media platform in the world." Verizon said the acquisition will drive its goal of delivering more video content over LTE. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless. In addition to running its dial-up internet business, AOL also owns a number of media outlets, including HuffingtonPost, Engadget, and TechCrunch.


Verizon to Preload Lyft On Some Android Phones

May 7, 2015, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced plans to install Lyft's mobile application on an unknown selection of its future Android handsets. Lyft serves as an alternate to traditional taxi services and is meant to help people find rides quickly and cheaply. The move will benefit Lyft drivers most, who will qualify for a discount on their Verizon Wireless service if they sign up via Lyft's driver reward program. Verizon didn't say which handsets will be preloaded with Lyft, nor did it say if its own customers will be able to delete the app. Network operators often preload third-party applications and services on handsets, which is sometimes referred to as bloatware.


Verizon-Branded Windows Phone Pops Up on FCC Site

May 5, 2015, 6:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents on the FCC website recently revealed an unannounced handset from Microsoft intended for Verizon Wireless. The FCC notes the device supports Verizon's LTE and CDMA networks, but reveals little else. The device appears to be a standard slab handset with a camera and flash visible on the back surface and large screen on the front. The phone has a design similar to previous Lumia devices. Neither Microsoft nor Verizon has announced any such device.


T-Mobile Courting Verizon Customers with Two-Week Trial

May 5, 2015, 7:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the Never Settle Trial, which is aimed specifically at Verizon Wireless customers. The program will let Verizon customers test T-Mobile's service for a period of two weeks with no fear of commitment. The trial requires Verizon customers to port their number to T-Mobile, but they will hold onto their old Verizon phone. If at the end of the two-week period they wish to stay with T-Mobile, T-Mobile will pay off the customer's ETFs and remaining phone payments. At this point the customer will have to turn in their Verizon phone, buy a new phone from T-Mobile, and pair it with a Simple Choice plan. Verizon customers can sign up for the Never Settle Trial between May 13 and May 31. "With T-Mobile, you don’t have to settle for trickery, gimmicks and carrier [baloney] the way you do with Verizon," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "I'm so confident in our [superior] network experience that we're footing the bill so Verizon customers can give T-Mobile a try."


Verizon Prepaid Offering 1GB Data Bonus for Auto-Pay

May 1, 2015, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is offering its prepaid customers 1 GB of bonus data if they sign up for auto-pay. In order to qualify for the extra data, customers need to have the $45 or $60 prepaid plan. With auto-pay enabled, subscribers to the $45 plan will see their data allotment improve from 1 GB to 2 GB per month, while subscribers to the $60 plan will see their data allotment jump from 2.5 GB to 3.5 GB. Existing customers will see their bonus data appear after their next automatic payment. Verizon said this offer will only be available for a limited time. A handful of other pre-paid providers, including the likes of Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless, also offer discounts for using auto-pay.


FCC Weighing Whether to Award Dish's AWS-3 Discounts

Apr 29, 2015, 3:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today approved nine applications submitted for the AWS-3 spectrum auction, two of which belong to Dish designated entities Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless. The FCC said the applications are in their final form and are complete, but the FCC has not made a final decision about the bidding tactics used by Dish and whether or not the company deserves the 25% discount meant for small businesses. Rather than participate directly, Dish used a trio of small companies to make bids. The small companies should qualify for the discounts, but some think Dish's controlling stake in the companies negates their small stature. AT&T and Verizon have already complained vociferously about Dish's bidding tactics and the small business discount. Dish's total provisional winning bids total $13.3 billion. The discount would deduct $3 billion from that total. The FCC has decided to make the applications available to the public and open for comment. "The applications that seek small business bidding credits are the most complex, given that they detail the nature of the applicant’s ownership and control structure, and require the review of the related corporate agreements that in some cases consist of a highly complex set of rights and obligations, including agreements pertaining to equity ownership, funding, joint bidding, and management services," said Robert Sherman, chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. "These are complex and important matters, and we have a long way to go in our review before we reach final conclusions on all of the applications." The public has until May 11 to file petitions to deny Dish the small business discounts.


FCC Fines AT&T Over Lifeline Violations

Apr 29, 2015, 3:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today levied fines against AT&T and SNET, a former subsidiary of AT&T's, for violating federal Lifeline regulations. The companies over billed the government program, which helps ensure low income consumers have access to a phone line. AT&T and SNET failed to remove ineligible customers from their records but billed the government for the accounts anyway. In particular, AT&T will pay $6.9 million and SNET will pay $4 million. Both companies will have to adopt vigorous compliance programs to ensure similar mistakes don't happen again. "American consumers trust that the companies who receive federal funds will use that money appropriately," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "We expect companies to be vigilant in protecting public funds and complying with FCC rules." The FCC has doled out tens of millions of dollars in fines so far this year through various enforcement actions. It fined AT&T earlier this month over privacy violations and it fined Verizon last month over a 911 outage.


AT&T, Verizon Pledge Support for LG G4, Too

Apr 28, 2015, 5:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint and T-Mobile today in announcing plans to sell the LG G4 later this year. Neither of the nation's two largest carriers said exactly when the phone will go on sale nor how much they'll charge for the new phone. Verizon did say its variant of the G4 will support VoLTE and HD Voice.


Verizon's Galaxy S4 Earns Lollipop

Apr 28, 2015, 1:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said owners of the Samsung Galaxy S4 can expect to see their devices updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop in the next few days. The over-the-air update is free to install.


Wireless Companies Form Alliance to Pressure FCC

Apr 27, 2015, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A handful of wireless companies and public policy groups have formed an alliance meant to pressure the FCC as it drafts rules for the upcoming 600MHz reverse spectrum auction. The alliance is called SaveWirelessChoice.com. Some of the companies include Sprint, T-Mobile, and Dish Networks, and some of the groups include the Competitive Carrier Association, Public Knowledge, Rural Wireless Association, among numerous others. The alliance hopes the FCC will hold the auction in early 2016, rather than mid-2016; and it wants a larger block of spectrum (at least 50%) reserved for smaller carriers. The alliance web site urges consumers to "stop AT&T and Verizon Wireless from controlling your wireless future," which it claims will lead to bad service, higher prices, and less innovation. In the most recent spectrum auction most of the winnings went to AT&T, Dish Networks, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for a long time that the two largest carriers have too much market power, necessitating the need for the FCC to provide more opportunities for smaller carriers. "Creating an adequate reserve of quality spectrum for companies who don't already own more than one-third of the low-band spectrum in any given market will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for a competitive market that will benefit consumers for decades to come," said the group.


Verizon Once Again Offering 10GB and 15GB Plans

Apr 24, 2015, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 24, 2015, 9:08 AM

Verizon Wireless has resumed offering two large data plans for shared lines at a promotional rate. The first costs $80 per month for 10 GB of data and the second costs $100 for 15 GB of data. Verizon first offered these plans in November 2014, but pulled them in February. "We have different offers throughout the year, and right now the $80/$100 plans are available," said a Verizon spokesperson. The plans will be available for a limited time, but Verizon didn't say for how long. The prices don't include device access fees for smartphones, tablets, and hotspots. By way of comparison, AT&T's 10 GB plan costs $100 and its 15 GB plan costs $130.


Defense Mobile Sheds Beta Label, Mission Is Go

Apr 22, 2015, 3:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.


AT&T, Verizon Thwart Microsoft's App Deal with Samsung

Apr 16, 2015, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.


Verizon Going After College Sports Fans

Apr 16, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications, the parent company of Verizon Wireless, is prepared to launch a mobile video service later this year that will focus on college sports. The company is specifically targeting millennials with the offering, who it says prefer to consume video content on mobile devices rather than televisions or PCs. Verizon struck content deals with a number of college sports providers and will push the service through a "mobile-first solution" for Verizon Wireless data subscribers. The content providers include ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN, and 120 Sports. While CBS and ESPN will air select live college football and basketball games, the others will offer mostly highlights, commentary, recaps, and some live events. Verizon didn't say when exactly the service will launch, nor what its potential cost might be.


Verizon's Note 3 Earns Lollipop Update Today

Apr 15, 2015, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless said its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will begin to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop today. The over-the-air update will roll out to all users gradually. According to Verizon, seven of its handsets now run Lollipop, including the Motorola Moto X (2nd gen); Galaxy Note 4, S5, and Note 3; LG G2 and G3; and the HTC One M8.


Lollipop Reaching Verizon's LG G3 Just Ahead of G4's Debut

Apr 13, 2015, 12:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun updating its variant of the LG G3 to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Asside from the standard list of new features, the G3 gains a new version of LG Health. The update is rolling out over the air in phases and is free to download.


FCC Awards Spectrum Licenses to AWS-3 Bidders

Apr 8, 2015, 3:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 9, 2015, 11:23 AM

The FCC today officially granted some winning bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum auction the licenses allowing them to take ownership of the airwaves. The AWS-3 spectrum auction concluded earlier this year, with AT&T, Dish Networks, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless the top four bidders. Bids totaled more than $41 billion for slices of airwaves in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. AT&T, Verizon, and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai complained about the tactics used by Dish to win its bids (Dish bid through smaller companies in order to obtain a significant discount). As a result, the FCC has for the time being withheld Dish's licenses, while granting the licenses to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. The three carriers plan to use the spectrum to bolster their LTE 4G networks. Dish owns a great deal of spectrum, but has yet to deploy any sort of wireless service.


FCC Doles Out More Fines Over 911 Outage

Apr 6, 2015, 12:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today announced more fines being levied against telecommunications providers who failed to meet their emergency call obligations during the 911 outage of April 2014. CenturyLink settled for a record fine of $16 million and Intrado Communications settled for $1.4 million. In addition to the fines, the companies need to put in place a compliance plan to help prevent future outages, as well as identify risks, protect against such risks, and respond to problems in a more timely fashion. Last month, Verizon reached a similar settlement with the FCC for $3.4 million.


Verizon Now Letting Customers Opt Out of Supercookie

Apr 1, 2015, 11:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has begun allowing subscribers to wipe the supercookie browser-tracking program from their handsets. Verizon has been using the unremovable supercookie for nearly a year, but faced a growing tide of consumer backlash over privacy fears. The company agreed earlier this year to allow customers to opt out and has finally put the mechanism in place. Following the steps on Verizon's support site will remove the supercookie and prevent Verizon from tracking certain handset behaviors/functions. "As the mobile advertising ecosystem evolves, and our advertising business grows, delivering solutions with best-in-class privacy protections remains our focus," said spokesperson Debi Lewis in a statement provided to the New York Times. "We never share information with third parties that identifies our customers as part of our advertising programs."


Verizon CEO Slams FCC, Wants Congress In Charge

Mar 30, 2015, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam pleaded with Congress to "re-take responsibility for policymaking in the Internet ecosystem" in a letter sent Friday to the House and Senate Commerce committees. Lowell pointed to the FCC's recently proposed net neutrality rules and Dish Network's "abuse" of the AWS-3 bidding process as indicators that things have gone off the rails. "For the past few weeks, telecom and technology issues have been prominent in the news," wrote Lowell, "but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons." Lowell believes the 1996 Telecommunications Act is now horribly outdated and needs to be re-thought by Congress. "The existing legal regime and its accompanying regulatory processes are outdated and broken. It is time for Congress to re-take responsibility for policymaking in the Internet ecosystem." Lowell asked Congress first to come up with a short-term solution to curb the FCC's net neutrality rules with bipartisan legislation, and then to follow it up with a fully revised set of policies for governing the internet. "Congress [needs] to assert its longstanding role of setting, in a bipartisan fashion, public policies for the communications sector that both protect consumers and provide incentives for investment and innovation in new products and services." The FCC wants to reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, which would brand them common carriers and allow the FCC to regulate them more stringently.


Verizon Not Yet Saying when Galaxy S6 Goes On Sale

Mar 26, 2015, 3:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon was the last of the major carriers today to announce pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The company will begin taking pre-orders for the phones on April 1, but Verizon did not provide a shipping or in-store date. The 32GB Galaxy S6 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, $24.99 per month with an Edge plan, or $599 at full retail. The 64GB model will cost $299.99 with a contract, $29.16 per month, or $699. The 128GB model will cost $399.99 with a contract, $33.33 per month, or $799. Verizon is offering the S6 Edge with similar pricing breakdowns. The 32GB model starts at $299.99 with a contract, $29.14 per month, and $699; the 64GB model runs $399.99, $33.33, and $799; and the 128GB model runs $499.99, $37.49, and $899. (All on-contract prices reflect a $50 mail-in rebate.) Both the GS6 and GS6 Edge will include VoLTE and HD Voice, as well as simultaneous voice and data access.


Verizon Kicking Off HTC One M9 Preorders April 1

Mar 26, 2015, 2:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Mar 26, 2015, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


FCC Weighing Changes to Auction Discount Rules

Mar 23, 2015, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC plans to alter how companies qualify for discounts in spectrum auctions. The rules came under fire recently after Dish Networks won $13 billion in spectrum by bidding through smaller entities. The smaller entities are eligible for discounts, wiping about $3 billion from the total price Dish will have to shell out. Dish's competitors, including AT&T and Verizon, decried the strategy as unfair because Dish is a large company and the discounts are meant for small companies. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has floated a public notice with the other commissioners, according to sources cited by Reuters, that will close this loophole. Wheeler asked his colleagues to comment on how best to reform the discount program moving forward. The idea behind the discount program is to encourage smaller, regional companies to participate in spectrum auctions.


Carriers to Rely on CTIA, Other Trade Groups to Sue FCC

Mar 19, 2015, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and other mobile network operators won't sue the FCC over its proposed net neutrality plans on their own, but will through a number of trade groups. Sources cited by Reuters suggest the move will allow the carriers to streamline their litigation and prevent them from becoming the targets of backlash. "We believe there will be a lot of litigation, which will probably be led by industry associations," said Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo. The CTIA is expected to lead the charge against the FCC and may be joined by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the USTelecom association. The American Cable Association and the National Association of Manufacturers are still deciding whether or not to pursue legal challenges to the FCC's plan. The trade groups involved will likely target the FCC's authority to make the changes it did, and that it didn't properly notify stakeholders of the potential for reclassifying broadband under Title II. The FCC believes its proposal will withstand the impending legal assaults.


Verizon Settles with FCC Over 911 Outage

Mar 18, 2015, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today said Verizon has settled with the agency over an outage that affected 911 operations last year. In April 2014, 750,000 Verizon Wireless customers in nine California counties were unable to reach 911 for a period lasting 6 hours. The outage affected a total of 11 million people across seven states. Verizon agreed to pay the agency a fine of $3.4 million. Verizon also agreed to put in place a compliance plan to help prevent future outages. The company will have to provide strict oversight of its contractors as it upgrades to next-generation 911 services, as well as identify risks, protect against such risks, and respond to problems in a more timely fashion. The FCC is still negotiating with other telecom providers over their respective roles in the 911 outage.


Total Wireless MVNO Launching Through Walmart

Mar 17, 2015, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Total Wireless, an MVNO, recently launched exclusively in Walmart stores. The prepaid service provider offers a handful of low-cost, no-contract plans in addition to a limited lineup of smartphones. The entry-level plan, for example, costs $25 per month and offers unlimited calling and messaging, but no data. Adding $10 buys access to 2.5GB of data. The company also offers shared data plans for two, three, or four lines for $60, $85, and $110, respectively. These plans include 5GB, 9GB, and 12GB of shared data, respectively. The company also offers a data rollover add-on for an extra $10 per month. Total Wireless' handsets include entry-level devices from Alcatel OneTouch, Motorola, Samsung, and ZTE. Total Wireless has not named its carrier partner, but based on the coverage map it is likely Verizon Wireless.


Verizon Prepaid Selling Moto E for $99

Mar 12, 2015, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless's prepaid business added the Motorola Moto E to its lineup of devices today. The second-generation handset from Motorola sports a 4.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 410 processor, 5-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE. Verizon is charging $99.99 for the phone, which is available without a contract.


Motorola Nexus 6 Finally Lands On Verizon's Network

Mar 11, 2015, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said the Motorola Nexus 6 will be available for preorder March 12 and should reach stores March 19. It will cost $250 with a contract or $27 per month with a Verizon Edge plan. Google, Motorola, and others have been selling the Nexus 6 since last year.


Google Adds a Few Features to Android 5.1

Mar 9, 2015, 4:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new version of Android that promises to clean up some bugs. Android 5.1 Lollipop improves stability and makes other minor improvements. In addition to the cleaned-up code, Android 5.1 also adds several features. For example, Device Protection prevents a lost or stolen device from accessing mobile networks without the original owner's Google password - even if the device has been reset to factory settings. The update also adds native support for multiple SIM cards, and improves HD voice performance on the Nexus 6 through T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Last, Android 5.1 makes it easier to manage Bluetooth and WiFi settings (especially device connections) from the Quick Settings menus. Google expects to roll out Android 5.1 to select devices over the next few days.


Verizon Starting Galaxy S6, S6 Edge Preorders April 1

Mar 6, 2015, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today indicated via one of its official Twitter accounts that preorders for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will start April 1. Verizon did not provide pricing nor availabiliy details.


Verizon Debuts Flexible Data Plans

Mar 6, 2015, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced Flexible Business Plans, which let companies fine-tune the data allowed each line on the plan. All the Flexible Business Plans include unlimited domestic calls and messaging, as well as unlimited international messaging, mobile hotspot, and corporate email. Businesses can then select the specific data allotment given to each line on the plan, even when in a shared data plan. For example, a five-line plan with 10GB of shared data can be divvied up however the business wants: one line can be given 6GB and the other four can be given only 1GB, and so on. Verizon said businesses can configure the plans to suit their needs. The Flexible Business Plans are also compatible with internet devices, such as tablets and WiFi hotspots. Verizon said the plans will be available later this month.


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