Sprint today announced a new unlimited plan that it says undercuts the competition. The plan, which will be available beginning August 22, provides a single line of service with unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month. Sprint claims the offering beats T-Mobile's best price by $20 per month, and that similar options aren't available from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. There is a catch. In order to qualify for the plan, customers need to either bring their own device, pay full retail for a device, or sign up for Sprint's Easy Pay financing plan. The Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan for single lines follows a complete overhaul of Sprint's family share plans, which offer savings to four or more lines of service.
T-Mobile today said it will give current customers unlimited LTE data for a full year if they convince an AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon customer to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is likening the program to "throwing a lifeline" to those on competing networks. Not only does the current customer receive unlimited LTE for a year, but so does the new customer. Customers who already pay for unlimited data will receive a $10 monthly credit instead. The referral program kicks off August 29. Customers will then be able to enter their own number and the number of a friend who's ported their service, which must be reported within 30 days of the friend's activation. The referral program runs for a limited time, but T-Mobile didn't immediately indicate an end date. It doesn't apply to pre-paid plans, and is limited to one referral per account.
AT&T chimed in this evening to say it, too, will carry the HTC One for Windows. AT&T said pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. Verizon is selling the phone starting tomorrow.
HTC today announced the One for Windows Phone, a variant of the One (M8) that swaps Google's mobile platform for Microsoft's. The One for Windows Phone runs the latest operating system from Microsoft and carries over a few HTC apps, such as Blinkfeed, the HTC duo-camera, SenseTV, Video Highlights, and BoomSound. The One for Windows Phone adopts some of the M8's motion gestures, such as double-tap to wake, but also loses a few. Apart from the operating system, the hardware is identical to the One (M8) with Android. It has the same 5-inch 1080p HD screen, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, Ultra-pixel main camera and 5-megapixel selfie camera, and premium aluminum design. The HTC One for Windows Phone is exclusive to Verizon Wireless. It is available online from VerizonWireless.com beginning today and reaches Verizon stores August 20 for $99 with a new contract or $30 with Verizon Edge.
Sprint today announced new shared data plans that offer twice as much mobile data as comparable plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's Family Share Pack includes four lines with unlimited talk and text and 20GB of shared data for $160 per month. AT&T and Verizon have similarly-priced plans that include only 10GB of data. T-Mobile's shared plan costs $100 per month. Further, Sprint is offering a huge incentive to families that port their numbers from another carrier. Sprint will give families with up to 10 lines unlimited talk/text and 20GB of shared data for only $100 per month through 2015, plus an additional 2GB per line. Under this promotion, a family of four would have up to 28GB of data per month and a family of 10 would have up to 40GB of data per month. The promotional $100 plan pricing will be available from August 22 to September 30. Last, Sprint is offering to cover the ETFs - up to $350 per line - for families that break their contract to sign up with Sprint Family Share Pack. All new devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company will debut new plans for individuals later this week.
Verizon Wireless introduced a new, cheaper plan over the weekend that applies to single lines of service. The plan costs $60 per month and includes unlimited talk/text and 2GB of data. The monthly price drops further to $50 for customers who finance their handset via Verizon Edge. Data overage charges cost $15 per 1GB. The same service offering previously cost $90 per month under the company's More Everything plans, which required a $40 connection charge per line plus $50 for the minutes, messages, and data. The $60 pricing was previously available only to select customers as a loyalty incentive. Sprint may unveil new, cheaper plans as soon as August 19 during a scheduled press conference. Carriers are increasingly looking to service pricing as a way to compete, which benefits customers.
T-Mobile has confirmed reports that it may throttle down the data speeds of customers who it says violate the company's terms of service. "A very small number of our customers are misusing their Simple Choice Unlimited data service in violation of their rate plan and terms and conditions by bypassing the default tethering feature or engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "This type of usage can negatively impact our ability to offer affordable unlimited data. In order to protect all T-Mobile customers, we will be reaching out to these people to educate them on our terms and conditions of service, but if the misuse continues, they could have their data speeds reduced for the remainder of their billing cycle." Enforcement of the terms of service is set to go into effect August 17 and applies only to customers with T-Mobile's $80 Unlimited Simple Choice plan. T-Mobile's action follows closely that of Verizon Wireless, which recently said it plans to throttle the data speeds of its unlimited LTE customers in certain scenarios. The FCC has queried all the carriers on their network management policies in response.
AT&T recently indicated it plans to deploy LTE Multicast beginning next year. LTE Multicast is a technology that allows network operators to push video content to a large number of subscribers at a time, rather than broadcast individual streams to select users on demand. It is a more efficient way to deliver video content to a large number of devices over LTE. "You should expect that you'll see us begin to roll out Multicast capabilities as we move through next year," said AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey. "Initially, we'll be doing it on a targeted basis and we'll be doing it in some specific areas where we think there's immediate deployment." AT&T had earlier said it was exploring the possibility of LTE Multicast, but hadn't committed to any sort of timeline. AT&T is likely to use the 700MHz D and E blocks it purchased from Qualcomm for LTE Multicast. Verizon Wireless, too, said it plans to deploy LTE Multicast in 2015 and it will begin adding LTE Multicast capabilities to handsets beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
Verizon Wireless has moved back the timeframe for deploying handsets without CDMA chipsets by two years. The company plans to debut VoLTE service by the end of 2014, but will continue to use its CDMA network for the bulk of voice calls for another two years. Verizon earlier had said VoLTE-only devices would appear this year. "For us, when we launch a new technology, we have to make sure our quality is strong because the CDMA network was so strong," said CFO Fran Shammo to investors. "We don't go before we know it's ready." Shammo's comments indicate Verizon isn't yet confident in the quality of its forthcoming VoLTE service, which was originally expected to kick off last year. T-Mobile has expanded the reach of its VoLTE service to 200 million people, and AT&T launched VoLTE in a limited fashion across the midwest earlier this year. Sprint hasn't said if or when it will deploy VoLTE. Verizon's Shammo said the company will finish deploying LTE on its AWS spectrum holdings by the end of the year. Verizon is using the AWS spectrum to supplement the LTE coverage and capacity provided by its 700MHz spectrum. Shammo also noted the company is looking at LTE Broadcast technology, but any sort of deployment is about a year away.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today indicated the agency has sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile with questions pertaining to their network management policies. The issue bubbled to the surface recently when Verizon announced plans to throttle its heaviest unlimited LTE subscribers. In a letter to Verizon, Wheeler called the policy management criteria "deeply troubling." Verizon responded and claimed its policies do not differ from those of its competitors. Wheeler is not convinced. "'All the kids do it' was never something that worked for me when I was growing up," said Wheeler. "My concern in this instance - and it's not just with Verizon, by the way, we've written to all the carriers - is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues ... such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them." AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have not yet responded publicly to the FCC's query.
The FCC today formally adopted rules that will require all providers of messaging services to enable their apps with text-to-911 capabilities. Earlier this year the FCC said industry players outside the four major wireless network operators need to get on board. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless began accepting text-to-911 in select markets around the country in May. The FCC recognized, however, that not all consumers subscribe to the four major carriers, nor do all consumers make use of traditional SMS messaging services. The new rules apply to nearly all messaging apps and services, including over-the-top apps such as WhatsApp, as well as the remaining wireless network operators. The FCC wants apps and operators to enable text-to-911 by the end of the year. Some messaging services will be exempt, such as those that function within games or social networks. The FCC feels this is an essential service and keeps in step with how consumers prefer to communicate. The CTIA Wireless Association, which represents the wireless network operators, voiced displeasure with the new rules. "While the wireless industry remains committed to collaborating with public safety to make text-to-911 available in the near-term, we are disappointed that the FCC acted today to codify a voluntary agreement to deploy an interim technological solution across all wireless carriers and interconnected 'over the top' text providers. The chilling effect of the Commission's proposed enforcement role is particularly worrisome in situations where, as here, the voluntary agreement involves new services that face challenging obstacles to implementation." Earlier this week, AT&T also took issue with the FCC's plan in a post published to its public policy blog. According to AT&T, the FCC's plan is ill-conceived and presents new challenges to network operators.
AT&T today announced it will soon sell the LG G Vista, an inexpensive Android smartphone that offers a big-screen experience. The G Vista, which is already available from Verizon Wireless, has a 5.7-inch display with qHD (960 x 540) resolution. The volume and lock screen buttons are placed on the back of the device, similar to the G3. The G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, and a 3,200mAh battery. The LG G Vista runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The G Vista will cost $14.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $17.75 per month with AT&T Next 12, $50 with a new two-year contract, or $355 at full retail. It will be available beginning August 22.
Verizon Wireless is offering a handful of its handsets the ability to include push-to-talk, walkie-talkie features. The service, called Push To Talk Plus, is available to smartphones including the Motorola Droid Maxx, Samsung Galaxy S5, and Casio G'zOne Commando beginning today. Other phones, such as the Kyocera Brigadier, will gain the feature down the road. According to Verizon, the service is powered by Kodiak Networks and offers fast call setup times, improved voice quality, and encrypted calls. Users will be able to join existing PTT calls, as well as rejoin calls they left. The service is being offered to business customers, who need to reach out to their sales representatives to initiate service. Push To Talk Plus costs $5 per month per line, though Verizon is offering six months for free to those who sign up soon.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today voiced his approval of Sprint's decision to halt its attempt to acquire T-Mobile. "Four national wireless providers is good for American consumers. Sprint now has an opportunity to focus their efforts on robust competition," said Wheeler in a statement. The FCC and Justice Department have long contended the U.S. market needs four national carriers. Had Sprint acquired or merged with T-Mobile, that number would have been reduced to three. Wheeler's statement sends a clear signal that the FCC likes things the way they are, with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all competing with one another.
Best Buy today announced the August 17 availability of an electric blue Samsung Galaxy S5, a color exclusive to the big box retailer. The blue GS5 will be available to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless customers for $99 with a new two-year contract, which represents a savings of $100 off the normal contract price. Customers who'd rather use one of the carriers' monthly installment plans will be able to pick up the blue GS5 for $0 down and still receive a $100 Best Buy gift card. The promotional price will be available until August 23.
Verizon Wireless further defended its intent to throttle select customers of its unlimited LTE plans today, going so far as to suggest that its parameters are already familiar to the FCC. Last month, Verizon announced plans to slow down the data speeds of its heaviest unlimited LTE 4G customers in congested areas to protect the experience of all customers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler later suggested the idea was "deeply troubling" to him and asked Verizon to explain itself. Verizon's senior VP of regulatory affairs, Kathleen Grillo, penned a response to the FCC and said, "The type of network optimization policy that we follow has been endorsed by the FCC as a narrowly targeted way to ensure a fair allocation of capacity during times of congestion. In short, this practice has been widely accepted with little or no controversy." Verizon further suggested that its fellow wireless network operators follow similar practices when it comes to network management. The FCC has not said if it will take any action against Verizon, not did the FCC say it was satisfied by Verizon's explanation.
An image has been found on public Verizon Wireless web servers that appears to show an HTC phone running Windows Phone. The phone appears almost identical to the One (M8), HTC's current flagship phone with a curved metal body. Unsurprisingly, the screen shows an LTE indicator and Cortana, the voice assistant feature in the just-released 8.1 version of Windows Phone. No further details have been confirmed.
Verizon Wireless today posted a brief response to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler regarding the company's plan to throttle the speeds of unlimited LTE customers. "What we announced last week was a highly targeted and very limited network optimization effort," said Verizon, "only targeting cell sites experiencing high demand. The purpose is to ensure there is capacity for everyone in those limited circumstances, and that high users don't limit capacity for others." The company found itself on the defensive after Wheeler expressed disappointment in Verizon's plans. Wheeler called Verizon's move "disturbing" and "deeply troubling." Verizon said today it will file a more formal response with Wheeler after it has a chance to fully review Wheeler's comments.
Verizon Wireless today began selling the LG G Vista, an inexpensive Android smartphone that offers a big-screen experience. The G Vista has a 5.7-inch display with qHD (960 x 540) resolution. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The design of the phone strongly resembles that of the LG G3. For example, the volume and lock screen buttons are placed on the back of the device. The G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 1.3-megapixel selfie camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, and a 3,200mAh battery. The G Vista carries over many of LG's proprietary apps and functions, such as KnockON and KnockCode, QSlide apps, QuickMemo, and Dual Window for multitasking. The LG G Vista runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and costs $100 with a new contract or $20 per month with Verizon Edge. It is available beginning today.
Verizon Wireless today added the Kyocera Brigadier to its lineup. The Brigadier has the distinction of being one of the first phones to ship in the U.S. with a Sapphire display. Sapphire is more resistant than glass to breakage and scratching. The 4.5-inch HD display works with gloves, and offers wet finger tracking so it can be used when wet. The Brigadier is a rugged smartphone that can survive drops, vibration, and exposure to water and dust. It can sit in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The device is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The Brigadier features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, Qi wireless charging, EcoMode, and a 3,100mAh battery. The Kyocera Brigadier runs Android 4.4 KitKat. It costs $100 with a two-year contract or $20 per month with Verizon Edge. It is available starting today.
Tom Wheeler, head of the FCC, is questioning Verizon Wireless' intent to begin throttling the speeds of its legacy unlimited LTE 4G data customers. Verizon announced the policy change July 25, suggesting it is to help manage its network in congested areas. Wheeler has a problem with how Verizon is selecting which customers to throttle. "I am deeply troubled by your announcement that Verizon Wireless intends to slow down some customers' data speeds on your 4G LTE network starting in October 2014," said Wheeler in a letter to Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead. "It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its 'network management' on distinctions among its customers' data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology." According to Verizon, very few of its customers still have unlimited LTE plans. Verizon will throttle only the heaviest users, who often consume more than 4.7GB per month. The bulk of Verizon's customers are on tiered plans with set data allotments each month. Verizon has not yet responded to Wheeler's letter publicly.
T-Mobile today announced a promotional plan that undercuts AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon's offerings dramatically. T-Mobile says a family of four can sign up for a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan with 10GB of LTE data for $100 per month. T-Mobile says each line receives 2.5GB of data in addition to unlimited talk, text, free 2G international data, and unlimited streaming music. The promotional price is good until January 2016 and is available beginning July 30 through September 30. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all charge $160 per month for similar four-line plans.
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.