The FCC today announced it has set an initial spectrum clearing target of 126 MHz during the reverse part of the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. Television broadcasters have agreed to part with this spectrum. The FCC then plans to offer 100 MHz in 10 near-nationwide paired blocks to wireless providers in the forward phase of the auction. The majority of the spectrum being given up by television broadcasters will qualify as Category 1, which means it has no or little interference. Some of the spectrum will fall under Category 2, which has a greater degree of interference but not so much that it can't be managed. The FCC is today notifying all the television broadcasters about the status of their applications to sell spectrum. The FCC plans a mock auction for May 24-25, and will kick off the actual reverse portion of the auction May 31. It's unclear how long the reverse auction will take place before the FCC is able to turn around and re-sell the spectrum to wireless companies. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all said they plan to participate in the hunt for low-band spectrum.
WeBoost's Eqo signal booster promises to improve cellular coverage in your home or apartment. Consisting of a booster and antenna, the whole system fits most average dwellings. If you need a few more bars to connect calls, the WeBoost may be what you need. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth report.
Verizon Wireless today revealed new cloud-based storage plans for its customers. Beginning April 17, there will be four storage plans in sizes small through extra-large, mirroring how Verizon designates its wireless service plans. All customers are eligible for the small plan, which includes 5 GB of storage per month for free. The medium plan includes 25 GB for $2.99; the large plan includes 250 GB for $4.99 per month; and the extra-large plan includes 1 TB for $9.99 per month. Verizon said it will automatically upgrade existing Cloud subscribers on 75 GB or higher plans to the new large and extra-large plans. Verizon suggests customers use the cloud storage to save backups of their contacts, messages, photos, videos, music, and other files.
Verizon Wireless today said it will begin accepting preorders for the HTC 10 on April 29. Verizon expects the phone to launch in early May and has not yet provided pricing details for the phone. Verizon is giving consumers the opportunity to test the HTC 10 in retail stores, also starting on April 29. Verizon says the 10 will include its HD Voice service and WiFi Calling. The phone includes several Verizon offers, such as three free months of HBO Now, credit for handset trade-ins, and ETF payoffs for customers who switch to Verizon. An unlocked version of the HTC 10 is already available for sale directly from HTC.com for $699.
Verizon Communications and Hearst have agreed to acquire Complex, a media organization founded by Mark Ecko that creates content for young adult audiences. Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon and Hearst will each own 50% of Complex through a joint venture. Verizon and Hearst said they'll use Complex to develop video content for Verizon's digital platforms, including go90 mobile video, AOL.com, and more. Last month, Verizon and Hearst teamed up to create Verizon Hearst Media Partners. The company recently invested in AwesomenessTV. Rich Antoniello, Complex CEO and co-founder, will continue to lead the company once the acquisition is completed. Verizon and Hearst expect to close the deal within 60 days. Verizon has been bulking up its media properties for the better part of a year. It is one of the main contenders to acquire portions of Yahoo's internet business, though no deal has yet been announced.
Verizon Wireless today said customers who set up and use Android Pay from their device will be able to collect up to 2 GB of free data. Verizon will reward customers 1 GB the first time they use the app to make a payment and another 1 GB the third time they use the app to make a payment. The data will be available to customers through two billing cycles after it is rewarded. The offer is good through June 14, and the extra data must be claimed by July 13.
Verizon Wireless has made system updates available for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+. The update for the Note 5 resolves several issues that were introduced when the device was updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Specifically, it smoothes out trouble connecting to the internet, frequent data disconnection, and problems while loading files or web pages. The update for the S6 Edge+ installs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the latest Edge Panel features from Samsung. It also adds WiFi calling and improves the behavior of Live Broadcast. Verizon suggests owners of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ download the updates over a WiFi connection. The updates are free.
Verizon Wireless recently added the Samsung Convoy 4 to its roster of simple flip phones. The Convoy 4 makes improvements over the previous generation device by adding GSM roaming capabilities and resistance to water. Core features include a 5-megapixel camera, support for push-to-talk services, and a mil-spec 810G rating for protection against shock, vibration, temperature extremes, and dirt. The Convoy 4 includes two screens, GPS, and support for microSD cards. It does not include LTE. The Convoy 4 costs $192 at full retail or $8 per month on an installment plan.
Verizon has agreed to acquire a 24.5% equity stake in AwesomenessTV and will use the platform to add unique content to its go90 mobile video service. DreamWorks and Hearst will maintain 51% and 24.5% shares, respectively, in AwesomenessTV. Verizon said its premium content will first be made available to Verizon customers in the U.S., but AwesomenessTV will be able to sell the content in other markets over time. The companies plan to use "leading talent in front of and behind the camera" to create short-form mobile videos. In recent months, Verizon has invested heavily in media, and specifically in video. The company expects the transaction to be completed within 60 days.
Verizon Wireless has made Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow available to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones. The update adds Now on Tap, Doze, security patches, revamped home screen search tools, and updates to Live Broadcast. The S6 Edge, in particular, is being given the same Edge Panel features found on the new S7 Edge, which means a thicker panel, and more actionable content. Verizon recommends S6 and S6 Edge owners download and install the update over the air.
The FCC on Thursday followed through on plans to tackle consumer privacy. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The FCC's goal is to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. The FCC also believes consumers should be able to opt-out when they wish. "[This] proposal would give all consumers the tools we need to make informed decisions about how our ISPs use and share our data," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "and confidence that ISPs are keeping their customers' data secure." Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC will continue to shape the policy over the next few months and present it in more final form before fully adopting it.
Walmart today said customers can save big bucks on Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones for the next three months. Walmart has cut the price of all iPhones by $100 (including the new iPhone SE) and all Galaxy phones (including the Galaxy S7) by $150. The rollback begins today and lasts through the end of June. The reduced prices will be available only in Walmart stores, and only to customers of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is not participating in the rollback program.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the agency doesn't intend to investigate Netflix's throttling practices for customers of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Wheeler said web sites and other edge providers fall outside its purview and didn't violate any regulations. Netflix admitted to throttling the speed of video streamed by AT&T and Verizon customers due to those carriers' data overage policies. Netflix doesn't throttle the speeds of video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers.
Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phonescoop that it plans to charge customers $20 to upgrade to new devices beginning April 4. The fee will apply to customers who buy handsets with installment plans, or buy phones at full price. Verizon will assess the fee at third-party retailers, too, such as purchases made at the Apple Store or Best Buy. "The upgrade fee helps cover our increased support costs associated with customers switching devices," explained a Verizon spokesperson to Phonescoop via email. "Customers can pay the charge when they upgrade, bill it to their account, or trade in an old device to offset the cost. The fee for upgrading on device payment is still half of the two-year contract upgrade fee." Verizon charges contract customers $40 when upgrading devices. AT&T instituted its own device upgrade fee of $15 last year. Sprint recently lowered its upgrade fee from $36 to $30. T-Mobile charges $20 for a SIM card starter pack, which is widely seen as an upgrade fee. Verizon's new $20 upgrade fee was first uncovered by MacRumors.
LG said its G5 smartphone will be available for sale in Korea starting March 31, with the U.S. to follow April 1. The G5 will reach other regions, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, over time. LG says more than 200 carriers plan to sell the phone. In the U.S., that includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, all of which will offer the phone on April 1. Along with the G5 itself, LG plans to sell the accompanying modules and accessories, called LG Friends. The two most notable Friends as the CAM Plus and Hi-Fi Plus, which are modules that plug directly into the bottom of the G5. The CAM Plus will be available in the U.S., but LG hasn't said if the Hi-Fi Plus will also be available. Other Friends include the 360 VR headset, 360 CAM, Rolling Bot, Tone Platinum, and H3 by B&O. Pricing for the LG G5 varies by carrier. The phone has a 5.3-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C.
The FCC said its incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves officially gets under way at 6p.m. this evening, when broadcasters will need to commit to participating. The auction will see television broadcasters give up their airwaves, which will then be sold to bidding wireless companies and other companies. "In just a few hours, we mark the beginning of the world's first Incentive Auction," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "which will align the use of the public airwaves to meet America's 21st century spectrum needs. The auction promises to free up more capacity to meet Americans' skyrocketing demand for wireless data while preserving the valuable service that broadcast TV stations provide to their communities." AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are taking part in the auction along with about 100 other entities. T-Mobile has promised to pursue the low-band spectrum aggressively. The auction is expected to last several months.
Netflix today said that it has limited its video speeds on most carriers worldwide for years, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The issue came to light when T-Mobile accused AT&T and Verizon of throttling Netflix. Mobile video practices have been under a microscope since the December launch of T-Mobile's Binge On program, which zero-rates the video content from some providers. Netflix admitted that it is throttling its own service on purpose to about 600Kbps to "protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps." Netflix says it has throttled video speeds for as long as five years, but leaves video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers alone due to those carriers' less onerous policies. Netflix, which claims to be a proponent of net neutrality, says it is exploring new ways to stream video in such a way that it consumes less data. AT&T and Verizon were not pleased with the revelation. "We're outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent," said AT&T.
Verizon Wireless is now taking preorders for the LG G5. The phone reaches stores on April 1. The company is offering the phone for installments of $26 per month for 24 months or the full retail price of $624. For a limited time, people who purchase the G5 can get the LG 360 CAM and LG battery bundle for free. The camera can take 360-degree video, while the battery bundle includes a spare battery and charging cradle. The other major U.S. carriers are also launching the G5 on April 1 with similar offers.
Following AT&T, Verizon Wireless today said customers can place orders for the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition with LTE. This wearable, delayed by several months due to manufacturing issues, has its own cellular connection to Verizon's network and can be used fully independent from a smartphone. It can make calls and send messages from the owner's main cell number. The wearable runs Android Wear and costs $499. Verizon will drop the price by $50 for those willing to sign a contract. It costs $5 per month to add the watch to an existing service plan. For a limited time, Verizon will sell the watch for $399 when purchased with the LG G5 or V10 smartphones.
Verizon Wireless added the LG K4 to its smartphone roster today. The phone is available online for $120, or $5 per month on an installment plan. The K4 is already being sold by Verizon's prepaid business as the Optimus Zone 3 and by Cricket Wireless as the Spree. The K4 includes a 4.5-inch screen, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, and 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The phone has 1 GB of RAM and improves storage from 8 GB on the Zone 3 / Spree to 16 GB in the K4. It supports memory cards up to 32 GB. LG's Quick Memo tool is on board, as are some of its camera modes, including Gesture Shot, Burst Shot, and Selfie Light. The K4 also has Knock On and Knock Code, as well as LG's customizable keyboard. The K4 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop.
Sony is creating a new business unit with the express purpose of bringing PlayStation-branded games to smartphones and tablets. The company is changing its name from Sony Computer Entertainment to Sony Interactive Entertainment and at the same time forming ForwardWorks Corporation. ForwardWorks' goal will be to develop games, apps, and services for mobile devices. Sony says ForwardWorks will first look to release gaming titles in Japan and other markets in Asia. Sony didn't say if ForwardWorks' efforts will expand to other regions. Sony has long attempted to make gaming part of its mobile device strategy, but results have been mixed. The most direct effort was a handset called the Sony Xperia Play, which featured a slide-out set of gaming controls. The Xperia Play was sold by Verizon Wireless. Sony currently includes PlayStation apps on its Android handsets, allowing owners to connect to their gaming network to stream games and other content.
Verizon Wireless is rolling out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the LG V10 smartphone. According to Verizon, the update installs all the expected features of Google's latest platform, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, revised permissions, and silent mode. Verizon did not call out any new software unique to the V10. The update is available as an over-the-air download and Verizon recommends users connect to WiFi before installing.
Verizon Wireless has made a Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge buy-one, get-one deal of its own available to smartphone shoppers. Beginning today, customers who buy one Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge can receive a second one for free as long as the second one is activated on a new line. Both phones must be purchased through an installment plan. Verizon will give buyers a prepaid card for the value of the phone. Verizon customers who've already bought a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge are also eligible for a free phone if they choose to activate a new line. AT&T and T-Mobile have similar promotions running right now.
Nextbit has canceled plans to bring a version of its Robin smartphone to Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The company cited the slow carrier approval process and ballooning expenses as reasons behind its decision. "What people at the carriers, in good faith given our need for quick answers, thought would take 'weeks' has turned into 'months'," explained Nextbit CEO Tom Moss. "What they thought would cost 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' has turned into 'millions'. And we're still not there." The company is refunding those who pre-ordered the CDMA version of the Robin, and is also offering those customers 25% off the GSM version of the Robin should they want it. The Robin runs Android and proactively offloads apps and files to the cloud in order to conserve storage. It is sold unlocked and works with AT&T and T-Mobile.
Verizon has cut a direct interconnect agreement with Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa). Verizon is the second U.S. carrier to sign such an agreement (following Sprint), and it expands upon a roaming deal Verizon made with Etecsa last September. Verizon Wireless customers who travel to Cuba may already roam on Etecsa's network, though services are pricey. Through Verizon's Pay-As-You-Go International Travel option, voice calls made in Cuba are $2.99 per minute, and data is $2.05 per megabyte. Text message charges are assessed at standard international rates. Now, Verizon customers will also be able to call Cuban numbers directly from the U.S. Before this agreement, calls could only be completed through third countries, which increased calling rates. "The service agreement will initially allow the offering of voice services through direct interconnection between the two countries and will be operational once implementation and technical testing requirements are completed by both companies," said Etecsa. Verizon didn't immediately comment on the new agreement.
Verizon Wireless today announced the Verizon Annual Upgrade Program beginning with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The upgrade program allows customers who finance the S7 or S7 Edge to trade in their phone and upgrade to a new phone every year. Verizon says customers can upgrade to new hardware after just 30 days, as long as 50% of the phone's price has been paid. Customers who preordered the S7 or S7 Edge will be enrolled in the annual upgrade program automatically as long as they choose a device payment plan to finance the phone. Customers don't have to upgrade if they don't want to: Verizon says customers can continue to pay off their phones over 24 months, which they'll own at the end of two years just as before. Verizon says customers who switch (port in) from another carrier and activate an S7 or S7 Edge can receive a $100 bill credit, in addition to reimbursement for ETFs and other fees. Existing Verizon customers can receive up to $300 (varies by device) if they trade in an existing handset for an S7 or S7 Edge. The S7 costs $670 and the S7 Edge costs $780.
Verizon Wireless today detailed several new promotions that are available to customers looking to save some green. To start, Verizon customers who by a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge on a device payment plan will be able to buy a Samsung Galaxy Core Prime for an additional $1 per month. The Core Prime is an entry-level Android phone ideal for younger users. Customers who trade in an old Fitbit and buy a new Fitbit priced $99 or higher can receive a $20 Visa gift card. Last, Verizon will waive its $20 activation fee for customers who bring their own phone and activate in on Verizon. These promotions will be available for a limited time.
The FCC is prepared to propose new rules governing the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The proposal is meant to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. "Consumers should have effective control over how their personal information is used and shared," said an FCC official. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. Firms such as Alphabet (neé, Google) and Facebook would be exempt, which instead fall under the purview of the FTC. The FCC is expected to propose the rules later this month, when they'll be provisionally approved. Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC's next meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 31.
LG today said U.S. consumers can expect to see the G5 smartphone reach stores in early April. The modular smartphone will be available via AT&T, Best Buy, B&H, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. LG said carriers will be responsible for announcing their own release dates and pricing. The G5 has a removable bottom hatch that allows users to access the battery as well as add modules called LG Friends. The first two modules are a camera grip and stereo DAC. The phone also boasts dual rear cameras and a Snapdragon 820 processor. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Motorola has begun testing a rollout of Android 6.0 Marshmallow for the Verizon-branded Droid Turbo 2. Motorola said it will keep an eye on the soak test for a few days and, if everything runs smoothly, begin delivering the update to all users in earnest.
Verizon will pay the FCC a fine of $1.35 million to settle claims the company's wireless business violated customer privacy. The FCC says between 2012 and 2014, Verizon Wireless did not adequately disclose to customers how it used supercookies to gather user data. The cookies created individual tracking codes for the purposes of targeted advertising. Moreover, supercookies often overrode some consumers' decisions to prevent cookies from accessing their browsers. Verizon Wireless also agreed to a three-year consent decree from the FCC. Moving forward, the company must notify customers about targeting advertising and obtain an explicit opt-in before sharing data internally and with third parties. "Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they’re doing online," said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. "Privacy and innovation are not incompatible. This agreement shows that companies can offer meaningful transparency and consumer choice while at the same time continuing to innovate."
HTC has cancelled plans to add support for Verizon's LTE network to the One A9 smartphone. The unlocked phone does not include CDMA and was expected to be Verizon's first LTE-only handset. "HTC is committed to providing the best experience for all of our device owners. Following extensive testing, we are unable to support the Verizon network with the Unlocked HTC One A9," said the company in a statement provided to Droid-Life. HTC says Verizon customers who ordered the unlocked One A9 can return it for a refund and 20% discount on any phone sold by HTC. Customers are urged to contact HTC Care to discuss options.
Verizon Wireless has made the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone gains the standard Marshmallow features, such as Doze and Now On Tap, as well as refreshed app icons and folders, Verizon's WiFi Calling service, and the most recent security patches. Verizon suggests users download the system update via WiFi.
Boost Mobile today announced its own promotion aimed at converting customers from competing carriers to Boost. Boost says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers who port their numbers to a Boost Mobile family plan can see monthly savings up to 50%. Boost is offering 10 GB of high-speed data per line starting at $60 for two lines, $85 for three lines, and $110 for four lines. Further, Boost says it will provide a free phone (or $50 discount) for every line ported to Boost Mobile from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Customers can get up to four free phones when activated with a new family plan. Boost Mobile said this offers will be available for a limited time, but didn't set a specific end date. Boost Mobile's parent company, Sprint, has offered a similar promotion for several months.
Verizon Wireless is now offering the BlackBerry Priv to customers. The device is available for purchase online beginning today, and will reach retail stores March 11. Verizon is selling the phone for $30 per month with an installment plan or at the full retail cost of $720. The Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Priv is already available from AT&T and T-Mobile.
Verizon Communications and Hearst today announced a new partnership that will eventually see original video content delivered to millennials via their phone. The Verizon Hearst Media Partners program will commence in the months ahead with two dedicated channels, one covering music, politics, military, food, and faith, and the second providing humorous takes on breaking news. More channels are in the works. The video content will chiefly be streamed through Verizon's go90 mobile video service, but will also be made available to TVs and PCs. Hearst publishes magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Elle, and has a stake in TV networks including ESPN. The companies are hiring new management and staff for the 50-50 joint venture. They didn't say exactly when programming will launch.
Verizon Wireless customers will be able to watch go90 video content for free beginning this week, according to CFO Fran Shammo. Verizon first said it would zero-rate the go90 video content early last month thanks to support from its FreeBee Data 360 sponsored data service. "You can use [Go90] over WiFi, you don't have to be a Verizon wireless customer to download the app and enjoy that," said Shammo at a recent investor conference. "However, starting March 5, first with FreeBee Data and now taking that to commercial launch, if you are a Verizon Wireless customer you'll be able to enjoy that content free." That means Verizon customers will be able to watch videos via go90 without it impacting their monthly data bucket. The go90 app includes music, sports, TV shows, original series, and live concerts. T-Mobile also allows customers to stream video content over its LTE network for free through its Binge On program.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless are still working to launch support for intercarrier VoLTE, despite missing the initial target. The companies expected to allow one another's customers to connect VoLTE calls between them before the end of 2015. Adam Koeppe, vice president of network planning and technology at Verizon, said the trials are going well and the two carriers plan to offer the service at some point later this year. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own customers VoLTE, which requires both the caller and recipient to have compatible handsets and LTE coverage. VoLTE paves the way for HD voice calling, as well as RCS-based services, such as rich messaging and video calls.
Verizon CEO and Chairman Lowell McAdam yesterday released a statement siding with Apple in the Apple vs. FBI case over whether the FBI can force Apple to help it break into the encrypted data on an iPhone. "Verizon is committed to protecting customer privacy and one of the tools for protecting that privacy is encryption. We support the availability of strong encryption with no back doors. The case with Apple presents unique issues that should be addressed by Congress, not on an ad hoc basis." Although the case ostensibly involves just one terrorist's phone, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been joined by many industry leaders in decrying the precedent the case would set, which could easily lead to weak or bypassed encryption in all phones, allowing all governments — and criminals — access to private data on phones. While Apple challenges the FBI in court — and has said it is prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court — Congress will hold hearings on the issue next week, with both Apple and the FBI scheduled to testify.
T-Mobile will commence trials of 5G technologies with partners Nokia and Ericsson during the second half of the year, says Nokia. The companies plan to use the 28GHz band for testing, which is one of the bands proposed for 5G usage. Their goal is to "support massive bandwidth capacity and virtual zero latency." The tests will allow T-Mobile to evaluate 5G technologies and help it plan for its future network upgrades. Unlike AT&T and Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile doesn't expect to deliver 5G to its customers until 2020 or later. AT&T and Verizon have said they'll have some 5G service available as soon as 2017 and 2018. The ITU has not yet defined what 5G will be, but the focus is as much on minimizing latency as it is on allowing devices to reach the internet at blistering speeds. Verizon is pushing forward with testing aggressively as it hopes to play a role in defining the 5G standard. T-Mobile is treading into the 5G waters more cautiously. "We're looking forward to working with Nokia to bring 5G capabilities out of the lab and into field trials with LTE technology and spectrum we already have today," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "Building on investments we've made to deliver America's fastest 4G LTE, this puts us on the path to real 5G use cases once 5G consumer smartphones are available in the 2020+ timeframe."