Verizon Wireless today made Windows Phone 8.1 with the Denim update available to the Lumia 928 and Lumia 822. Windows Phone 8.1 adds Cortana, adjustable home screen columns, and other features. The update is free. Microsoft said WP8.1 for the Lumia Icon is on deck for early 2015.
The FCC today granted T-Mobile's petition that the agency "provide guidance on the application of the commercial reasonableness standard" with respect to data roaming rates. T-Mobile filed the petition earlier this year in order to help it and other carriers negotiate better roaming rates with larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Since 2011, the FCC has mandated that all carriers allow competing devices to roam onto their networks at fair prices. The FCC did not suggest or otherwise imply what those fair prices should be. T-Mobile argued the FCC's 2011 mandate did not provide enough guidance for setting rates and the result has been what T-Mobile calls exorbitant fees charged by AT&T and Verizon to roam onto their networks. Sprint and other members of the Competitive Carriers Association supported T-Mobile's position, while AT&T and Verizon Wireless opposed it vehemently. The two larger carriers argued any such guidance could result in reduced rates over the long term and would serve as unnecessary regulation. After weighing the arguments, the FCC agreed with T-Mobile's position that it should offer guidance on reasonable pricing. Specifically, the FCC will adopt T-Mobile's four proposed benchmarks when assessing the reasonableness standard: 1. retail rates; 2. international roaming rates; 3. MVNO/resale rates; and 4. roaming rates charged by other providers. "In our view, the additional guidance we provide under the standard set forth ... will facilitate the ability of parties to negotiate successful data roaming agreements, which in turn will promote the provision of high quality advanced broadband services by multiple service providers in urban, suburban, and rural areas to the benefit of American consumers," said the FCC.
Verizon Wireless today announced that its customers can send Starbucks eGift cards to one another from within the Verizon Messages application. The application lets users pick a background, amount ($5, $10, or $25), and enter a short message. The eGift card can then be redeemed by the recipient at Starbucks locations, or added to an existing Starbucks card account. It is free to use the service, and the cost of the eGift card is added directly to the subscriber's monthly bill. Verizon Messages is preinstalled on most Verizon Wireless smartphones.
Google and Verizon Communications today entered into a multi-year patent cross-licensing agreement. The companies said the agreement covers a "broad range of products and technologies" and will help them "reduce the risk of future patent litigation." Both companies expressed interest in making similar patent-protection agreements with other high-tech businesses. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.
Apple Pay has garnered more support from banks and retailers around the country, according to the New York Times. SunTrust, Barclaycard, and USAA have already agreed to support Apple Pay with their cards, and 10 more banks, including TD Bank North America and Commerce Bank, are adding support for Apple Pay beginning today. With the new financial institutions on board, a significantly larger percentage of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can use Apple Pay to make mobile payments at participating retailers. More retailers are interested in Apple Pay, too. Staples will begin accepting Apple Pay at its 1,400 stores beginning today, and Amway Center, where the Orlando Magic basketball team plays, will begin accepting Apple Pay at concessions stands during games. Apple Pay uses an NFC radio embedded in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to power tap-and-go payments at more than 220,000 retail outlets around the U.S. iPhone owners use their fingerprint to approve purchases, which are secured thanks to unique codes assigned to each transaction. Apple Pay launched Oct. 20. Competing services, such as Softcard, are available to select Android and Windows Phones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
T-Mobile today said it has expanded the availability of Wideband LTE service to a total of 26 major U.S. cities and 120 small metro areas. The newest additions include all of New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey. T-Mobile said central New Jersey and Westchester County, N.Y., will have Wideband LTE coverage very soon. According to T-Mobile, NYC customers are reporting peak download speeds of 100Mbps with average download speeds hovering around 22Mbps. "Wideband LTE" specifically refers to 15x2 or 20x2MHz LTE over T-Mobile's AWS or PCS spectrum, depending on the market in question.
Verizon Wireless today said it is delivering a minor update to the Motorola Droid Turbo. The update adds VoLTE capabilities, as well as simultaneous voice and data usage. Verizon said the update is being pushed out gradually in waves, but can be snagged manually.
AT&T today said its VoLTE service is now available in a wider number of markets around the country. AT&T first deployed VoLTE in a limited number of midwestern cities earlier this year. Since then, it has been testing VoLTE and believes the service is performing well. Today, AT&T expanded VoLTE and HD Voice to select areas in the District of Columbia, as well as portions of Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Customers can use a coverage map to find out if VoLTE and HD Voice are available where they live. VoLTE does not cost extra to use, but requires compatible handsets and LTE coverage for both parties on the call. AT&T reiterated that it is working to expand VoLTE to new markets, and expects to eventually offer inter-carrier VoLTE service with Verizon Wireless and other network operators next year.
T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have petitioned the FCC for permission to swap AWS and PCS spectrum licenses in 92 counties and/or 41 Cellular Market Areas around the country. The companies propose to switch spectrum licenses, but not cellular assets or customers. If approved, the change would not increase the total spectrum holdings of either company, but "would allow each to hold larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or align spectrum blocks with those already held in adjacent markets." T-Mobile and Verizon claim the swap would allow each to add capacity and improve data speeds in the counties and markets involved. According to T-Mobile and Verizon, T-Mobile would hold 30 to 102MHz of spectrum in total, and Verizon Wireless would hold 52 to 127MHz of spectrum in total once the transaction is completed. The FCC has accepted the preliminary applications and is now seeking comments on the proposition.
Verizon Wireless announced an over-the-air software update should hit the LG G3 beginning today that adds VoLTE capabilities. VoLTE passes voice calls over Verizon's LTE data network rather than its voice network. A handful of phones already support VoLTE. VoLTE offers HD Voice when both the sender and receiver have LTE coverage and VoLTE-capable handsets. Verizon recently said it plans to expand its selection of VoLTE handsets. Mike Haberman, vice president of network performance for Verizon, said the initial uptake of VoLTE by customers has been excellent.
Verizon Wireless elaborated today on news it has begun to refarm its PCS spectrum for LTE. Verizon has already deployed LTE on its PCS spectrum in a limited scale across Manhattan and Cleveland, Ohio, with "about 10 other markets" currently in testing. Verizon already offers LTE on its 700MHz and AWS spectrum bands, which it markets at XLTE. Mike Haberman, Verizon Wireless' vice president of network performance, said the company isn't refarming PCS spectrum because it needs to. Rather, as Verizon sees 3G data usage across its PCS spectrum decline, it is repurposing that spectrum for 4G in order to stay ahead of the competition. The company doesn't have a timeline for refarming all its PCS spectrum to LTE, but it said it expects to operate its CDMA EVDO network (in the PCS band) through Dec 31, 2019. Haberman said moving into 2020 and beyond, it is possible Verizon will sell LTE-only devices. When asked, Haberman said Verizon plans to keep operating its traditional voice network in its 850Mz spectrum for the foreseeable future.
Verizon Wireless has a number of improvements to its LTE network planned for 2015 that will boost coverage, capacity, and speeds, according to Mike Haberman, vice president of network support for Verizon. First, Verizon will implement carrier aggregation, which pairs disparate spectrum bands so they act as one. For example, it will use carrier aggregation to pair LTE service on its 700MHz spectrum with its AWS spectrum. The combined spectrum (20x20Mhz channel in AWS and 10x10Mhz channel in 700MHz) will result in 30x30MHz channels. Haberman said this will help improve peak speeds, though average network speeds will remain about the same. Verizon will eventually add carrier aggregation to its PCS spectrum as it ramps down EVDO in favor of LTE. Beyond carrier aggregation, Verizon plans to introduce eICIC (enhanced inter-cell interference coordination), which lets the macro cellular network coordinate coverage and reduce interference with small-cell deployments in the same area. Last, Verizon said it will introduce higher orders of MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) to LTE. Verizon's LTE devices all use 2x2 MIMO, but it may upgrade its cell towers to 4x4 MIMO to improve uplink performance. Haberman said Verizon likely won't use 4x4 MIMO on handsets, as the gains in downlink performance likely won't offset the higher cost of the handset.
The FCC today altered how it is conducting the auction for AWS-3 spectrum as fewer bids arrive for each round. Before today, the FCC offered four one-hour bidding windows per day. Moving forward, the FCC is offering six 30-minute bidding windows, giving bidders less time to react to each round. Total bids for the auction now exceed $40 billion. The auction, which began Nov. 13, had an initial reserve of $10.56 billion. With the number of new bids slowing down, it is possible the auction could end soon. AT&T, Dish Networks, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and dozens of other entities are participating in the bidding.
Verizon Wireless has begun testing the use of LTE 4G on its PCS spectrum, airwaves it primarily uses to operate its CDMA-EVDO 3G network, in Manhattan. GigaOm confirmed with Verizon that the company has begun to steal capacity from its 3G network in favor of 4G, though it is doing so slowly and in limited scope. Verizon already announced plans to repurpose its 3G spectrum for 4G beginning next year, and this appears to mark the start of the transition. Verizon won't shut down either 2G or 3G entirely, at least not in the short term. Verizon still relies on its 2G network for its voice services. Moreover, some 41 million Verizon customers still use 2G/3G equipment. Verizon didn't say how fast it will convert its PCS spectrum to LTE, nor did it say which, if any, phones support LTE in the PCS band. According to FCC documents, however, the Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus and Motorola Droid Turbo support Verizon's LTE in the 1900MHz band.
Sprint recently indicated that its years-long Network Vision project is coming to a close. Sprint's 1900MHz LTE network covers 260 million POPs, according to Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer, who made the comments at a Bank of America investor conference this week. Sprint's 2.5GHz LTE network covers 92 million POPs and its 800MHz LTE network will cover 100 million POPs by the end if the year. "I think from a network standpoint we have been waiting to get to this point of having a network that is substantially complete," said Euteneuer. Sprint said it will continue to add coverage in the 1900MHz band as its obtains more spectrum. All Sprint smartphones support tri-band LTE, which Sprint markets as Sprint Spark. Spark-compatible handsets are able to use whichever of the three spectrum bands (800MHz, 1900MHz, 2.5GHz) offers the strongest coverage in areas where all three bands are available. Sprint had previously said Sprint Spark would be available to 100 million people by the close of 2014, and it now appears that goal depends on deploying LTE to its 800MHz spectrum. All the major carriers are supplementing their LTE networks with additional capacity in other spectrum bands. For example, Verizon operates LTE in the 700MHz and AWS bands. AT&T and Verizon cover about 300 million POPs each with LTE. T-Mobile covers about 250 million. Sprint's Euteneuer also noted that Sprint will push an over-the-air update to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the next two to three months to enable Wi-Fi calling.
Sprint plans to go after AT&T and Verizon customers with an aggressive and enticing campaign. Beginning Friday, Sprint will offer rate plans to AT&T and Verizon customers that are half what they're already paying. For example, an AT&T customer who pays $300 per month will be offered a comparable Sprint plan that costs only $150 per month. The offer only extends to the service costs, including minutes, messaging, and data. It does not include subsidies for device payments. Sprint will waive activation fees and pay up to $350 to cover the ETFs of those who switch, though the new customers will need to turn in their old devices. In order to score the half-price plan, new Sprint customers will need to buy a device from Sprint at full retail price or finance it through Sprint Easy Pay. They'll also have to provide a copy of their most recent wireless bill for verification of the monthly cost. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure hinted via Twitter that the company intends to "launch one of our most exciting promotions ever, especially designed for Verizon and att customers who love to save money." The promotion does not apply to T-Mobile or current Sprint customers.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG GizmoPal, a wearable for children meant to provide parents with peace of mind. The wearable can make and receive phone calls, though only to/from a limited set of numbers. Parents can easily mange the GizmoPal through an app (Android and iOS), and use it to track their child's location throughout the day. The GizmoPal costs $80 and can be added to a More Everything plan for $5 per month. It will be available in select stores Nov. 26 and all Verizon sales channels by Dec. 11. It comes in either blue or pink.
Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.
Verizon Wireless has made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variant of the Moto X (2nd. gen.). Other carriers made Lollipop available to the Moto X earlier this month. Lollipop is a complete refresh of the OS, including a new design and new features.
Verizon today added the LG Transpyre to its prepaid lineup. This basic Android phone is essentially the same phone as the LG Tribute offered by Virgin Mobile, except with more memory and a better front camera. The phone has a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel main camera, and 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor. Other features include 4G LTE, a memory card slot, and a removable battery. Verizon is currently offering the Transpyre for $100 with a no-contract prepaid plan.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today said the government has received bids totaling $12 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses. The auction kicked off November 13 with a reserve price of $10.6 billion. Today's revelation means the government has already exceeded its minimum for the auction. At stake are more than 1,600 licenses around the country covering 65MHz of AWS-3 spectrum. The FCC didn't say how long it expects the bidding to continue. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among 70 entities approved to participate in the auction.
The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.
Verizon Wireless has changed its terms of service and made it more expensive for customers to leave the carrier before the end of their contract. Under the old terms of service, all customers who purchased a smartphone agreed to an ETF of $350. The ETF was prorated and decreased by $10 each month beginning after the first month of the contract. Customers who chose to break their contract after six months, for example, would be required to pay an ETF of $290 ($350 - $60). Effective today, Verizon is delaying the monthly ETF drop until after customers have been with Verizon a minimum of eight months. Under the new terms, customers who choose to leave after six months, for example, will still pay $350, not the $290 they would have under the old terms. Verizon says ETFs will now decline by $10 per month in months 8-18; $20 per month in months 19–23; and $60 in the last month of each customer contract. Contracts signed before today will be governed by the old ETF terms.
Wireless and other companies began bidding on AWS-3 spectrum licenses today, which are being auctioned off by the FCC. The initial round of bidding totaled about $1.77 billion for 1,012 of the 1,614 available licenses. The FCC's reserve price for the entire auction is $10.56 billion. Major network operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as are other entities such as Dish Networks. Seventy total groups were approved to participate in the auction. Spectrum blocks in New York City and Los Angeles received the most attention today, with one J Block license in NYC scoring a high bid of $88 million. Bidding is expected to continue for several weeks at least. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands.
United Airlines today announced that owners of its MileagePlus credit cards can now add them to their Softcard account and make mobile payments. The cards are backed by Chase bank, which is one of the handful of financial institutions supporting Softcard. In order to entice cardholders to sign up, United is offering 2,500 miles to customers who activate their MileagePlus card on Softcard by February 28, 2015. Further, United will add 500 more miles every month (up to total of 4,000 miles) to the MileagePlus accounts of cardholders who use Softcard at least once per month for mobile purchases. Softcard is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless and is compatible with many Android smartphones and select Windows Phones.
Verizon Wireless today announced that it will give away a wide selection of content to all U.S. wireless users on November 26. Verizon has dubbed the day before Thanksgiving as "Connection Day." The content includes mobile access to movies and TV shows via the FiOS Preview app; 10 free apps from Amazon and two free books from Audible; a "special offer" from Apple's iTunes store; 17 free Conde Nast digital magazines; 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi at airports (via Boingo) and aboard airplanes (via GoGo); and a seven-day trial of Pandora One. In partnership with Verizon, JetBlue has pledged to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi on flights between Nov. 26 and Dec. 24. Verizon Wireless' More Everything customers who register for Connection Day online are eligible to receive a one-time gift of 1GB of shareable data applied to their account, plus another 1GB of data for the following billing cycle. Last, Verizon customers who aren't on a More Everything plan are eligible for a discount on a Mophie Powerstation 4000. In order to access the content, wireless customers will need to navigate to Verizon's Connection Day web site.
Apple must face a lawsuit in federal court over vanishing text messages. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh said Apple has to hear the claim from Adrienne Moore, who says Apple blocked messages sent by iPhone users to her after she switched from an iPhone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S5. Moore further claims that Apple's iMessage system interfered with her contract with Verizon Wireless. "Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple's intentional acts have caused an actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship," said Judge Koh. Just this week Apple released a tool that lets former iPhone owners delist their numbers from the iMessage service. The issue has been a problem for former iPhone users for years.
Google today said Verizon Wireless customers can now send and receive MMS messages through their Google Voice number. According to Google, MMS is supported by all major carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Further, Google has added native MMS support to Google Voice. This means users who add their Google Voice number to Hangouts can actually attach photos to Google Voice messages rather than send an SMS with a photo link. Google said support for group messaging via MMS will be available soon.
Following the White House's request to reclassify the internet as a utility, a number of industry organizations have fielded responses. First to respond was FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler "welcomed" Obama's comments and said the agency would add them to the existing public discourse regarding the subject. He stopped well short of saying the agency would adopt such measures. "The more deeply we examined the issues around the various legal options, the more it has become plain that there is more work to do. The approaches before us raise substantive legal questions. We found we would need more time to examine these to ensure that whatever approach is taken, it can withstand any legal challenges it may face," said Wheeler. The CTIA Wireless Association, which lobbies for the wireless industry's interests in Washington, disagreed with Obama's proposal in the strongest terms. "Imposing antiquated common carrier regulation on the vibrant mobile wireless ecosystem would be a gross overreaction that would impose inappropriate regulation on a dynamic industry and would threaten mobile providers' ability to invest and innovate, all to the detriment of consumers. CTIA strongly opposes such an approach," wrote CTIA President Meredith Atwell Baker. AT&T went a step further and threatened legal action. "Today's announcement by the White House, if acted upon by the FCC, would be a mistake that will do tremendous harm to the Internet and to U.S. national interests. If the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External & Legislative Affairs. Verizon Wireless issued a statement similar to AT&T's. "Reclassification under Title II, which for the first time would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the internet, would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open internet, competition and innovation. That course will likely also face strong legal challenges and would likely not stand up in court," said the company in a post on its public policy blog.
T-Mobile has begun selling the HTC One (M8) for Windows smartphone on its web site. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down with monthly payments of $24.40, or for $585.60 at full retail. The phone recently reached AT&T and it is already sold by Verizon.
Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both admitted to using a tool called supercookies to track the web usage of their customers. The supercookies log which web sites Verizon and AT&T customers visit, generating data that Verizon and AT&T can sell to advertisers. The supercookies allow Verizon and AT&T to monitor customers who've opted out of traditional cookie-based tracking. The supercookies can't be erased, nor evaded by using private browsing modes as they aren't stored on phones. Instead, they're stored on Verizon's network. Verizon says it notified customers about the supercookies, though the effectiveness of the outreach has been called to question. Verizon also says it has taken steps to protect customer privacy. For example, the supercookie codes are a random string of numbers and letters that are changed regularly. Verizon says the data generated by its supercookies are only available to participants of its Precision Markets Insights advertising program. AT&T's supercookie codes are changed every day, but its program is still in the trial stage and not yet fully deployed. The companies contend the codes are anonymous, but security researchers cited by The Washington Post say the data can be de-anonymized to reveal identity info. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reached out to the FCC about the legality of the tracking tools. It is weighing whether or not to take legal action to prevent the carriers from using them.
Softcard recently expanded to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Softcard, formerly Isis, is a mobile payment service backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Windows Phone owners can associate a credit card from select financial institutions with Softcard on their phone and use it for mobile payments. According to Softcard, its app is accepted at more than 200,000 retail locations around the U.S. Softcard is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, but it requires a secure SIM card from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless in order to function properly.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T today said the companies are working together to make interoperable VoLTE calls a reality. Both carriers offer VoLTE to their subscribers, but those calls can only pass between two VoLTE-enabled devices covered by an LTE network run by the same carrier. In other words, Verizon customers can only call Verizon customers via VolTE and AT&T customers can only call AT&T customers. Engineers from both companies are working to create a set of requirements needed and then plan to move to field trials before a full deployment. Once VoLTE calls are interoperable between the two carriers, they'll work on other services, such as video calls and rich messaging. The two said customers can expect to see VoLTE interoperability for voice calls between Verizon and AT&T in 2015. T-Mobile also offers VoLTE to its customers, but it appears as though the Uncarrier has been left out of this partnership for now.
Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.
Verizon Wireless today announced a new data promotion shortly after AT&T revealed changes to its data offering. Verizon's promo benefits More Everything customers with mid-range plans. For example, the $80 More Everything plan now includes 10GB of data and the $100 plan now includes 15GB of data. The promo applies to new and existing customers and will be available starting November 1. Further, Verizon is offering $150 in bill credits to customers who port their number to Verizon with a new line of service. Verizon said both promotions will be available for a limited time.
The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.
Verizon Wireless has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over deceptive billing practices. Customers contend Verizon over-charged Family Share Plan subscribers between 2002 and 2006. They allege the company charged for in-network voice minutes that were meant to be free. They further claim Verizon over-charged for voice minute usage that exceeded the monthly allotment. For example, the main line was charged 25 cents per extra minute, but other Family Share Plan members were charged 45 cents per extra minute. The stepped-up charges were not spelled out adequately by Verizon Wireless. Verizon is putting $36.7 million into a settlement fund for customers over-charged for voice minutes. The remaining $27.5 million chunk is meant for customers who were billed for in-network minutes. The settlement has not yet been approved by a judge, and it's unclear how consumers are to go about being reimbursed.
Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.
Motorola showed off the Droid Turbo today, a high-end handset headed to Verizon Wireless. Motorola says the phone is tough, powerful, and smart. Here are our initial impressions of the latest Droid.