Verizon has made its Advanced Calling 1.0 feature available to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The free service will pass voice calls over Verizon's LTE 4G network rather than the cellular network. It offers high-quality voice calls and video calls. In order to enable the service, owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus need to use the settings tool to allow "voice & data" over LTE directly on their phone. Once enabled, the feature will appear as active in their Verizon account online. VoLTE calls only work between two Verizon VoLTE-enabled devices. The only other Verizon devices that support VoLTE right now are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2.
Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.
Verizon Wireless today announced it has expanded the reach of its "XLTE" footprint by 22 markets. Verizon's LTE network runs on 700MHz almost nationwide, but it has been adding coverage in the 1700MHz band throughout the year and marketing the dual-band 700/1700MHz coverage as XLTE. According to Verizon, four out of five of its LTE markets have access to this dual-band coverage, which is available in about 400 cities and towns across the country. Verizon didn't name the 22 new markets that launched today.
Verizon Wireless has slowly begun to enable VoLTE on select devices on its network. To start, VoLTE is available to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. In order to use the service, subscribers need to download an app called Advanced Calling 1.0. More devices will supported over time. In order for VoLTE to work, both parties need to have VoLTE-capable phones and access to Verizon's LTE 4G network. The service, which is free to use, offers high-quality calls that are passed over the data network rather than the traditional voice network. Separately, Verizon Wireless said that, like AT&T, it is going to wait until 2015 to launch Wi-Fi Calling. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said it will eventually roll out the service, which is supported by the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it is not a priority. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" said Shammo. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling to a growing number of handsets. T-Mobile just today launched its Personal CellSpot in order to help its customers experience better voice connectivity when in their homes.
Subway today announced it has partnered with Softcard and will begin accepting Softcard-based mobile payments on October 1. Softcard, which launched last year as Isis, is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The service allows smartphone owners to link their credit card to the Softcard app on their phone and use it to make mobile payments at select retailers nationwide. Subway said it will accept Softcard at 26,000 locations around the U.S. Further, the company is offering $1 back on every purchase made with American Express Serve through 12/31. Last, Subway will eventually add its Subway Card Rewards Program to the Softcard app, which will let customers earn rewards points when making mobile payments. Softcard is available to a wide number of Android smartphones through a dedicated application.
Sprint today confirmed that it will skip an upcoming spectrum auction. "Sprint has decided not to participate in the FCC's AWS-3 auction, but will continue to evaluate the opportunities presented by the upcoming 600MHz incentive auction," said Sprint spokesman Jeffrey Silva to Bloomberg. Auction 97 will see 1,614 spectrum licenses sold by the government to wireless network operators. The auction will start November 13, with a trial auction scheduled for November 10. The spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. AT&T, Dish Networks, Verizon Wireless, and many smaller companies plan to participate in the auction. The FCC has another auction, for 600MHz spectrum, scheduled for mid 2015. AT&T and Verizon already have significant low-band spectrum holdings, while Sprint does not. Sprint is more interested in the 600MHz spectrum for this reason. Low-band spectrum is valued for its propagation characteristics.
Documents seen on the FCC web site suggest that Verizon Wireless will soon have its own version of the HTC Desire 610. Based on the model number (OP90300), SKU (HTC331ZLVW), and spectrum support, a newly approved phone made by HTC is earmarked for Big Red. The 610 is an affordable Android phone with a 4.7-inch display, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, front camera, 4G LTE, and a memory card slot. It sports a clean design inspired by the HTC One, but in high-quality plastic. Like the One, it features BoomSound dual front speakers and Zoe video functions. HTC announced the Desire 610 earlier this year, and it is already being sold by AT&T.
RadioShack is considering whether or not to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as its cash reserves dwindle. The company ended its most recent quarter with just $30.5 million in cash on hand, with debts totaling $658 million. It has lost money 10 quarters in a row as electronics buyers shun the chain for larger retailers or the web. Filing for bankruptcy would help protect RadioShack's remaining cash reserves, and could set the stage for a reorganization of the firm. The company is also weighing taking on investments and cited liquidation as a last resort. Earlier this year RadioShack announced plans to close 1,100 stores, but later reduced that number to 200 after investors balked. RadioShack sells wireless service from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, as well as several prepaid brands.
Verizon Wireless will offer customers the iPhone 6 for free when they trade in an old iPhone. The iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5c, and 5s qualify for the deal, which provides a $200 credit towards the iPhone 6 16-GB device price when customers sign a new two-year contract. The trade-in offer is not available for the iPhone 6 Plus.
Softcard, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said it is "actively working with Apple to enable Softcard on the iPhone in 2015," according to CEO Michael Abbott. Softcard said Apple's decision to support NFC is "very significant and sets the stage for rapid scale adoption of mobile commerce." Softcard (the new brand name for Isis) has been available to Android smartphones since November 2013 and the iPhone via a special case since early 2014. Apple today separately announced its own mobile payment service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay will use NFC and properly-equipped retail terminals to power tap-and-go payments. Apple Pay launches in October with support from a number of banks and retailers.
Sprint today matched T-Mobile's move to increase the appeal of its trade-in program. Beginning immediately, Sprint will meet or beat all AT&T's, T-Mobile's, and Verizon's buyback pricing on all new lines of service to ensure the best trade-in values. T-Mobile on Monday said it would meet or beat competitors' trade-in programs, as well as give customers a $50 credit if they find a better deal. According to Sprint, T-Mobile's program is limited to one trade-in per line. Sprint's program isn't offering $50 in additional credit, but Sprint will accept up to three trade-ins per line and up to five trade-ins per calendar year. Further, Sprint customers can trade in old devices any time. Sprint offers up to $300 for trade-ins, depending on the phone and its condition, which can be put towards new purchases or account credit. Sprint has always been serious about accepting device trade-ins and has a significant recycling program.
Motorola today announced the 2nd-generation Moto X. The new Moto X sports a larger, 5.2-inch AMOLED full-HD screen, Snapdragon 801 processor, and 13-megapixel camera with 4K video capture. It's also thinner and sports an aluminum frame and sides and Gorilla Glass front with a curved beveled edge. The new Moto X is available with custom color combinations and materials through Moto Maker, now including leather backs and custom accent colors on the front. New infrared sensors allow the phone to automatically wake up and show the time when your hand is near the front, and wave gestures silence calls and alarms. The hands-free voice activation phrase can now be customized to something other than "OK Google Now". Turbo charging can add eight hours of battery life in just 15 minutes. A best-shot feature captures several photos before you press the shutter, and uses face recognition to automatically suggests a better shot if you were late to capture. The new Moto X will be available with Moto Maker customization on both AT&T and Verizon. It will cost $99 on contract or $499 unlocked and ship later this month.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said its new name will be Softcard. The service will remain the same, only the name is changing. Isis announced its intent to rebrand earlier this year to avoid any association with ISIS.
T-Mobile today voiced support for the HTC One for Windows on its web site. The company will sell the device in the weeks ahead. It is already sold by Verizon Wireless, and will also soon be sold by AT&T. The One for Windows runs Windows Phone rather than Android.
Verizon Wireless today announced the pending launch of its delayed VoLTE service. The service will go live in the coming weeks, and will allow select devices to connect HD Voice calls and Video Calls. Advanced Calling 1.0 uses Verizon's LTE 4G network and requires that both devices have LTE coverage. Callers will be able to see who among their Verizon Wireless contacts are available for HD Voice and Video Calling with simple icons in the contact application. Both participants need to be Verizon customers. HD Voice and VoLTE-backed Video Calling won't work if a Verizon customer calls someone who uses a competing network. The audio portion of Video Calls will be in high-definition, and calls can be switched from voice-only to video and back with ease. According to Verizon, VoLTE service will launch nationwide and arrive on compatible devices through a software update. Verizon didn't say which devices will be compatible, but HD Voice and Video Calling over VoLTE will be free to use. T-Mobile offers VoLTE-backed HD Voice over much of its LTE footprint. AT&T launched VoLTE in May in a handful of markets.
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.