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Verizon Pushing System Update to HTC One (M8)

Friday, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made a system update available to the HTC One (M8). The update adds several minor features to the Gallery app, including a copy/paste function, and resolves a number of bugs, such as web connection errors and data syncing when the Dot Matrix case is attached. The system update is free to download and install.

FCC Chair Stands by Proposal to Limit AT&T and Verizon

Thursday, 3:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today reasserted his belief that AT&T and Verizon need to be restricted from purchasing too much 600MHz spectrum in the reverse auction planned for mid 2015. Wheeler's comments came in the form of a letter in which he responded to Representative John Barrow. "The Incentive Auction offers the opportunity, possibly the last for years to come, to make low-band spectrum available to any mobile wireless provider, in any market, that is willing and able to compete at auction," said Wheeler. "At the same time, a priority of the auction should be to assure that companies that already possess low-band spectrum do not exploit the auction to keep competitors from accessing the spectrum necessary to provide competition." AT&T and Verizon Wireless both hold significant blocks of 700MHz spectrum. Low-band spectrum is coveted for its propagation properties. Wheeler wants to make sure smaller companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, get a shot at the 600MHz airwaves. Wheeler's proposal involves reserving 30MHz in each market for companies that control less than one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market. This essentially precludes AT&T and Verizon from participating. AT&T believes the conditions are unfair and amount to the FCC picking the auction's winners and losers before it even starts. The company threatened to not participate, which could hurt the auction's ability to raise capital for a national safety network.

Verizon Adds LG Lucid 3 to Inexpensive Phone Roster

Thursday, 10:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lucid 3, a low-cost Android smartphone. The Lucid 3 includes a 4.7-inch qHD display and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It features a 5-megapixel camera with full HD video capture and a VGA user-facing camera for self portraits. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and comes with a wide selection of LG apps, such as Knock Code, QSlide and QuickMemo. Other features include Isis Mobile Wallet, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE 4G, and a removable 2,440mAh battery. The LG Lucid 3 is free with a new two-year agreement, $12.50 per month with Verizon Edge, or $300 at full retail. It is available beginning today.

Phone Makers, Carriers to Add Anti-Theft Tools to Phones

Apr 15, 2014, 3:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 15, 2014, 3:49 PM

The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.

LG Updates Pair of Phones for Verizon

Apr 14, 2014, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 14, 2014, 5:10 PM

Verizon Wireless has added two refreshed LG handsets to its lineup of inexpensive phones. The LG Optimus Zone 2 and Extravert 2 are both sequels that improve specs and features. They are limited to Verizon's 3G network, as neither supports LTE 4G.

  • Zone 2: This entry-level smartphone (pictured) runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes a 3.5-inch screen with 480 x 320 pixels, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel camera, 1,700mAh battery, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0. Some of LG's software and apps are aboard, including QuickMemo and Guest Mode. The full retail price is $200, but Verizon is offering the device for just $50.
  • Extravert 2: This updated feature phone is a sideways slider that includes a touch screen on the front and a full QWERTY keyboard underneath. It has a 3.2-inch display with 400 x 240 pixels and LG's touch-based user interface for feature phones. Other features include a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth 3.0, media apps, Verizon content, and the Opera Mini web browser. The Extravert 2 costs $200 with no contract, $80 with a two-year agreement, or $8.33 per month with Verizon Edge.
Both phones are available from Verizon's web site.

Verizon Makes It Easier to Join 'More Everything' Plan

Apr 14, 2014, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it will allow more customers to switch to its More Everything plans. Beginning April 17, customers who have month-to-month service can switch to a More Everything plan in order to take advantage of the monthly service savings. According to Verizon, phones moved to More Everything plans with less than 8GB of data will save $10 per month, while those moved to More Everything plans with 10GB (and up) will save $25 per month. Further, Verizon will also allow customers to add a compatible phone they already own to More Everything plans for either $15 or $30 per month, depending on options. Verizon says four smartphones with 10GB of data will run $160 per month - the same as AT&T. The ability to switch to More Everything plans is a limited-time promotion, but Verizon didn't say when the promotion will end.

T-Mobile Kills Overage Charges, Challenges Others to Follow

Apr 14, 2014, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced that it will abolish the practice of charging overage fees beginning in May. The change will apply to all T-Mobile customers, no matter what plan they subscribe to. Overage fees are generally charged when a customer surpasses their monthly limit for voice minutes, messaging, or data use. Further, T-Mobile CEO John Legere challenged AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon to do the same thing. "Charging overage fees is a greedy, predatory practice that needs to go," said Legere. "Today I'm laying down a challenge to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to join T-Mobile in ending these outrageous overage penalties for all consumers – because it's the right thing to do." Legere kicked off a petition and is asking consumers to sign it in order to force change at T-Mobile's competitors.

Isis Mobile Wallet App Updated with Local Offers

Apr 12, 2014, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Isis recently issued an update to its Android mobile wallet application and added several new features. Isis now works better with location data and can help the owner find offers and stores near them that accept Isis. The app also works more closely with the credit card issuer, which can notify users of special offers available only to them. The app has a new icon, as well. Isis Mobile Wallet is free to download from the Google Play Store, but requires a major credit card from select issuers to use for tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

Samsung Outs Developer Edition Galaxy S5 for Verizon

Apr 11, 2014, 7:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung indicated via its web site that developers will soon be able to buy a developer edition of the Galaxy S5. The device will be compatible with Verizon's network. Samsung didn't say how much the developer edition will cost, nor what special tools might be included, nor exactly when it will go on sale. The standard edition Galaxy S5 launches at most carriers today.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Nix Download Booster from GS5

Apr 10, 2014, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's Download Booster, a feature of the Galaxy S5 meant to improve file download speeds, has been removed from the device by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. The companies did not provide a reason for cutting the app. T-Mobile will be the only major U.S. carrier to support the feature. Download Booster splits file downloads between Wi-Fi and LTE in order to create faster speeds. AnandTech reports that Download Booster only works with files from apps such as the Google Play Store, YouTube, Facebook, and the browser that are larger than 30MB. Download Booster's usefulness will vary depending on local network connections.

HTC One Reaches Most Carrier Stores Today

Apr 10, 2014, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC said the One (M8) should be available in carrier retail stores (AT&T, Sprint, etc.) around the country beginning today. It was previously only at Verizon stores.

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AT&T and Transit Wireless Eye 242 More NYC Subway Stops

Apr 9, 2014, 8:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Transit Wireless today announced plans to expand their current project, which is bringing wireless service to New York City's subway stations. Transit and its partners have already lit up service at 30 stations, mostly in midtown Manhattan, with several sprinkled throughout the Chelsea neighborhood, as well. Transit is already working on Phase Two of its project, which will add cell service to 29 underground stations in the borough of Queens and 11 more in Manhattan by the end of summer. AT&T and Transit said they will eventually offer service in an additional 242 stations around the city, though they didn't provide a timeframe for the expansion or details on exactly which stations. Transit also partners with Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, but they haven't yet announced plans to offer expanded coverage.

Cincinnati Bell to Sell Spectrum Licenses to Verizon

Apr 7, 2014, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cincinnati Bell today announced that it has agreed to sell its spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless for a total of $210 million. Verizon will pay Cincinnati Bell $194 million in cash and provide an additional $16 million to cover select Cincinnati Bell debts. Once the transaction is complete, Cincinnati Bell will lease its former assets for a period of 8 to 12 month as it winds down operations and assists in transitioning customers to Verizon Wireless or other providers. Cincinnati Bell operates a GSM-based network in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio region. The transition period is necessary because its GSM/WCDMA technology isn't compatible with Verizon's CDMA/LTE technology. Cincinnati Bell will continue to operate its wireline telephone and television businesses. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and other considerations.

Verizon Accepting Preorders for Samsung ATIV SE

Apr 4, 2014, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently made the previously unannounced Samsung ATIV SE available for preorders on its web site. The SE is a high-end Windows Phone that features a 5-inch full HD display protected by Gorilla Glass and offers three columns for Live Tiles on the home screen. The phone clearly draws its design inspiration from Samsung's Galaxy-branded Android devices. The SE is powered by a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The device supports microSD cards up to 64GB for additional storage. The SE includes a 13-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone supports Verizon's LTE network in the U.S., but can also roam onto HSPA networks in more than 200 countries around the world. Other radios include Wi-Fi (with support for mobile hotspot), Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and NFC. The SE includes several Samsung apps and services, such as its WatchOn television remote control, Samsung Link for sharing content across devices, a photo editing app, and ATIV Beam, which can be used to send files to other smartphones via NFC pairing. The ATIV SE runs Windows Phone 8 and includes the usual set of apps from Microsoft, such as Office and XBox Live. Verizon is selling the Samsung ATIV SE for $199.99 with a contract or $599.99 without a contract. Verizon is accepting preorders, and currently says the phone will ship by April 12.

Verizon Matches Cost of AT&T's 10GB Shared Plan

Apr 2, 2014, 2:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has quietly lowered the price it charges More Everything smartphone customers with a 10GB (or higher) bucket. In effect, the price has been dropped to $160 per month for four smartphones using a 10GB data allotment. The price now matches exactly that charged by AT&T for the same number of lines and same amount of data. AT&T reconfigured its Mobile Share plans in February and has been advertising them heavily.

Nokia Announces the Lumia 930

Apr 2, 2014, 12:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 2, 2014, 1:26 PM

Nokia today announced the Lumia 930, a variant of the Lumia Icon. The stand-out feature is the 930's 20-megapixel PureView sensor with optical image stabilization and Zeiss optics. The camera is accompanied by dual LED flashes and Nokia's deep range of dedicated imaging applications. The 930 includes a 2-megapixel user-facing sensor for selfies and video chats. Other characteristics include a 5-inch 1080p HD ClearBlack display that can be used with gloves; NFC and wireless charging; and a 2,420mAh battery. The 930 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The processor is paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The phone will be one of the first to run Windows Phone 8.1. The 930 will be sold globally starting in June, though Nokia said it will focus on selling the Icon variant with Verizon in the U.S.

Sprint to Support 700MHz Band 12 In Its Phones

Mar 27, 2014, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint plans to add support for 700MHz Band 12 in some of its devices beginning next year. Sprint does not own any 700MHz spectrum, but hopes to use the 700MHz capabilities to forge better roaming agreements with small, regional carriers. It is part of Sprint's larger plan to expand the reach of its network through partnerships with competitors, such as the Competitive Carrier Association's Data Access Hub. Some of the carriers that support 700MHz Band 12 include U.S. Cellular and C Spire Wireless. Additionally, AT&T has agreed to support 700MHz Band 12 thanks to the FCC's interoperability agreement. Separately, Sprint has forged a partnership with NetAmerica and will together launch a project called the Smart Market Alliance for Rural Transformation. The partnership will operate similar to Verizon Wireless's LTE Rural America program in that Sprint will license its unused 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum to NetAmerica members that want to build LTE networks of their own. Companies that choose this path will also have the option of using Sprint's core network. Regional carriers that build LTE using Sprint's spectrum will be able to provide their own customers with roaming on Sprint's network, and vice versa. The program helps Sprint as much as it does smaller carriers, as Sprint doesn't offer coverage in many rural areas.

FCC Undecided On Incentive Auction Caps

Mar 27, 2014, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Federal Communications Commission has yet to make a decision on how it will handle spectrum caps for the upcoming reverse auction for 600MHz airwaves. Small, regional carriers have been lobbying the FCC to put limits on the amount of spectrum larger carriers - namely AT&T and Verizon - can acquire in the auction. AT&T and Verizon already control massive amounts of low-band spectrum with their 700MHz holdings. Low-band spectrum is valued more highly due to its propagation characteristics. AT&T and Verizon argue that any caps would be unfair and harm the auction's ability to earn money for the federal government. "The FCC retains its authority to design these auctions in a way that promotes competition including ensuring licenses are available only to certain kinds of carriers and a cap on how much spectrum you can acquire. All those things are being considered," said the FCC's Roger Sherman. The FCC is hoping that television stations will agree to give up their 600MHz spectrum, which the FCC will in turn sell to the wireless network operators. The proceeds from the auction will repay the television stations and help fund a public safety network. The auction is expected to take place by the middle of 2015.

Sprint, T-Mobile, Rural Carriers Prepping 'Data Hub'

Mar 26, 2014, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Competitive Carrier Association is expected to announce what it calls the Data Access Hub at an event later this week. The Hub is a collection of roaming agreements between small, rural carriers and larger ones, such as Sprint and T-Mobile. The purpose of the Hub is to give Sprint and T-Mobile access to the rural networks of regional carriers, and give those regional carriers access to Sprint and T-Mobile's metropolitan LTE 4G networks. With expanded coverage, Sprint and T-Mobile will be better able to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. "The hub is all about providing coverage," said CCA president Steve Berry to CNET. "It would take billions of dollars and several years to build the kind of coverage AT&T and Verizon have today. That's why this concept of the hub is so empowering to smaller players and bigger operators like Sprint and T-Mobile. It gives them choices and incentives to invest in the networks they already operate." Carriers need only sign a single agreement with the Hub, and they'll be granted roaming access to all the other carriers that participate in the Hub. The Hub will include all current wireless technologies, including 2G, 3G, and LTE 4G. Berry said devices that can support nearly all U.S. LTE bands are on the way and, together with VoLTE, will give Hub members' customers a much better experience as they move around the country. More details will be revealed on Thursday.

HTC One Available Today, In Verizon Stores Immediately

Mar 25, 2014, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The HTC One can be purchased in the U.S. beginning today. The new smartphone from HTC will be available in Verizon Wireless retail stores beginning at approximately 1PM Eastern time. At the same time, the One will go on sale through the web sites of AT&T, Sprint, and HTC itself. T-Mobile is not offering web orders today. The One will not reach AT&T or Sprint retail stores until April 11, but can be ordered online today for delivery within several days. The One will become available from T-Mobile at some point in early April. The device retails for $199/$249, depending on the carrier, and has a full retail price of $649.

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BlackBerry 10.2.1 Available to Verizon BB10 Devices

Mar 19, 2014, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently indicated that the BlackBerry 10.2.1 operating system is now available to the Z30, Z10, and Q10 smartphones. The update adds a wide number of new features, and makes significant changes to the behavior of several key apps. For example, users can create filters in BlackBerry Hub and customize their own pinch gesture to automatically view the filtered messages. The phone application makes it easier to answer or reject calls with a new swiping motion. Users can now create SMS and email groups for simpler bulk message addressing. The lock screen adds actionable notifications, such as the ability to open incoming messages. The update adds an FM radio to the BlackBerry Z30, Q10, and Q5, lets users set automatic software updates over Wi-Fi, and adds more business-centric features that rely on BES 10. The system update is free to download over-the-air or via Wi-Fi.

T-Mobile Files Cease and Desist Against Verizon Over Ads

Mar 13, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has taken legal action against Verizon Wireless for what it claims are misleading advertisements. Verizon has run a series of TV commercials that pit the nation's four largest network footprints directly against one another via coverage maps. According to T-Mobile, Verizon is minimizing T-Mobile's actual coverage. "Verizon's ink blots massively understate our coverage and don't begin to represent the actual customer experience on T-Mobile's network," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "So we're setting the record straight - both by demanding an end to the misinformation, and by going straight to the people with the truth." T-Mobile filed a cease and desist demanding that Verizon halt the network map advertising campaign. It accuses Verizon of "cherry-picking a single network technology to depict in its ads rather than accurately reflecting the many technologies widely in use today." T-Mobile is launching a new ad campaign of its own in order to combat Verizon's ads.

SoftBank CEO Critical of U.S. Wireless Market

Mar 11, 2014, 4:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son spoke to lawmakers today about the state of the U.S. wireless market. According to Son, the networks aren't fast enough and consumers are paying too much for them. "American consumers use less data traffic, but pay more. Is that a good situation?" posed Son. Son pitched the idea of entering the home broadband market as an alternative for consumers to companies such as Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon. "We need an alternative. I would like to volunteer, we would like to be the alternative," said Son. "We got the technology, we have to deploy many cells, it requires a lot of capital expenditure, it requires a lot of scale. We are bringing new technology to the States. Speed matters, with better speed we can bring next-generation applications and content." Son hopes his remarks help change the minds of those who might otherwise shoot down Sprint's possible acquisition of T-Mobile.

SoftBank on T-Mobile: 'We Have to Give It a Shot'

Mar 11, 2014, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is convinced the only way Sprint and T-Mobile can compete against AT&T and Verizon is for the two smaller carriers to merge. Speaking on television with Charlie Rose, Son indicated that even though U.S. regulators have warned such a deal would face stiff opposition, Sprint is going to pursue T-Mobile anyway. "We would like to make the deal happen, but there are steps and details that we have to work out," said Son. "We have to give it a shot." AT&T and Verizon together control two-thirds of the U.S. wireless market. Even combined, Sprint and T-Mobile would be smaller than AT&T and Verizon Wireless by tens of millions of customers. Son said if the deal goes through, he'll launch a price war against the two larger carriers in order to break up the duopoly. Son and his team are actively engaging people in the wireless industry as well as in the government in order to convince them the deal has merit. Only after Son feels he has swayed their opinions will the company make an official bid for T-Mobile.

Verizon Offering $20 Monthly Quad-Play Discount

Mar 7, 2014, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced that customers of both its wireless and wireline services can receive $20 off their total monthly bill by combining accounts. In order to get the discount, customers must subscribe to Verizon Wireless and Verizon's FiOS triple-play bundle, which includes FiOS home internet, television, and home phone service. Customers will receive $10 off their wireless bill and $10 off their FiOS bill for a period of two years, providing a maximum discount of $480. The promotion is available starting today and it runs through April 19.

AT&T Quietly Lights Up Carrier Aggregation in Chicago

Mar 6, 2014, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 7, 2014, 10:32 AM

AT&T has improved its LTE network in Chicago and several other markets by using an LTE-Advanced technique called Carrier Aggregation. GigaOm confirmed the soft launch with AT&T SVP of Network Technologies Kris Rinne. With Carrier Aggregation, AT&T has combined the channels of its existing spectrum to double the capacity. AT&T is running LTE in both the 700MHz and AWS bands in Chicago. By aggregating the channels together, AT&T can deliver theoretical peak download speeds of 110Mbps to devices with the proper radio support. At the moment, AT&T is selling only one device with Carrier Aggregation, the Unite mobile hotspot. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is expected to be the first smartphone to support Carrier Aggregation in the U.S. AT&T did not name the other two markets that have access to Carrier Aggregation, but said that more markets on are on the way. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of deploying Carrier Aggregation in their own LTE networks.

Isis Promo Suggests New Yorkers Use It to Pay Cab Fare

Mar 5, 2014, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 5, 2014, 1:20 PM

Isis today announced another promotion with the goal of coaxing smartphone owners into using its tap-and-go mobile payment service. The promotion will give American Express card holders who've registered their card with Isis a statement credit when they use Isis to pay for a ride in a medallioned New York City yellow cab. Isis will credit users back for 50% of the fare up to a maximum of $100. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. About two dozen different Android devices are compatible with the system, which requires a secure SIM card, NFC, a credit card from a participating financial firm, and the Isis mobile application. The iPhone requires a separate case, which costs $70, to use Isis. It is free to sign up for Isis.

RadioShack to Shutter As Many As 1,100 Stores

Mar 4, 2014, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack reported its fourth quarter earnings today, and revealed that it plans to close twice as many stores as initially forecast. The company said slow foot traffic, heavy promotions, and weak smartphone sales during the holiday season led to a quarterly loss of $191.4 million. The company had warned it would close about 500 stores to cut costs, but has now doubled that number to 1,100. The closures will leave RadioShack with about 4,000 stores still open in the U.S. RadioShack is in the process of updating both its image and its sales strategy with a focus on electronic entertainment devices. It sells devices from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Relaunches Prepaid Plans as 'Allset'

Mar 3, 2014, 10:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 4, 2014, 4:02 PM

Verizon Wireless today revamped its prepaid plans for both feature phones and smartphones. The new Allset plans for feature phones cost $35 per month for 500 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, and 500MB of data. Feature phones can jump to unlimited voice and text, and 500MB of data for $45 per month. Allset smartphone plans cost $45 per month and include unlimited voice, texting, and 500MB of data. Verizon is also offering what it calls "Bridge Data." Allset plan customers can add more data to their plan at any time. For example, customers can add 500MB (30-day expiration) to their Allset plan for $5 per month; 1GB (90-day expiration) for $10 per month; or 3GB (90-day expiration) for $20 per month. Unused data will carry over to the next month. For a limited time, Verizon is offering to double the monthly data allotment, as well as include 1,000 monthly minutes for calling to Canada and Mexico, for all Allset customers who sign up with autopay. Allset smartphone customers will be able to use their devices as a mobile hotspot. Verizon's new Allset plans are available beginning today.

AT&T Cops to VoLTE Delay

Feb 28, 2014, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T this week admitted that its planned late 2013 launch of VoLTE has been delayed. "We're in the final stages of optimization," said Kris Rinne, AT&T's SVP of network technologies in an interview with Fierce Wireless. But added, "It's not quite ready." VoLTE passes voice calls over LTE networks as data rather than through the traditional circuit-switched method used by most cell phones. Verizon Wireless has also delayed plans to launch VoLTE. It initially hoped to launch the service by late 2013, but in December pushed the launch back to mid 2014.

Verizon Completes Vodafone Buyout

Feb 21, 2014, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 21, 2014, 9:46 AM

Verizon Communications today became the sole owner of Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless was launched as a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group. Verizon owned 55% and Vodafone owned 45%. Verizon proposed last year to purchase the portion of Verizon Wireless that it didn't own from Vodafone for $130 billion. The deal was given FCC approval in December and shareholder approval in January. The deal officially closed this morning. Verizon Communications now has full control over Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone, which is based in the U.K., has been reduced in value by about half.

FCC to Rewrite Open Internet Rules

Feb 19, 2014, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

After being handed a defeat in court last month, the Federal Communications Commission will take another stab at implementing rules to keep the internet open. Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, said in a statement Wednesday the agency will forgo further legal action against Verizon, which won its challenge to the rules, and will use Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to create new rules that are clearer, more well defined, and backed by law. From a high-level point of view, Wheeler wants internet service providers to be open about their network management tactics, wants to prevent them from discriminating against certain types of traffic, and wants to prevent them from entirely blocking services. Wheeler hopes that by changing the argument behind the Open Internet Rules, the FCC will be able to establish them officially and in a manner that can be enforced. "The FCC must stand strongly behind its responsibility to oversee the public interest standard and ensure that the internet remains open and fair," said Wheeler. "The internet is and must remain the greatest engine of free expression, innovation, economic growth, and opportunity the world has ever known. We must preserve and promote the internet."

Transit Wireless Enters Phase 2 of NYC Subway Project

Feb 19, 2014, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 19, 2014, 11:00 AM

Transit Wireless today announced that it has begun Phase Two of its project to bring cellular and Wi-Fi wireless service to New York City's subway stations. The first step of Phase Two is to light up service at 11 more midtown Manhattan stations, including those at Grand Central Terminal, 34th St. Herald Square, and Bryant Park. The bulk of Phase Two, however, targets 29 stations in Queens. Transit Wireless is building a hub in Queens to help manage the infrastructure from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The Queens build out begins in March and should be complete by June. Transit Wireless has not said if or when it will offer subway station service in the boroughs of the Bronx or Brooklyn.

T-Mobile to Let Customers 'Jump' to New Phones More Often

Feb 14, 2014, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said that beginning February 23 customers of its Jump early upgrade program will be able to upgrade more often than twice per year. "Whenever you're ready to upgrade, trade in your device and T-Mobile will pay your remaining device payments up to 50% of the device cost," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. "There is no more waiting period or limit to the number of times you can upgrade per year." T-Mobile is requiring that customers pay off half the cost of their phone before upgrading, though. Many phones carry a full retail price of $600 or more. T-Mobile's Jump plans carry a $10 premium over regular plan pricing. The more frequent upgrades mirror those offered under Verizon's Edge plans.

Verizon Ramps Up Data Allotments, Trims Prices

Feb 13, 2014, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today unfurled new rate plans in response to recent offerings from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The "More Everything Plan" increases the data in some pricing tiers and drops the cost for some Verizon Edge plans. For example, all Edge customers choosing data plans up to 8GB will see their prices drop by $10 per month. Customers who have data buckets of 10GB and higher will see their prices drop by $20 per month. Verizon's Edge plans allow customers to pay for their device over time. Further, Verizon is bumping the $40 500MB plan to 1GB, the $50 1GB plan to 2GB, and the $60 2GB plan to 3GB. These changes will be applied automatically. The more devices that are added to a single account, the more customers can save. The More Everything plans are available starting today.

Hands-On: Nokia Lumia Icon for Verizon Wireless

Feb 12, 2014, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

This hero smartphone for Verizon Wireless is packed with imaging chops and Nokia's best software. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.

continued ›

Lumia Icon Boasts Lossless 1080p Video Zooming

Feb 12, 2014, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today announced the Lumia Icon, a flagship Windows Phone for Verizon Wireless. The stand-out feature is the Icon's 20-megapixel PureView sensor with optical image stabilization and Zeiss optics. According to Nokia, the Icon lets users zoom in up to 3x while shooting video and still maintain 1080p HD resolution. The camera is accompanied by dual LED flashes and Nokia's deep range of dedicated imaging applications. The Icon also includes a 2-megapixel user-facing sensor for selfies and video chats. Other characteristics include a 5-inch 1080p HD ClearBlack display that can be used with gloves; support for Verizon's LTE 4G network and HSPA+ networks in Europe and Asia; NFC and wireless charging; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Icon is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The processor is paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The phone runs the latest version of Windows Phone and ships with the Nokia Black system update installed. The Nokia Lumia Icon will be available online and in Verizon stores beginning February 20. Verizon is asking $199.99 with a new two-year contract. The device will be available for preorder from Microsoft stores beginning today. Those who purchase the Lumia Icon from Microsoft before March 16 will receive a free charging accessory.

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Sprint No Longer Sure About T-Mobile Bid

Feb 10, 2014, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is rethinking its intent to make a bid for T-Mobile after the idea was met with skepticism from government officials. Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son and CEO Dan Hesse met with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission in recent weeks. Both agencies indicated a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would face tough resistance from antitrust regulators. Though Son and Hesse knew the idea would be meet some pushback, they were surprised by the level of skepticism for the deal, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. Sprint and T-Mobile contend that the only way for them to effectively combat AT&T and Verizon Wireless is to join forces. U.S. officials have, however, made it abundantly clear they prefer to have four national carriers and not three. The Journal says Sprint may yet make a play for T-Mobile, but will likely spend weeks or longer to weigh its options.

Lights from LA Building Interfere with Verizon's Network

Feb 9, 2014, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 9, 2014, 4:04 PM

The Federal Communications Commission cited a property owner for interfering with Verizon Wireless's network in downtown Los Angeles. The fluorescent lights used by Ernst & Young Plaza, a 41-story office tower owned by Brookfield Office Properties, are generating enough high-frequency radio emissions to cause problems for Verizon's 700MHz-based LTE network in the area. Verizon first noticed the problem in April 2013 and asked both the FCC and Brookfield to resolve the issue. Brookfield said it was investigating the problem, but has not said if or how it intends to fix it. Verizon complained to the FCC in December that the problem was not solved. In response, the FCC verified the problem still exists and cited the building owner. The FCC wants a formal response from Brookfield, with detailed explanations of how it will fix the problem, within 60 days. The light fixtures in question are made by GE, which admitted in 2012 that a small number of the ballasts do in fact unintentionally interfere with wireless networks. Fluorescent light fixtures are classified as industrial, scientific, and medical equipment, and are regulated by the FCC.

HTC Says Verizon's One to Receive KitKat 'Shortly'

Feb 6, 2014, 1:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today indicated via one of its Twitter accounts that Verizon Wireless has approved the Android 4.4 and Sense 5.5 system update. HTC said the over-the-air update should be available to One owners shortly.

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