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printed November 29, 2015
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Verizon Allowing Customers to Send Data as a Gift

Tuesday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made it possible for subscribers to send one another the gift of data access. Verizon customers can send 1GB of LTE 4G data to family/friends for $10. Gifted data will be billed directly to the sender's account. The data can be purchased through the Verizon Messages app or Verizon's web site. Verizon said an update to the Verizon Messages app for Android, being pushed out today, adds the data-gifting feature.

Google Encouraging Android Pay Adoption with Donations

Tuesday, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google hopes the prospect of charitable giving will spur more people to use Android Pay for purchases during the holiday season. The company today said it will donate $1 for every Android Pay transaction between now and Dec. 31 to special needs education projects. Google is committing to offer up to $1 million, and will donate $2 for every Android Pay transaction made on Black Friday, Nov. 27. Android Pay is available to most NFC-equipped smartphones (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) and is accepted at more than one million retail locations around the country.

Verizon Offering 1GB of Free Data for the Holidays

Nov 20, 2015, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless customers can snag an extra 1GB of mobile data this month from Big Red. The promotional data offer can be redeemed online and will be added to the account holder's existing data allotment for the current billing period. Verizon said customers can get another free 1GB of data for their next billing period, too. Verizon is offering a range of other freebies to its customers in what it calls its "Thanksgetting" promotion. For example, people who shop online Nov. 25 can get a $5 iTunes gift card or a 30-day trial of Pandora One. Other freebies come from Lyft, Boingo, Gogo, and Amazon.

LG Nixes Watch Urbane 2nd Edition At Last Minute

Nov 19, 2015, 6:15 PM   by Rich Brome

AT&T today started issuing refunds to customers that pre-ordered LG's latest smartwatch, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition. LG later elaborated that it has postponed launch plans for the device indefinitely. The Watch Urbane 2nd Edition was to be the first watch to support the new built-in cellular connectivity features in the newest version of Android Wear. The watch included 4G LTE and was to be available first with AT&T and Verizon, as well as in Korea. A statement from LG reads "the decision was made to cancel the rollout of the Urbane 2nd Edition LTE due to the complicated nature of the issue. Whether the device will be available in the future will be decided at a later time. For now, our top priority is to ensure that only products that meet our very specific quality standards are available for purchase."

FCC Wants All Cell Phones Hearing Aid Compatible

Nov 19, 2015, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today expanded the scale of hearing aid compatibility in cell phones to include IP-based communications, such as WiFi and VoLTE. AT&T and Verizon Wireless recently sought and received waivers to offer WiFi calling along with an alternate to the legacy technology called RTT (real-time text). The rules require handset makers to design phones that comply with both current and future technologies. The FCC wants phone makers to consider hearing aid compatibility as early as possible during the design process. The FCC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to help define a path toward making all phones accessible to people who use hearing aids or have cochlear implants. Right now, phone makers only have to make a small selection of their handsets accessible to hearing-impaired persons. The FCC wants to see such people offered the same range of devices that are available to all consumers. The FCC is seeking comment on its proposal, which was developed together with consumer and industry representatives.

Sprint Offering 50% Off Competitors' Rates

Nov 18, 2015, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 18, 2015, 11:18 AM

Sprint said beginning November 20, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers who switch their number to Sprint will save 50% off their old rate plan. The 50% savings will be available to switchers through Jan. 8, 2018. Sprint is also offering up to $650 in reimbursement for ETFs and other fees, but requires new customers to trade in their old smartphone. The promotion is limited to a maximum of 10 lines per account. Subsidized devices require an extra $25 per month fee. The half-rate plan does not extend to unlimited music/video streaming, data carryover, tethering, or cloud services. Mobile hotspot consumption is pulled from the shared data plan. The discount does not apply to taxes, surcharges, add-ons, apps, premium content, or international services. Discounts vary based on the rates charged by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Not all competitor rate plans apply. Sprint offered a similar promotion last year.

Verizon Wireless Rehashes Prepaid Plans

Nov 15, 2015, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has adjusted its selection of prepaid service plans for smartphones, basic phones, and data devices. Verizon now offers three plans to smartphones. The least expensive option, $30 per month, includes unlimited voice/text, but no wireless data — Verizon expects customers of this plan to access data via WiFi only. Verizon is also offering $45 and $60 prepaid smartphone plans that include 1GB and 3GB of data, respectively. Basic phones have two options: The $15 plan buys 300 talk/text (combined) and unlimited data, while the $30 plan buys unlimited talk/text and data. Last, Verizon now offers data devices (tablets, hotspots) weekly, monthly, and bi-monthly options. Verizon prepaid customers can opt to pay $15 for a week's worth of access to 500MB of LTE 4G data, or $20 for a month's worth of access to 1GB of data. The bi-monthly options cost $35 for 2GB, $60 for 5GB, and $100 for 10GB. The bi-monthly plans allow customers to access those data allotments over a two-month period. Verizon's new prepaid plans go into effect today.

FCC Gives Verizon Its WiFi Calling Waiver

Nov 13, 2015, 1:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today granted Verizon Wireless' request for a waiver that will allow it to offer WiFi calling services. The waiver is needed because TTY services, which carriers are obligated to offer, are not reliable over WiFi. As such, Verizon needs to replace TTY with real-time text (RTT) in order to remain compliant with the law. The waiver gives Verizon latitude to offer WiFi calling while cooking up a permanent replacement for TTY. Verizon filed its request Oct. 23. The FCC took much longer to grant a similar request from AT&T, which launched WiFi calling in October. Verizon didn't say how soon it expects to offer WiFi calling.

Verizon to Start Tacking $20 Fee to New Lines

Nov 13, 2015, 12:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless will soon begin charging a $20 activation fee for new customers who sign up for one of its contract-free device payment plans. The fee goes into effect Nov. 15. Previously, Verizon waived activation fees for customers who purchased devices via monthly installment plans. Verizon already charges a $40 activation fee to customers signing contracts. Though Verizon no longer offers contracts, it will still charge that $40 fee to grandfathered contract customers who add a new line of service. Verizon said the new $20 fee covers costs associated with adding a line, such as pairing the customer's phone number with their SIM card. Part of the initial appeal of monthly installment plans was the "$0 down" promise from carriers. Verizon's new fee effectively reneges on that policy. AT&T's installment plan customers now pay a $15 fee, too, when adding a new line. Sprint charges $36 for all new lines of service, and T-Mobile charges $15 for its SIM starter kit.

Transit Wireless Brings Service to 20 Stations In the Bronx

Nov 12, 2015, 1:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 12, 2015, 1:52 PM

Transit Wireless today said it has completed Phase 4 of its project to bring cellular and WiFi service to subway stations across New York City. Phase 4 adds coverage to 20 stations in the Bronx, as well as 17 stations in Manhattan. Some of the new stations include 53rd St./Lexington Ave. (6,E,M) and 59th/Lex. (4,5,6,N,Q,R) in Manhattan, and 149th S. Grand Concourse (2,4,5), and 125th St. (4,5,6) in the Bronx. Transit says it provides service to more than 140 stations throughout the New York City subway system. Service is available to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and now Verizon Wireless customers.

AT&T Seeking 20MHz Block of 600MHz Spectrum

Nov 12, 2015, 12:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is making plans to participate in next year's incentive auction, according to CFO John Stephens. "Spectrum is a scare asset, and so we would expect to participate," said Stephens, speaking at technology conference. "I won't suggest at what level, but we plan in our business plans to do that, and we'll see how it plays out, what's available. Certainly, getting a nationwide opportunity is what we've talked about in the past. A 2x10 MHz nationwide capability is something that works very well with our network planning and our network team, but we will see how this develops." AT&T already has significant low-band spectrum holdings in the 700MHz range. The incentive auction, planned for the middle of next year, will see television broadcasters turn in their spectrum licenses which will then be auctioned off to wireless broadband providers. AT&T's participation in the auction is somewhat limited thanks to a reserve for smaller carriers put in place by the FCC. T-Mobile has said it will spend up to $10 billion to get the low-band spectrum it needs to better compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Sprint is sitting the auction out. Verizon hasn't discussed its plans in detail.

Verizon's 'TravelPass' Offers Roaming for $10 Per Day

Nov 12, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is prepared to offer customers a new international roaming package called TravelPass. Verizon customers will be able to access their existing talk, text, and data buckets when roaming in 65 different countries for $10 per 24-hour period. Roaming in Canada and Mexico will cost $2 per day. Customers will only be charged for the service when abroad and actively using their phone in other countries. "Unlike other providers, Verizon doesn't use gimmicks like 'free data roaming' to lure you in and then put you on the slowest network and restrict your data use while outside of the U.S.," said Verizon in a statement. Verizon still offers a $40 package for those who plan to roam for longer periods of time. High-speed data service is included, though customers will need a world phone in order to roam. Verizon's new offering follows moves by competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, which have taken steps to reduce the pain of traveling abroad.

Google Adds Cellular Support to Android Wear Platform

Nov 11, 2015, 9:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Android Wear platform now broadly supports cellular connections for making calls, sending messages, and syncing data, says Google. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which was announced last month, is the first Android Wear device to support cellular networks. LG, Samsung, and others have sold cellular watches in the past, but none ran Android Wear. Google said cellular-equipped Android watches will automatically switch from Bluetooth or WiFi to cellular when needed for connectivity. Google fully expects people will be able to use their Android smartwatches to answer calls, read emails, dictate text messages, and manage their fitness all while on the go. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are offering cellular service to the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE. The watch is available for pre-order starting today.

Verizon Says BlackBerry Priv 'Coming Soon'

Nov 8, 2015, 10:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless took to its Twitter account to tease the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. "Priv by BlackBerry. The first-ever BlackBerry powered by Android. Coming soon," said the company. A link in the Tweet leads to a landing page on Verizon's web site where people can register for updates concerning the Priv. The Priv went on sale in the U.S. this week. It is a vertical slider with a 5.4-inch screen, physical QWERTY keyboard, and an 18-megapixel camera. It costs $699.

Verizon Updates Cloud App with Smart Albums

Nov 5, 2015, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has improved the Verizon Cloud app for Android devices with new features called Smart Albums and Print Shop. Smart Albums can automatically select the best photos and videos to create albums based on events and locations. The albums can then easily be shared across social networks. Further, a collaboration with RealNetworks lets Verizon Cloud app users automatically generate video montages that are set to music, called RealTime Stories. The app allows users to customize the montages with their own video and music selections, as well. The Smart Albums are free to use, but RealTime Stories will cost $1.99 per month after January 2, 2016 (free trial until then). The Print Shop makes it simple for Cloud App users to print photos stored in the cloud, as well as create albums, canvases, and framed prints from Photobucket. The Verizon Cloud app is meant to help customers back up their phone's content (contracts, photos, videos), transfer that data to new devices; share media with others; sync messages back 90 days; and access files across devices. It is free to download from the Google Play Store. The service comes with 5GB of free storage, but Verizon will sell additional storage starting at 25GB for $2.99 per month. The new features make it a more function media management tool.

Verizon's go90 Video App Wins Exclusive NBA Content

Nov 4, 2015, 4:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today struck a major deal with the National Basketball Association that will give Verizon customers access to premium NBA video content. Specifically, Verizon's go90 mobile video service will offer daily highlights, original content, and out-of-market games via the NBA League Pass. Further, all go90 customers will be able to clip and share NBA-related content easily via text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter. The NBA will work with Verizon to develop an original series only available to go90 users. Verizon is now the official wireless provider for the NBA, WNBA, NBA-D, and USAB. Verizon's branding will be more prominent during NBA events, such as league games, the slam dunk contest, and the all-star game. Verizon's go90 app is free for anyone to download, but some content is exclusive to Verizon Wireless customers.

LG Says V10 Now On Sale

Oct 30, 2015, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 30, 2015, 9:51 AM

LG today marked the official arrival of the V10 smartphone, which has dual-front cameras and a secondary display. The device is on sale in the U.S., as well as China and Hong Kong. Today's launch will be followed in other markets across North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East throughout the fourth quarter. T-Mobile is the lone U.S. carrier selling the V10 in stores today, though AT&T and Verizon are accepting orders online. AT&T plans to stock the device in stores Nov 6.

Verizon to Shutter Some Offices, Eliminate Jobs

Oct 29, 2015, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon has informed employees that it plans to reduce the number of regional offices around the country and correspondingly reduce headcount. The company has 20 regional locations, which it plans to pare down to just six. Verizon did not say which facilities will be closed nor how many jobs will be eliminated, but it indicated that retail employees will not be impacted. Verizon had approximately 178,000 employees at the end of the third quarter. The company is looking to reduce expenses as its business continues to transition away from landline services to wireless service. "We are constantly working to evolve our operations to best support our customers' changing needs," said Verizon in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Verizon didn't put a timeline on the office closures.

T-Mobile's LTE Network Covers 300 Million People

Oct 28, 2015, 12:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said its LTE 4G network now reaches 300 million Americans, a significant milestone for the Uncarrier. The company says it is ahead of schedule, and will add coverage to one million square miles this year. For example, the carrier recently lit up Missoula, Kalispell, Butte, Helena, and Anaconda, Montana, and plans to light up many more cities around the country. The company has long been playing a game of coverage catch-up with larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless, both of which cover more than 310 million people with their LTE networks. T-Mobile recently reported quarterly earnings, and recorded 2.3 million new connections, with 1.1 million new post-paid customers. The company generated revenue of about $1.9 billion and a net profit of $138 million.

Hands On with the Motorola Droid Maxx 2 for Verizon

Oct 27, 2015, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Maxx 2 from Motorola is the less expensive of Verizon's two new Droids, but it is no less compelling. The phone offers incredible battery life, customizable rear shells, and specs to spare. It shares its design with the tougher Turbo 2, but the Maxx 2 isn't quite as rugged. Here is Phone Scoop's early take on the Motorola Droid Maxx 2.

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Hands On with the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 for Verizon

Oct 27, 2015, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola's new Droid Turbo 2 for Verizon aims to entice power users with two-day battery life, a powerful camera, and fast performance on Verizon's LTE 4G network. Motorola claims the Turbo 2 is more or less unbreakable thanks to what it calls "shatter shield" technology. Read on for Phone Scoop's first impressions of this Droid sequel.

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Samsung Pay Wins Support from More Banks

Oct 27, 2015, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 27, 2015, 12:25 PM

Samsung today said Samsung Pay will soon be supported by more financial institutions. This means a broader range of consumers will be able to add their credit or debit cards to Samsung Pay. Some of the new banks include Chase, PNC Bank, TD Bank, SunTrust, Fifth Third Bank, First Hawaiian, Key Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, Virginia Credit Union, Associated Bank, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, and People’s United Bank. Each of these card issuers will be added to Samsung Pay over the next few months. The American Express, MasterCard, and Visa payment networks already support Samsung Pay, and Samsung said Discover will join early next year. Moreover, Samsung Pay will soon add support for gift cards, loyalty cards, and store-issued credit cards. Samsung Pay is compatible with NFC- and MST-equipped terminals, unlike Apple Pay and Android Pay, which only work with NFC. Samsung says about three-quarters of payments made so far via Samsung Pay have been at MST-equipped terminals. Samsung Pay is available to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 on AT&T, Sprint. T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

Droid Maxx 2 Boasts 2-Day Battery Life

Oct 27, 2015, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 27, 2015, 11:05 AM

Motorola and Verizon today announced the Droid Maxx 2, which claims to offer people "maximum battery life" thanks to the 3630mAh power cell. The Maxx 2 provides 48 hours of use, and the TurboCharge feature can provide 8 hours of battery life after just 15 minutes plugged into a charger. The Maxx 2 isn't as rugged as the Droid Turbo 2, but still offers a 21-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, interchangeable rear shells, and memory card slot. The Droid Maxx 2 goes on sale this week for $16 per month with a Verizon installment plan.

Motorola Droid Turbo 2 Has 'Shatter Shield'

Oct 27, 2015, 10:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 27, 2015, 11:05 AM

Verizon Wireless and Motorola today announced the Droid Turbo 2, an Android smartphone that claims to be shatterproof. Motorola says its engineers and designers built a rugged handset from the inside out over the course of several years. The shatter shield technology has 5 layers that absorb shock and protect against breakage. The first is a rigid aluminum core, followed by a flexible AMOLED display, with a dual-touch layer for redundancy, and an interior shield that won't crack or shatter. The Turbo 2 is the first Droid that can be customized via Moto Maker, which offers a wide variety of materials and colors for personalization. Motorola claims the 3760mAh battery provides 48 hours of use and the TurboPower charge delivers 13 hours of up time after being charged for just 15 minutes. The Turbo 2 has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen, 21-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and Snapdragon 810 processor. The Droid Turbo 2 will cost $26 per month for the 32GB version and $30 per month for the 64GB version.

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Android Pay to Gain Loyalty Rewards, Other Promotions

Oct 27, 2015, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google said customer loyalty programs and other consumer-facing benefits are headed to Android Pay. Speaking at a finance conference in Las Vegas, Google's SVP of ads and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, said the service has signed up "millions" of people since launch. Despite linking a credit or debit card with Android Pay, more than 60% of these newcomers have yet to use the service. In order to entice usage, Google and Coke are rolling out a rewards program. Consumers who use Android Pay to purchase beverages at Coke's NFC-equipped vending machines will earn points towards future purchases. Similar promotions with other vendors are in the works. Google is also looking to its carrier partners to drum up support for Android Pay. Retail reps at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon stores are expected to mention Android Pay to consumers who purchase Android handsets. Android Pay launched last month and competes with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Like Apple Pay, Android Pay relies on NFC-equipped payment terminals at supporting retailers. Android Pay has the support of American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, but lacks support from some of the largest card issuers, including JPMorgan Chase. Chase recently announced its own mobile payment service.

Verizon Seeking Permission from FCC for WiFi Calling

Oct 23, 2015, 4:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has requested a waiver from the FCC so it can eventually offer WiFi calling to its customers. The waiver is needed because TTY services, which carriers are obligated to offer, are not reliable over WiFi. As such, Verizon will need to replace TTY with real-time text (RTT) in order to remain compliant with the law. Verizon's request follows similar actions taken by rival AT&T. The FCC granted AT&T's waiver request earlier this month and the carrier subsequently launched WiFi calling on the iPhone. Sprint and T-Mobile have both offered WiFi calling for about a year, though neither requested a waiver from the FCC. Verizon didn't say how quickly it expects to bring WiFi calling to its handsets.

Verizon Teases Its Next Droid

Oct 20, 2015, 11:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 20, 2015, 1:42 PM

Verizon Wireless today tweeted a fuzzy photo — and a clearer video — of a Droid handset that resembles the Motorola Moto X. The company has a Droid-branded event taking place Oct. 28 and it is highly probable the device pictured today is the one Verizon intends to announce at that event. The photo is accompanied by text that reads, "Introducing the perfect phone for imperfect people." This implies the phone might be tough or rugged in some capacity. Previously Droid handsets have had Kevlar construction. Verizon didn't reveal any more details about this yet-unnamed smartphone.

HTC One A9: First Phone To Work on Verizon Without CDMA

Oct 20, 2015, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will sell an unlocked version of its new One A9 that can be used on Verizon's LTE network, even though the phone lacks the legacy CDMA technology found in all other Verizon phones to date. That makes the One A9 the first phone announced for use with Verizon in LTE-only mode. Verizon has upgraded its entire network footprint to LTE technology, including VoLTE (Voice over LTE, which enables voice calls using only the LTE network.) These upgrades make older CDMA technology obsolete, but the CDMA network will continue to operate until around 2021, and Verizon phones so far have supported the older CDMA technology in addition to LTE. Verizon has separately announced plans to offer an LTE-only phone by the end of this year, but has yet to announce one that it will sell directly. The One A9 variant in question will work with Verizon LTE after a software update, available shortly after launch. It will also work with AT&T and T-Mobile LTE and 3G networks. A separate version is designed for Sprint LTE and CDMA networks. HTC says previously-activated SIM cards (i.e., those pulled from a working Verizon phone) will have full support to voice, SMS/MMS, and data services via LTE on the One A9. Customers will not be able to activate a new Verizon SIM on the A9, nor can the A9 be activated in Verizon stores. The unlocked One A9 comes with an unlocked bootloader, 6 months of Google Play Music for free, and Uh Oh Protection. It costs $399 and will be available in the weeks ahead.

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Verizon Says Samsung Pay Update Pushing This Week

Oct 20, 2015, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today confirmed that it is enabling Samsung Pay on the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+ through a software update. "After the update, customers will be able to download and install the [Samsung Pay] app from the Google Play Store," said Verizon in an email to Phone Scoop. "The update will be pushed out to customers in phases this week." Verizon said S6 and S6 Edge owners can manually download the update via the system settings. Verizon's competitors have already enabled Samsung Pay on their Samsung handsets. The service supports both NFC and MST for mobile payments and is available at a wide range of retail locations. Samsung Pay competes directly with Android Pay on Android smartphones. Android Pay is limited to NFC-equipped retail terminals.

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LG Lancet Drops Windows Phone for Android

Oct 16, 2015, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed a new variant of the LG Lancet that runs Android rather than Windows Phone. The Lancet first reached Big Red earlier this year with Windows Phone 8.1 in tow. The LG Lancet for Android, as it is officially called, may be the first handset initially released for Windows Phone later re-released with Android. The device runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and comes with LG's signature features, such as KnockOn and QuickMemo. The Lancet for Android features a 4.5-inch screen, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 8 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The Lancet is a budget-friendly phone. The full retail price is $120, though Verizon is offering the phone for $5 per month with a financing plan.

Verizon Brings WiFi Calling to iPhone Via Message+ App

Oct 16, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2015, 7:23 AM

Verizon Wireless updated its Verizon Message+ app for iPhones, adding the ability to make phone calls over WiFi. In order for WiFi calling to work, Verizon iPhone owners will need to switch on the advanced calling function of their phone. WiFi calls can only be completed via the Verizon Message+ app. Using the native iOS dialer still passes calls through Verizon's cellular network. The app also adds electronic gifting, improved media search, and scheduled messaging for sending texts at specific times/dates. WiFi calling is available to the Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. Verizon hasn't said if or when it might make WiFi calling available to Android handsets. The Verizon Message+ app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Verizon's offering trails that of its competitors. AT&T launched WiFi calling last week, while Sprint and T-Mobile have offered the feature for about a year. WiFi calling is useful for making calls when cellular network coverage is poor.

Verizon Kicks Off Preorders for Samsung Gear S2

Oct 15, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 15, 2015, 8:21 AM

Verizon Wireless today began accepting preorders for the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. The wearable, announced earlier this year, runs Samsung's Tizen platform and includes a cellular radio for calls and other functions. The smartwatch costs $350 at full retail, or $300 with a two-year contract. Service for the Gear S2 costs $5 per month when added to a smartphone plan. The device will reach stores Nov 6.

Verizon Launches 5 Prepaid Plans for Tablets, Hotspots

Oct 9, 2015, 1:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed five new options for customers who want to connect their tablets or hotspots to Verizon's network on a no-contract basis. The month-to-month data plans cost $15 per week for 500MB, or $20 per month for 1GB, $35 for 2GB, $60 for 5GB, or $100 for 10GB. Customers can enroll in auto-pay to keep their accounts active, or top up only when needed. Verizon says customers can replenish their accounts directly on their device, online, or via refill cards. The plans are compatible with 3G/4G-equipped tablets and other mobile broadband devices.

Verizon to Raise Unlimited Data Plan By $20

Oct 8, 2015, 8:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 8, 2015, 9:42 AM

Verizon Wireless intends to increase the price of its grandfathered unlimited mobile data plan by $20 per month to a total of $49.99. The change affects only 1% of Verizon customers, who've held onto these unlimited plans for some time. Verizon doesn't offer unlimited plans to new customers any more, who instead need to purchase mobile data in buckets. Any customer who has an unlimited plan under contract will be able to keep the current pricing until the contract terms are fulfilled; however, the majority of people with unlimited data plans are off contract. The $49.99 includes unlimited data, but not voice/messaging services; those cost extra. To offset the increased price a little bit, Verizon will allow people with these old unlimited plans to purchase devices through an installment plan, rather than the full retail cost. Verizon currently offers data in S, M, L, XL, and XXL allotments in prices ranging from $30 for 1GB to $100 for 15GB. Verizon said the change will go into effect after Nov. 15. Government and corporate accounts will not be affected.

Verizon to Share Customer Browsing Data with AOL

Oct 7, 2015, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 7, 2015, 2:30 PM

Verizon recently indicated it plans to let AOL track its customers' mobile browsing activity through the use of a supercookie. The supercookie is a controversial tool used by Verizon to help it build user profiles via the browser. Beginning in November, that data will be accessible to AOL's advertising network so the company can more effectively target ads based on users' browsing habits. Verizon bought AOL earlier this year. Supercookies can be deleted from Verizon phones, but they are activated by default and most consumers likely don't know how to get rid of them. AT&T stopped using supercookies last year, but Verizon has continued the practice. Verizon claims the move protects user privacy because Verizon owns AOL and "it's all within one company." Verizon subscribers can expect to see more personalized ads once AOL has access to the supercookie data.

Verizon Says Support for Samsung Pay On the Way

Oct 6, 2015, 11:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today voiced support for Samsung Pay and said the service will be added to compatible phones through a future software update. Samsung Pay initially launched with support from AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but Verizon only said it was "consiodering" the mobile payment service. Verizon did not say what delayed its commitment to the app, but now it is on board. Samsung Pay will be added to the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5, and S6 Edge+. Verizon didn't say when it plans to deliver the update.

Verizon Backs Out of Commitment to Sell Sony Xperia Z4v

Oct 5, 2015, 2:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 5, 2015, 2:56 PM

Verizon Wireless today said it no longer plans to sell the Sony Xperia Z4v. The company announced the phone in the spring with an expected summer launch. "Verizon will no longer be launching Xperia Z4v," said the company today on its web site. "However, we are committed to supporting Sony Mobile's product portfolio and will support existing products. Sony is a strategic partner as we continue having ongoing discussions together as part of our future portfolio." The cancellation isn't much of a surprise, but it is still a blow to Sony. Sony has had trouble convincing U.S. network operators to sell its handsets and the Z4v was a major win with Verizon. Sony announced the Xperia Z5 last month, but no carriers have committed to carrying the phone yet. Sony may attempt to sell it to U.S. consumers directly online.

Wireless Companies Agree to Support More Remote Wipe Tools

Oct 2, 2015, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.

Nextbit Surpasses Goal, Closes Kickstarter Campaign

Oct 2, 2015, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit's Robin smartphone won the financial support of more than 3,600 people who invested $1.36 million in the Kickstarter campaign. Nextbit said it received enough interest in the Robin to move forward with manufacturing. It has closed the Kickstarter campaign and is now working to bring the device to market, expected during the first quarter of 2016. According to Nextbit, most of the investment came from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, the U.K., and Singapore. The Robin is an Android phone that uses the cloud to manage on-board storage availability. It can seamlessly offload and reload content — including applications — when needed to free up space. It was designed by former HTC employees and costs $399. The phone will be available in GSM and CDMA variants, supporting the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile, and Sprint and Verizon.

Sprint to Cut Headcount and $2.5 Billion in Costs

Oct 2, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is prepared to reduce expenses by as much as $2.5 billion over the next year, reports the Wall Street Journal, and is likely to cut jobs to help it reach that goal. An internal memo sent to staff by CFO Tarek Robbiati obtained by the Journal said the cuts "inevitably will result in job reductions." Sprint had about 31,000 employees as of March. Robbiati said the company is still exploring how best to reduce costs. "The main thing to consider when requesting to spend money is to take an owner's mindset by treating every dollar as if it were your own," he said. Sprint has already trimmed expenses by about $1.5 billion over the last 12 months. The company recently said it will not participate in next year's 600MHz incentive auction, citing its existing spectrum resources and the cost to obtain more spectrum. Sprint has struggled in recent years to compete with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

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