Verizon Wireless today indicated that it plans to launch VoLTE service next year. As recently as October 8, Verizon said that VoLTE handsets and service would launch this year. The news regarding the delay was buried in a press release about the third anniversary of Verizon's LTE network launch. Specifically, Verizon said, "Next year, customers will be able to experience VoLTE, a 4G LTE technology that can enable a host of advanced services, including HD Voice and video chat." Verizon didn't provide an explanation for the apparent change of schedule.
Verizon Wireless has activated LTE 4G on its AWS spectrum in dozens of markets, reports GigaOm. Verizon Wireless lit up AWS-based LTE in New York City earlier this year, but has recently expanded the number of markets to include many of the major metro areas east of the Mississippi River, as well as a number along the west coast. In the majority of these new markets on the east coast (Atlanta, Boston, Washington, D.C., et al.), Verizon has tripled capacity, while in several western markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco) it has boosted capacity by 150%. This means more people can connect to the network in the same location and can access data at faster speeds. A handful of Verizon's existing smartphones (Apple iPhone 5s and 5c, Samsung Galaxy S4, Motorola Droid Maxx, Mini, and Ultra) can already access Verizon's AWS-based LTE network, and Verizon said software updates will add this functionality to others. Moving forward, most new Verizon smartphones will be able to reach LTE in both the AWS and 700MHz bands.
AT&T is mulling a bid for Verizon's unused 700MHz A Block spectrum, reports the Wall Street Journal. The A Block would complement AT&T's own 700MHz spectrum holdings and could be used to bolster its LTE network. Last month, Reuters reported that T-Mobile is interested in the same parcel of spectrum. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo confirmed that it would sell its A Block spectrum for the right amount. The company paid $2.4 billion for the airwaves and the Journal believes Verizon will ask at least $2.75 billion to sell them to a competitor. With two companies pursuing the spectrum, it's more likely that Verizon will sell it.
The Federal Communications Commission today approved a key provision in Verizon Communication's attempt to buy Vodafone Groups stake in Verizon Wireless. The FCC said that it will be acceptable for more than 25% of Verizon's ownership to come from foreign investors after the deal closes. There is a limit on the amount to 25% because Verizon controls spectrum access licenses in the U.S. Due to the way the deal is structured, foreign ownership of Verizon Communications may at times exceed that percentage, but the FCC won't oppose it. This was the only approval Verizon needed from the FCC, though the deal still requires shareholder approval. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture that is 55% owned by Verizon Communications and 45% owned by Vodafone Group. Verizon Communications agreed in September to buy out Vodafone Group's stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion. Verizon will pay Vodafone primarily in cash and stocks. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.
Verizon Wireless and Nokia today announced the availability of RedBox Instant for Verizon's Lumia Windows Phones. The app will be exclusive to Verizon for two months, after which it will be available to all WP8 devices. RedBox Instant lets users browse and watch movies, reserve new releases at local Redbox stores, and rent and buy movies digitally, on demand. The first month is free, but thereafter it costs $8 per month.
Verizon Wireless today added both the Galaxy S III Mini and Galaxy S 4 Mini to its Android smartphone lineup. The S III Mini costs $49.99 with a new contract or $10.56 per month with Verizon Edge. The S 4 Mini costs $99.99 with a new contract or $16.81 per month with Verizon Edge. According to Verizon, both phones are compatible with the just-launched Isis mobile payment service.
Verizon Wireless quietly made the HTC One max handset available online and in stores today. Verizon is asking $299 for the max with a new two-year agreement or $25.22 per month with the Verizon Edge plan. The full retail price of the One max is $599.99.
HTC recently indicated via its official Twitter account that it plans to update the Verizon version of the One to Android 4.3 by the end of the year and then to Android 4.4 by the end of January. All other versions of the One will receive Android 4.4 by the end of January, too. HTC also indicated that it will update the Droid DNA to Android 4.4 and Sense 5.5 by the end of the first quarter, pending carrier certification.
Verizon would consider selling its unused 700MHz A Block spectrum at the right price, according to Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo. "The A spectrum is out there, and if someone walks up to me with an offer, we will entertain it," said Shammo in response to inquiries. "This is not a fire sale though, so if we don't get the right offer, we'll deploy the spectrum in our own network." T-Mobile has already approached Verizon about buying its A Block spectrum, reports Reuters, but talks are still in the early stages.
T-Mobile is weighing a bid on 700MHz A Block spectrum owned by Verizon Wireless. According to an unnamed source cited by Reuters, T-Mobile and Verizon have held preliminary discussions about the transaction, but nothing is yet formal. T-Mobile is seeking more airwaves to bolster its own LTE network, and the spectrum in question is not being used by Verizon Wireless. Verizon attempted to sell the same set of airwaves last year, but did not receive offers it deemed acceptable. T-Mobile has recently sold stock and bonds in order to raise funds for spectrum purchases. Reuters believes any sale involving Verizon's 700MHz spectrum would top $3 billion. Any such deal between T-Mobile and Verizon would need to meet regulatory approval.
Motorola today announced that Verizon Wireless has begun to deliver the Android 4.4 KitKat system update to its variant of the Moto X. KitKat includes a new phone dialer, more gallery options, a broader selection of emoji and changed keyboard behavior, new focus controls for the camera, and a revised launcher, among many other changes. Motorola did not say when other variants of the Moto X would have access to KitKat.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, launched across the country today. Isis allows smartphone owners to make tap-and-go payments at select retailers thanks to near-field communications (NFC). Isis is first available to modern Android smartphones that have NFC already on board. Isis plans to support the iPhone with an NFC-equipped sleeve that will be available in the coming months. Consumers can make contactless payments at 1.3 million retail locations around the country, including those operated by 24 of the top 100 merchants. Android device owners will need to download the Isis application (specific to their carrier) and bank with either American Express or Chase. The app will also support customer loyalty programs, but only those run by merchants who've joined Isis. The system uses a pin code for payments, and Isis says that customer banking data is safe. The service can be disabled if the device is lost or stolen. Isis also requires a special, secure SIM card that must be purchased from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless. Isis has been in development for years and underwent extensive trials in Austin and Salt Lake City.
Verizon Wireless and a company called Stelera have filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking consent to transfer spectrum licenses from Stelera to Verizon. According to the FCC, Stelera acquired the licenses in 2006 at auction but later filed for bankruptcy. Verizon believes the transfer is in the public interest because it will put the spectrum to use to bolster its LTE 4G network. If approved, Verizon will gain 10 to 40MHz of AWS-1 spectrum across 114 counties in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas. When combined with Verizon's current AWS-1 spectrum holdings, the Stelera acquisition would give Verizon 20 to 50MHz of spectrum across the covered regions. The FCC has accepted the application for review. No dollar value was placed on the spectrum transfer.
Verizon Wireless today said via its official Twitter account that it will offer the Moto G beginning in the first quarter of 2014 through its prepaid service.
Verizon Wireless today indicated that the BlackBerry Z30 smartphone will be available online beginning November 14. It costs $199.99 with a new two-year contract, or $22.91 per month for 24 months with Verizon Edge.
Motorola has expanded the availability of its Moto Maker tool to customers of Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Moto Maker lets people customize a Moto X smartphone online and have it delivered to their house. The Moto X offers a range of different back panels, accents, and screen-customization options. Motorola says there are more than 2,000 unique variations of the Moto X. Orders will be assembled at Motorola's Ft. Worth plant and shipped to most customers in four days. Moto Maker was an exclusive to AT&T customers for several months. Further, the price of the Moto X has dropped from $199 with a contract to $99 with a contract. Last, Motorola confirmed that the Moto X will be updated to Android 4.4 KitKat in the near future.
Motorola's support site revealed that the handset maker plans to update some of its more recent smartphones to Android 4.4 KitKat. Among those to be updated are all variants of the Moto X, as well as the Droid Mini, Ultra, and Maxx. The latter three are sold by Verizon Wireless. Older phones, such as the Droid Bionic, RAZR Maxx, and Droid 4, will remain on Android 4.1.2. Timing for the update will depend on the carrier and the exact model in question.
The Federal Communications Commission today approved changes today that will eventually lead to interoperability in the Lower 700MHz spectrum band. The order addresses interference concerns by modifying the technical terms governing the power used in the D and E Blocks. Further, the FCC believes Channel 51 will not disturb B and C Block, and wants to modify AT&T's existing B and C Block licenses to account for changes proposed by AT&T earlier this year. The FCC said, "The terms of the voluntary agreement serve the public interest by encouraging efficient use of spectrum and enabling consumers to enjoy the benefits of greater competition. The standards developed by several wireless providers, along with the Competitive Carriers Association, will also give consumers more choice in using their devices with large and small carriers alike and will promote widespread deployment of mobile broadband services, especially in rural areas." AT&T and Verizon Wireless operated their LTE 4G networks in the 700MHz spectrum band, as do several smaller carriers. The smaller network operators petitioned the FCC to create these interoperability changes so that their devices will work on their own networks, as well as those of their competitors. AT&T responded by saying, "We are pleased to see the FCC moving swiftly to address these interference issues consistent with the negotiated solution. The action the Commission takes today, under continued leadership by Chairwoman Clyburn, is a critical step to achieving 700Mhz interoperability that will in turn foster industry investment and deployment in the 700MHz band to the benefit of U.S. wireless consumers."
Verizon Wireless today announced that the BlackBerry Z30 smartphone will reach company stores in early November. The device will be sold for $199.99 with a new contract, or for $22.91 for 24 months for customers who choose Verizon's Edge upgrade plan. The Z30 has a 5-inch HD display and runs BlackBerry 10.2.
Verizon Wireless hopes to purchase some B Block AWS spectrum from U.S. Cellular, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Specifically, Verizon is eyeing 20MHz of AWS-1 spectrum in 53 counties in 14 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) across parts of Illinois and Missouri near the St. Louis region. According to the FCC, if the transaction is approved, Verizon would own 62-117MHz of spectrum across these CMAs, 40MHz of which would be AWS-1. Verizon said it wants the spectrum to supplement its LTE network in the region. Verizon is using AWS spectrum (1700MHz) in addition to 700MHz for its 4G network. It has already begun deploying LTE in the AWS band in some markets. The companies did not place a dollar value on the transaction. The FCC has accepted the paperwork and will begin the review process.
Verizon Wireless today updated its Verizon Messaging product, a cloud-based, cross-platform service that lets people send messages between smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The new version of Verizon Messaging bakes in support for Glympse, which allows users to share their location data with others. Further enhancements to the app include the ability to customize photos with collages, captions and sketches; send customized postcards; and record and send audio clips. Verizon Messaging is compatible with Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop browsers.
Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S4 Mini will become available from the top U.S. network operators beginning in November. The GS4 Mini was first announced in May. AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the phone. The Mini swaps out the S4's 5-inch FHD display for a qHD 4.3-inch display; it drops the 13-megapixel camera down to 8 megapixels; and changes out the quad-core processor in favor of a 1.7GHz dual-core processor. The user-facing camera rates 1.9 megapixels and the Mini includes many of the same imaging features found in its larger stablemate. The Mini also carries over the GS4's multitude of apps, such as S Translator, S Health, WatchOn, Samsung Hub, and others. The Galaxy S4 Mini has 8GB of internal memory (5GB accessible by users), 1.5GB of RAM, and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It includes GPS and GLONASS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and an IR blaster for the remote control app. Availability and pricing will be carrier dependent.
Page Plus Cellular today confirmed on its Facebook page that the company is experiencing outages across the country. In a statement, Page Plus said, "There is a known issue that is affecting service for some customers. It is spotty across the country, not just some states. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and and are working to correct the issue. We do not at this point have an ETA, but they are working on the problem." Page Plus is an MVNO that uses Verizon Wireless's network. There's no word from Verizon on the status of its network.
Verizon Wireless has begun delivering a system update to the Samsung Galaxy S4 that adds several new features. Chief among the new features is Samsung's Optical Reader application. Optical Reader uses the camera to take pictures of documents, such as business cards, and convert it into text. The app can also translate text into 40 different languages. In addition to Optical Reader, the update improves Wi-Fi performance; fixes bugs in S Memo, voicemail, and the video recorder; moves several controls in the settings menus; and expands roaming capabilities. The system update can be installed over the air or via Samsung's Kies application.
Verizon Wireless today confirmed reports that it has begun deploying LTE on its AWS spectrum. The company has lit up LTE in the 2100MHz AWS band in portions of New York City, which is spectrum that it acquired from cable companies last year. "As our customers' wireless data usage continues to grow, AWS spectrum is being deployed to ensure the continued consistent reliability and capacity of our 4G LTE network," said a Verizon spokesperson to FierceWireless. "Verizon Wireless has begun activating 4G LTE service on its AWS spectrum in many of our major markets across the US. A limited number of devices are AWS capable at this time. We plan to push a software upgrade to other AWS-capable devices in the near future." The vast bulk of Verizon's LTE network operates in the 700MHz band. Verizon plans to use the AWS spectrum to supplement its LTE service alongside the 700MHz spectrum. Verizon did not specify which other markets have access to LTE in the AWS band, nor which devices can access the AWS band.
Isis, the mobile payment joint venture supported by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, will launch in the next few weeks. Before today, Isis had only committed to launching during the fourth quarter of the year. Isis will first be available to modern Android smartphones that include NFC (near-field communications). NFC is needed in order to make tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis plans to support the iPhone with an NFC-equipped sleeve that will be available in the coming months. Isis didn't say how much the sleeve will cost. At launch, Isis said consumers will be able to make contactless payments at 1.3 million retail locations around the country, including those operated by 24 of the top 100 merchants. Isis recently demonstrated the latest version of the Isis mobile payment app, and said that it will have marketing support from its carrier partners as well as American Express and Chase, the only two credit cards companies still backing the venture. Isis will be paid by American Express and Chase every time a customer adds their card to the app. The app will also support customer loyalty programs, but only those run by merchants who've joined Isis. Isis has been in development for years and underwent extensive trials in Austin and Salt Lake City.
Verizon Wireless is now selling the Samsung Galaxy Legend through its prepaid service. The device is also known as the Stellar. The Legend is an entry-level Android smartphone. It has a 4-inch WVGA screen, 3.2-megapixel main camera, 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera, 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of built-in storage. The Galaxy Legend includes Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, GPS, and Wi-Fi, but does not offer LTE 4G. It is limited to Verizon's EVDO 3G network. It runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and includes Samsung's TouchWiz user interface and associated apps/services. The full retail price of the Legend is $249.99, but Verizon is selling it for $129.99.
Park Byeong-yeop, the vice chairman of Pantech, announced today that he will resign from his post. Park founded Pantech in 1991 and served as its leader for more than a decade. He cited the company's poor smartphone sales performance in recent years as the reason for his departure. Further, Pantech is restructuring its finances and is asking 800 employees (about 25% of its total workforce) to take a voluntary six-month leave of absence. Verizon Wireless sells the Pantech Perception, an Android smartphone. It is one of the only Pantech devices to reach the U.S. this year.
LG today announced the Vu 3, a new iteration of its extra-wide phablet. Like its predecessors, the Vu 3 has a 4:3 aspect ratio display. It measures 5.2 inches across the diagonal and has 1280 x 960 pixels. The Vu uses the Qualcomm 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset, which is the same processor found in the LG G2. Unlike its predecessors, the Vu 3 adds a stylus. Other features include a 13-megapixel camera, support for LTE, and 24-bit sound. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and comes with LG's software customizations, which include Knock-On, QuickMemo, and guest mode. The Vu will be available in Korea September 27. There's no word yet if the device will be sold in the U.S. Verizon Wireless is the only carrier to previously offer the original versions of the Vu.
Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have together submitted a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission concerning the upcoming 600MHz auction. Much of the spectrum in the 600MHz band currently belongs to television stations. The FCC is offering those stations cash to give up their 6MHz slices of spectrum in a reverse incentive auction. Verizon and T-Mobile laid out four principles they believe the FCC should meet as it settles on the rules regarding the auction. The most significant aspect of the companies' plan calls for a single band to cover the 35x35MHz pairing. By creating a single Band Class, the two hope to avoid some of the issues that have beset the 700MHz spectrum and the varied Band Classes used by different carriers around the country. "This will enable carriers to deploy wireless services quickly and will drive manufacturers to develop devices that work on all carrier networks and for all customers," said Verizon and T-Mobile. The carriers also want to maximize the amount of spectrum made available, allow for quick and inexpensive development of devices and networking equipment, and allocate unpaired spectrum for downlink operations. The FCC is still writing the rules for the auction, and there are still plenty of unknowns, including just how many television stations will participate and give up their spectrum.
Verizon Wireless is the first U.S. network operator to throw its support behind the BlackBerry Z30. The company announced via its Twitter account that the Z30 is coming to its network soon.
Google today is rolling out a significant update to its Google Wallet application for Android devices, reports AllThingsD. First and foremost, the new application will be compatible with more handsets. It can be downloaded by any device running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and up, and doesn't require NFC. Further, it will be available to devices running on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon's networks, where it was previously blocked. In addition to the expanded availability, the revised application offers a number of new features. For example, Google Wallet will let U.S. residents send money directly to others via their email address. Money sent from banking accounts or the users' Google Wallet balance will be free, but money sent from credit/debit cards will incur a small fee. The new Google Wallet also adds the ability to read and add loyalty cards based on the barcode or card number. Once entered into Google Wallet on the phone, the digital loyalty card can be displayed on the screen and scanned at check-out in stores. The app also works better with Google Search and Google Offers when it comes to finding deals. There are some limits to the app's capabilities, though. According to AllThingsD, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon subscribers will not be able to use Google Wallet's NFC functions to make in-store purchases. (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon back a competing NFC-based mobile payment system called Isis, which is launching later this year.) The updated version of Google Wallet is expected to be available from the Google Play Store later today.
Verizon Wireless today rolled out Total Mobile Protection, a new offering that bundles together device help, protection, and insurance in one all-encompassing service. The service includes tech support from Verizon Wireless’ Tech Coaches, who can help customers manage a variety of their devices' features. It bundles in more robust security, including protection from viruses, malware, and other mobile threats via the Verizon Mobile Security app. Last, it also provides device insurance against drops, breaks, and lost/stolen hardware. Verizon's Total Mobile Protection service costs $10 per month and is available beginning today.
Documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission web site provide the clearest look yet at what could be a new Google Nexus phone made by LG. LG submitted a "class 2 permissive change" for a variant of Verizon's LG G2 for "some hardware changes (antenna/PCB adjustments)" to the device. Such changes are typical close to the release of new phones. However, the photos that accompany the class 2 permissive change show what appears to be an entirely different device. The new device resembles the shape and design language of the Nexus 4, but has a larger camera design that is plainly visible on the back surface.
AT&T today announced that it has finalized an agreement to purchase select bits of 700MHz spectrum from Verizon Wireless. AT&T has bought 700MHz B Block licenses that cover 42 million people across 18 states, for which it paid Verizon Wireless $1.9 billion. AT&T will use the spectrum to enhance and supplement its existing LTE 4G coverage in portions of California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Texas, and other states. In addition to the cash payment, AT&T gave Verizon Wireless Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses in Phoenix, Ariz.; Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Portland, Ore. AT&T says its LTE 4G network covers more than 225 million people today and will reach 270 million by the end of the year.
Walmart today announced that beginning September 21 customers will be able to receive instant credit for old phones that are traded in for new phones. The program is being run for Walmart by CExchange, which will responsibly recycle the old devices. Walmart said that it will accept most functioning smartphones and will offer credit ranging from $50 to $300, depending on the device and its condition. For example, Walmart said that it will provide $300 in credit for an Apple iPhone 5, or $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII. In order to receive the trade-in credit, however, customers must sign a new two-year agreement with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless. The trade-in program will be available at some 3,500 Walmart and Sam's Club locations throughout the country.
The U.S. court of appeals overseeing Verizon's objections to the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality regulations said it has "deep concerns" about the rules. The three-judge panel is most worried about a provision in the rules that prevents broadband providers from charging content companies for faster access to consumers. The FCC wants all data transiting wired and wireless broadband networks to be treated equally, with no preference given to certain sorts of traffic. The appeals court said this amounts to labeling internet providers "common carriers," which the FCC does not have the authority to do. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is clear that the panel of judges will likely strike down at least some, if not all, of the provisions in the FCC's net neutrality rules. For example, broadband companies will not be allowed to block traffic from/to web sites that will not pay to have their content transmitted. The judges have not issued a final ruling on the matter, however. Verizon sued the FCC over the regulations, challenging the FCC's authority to set internet policy.
Verizon Communications and the Federal Communications Commission will face off in court beginning today over the FCC's net neutrality rules. The FCC proposed rules concerning how internet traffic should be handled. Verizon contends that the FCC does not have the authority to enact such regulatory measures and that it should have greater control over its own network. The FCC's rules, which went into effect in late 2011, say that most traffic (whether it be video, voice, or other) should be unmanaged except in rare cases wherein the network provider must do so to protect its network and assets. Other carriers, such as MetroPCS, originally opposed the FCC's rules, but most have dropped their official opposition, leaving Verizon to stand alone. In addition to the regulatory angle against the FCC, Verizon is also playing a First Amendment card. It suggests that "broadband providers possess editorial discretion" since they are responsible for transmitting the speech of others. Opening arguments for the case are slotting to commend today. The trial, being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will likely take several weeks to unfold.
Verizon has started accepting pre-orders for Samsung's Galaxy Note 3. The high-end device will cost $300 with 2-year contract.
Verizon wireless today announced that its version of the LG G2 will be available online and in stores beginning September 12. It will cost $199 with a new contract.