Sprint today announced a new unlimited plan that it says undercuts the competition. The plan, which will be available beginning August 22, provides a single line of service with unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month. Sprint claims the offering beats T-Mobile's best price by $20 per month, and that similar options aren't available from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. There is a catch. In order to qualify for the plan, customers need to either bring their own device, pay full retail for a device, or sign up for Sprint's Easy Pay financing plan. The Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan for single lines follows a complete overhaul of Sprint's family share plans, which offer savings to four or more lines of service.
T-Mobile today said it will give current customers unlimited LTE data for a full year if they convince an AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon customer to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is likening the program to "throwing a lifeline" to those on competing networks. Not only does the current customer receive unlimited LTE for a year, but so does the new customer. Customers who already pay for unlimited data will receive a $10 monthly credit instead. The referral program kicks off August 29. Customers will then be able to enter their own number and the number of a friend who's ported their service, which must be reported within 30 days of the friend's activation. The referral program runs for a limited time, but T-Mobile didn't immediately indicate an end date. It doesn't apply to pre-paid plans, and is limited to one referral per account.
ZTE today announced it is bringing the Nubia 5S mini with LTE to the U.S. The 5S mini is a compact handset that's part of ZTE's premium line of Android smartphones. It has a 4.7-inch 720p HD IGZO display from Sharp, and it is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with an Adreno 305 GPU. The phone is equipped with a 13-megapixel main camera and a bevy of advanced controls for focus, light metering, and white balance. The five-element f/2.2 lens is protected by sapphire, and the camera has three shooting modes: Fun, Auto, and Pro. The 5S mini has a 5-megapixel user-facing camera, too, and can capture 720p HD video. Other hardware features include 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a memory card slot; Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and support for AT&T/T-Mobile LTE; and a 2,000mAh battery. ZTE is offering the Nubia 5S mini with LTE directly to consumers via Amazon, where the device costs $280 and ships unlocked. The phone is available for order today, and ships starting August 27.
AT&T chimed in this evening to say it, too, will carry the HTC One for Windows. AT&T said pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. Verizon is selling the phone starting tomorrow.
Sprint today announced new shared data plans that offer twice as much mobile data as comparable plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's Family Share Pack includes four lines with unlimited talk and text and 20GB of shared data for $160 per month. AT&T and Verizon have similarly-priced plans that include only 10GB of data. T-Mobile's shared plan costs $100 per month. Further, Sprint is offering a huge incentive to families that port their numbers from another carrier. Sprint will give families with up to 10 lines unlimited talk/text and 20GB of shared data for only $100 per month through 2015, plus an additional 2GB per line. Under this promotion, a family of four would have up to 28GB of data per month and a family of 10 would have up to 40GB of data per month. The promotional $100 plan pricing will be available from August 22 to September 30. Last, Sprint is offering to cover the ETFs - up to $350 per line - for families that break their contract to sign up with Sprint Family Share Pack. All new devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company will debut new plans for individuals later this week.
AT&T today said owners of the Lumia 1020 can download and install the Windows Phone 8.1 update. The improved operating system adds Cortana, Action Center, the Word Flow keyboard and other features. The system update is free.
Cellular One has indicated it plans to cease offering wireless service in the states of Montana and Wyoming. Cellular One has advised its customers there to find an alternate provider before August 31, which is when it plans to halt operations. Cellular One is endorsing AT&T and waiving ETFs so customers can switch their service. AT&T is offering Cellular One customers a $100 gift card, and will wave activation fees. Cellular One's retail outlets in Montana and Wyoming will be rebranded to AT&T. In a letter sent to customers earlier this summer, Cellular One said its business model "simply did not support the significant capital investment required to upgrade its Montana network to the 4G technology needed to remain competitive with the large national service providers." Sprint has assumed Cellular One's cell tower leasing rights, though it hasn't purchased any of Cellular One's spectrum, equipment, or customers. Small, regional carriers are finding it increasingly hard to compete against the national providers, which have enough revenue to invest in their networks on a country-wide level.
Two low-cost providers, RadioShack No Contract and Spot Mobile, have decided to call it quits. RadioShack didn't operate a traditional MVNO, but branded and resold Cricket Wireless' service as its own. Now that Cricket is owned by AT&T, and RadioShack No Contract struggled to win over customers, the company will cease selling the service. According to RadioShack, customers who purchased the service will be able to continue using their device and will be transitioned to Cricket Wireless. RadioShack will honor its 30-day return policy so those who recently purchased a RadioShack No Contract device can get a refund. RadioShack's retail business is also hurting and the company plans to close a wide number of stores this year. Separately, Spot Mobile, an MVNO that resold access to T-Mobile's network, also decided to shut down. Spot Mobile has already ceased processing account refills, and will shut down service altogether September 7. Spot Mobile said customers can port their number out to their carrier of choice.
HTC today expanded the availability of the Desire 816 and Desire 610 in the U.S. First, Virgin Mobile has committed to selling the Desire 816, which will be available beginning August 12 for $299. The 816 is an inexpensive phablet, which features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, plastic shell, and BoomSound speakers. Virgin Mobile does not require contracts. Second, HTC is making the Desire 816 and Desire 610 available to U.S. consumers directly via its web site. The 610 has a 4.7-inch screen and BoomSound speakers. The 610 is also available from AT&T's GoPhone prepaid brand for $200. Both devices run the latest version of Android and HTC Sense 6.0.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today indicated the agency has sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile with questions pertaining to their network management policies. The issue bubbled to the surface recently when Verizon announced plans to throttle its heaviest unlimited LTE subscribers. In a letter to Verizon, Wheeler called the policy management criteria "deeply troubling." Verizon responded and claimed its policies do not differ from those of its competitors. Wheeler is not convinced. "'All the kids do it' was never something that worked for me when I was growing up," said Wheeler. "My concern in this instance - and it's not just with Verizon, by the way, we've written to all the carriers - is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues ... such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them." AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have not yet responded publicly to the FCC's query.
The FCC today formally adopted rules that will require all providers of messaging services to enable their apps with text-to-911 capabilities. Earlier this year the FCC said industry players outside the four major wireless network operators need to get on board. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless began accepting text-to-911 in select markets around the country in May. The FCC recognized, however, that not all consumers subscribe to the four major carriers, nor do all consumers make use of traditional SMS messaging services. The new rules apply to nearly all messaging apps and services, including over-the-top apps such as WhatsApp, as well as the remaining wireless network operators. The FCC wants apps and operators to enable text-to-911 by the end of the year. Some messaging services will be exempt, such as those that function within games or social networks. The FCC feels this is an essential service and keeps in step with how consumers prefer to communicate. The CTIA Wireless Association, which represents the wireless network operators, voiced displeasure with the new rules. "While the wireless industry remains committed to collaborating with public safety to make text-to-911 available in the near-term, we are disappointed that the FCC acted today to codify a voluntary agreement to deploy an interim technological solution across all wireless carriers and interconnected 'over the top' text providers. The chilling effect of the Commission's proposed enforcement role is particularly worrisome in situations where, as here, the voluntary agreement involves new services that face challenging obstacles to implementation." Earlier this week, AT&T also took issue with the FCC's plan in a post published to its public policy blog. According to AT&T, the FCC's plan is ill-conceived and presents new challenges to network operators.
AT&T today announced it will soon sell the LG G Vista, an inexpensive Android smartphone that offers a big-screen experience. The G Vista, which is already available from Verizon Wireless, has a 5.7-inch display with qHD (960 x 540) resolution. The volume and lock screen buttons are placed on the back of the device, similar to the G3. The G Vista is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and Isis for mobile payments, and a 3,200mAh battery. The LG G Vista runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The G Vista will cost $14.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $17.75 per month with AT&T Next 12, $50 with a new two-year contract, or $355 at full retail. It will be available beginning August 22.
AT&T today added a bright green option to its lineup of Lumia 1520s. The green 1520 ships with Windows Phone 8.1 preinstalled, which is the latest version of Windows Phone and includes Cortana. AT&T is offering the green 1520 for $24.28 per month with AT&T Next 18 or $29.95 per month with Next 12. Alternately, the 1520 costs $200 with a new two-year contract or $585 at full retail. The red, black, yellow, and white versions are also available.
AT&T today improved its myAT&T service for GoPhone customers through the addition of an account management function. The improved service allows GoPhone customers to refill their accounts, add voice/messaging packages, and change their rate plans, as well as see voice/data usage and account history details. The service also includes device tutorials and troubleshooting tips. All these features can be found on the myAT&T app on GoPhones.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today voiced his approval of Sprint's decision to halt its attempt to acquire T-Mobile. "Four national wireless providers is good for American consumers. Sprint now has an opportunity to focus their efforts on robust competition," said Wheeler in a statement. The FCC and Justice Department have long contended the U.S. market needs four national carriers. Had Sprint acquired or merged with T-Mobile, that number would have been reduced to three. Wheeler's statement sends a clear signal that the FCC likes things the way they are, with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all competing with one another.
Timex recently unveiled the Ironman One GPS+, a connected watch for athletes. The stand-out feature of the One GPS+ is its touch display. Timex selected Qualcomm's Mirasol technology, which offers an always-on experience, high outdoor visibility, and low power consumption all at the same time. Qualcomm uses Mirasol technology in its own Toq smartwatch. The Timex One GPS+ comes with a free year of AT&T cellular service and can be used to send text messages without requiring a cellphone. The majority of today's smartwatches lack stand-alone cellular connections and messaging capabilities. The One GPS+ also supports Bluetooth and GPS for live location tracking; includes an on-board music player; and is water resistant up to 50 meters. The Timex Ironman One GPS+ costs $399 and can be preordered via Timex's web site.
Best Buy today announced the August 17 availability of an electric blue Samsung Galaxy S5, a color exclusive to the big box retailer. The blue GS5 will be available to AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless customers for $99 with a new two-year contract, which represents a savings of $100 off the normal contract price. Customers who'd rather use one of the carriers' monthly installment plans will be able to pick up the blue GS5 for $0 down and still receive a $100 Best Buy gift card. The promotional price will be available until August 23.
AT&T today said it will sell the Samsung Rugby 4 beginning later this year. Samsung's Rugby series devices are ruggedized flip phones that include push-to-talk via AT&T's Enhanced PTT service. The Rugby 4 builds on the Rugby series' basics by adding Wi-Fi and noise suppression, and improving the speaker. The Rugby 4 boasts a mil-spec rating for toughness and GPS for navigation. AT&T declined to provide pricing details, nor did it say exactly when the Samsung Rugby 4 will go on sale.
AT&T today said Windows Phone 8.1 is now available to the Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 520. The update, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, adds Cortana, Action Center, and more Start screen flexibility, among many other enhancements.
T-Mobile today announced a promotional plan that undercuts AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon's offerings dramatically. T-Mobile says a family of four can sign up for a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan with 10GB of LTE data for $100 per month. T-Mobile says each line receives 2.5GB of data in addition to unlimited talk, text, free 2G international data, and unlimited streaming music. The promotional price is good until January 2016 and is available beginning July 30 through September 30. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all charge $160 per month for similar four-line plans.
AT&T today said Windows Phone 8.1 is now available to the Lumia 1520. Customers can use the onboard tools to download and install the OS over the air, which includes Cortana, Internet Explorer 11, and the Action Center. AT&T also revealed a green variant of the Lumia 1520 in a promotional video. The green Lumia 1520 will be available soon.
Skype today said it is preparing a version of its mobile communications application for Amazon's Fire Phone. The Fire Phone runs FireOS, a forked version of Android. The Skype app will launch alongside the phone when it goes on sale. Skype said it designed the app with the Fire Phone's user interface in mind, including a widget for the Fire carousel, and it will offer an experience that feels natural to Fire Phone owners. Skype said its 3D icon and notification badge make use of the Fire Phone's Dynamic Perspective technology, which provides a 3D-like experience through the use of four user-facing cameras. AT&T will begin selling the Fire Phone later this month.
Sony recently made the Xperia Z2 available to U.S. buyers via its web store. The Z2, which was announced in January, costs $699 and is being sold unlocked. The Z2 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 20.7-megapixel camera with 4K video capture, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, and various sensors/radios. It is also water and dust resistant. The Z2 is compatible with the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony typically offers its smartphones through its web store when they aren't sold by wireless network operators.
Amazon is finally ready to unleash its first phone, the Fire. An exclusive to AT&T, this unique phone sports a spiffy interface totally new to the phone world, and a few fancy hardware and software features. Read on for our hands-on first impressions.
HTC has brought its Desire 610 mid-range phone to AT&T. The 610 brings high-end design and a few nifty features to a low price point. It's not perfect, though, and it does differ from the international version a bit. Read on for our first impressions with one.
AT&T tonight announced that it will offer HTC's Desire 610 on July 25 for $200 without a contract. The 610 is an affordable Android phone with a 4.7-inch display, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 8-megapixel main camera, front camera, 4G LTE, and a memory card slot. It sports a clean design inspired by the HTC One, but in high-quality plastic. Like the One, it features BoomSound dual front speakers and Zoe video functions. AT&T also offers Next pricing for the Desire 610, which runs as low as $8.34/month. At full price, it's available for both post-paid and GoPhone pre-paid service plans.
AT&T and T-Mobile recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to swap spectrum assets. The companies are looking at PCS and AWS spectrum in a handful of markets. First, AT&T was required to divest spectrum in 12 markets, mostly in Nevada and Texas, in order to win FCC approval of its Cricket Wireless acquisition. These assets will be transferred to T-Mobile. Second, the companies want to exchange assets scattered around California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. In their filings with the FCC, AT&T and T-Mobile said the swap will "enable more efficient operations resulting from larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or the alignment of spectrum blocks held in adjacent markets." Such spectrum swaps are common in the secondary market for airwaves. The two companies didn't place a dollar value on the proposal, which requires FCC approval.
Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 630 smartphone. The 630, which is a variant of the Lumia 635 (being sold by T-Mobile and MetroPCS), will reach Cricket stores on July 11. Cricket is offering the Lumia 630 for free with a $50 mail-in rebate card. The device is an entry-level Windows Phone with a 4.5-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is also offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 on a wide selection of handsets, including the ZTE Sonata 4G, Prelude, and Overture 4G; the Moto G; the Nokia 520 and 1320; and the Samsung Galaxy Express 4G. Cricket is the new brand name being used by AT&T's former Aio Wireless unit. AT&T is transitioning Cricket's CDMA customers to its GSM network so it can eventually repurpose Cricket's spectrum. All the devices covered by Cricket's new promotion operate on AT&T's GSM network.
Dish Networks has told the FCC it intends to "meaningfully participate" in the reverse auction for 600MHz airwaves scheduled for next year. "The incentive auction offers opportunities for competitive providers and new entrants to bid on and win much-needed lowband spectrum, which will facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband services," said Dish Senior Vice President Jeffrey Blum in the filing with the agency. The FCC is still in the process of finalizing rules for the incentive auction, but expects to have them in place by September. The process will involve television stations giving up their 600MHz spectrum holdings, which the FCC will then auction to companies such as Dish, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Dish has long wanted to become a wireless provider of sorts. Earlier this year Dish won at auction PCS spectrum that abuts some spectrum it already owns. Dish also took the opportunity to tell the FCC it should block the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner.
Sony recently added the Xperia Z1 Compact to its U.S. web store. Sony is selling the phone unlocked for the full retail price of $549. It is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's HSPA+/LTE networks. The Z1 Compact, which was introduced in January, has many features found on the Z1S flagship device, including a 20.7-megapixel Exmor camera sensor with G Lens, IP58 rating for protection from water immersion, and Sony applications and services, such as Video and Music Unlimited. The Z1 Compact has a 4.3-inch 720p HD TriLuminos display with Sony's mobile Bravia Engine, and a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. The Xperia Z1 Compact runs Android 4.4 KitKat.
AT&T today announced that it has made several improvements to its Toggle mobile device management service. Toggle now supports Box, the cloud-based storage service. With Box, Toggle allows business customers to store and access documents and other files securely online. Toggle has expanded its availability to 25 new countries, some of which include Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa. AT&T has also improved Toggle's E911 location accuracy, added government-grade encryption, improved remote access tools, and made it easier for employees to switch between the personal and business profiles on their devices. Toggle lets businesses manage employee devices, which support work and personal accounts.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, has decided to rebrand its service. Isis is making the change after the rise of ISIS, a militant group based in the Middle East, has gained worldwide notoriety. "However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering," said Isis. "As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand." Isis said it is still weighing what the new brand name will be. Whatever the name is, the change won't affect the company's product or services. Isis said it will share new details as soon as they are available. Isis launched in November last year. It is available on many Android smartphones and enables tap-and-go mobile payments at select retailers nationwide.
AT&T today said its variant of the LG G3 will be available in stores starting July 11, with preorders starting July 8. AT&T is charging $199 for the G3 with a new contract, or $24.17 per month with AT&T Next 18, or $29 per month with AT&T Next 12 (no down payment required with the Next plans). AT&T is also kicking off preorders for the LG G Watch on July 8. The G Watch will join the G3 in AT&T stores July 11. It costs $229. AT&T said it will offer a 50% discount on select accessories for the G3 and G Watch for a limited time when purchased in stores.
Sprint today revealed it will commence sales of the LG G3 on July 18 in stores, online and via telephone. Sprint is offering several different ways to pay for the device. With Sprint Easy Pay, for example, customers can buy the G3 with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $25. Preorders for the device begin July 11. The company is offering award cards for early adopters of the phone. New and existing customers who buy the G3 between July 11 and July 24 will qualify for a $150 gift card, and those who buy the G3 between July 25 and August 14 will qualify for a $100 gift card. T-Mobile plans to sell the G3 beginning July 16. AT&T and Verizon have yet to announced G3 availability.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy S5 mini, a smaller version of its 2014 flagship handset. The GS5 mini manages to include several of the GS5's main features, such as the heart rate monitor, water and dust resistance, fingerprint sensor, private/kid mode, and Ultra Power Savings Mode. Samsung did, however, downgrade many of the specs in order to make the smaller, less-expensive mini. The device has a 4.5-inch 720p HD Super AMOLED display. It is powered by a quad-core 1.4GHz processor with 1.5GB of RAM. The main camera captures up to 8 megapixels, while the secondary camera captures 2.1 megapixels. The camera offers Samsung functions such as Shot & More, Virtual Tour Shot, and S Studio. The phone has 16GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. Connectivity options include HSPA/LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and infrared. The Galaxy S5 mini will launch first in Russia this month, and Samsung said it will eventually expand to global markets over time. The Galaxy S5 mini will be offered in four colors: Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold. Pricing and availability in the U.S. was not specified. AT&T only recently launched the Galaxy S4 mini, which was announced last year.
AT&T plans to sell off its entire remaining stake in America Movil to Carlos Slim for about $5.6 billion. AT&T holds 8.3% of America Movil stock, but garners 24% of the company's voting rights. Carlos Slim's holding company, Inmobiliaria Carso, will pay AT&T $4.57 billion when the deal closes, followed by an addition $1 billion 60 days after closing. AT&T sold about half its stake in America Movil last June and already removed its designees from American Movil's board of directors. AT&T tipped the divestiture when it announced plans to acquire DirecTV earlier this year. AT&T hopes the sell off will improve its chances of gaining regulatory approval for its DirecTV acquisition. America Movil owns and operates TracFone wireless, the largest MVNO operating in the U.S. with 25 million customers.
AT&T today made available two new services developed by a company called Muuzii that can translate messages and speech between two phones in real-time. Muuzii Message lets subscribers enter a phrase via text message and instantly see the translation for sending. Similarly, Muuzii Speak records a snippet of speech and returns an audio file with the translated response complete with pronunciation guide. According to Muuzii, its service doesn't rely on canned or preformed responses, it translates free-spoken languages using the correct and/or correlative jargon, phrases, and terminology. The service translates English to Spanish, Spanish to English, and English to Chinese. Muuzii Message costs AT&T subscribers $2.99 per month and Muuzii Speak costs $3.99 per month. The service is compatible with all phones, not just smartphones Muuzii said it hopes to expand to other North American operators over time. The service competes with the likes of Google Translate and Samsung's S Translator, which are both free to use but are limited to Android smart devices.
AT&T and Plateau Wireless have filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission seeking permission to transfer certain spectrum licenses held by Plateau to AT&T. AT&T hopes to gain 700MHz, 850MHz, and AWS spectrum covering select markets in New Mexico and Texas. "This acquisition will enhance and supplement our wireless coverage in rural areas of southeast New Mexico and west Texas. We frequently do these sorts of deals as part of our commitment to give our customers a great mobile internet experience," said AT&T to Fierce Wireless. The spectrum transfer requires FCC approval before it can be completed.
Microsoft recently began accepting preorders in the U.S. for the Lumia 635. Microsoft is asking $99 for the AT&T model and $129 for the T-Mobile model, both off contract. The 635 is an entry-level Windows Phone 8.1 handset.
T-Mobile has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission with the hope that it will help define "commercially reasonable" data roaming rates. T-Mobile does not want the FCC to set or regulate roaming rates for mobile data, but it does want the FCC to offer some guidance on what is acceptable. In its request, T-Mobile called out AT&T for setting what it believes are unreasonable rates. "T-Mobile has been forced to throttle and cap its customers' ability to roam on AT&T's data network due to AT&T's unreasonably high data roaming rates. This is precisely the type of impact on consumers that the 'commercially reasonable' standard should be interpreted to prevent. Data roaming traffic carried by the substantial majority of roaming partners other than AT&T is generally offered at rates that do not require throttling or capping." T-Mobile asked the FCC to act quickly, as some of its "most critical roaming agreements" are set to expire at the end of the year. T-Mobile was given a generous roaming agreement from AT&T in the wake of the larger carrier's failed attempt to purchase T-Mobile, but the exact scale of that agreement is unknown. The FCC mandated in 2011 that carriers allow competing devices to roam on their data networks at fair prices.