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printed July 30, 2014
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T-Mobile Drops the Cost of Family Plans to $100

Monday, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Pushing Windows Phone 8.1 to Lumia 1520

Jul 24, 2014, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 24, 2014, 1:09 PM

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 Says App Headed to Amazon's Fire Phone

Jul 22, 2014, 12:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Lists Xperia Z2 for Sale On US Web Site

Jul 21, 2014, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Hands On with Amazon's Fire Phone for AT&T

Jul 17, 2014, 10:02 AM   by Rich Brome

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.

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Hands On with the HTC Desire 610 for AT&T

Jul 16, 2014, 6:35 PM   by Rich Brome

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.

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HTC Desire 610 Coming to AT&T

Jul 15, 2014, 9:40 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 16, 2014, 6:18 PM

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 Agree to Swap Some Spectrum

Jul 10, 2014, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Offering Lumia 630 for Free and Other Deals

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

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 Says It Will Bid On 600MHz Spectrum

Jul 9, 2014, 4:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Now Selling Xperia Z1 Compact in US

Jul 9, 2014, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 9, 2014, 7:31 AM

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 Updates Toggle for Business Customers

Jul 8, 2014, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Mobile Payment Venture to Change Branding

Jul 7, 2014, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 7, 2014, 3:29 PM

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's LG G3 Reaches Stores July 11

Jul 7, 2014, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Begin Selling LG G3 July 18

Jul 3, 2014, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Galaxy S5 Mini Carries Over Most of Flagship's Features

Jul 1, 2014, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Divest America Movil Stake to Carlos Slim

Jun 30, 2014, 10:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2014, 12:38 PM

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 Launches Spanish and Chinese Translation Service

Jun 25, 2014, 8:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Looking to Score Plateau Wireless Spectrum

Jun 24, 2014, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Now Taking Preorders for Lumia 635

Jun 23, 2014, 12:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Wants FCC to Weigh In On Data Roaming

Jun 20, 2014, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


AT&T Doesn't See Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Happening

Jun 18, 2014, 10:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, thinks any proposed merger or acquisition between Sprint and T-Mobile is likely to be shot down by the U.S. government. "The problem as I see it is the way the government shut our deal down. They wrote a complaint and a very specific complaint. You're consolidating the industry from four to three national competitors," said Stephenson in comments made Tuesday. "If you think of Sprint and T-Mobile combining, I struggle to understand how that’s not four going to three." SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who serves as Sprint's Chairman, has been talking to U.S. regulators about a potential tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile for months. So far regulators have been unenthusiastic about the deal, though they've not said outright that it will be shot down. Son has gained more loan agreements and may make an official offer in the coming months.


CTIA Believes FCC's Power Should Be Kept In Check

Jun 16, 2014, 12:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA Wireless Association recently recommended to congress that it limit the powers of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the wireless industry. The comments come in response to a white paper published by the House Committee On Energy and Commerce earlier this year. The CTIA, which represents the wireless industry, including companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, believes congress should recognize that the wireless industry is inherently competitive as-is and only needs a "light touch" by regulators. Further, the CTIA believes the FCC's authority to regulate should be limited to areas where competition isn't perhaps as robust as it should be. The CTIA wants the FCC to regulate all wireless products and services nationally in a uniform matter. When it comes to regulation, CTIA says congress should rely on existing antitrust laws when assessing mergers and acquisitions rather than allow the FCC to create new criteria. Last, the CTIA wants the FCC to make more spectrum available, and to have its powers reassessed every few years. "The explosive growth of the wireless industry and its prominent role in the United States economy have all occurred because the FCC has taken a light regulatory touch in general and with respect to competition policy in particular. Fostering the continued expansion of the wireless industry requires the preservation of policies that recognize the competiveness of the wireless marketplace, the evolution of intermodal competition, and the need for periodic evaluation of the FCC and its regulations." The FCC is assessing the viability of several large deals, such as AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV, as well as managing several forthcoming spectrum auctions. The FCC squashed AT&T's attempt to acquire T-Mobile in 2012, and has so far indicated it doesn't view a potential Sprint/T-Mobile merger as a good idea. The FCC has also come under fire for its net neutrality proposals, which might mitigate how wired and wireless companies manage network traffic.


AT&T Customer Data Accessed in Security Breach

Jun 13, 2014, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently confirmed that a third-party contractor violated its security protocols and accessed customer data, including Social Security numbers and call records. The breach occurred between April 9 and April 21, but was only revealed by AT&T this week. The persons involved in the breach were employed by a service that unlocks cell phones. AT&T said in a statement provided to customers that it believes their records were only accessed by the vendor employees to help facilitate the unlocking process. "We recently learned that three employees of one of our vendors accessed some AT&T customer accounts without proper authorization," said AT&T in a statement. "This is completely counter to the way we require our vendors to conduct business. We know our customers count on us and those who support our business to act with integrity and trust, and we take that very seriously. We have taken steps to help prevent this from happening again, and we have reported this matter to law enforcement." AT&T would not say how many customers were affected, but has already alerted them via email. California law requires problems like this to be reported when more than 500 customers are involved. AT&T didn't say if the breach was limited to its customers in California or if the breach was more widespread. AT&T has more than 100 million customers across the U.S.


AT&T Increases Activation Fee to $40

Jun 12, 2014, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has bumped up the price of activating new equipment on two-year plans from $36 to $40. The change went into effect June 8. The fee doesn't apply to AT&T Next plans, though AT&T told Fierce Wireless that heavy adoption of its early upgrade program played a role in increasing the activation fee for those signing contracts. AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel claimed "there are administrative and other costs associated with activating or upgrading a device" on two-year plans. Sprint charges a $36 activation fee, Verizon charges a $35 activation fee (waived if customers sign up for Edge within two month), and T-Mobile doesn't charge an activation fee at all for customers who select a Simple Choice plan.


Huawei Now Taking Preorders for Ascend Mate2

Jun 12, 2014, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today said the Ascend Mate2 is available to U.S. consumers through a new web site, GetHuawei.com. Huawei initially announced the Ascend Mate2 in January, and later said it would sell the device directly to consumers rather than through a wireless network operator. Key features of the Mate2 include a 6.1-inch 720p HD display, 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 4,050mAh battery, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel user-facing camera, and support for the LTE networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. It runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Huawei's Emotion UI 2.0, which supports mini-apps that float above other apps, and a driving mode with a simplified interface. Huawei is asking $300 for the Ascend Mate2, which ships unlocked.


Nation's LTE Networks Ranked, Verizon Tops Competition

Jun 11, 2014, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 11, 2014, 1:45 PM

Verizon Wireless has earned the title of America's zippiest LTE network this year from PCMag. The PCMag/Ziff Davis Fastest Mobile Networks 2014 project ranked the speed and reliability of the nation's major wireless network providers in testing that spanned 30 cities and collected tens of thousands of data points across thousands of miles driven by cars. PCMag measured peak and average uploads/downloads, ping times, and web page load times. It used the LG G2, which is sold by all four national carriers. The G2 was placed in cars, and cycled through tests continually using an application developed by Sensorly. According to PCMag's data, Verizon won this year due to the rollout of its XLTE service, which boosted speeds, and its far-reaching coverage in both large cities and rural regions. Nationally, Verizon Wireless saw an average LTE download speed of 19.6Mbps, with peaks surpassing 84Mbps. AT&T saw coverage improve across the country, but LTE speeds actually slowed year-over-year in major markets due to congestion. T-Mobile's LTE network grew significantly in terms of coverage and was often the fastest in major cities. T-Mobile's poor rural coverage, however, hurt its national averages. Sprint's LTE network ranked the slowest of the four and Sprint also suffered from a lack of coverage when compared to Verizon and AT&T. PCMag ranks the major networks each year. The overall scores are weighted 70% on speed and 30% on reliability. In additional to national rankings, PCMag generated regional rankings and city-by-city rankings for the major networks.


AT&T, T-Mobile Offer Best 3G Performance

Jun 11, 2014, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The 3G networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile handily beat those operated by Sprint and Verizon Wireless in PCMag's Fastest Mobile Networks in 2014. AT&T and T-Mobile use HSPA/HSPA for 3G and Sprint and Verizon use CDMA EVDO Rev. A for 3G. For its purposes, PCMag defined 4G/3G based on speed thresholds possible by each network type. It set minimums for average download speeds and then tested the 4G/3G networks accordingly. T-Mobile's 3G network offered the fastest national average download speeds of 8.6Mbps, with a 28.5Mbps peak. T-Mobile's 3G network, for the most part, exceeded the marketing claims made by the company. AT&T's 3G network delivered a national average download speed of 3.8Mbps, with a 15.5Mbps peak. Both Sprint and Verizon saw national average download speeds of just 0.7Mbps, with peaks at 2.5Mbps and 2.7Mbps, respectively. Phones that can't connect to LTE networks fall back to the available 3G networks. PCMag's data clearly shows that AT&T and T-Mobile offer a better 3G experience when their LTE isn't available. Sprint and Verizon's 3G networks are limited by the CDMA EVDO technology used to run them. Though Verizon's 3G network may be slow, its LTE network was ranked the fastest and most reliable by PCMag.


RadioShack to Close Yet More Stores

Jun 10, 2014, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack today said it plans to close as many as 200 more stores as its turn-around efforts stall. In March, the company announced it would close 1,100 stores by the end of the year. The closures combined will leave RadioShack with about 3,800 stores operating in the U.S. The company blamed its woes on poor sales of smartphones. RadioShack is in the process of updating both its image and its sales strategy with a focus on electronic entertainment devices. It sells devices from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless.


AT&T Offering GoPhone Plans to Tablets

Jun 6, 2014, 8:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said customers may pair a cellular-equipped tablet with its prepaid GoPhone data plans. GoPhone doesn't require contracts or credit checks, and bills on a monthly basis, giving customers the flexibility to use their tablet when needed.


AT&T to Use Phone Location Data to Help Curb Fraud

Jun 5, 2014, 12:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced a trial that will see the company use customer location data to help credit card companies make better decisions about whether to decline or approve certain international transactions. The pilot, which kicks off this summer, follows a similar one being tested by MasterCard and Syniverse. Customers can choose to opt in to the AT&T program, which will share their handset's location data with their credit card company. The issuing bank will then know, for example, that John Doe landed in London and it can use that data to decide if transactions made on that card in that location are legitimate. The goal is to help businesses and their traveling employees by making sure truly fraudulent purchases are blocked, while legitimate purchases are allowed. The service relies on AT&T's Location Information Services and related APIs so banks and other companies can make use of geographical data in their apps. If the summer program is successful, AT&T will expand the service to its enterprise customers later in the year.


AT&T's Cricket Brand to Cut Off Lifeline Service

Jun 4, 2014, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently indicated via its support web site that it will eventually discontinue offering Lifelife service through its Cricket prepaid brand. Lifeline allows qualified Americans to receive free or heavily discounted wireless service through Cricket. AT&T will support Circket's current CDMA Lifeline customers for the next 18 months, but it will not sign any new customers to Lifeline service on its GSM network. The company explained, "Cricket is upgrading its CDMA network to 4G GSM and expects to stop offering CDMA wireless service as early as March 2015." Cricket spelled out in capital letters that CDMA phones - including those used by Lifeline customers - will no longer work after it completes the transition to GSM/LTE. "When you transition to the new Cricket GSM network and rate plan, you will not be able to keep your Lifeline credit," it said. AT&T said Cricket does offer plans as low as $25 per month, which are comparable to some of the Lifeline plans. AT&T didn't explain why it is discontinuing support for Lifeline.


Verizon Finalizes Purchase of Golden State Cellular

Jun 2, 2014, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it has completed its purchase of Golden State Cellular. The sale includes spectrum licenses and operating assets covering about 160,000 POPs across 6,000 square miles in Yosemite National Park, as well as Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. Verizon will continue to operate Golden State Wireless as-is for several months as it integrates the two networks. It will eventually add LTE 4G service to the region. Golden State Cellular's 18,000 customers don't need to take any action for the time being. Verizon will notify them when it is ready to transition their service. Verizon and competitor AT&T are in the process of acquiring a handful of small, regional operators in order to expand coverage in rural areas, as well as gain access to more spectrum.


Samsung Galaxy S5 Active Amps Up the Tough

May 29, 2014, 11:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 29, 2014, 11:06 PM

AT&T and Samsung today announced the Galaxy S5 Active, a ruggedized variant of Samsung's flagship smartphone. The GS5 Active carries over many of the GS5's key specs, including the 5.1-inch FHD screen, 2.5GHz quad-core processor, 16-megapixel camera, and built-in heart rate monitor with S Health software. The GS5 Active has, however, been wrapped in a tougher exterior to provide extra protection from the elements. The GS5 Active meets mil-spec 810G, which means it can withstand high heat, extreme cold, shock, vibration, high altitude, and humidity. The GS5 Active can also sit in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Samsung added one neat software trick to the GS5 Active: a press of the convenience key on the side will launch all the apps related to outdoor activity on a single screen. The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active costs $200 with a new two-year contract, $27.50 per month on AT&T Next 18, or $35.75 per month on AT&T Next 12. It can be ordered online and in stores beginning today.


AT&T Fills In LTE Coverage Gaps

May 29, 2014, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said its LTE 4G network is now live in a handful of new markets, including Alpena, Mich.; Worthington, Minn.; Klamath Falls, La Grande, and Roseburg, Ore.; Altoona, Pa.; and Alice, Bay City, and El Campo, Texas. AT&T's LTE network reaches 280 million POPs and should cover 97% of all Americans by the end of the year.


Transit Wireless Upgrades Earliest NYC Subway Stops

May 28, 2014, 9:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Transit Wireless today said that it has upgraded the cell service found in six different subway stations scattered across New York City. The stations were among the first in the city to gain access to wireless services back in 2011. According to Transit Wireless, the company building the underground network, the stations have been updated to the latest 3G and 4G wireless technologies from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The stations include 34th St. / Herald Square (B, D, F, M, Q, N, R lines); 42nd St. / Bryant Park (7, B, D, F, M lines); Grand Central / 42nd St. (4, 5, 6, 7, S lines); 23rd St., 28th St., and 33rd St. (6 line); and 23rd St. (F, M lines). Transit Wireless has lit up service in dozens of other midtown subway stations and plans to provide service to 29 stations in Queens by the end of summer.


AT&T to Sell Asus PadFone X June 6 for $200

May 28, 2014, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the availability and pricing details for the Asus PadFone X. The smartphone-tablet hybrid can be purchased from AT&T's web site and stores beginning June 6. The device will cost $200 with a two-year contract, or $22.92 for 18 months, or $29.80 for 12 months with AT&T Next plans. Asus announced the PadFone X at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It includes both a 5-inch Android smartphone and a 9-inch dock that converts the PadFone X into a tablet.


Sense 6.0 for Verizon's HTC One (M7) Hits this Week

May 27, 2014, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC recently indicated that Verizon Wireless will begin pushing the Sense 6.0 system update to the One (M7) this week. The update brings the M7 in line with the software running on the M8. The unlocked variant, the developer variant, and the T-Mobile variant of the M7 have already been updated to Sense 6.0. AT&T and Sprint are both still in the process of certifying Sense 6.0 for their versions of the M7. According to HTC's update status web site, it is also still working to bring Sense 6.0 to the Verizon HTC One max and the AT&T HTC One mini. The Sense 6.0 update for the Verizon One M7 will be pushed out in waves.


AT&T Will Let You Insure Non-Connected Devices

May 23, 2014, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 23, 2014, 10:49 AM

AT&T today announced a new insurance program that will allow customers to insure multiple devices that aren't connected to AT&T's network. Beginning May 23, customers may enroll in the AT&T Multi-Device Protection Pack, which offers a number of benefits. Customers must designate a primary device for the insurance plan, such as a smartphone, and then may add up to two more devices, such as tablets or laptops, whether or not they are connected to AT&T's network. The program offers device replacement for lost, stolen, or broken hardware; live support via phone or chat; and the ability to locate, lock, or wipe lost/stolen devices, or sound an alarm. Customers who don't file any claims for a period of at least six months may see their deductible drop by 25% to 50% over time. The AT&T Multi-Device Protection Pack costs $30 per month.


AT&T Lands Another Pantech QMD in the Vybe

May 22, 2014, 9:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Pantech today announced the Vybe, a quick messaging device that features both a touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Vybe, which is an update to the Ease, includes a 3.2-inch 400 x 240-pixel display with three customizable home screens. The Vybe can also be put into Easy Mode, which simplifies the home screens and menus for inexperience users. The Vybe uses a proprietary, Java-based operating system. The Vybe offers a 3-megapixel camera and can be launched quickly thanks to a dedicated button. The Vybe also includes shortcuts to social media apps, and a number of AT&T services, such as Drive Mode, Navigator, Address Book, Family Map, and myAT&T. Other hardware features include a 1230mAh battery, and support for HSPA data and Bluetooth. The Pantech Vybe will be available online and in stores beginning May 23. AT&T is asking $30 with a new two-year contract.


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