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printed November 28, 2014
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C Spire Debuts Rollover Data

Wednesday, 1:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

C Spire Wireless has introduced new service plans that include rollover data. The trio of plans allows customers to carryover unused data from one month to the next in order to avoid overage charges during months they may need more access. All three plans include unlimited voice minutes and messaging. The $40 option buys 2GB of data, the $55 option buys 4GB, and the $65 option buys 6GB. Customers can roll their entire monthly data allotment to the next month if it goes unused. These plans do not include device financing and assume users are supplying their own hardware. The same three plans cost $65, $80, and $90 per month when paired with a subsidized smartphone purchase. C Spire seemingly borrowed the idea from AT&T, which marketed rollover voice minutes for a long time.


Motorola to Replace Some AT&T Nexus 6 Phones

Nov 21, 2014, 1:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will replace a few hundred Nexus 6 handsets sent to some AT&T customers. "We delivered a small number of Nexus 6 smartphones with incorrect software to AT&T customers who pre-ordered," said Motorola in a statement. "The incorrect software prevents the phone from starting up properly. We will provide replacements for consumers whose phones are affected. The problem has been corrected and the phones currently shipping are fine." When asked, Motorola denied that shipments were halted or recalled because of the bug. The issue appears to only affect the AT&T variant of the Nexus 6. "If a consumer sees the 'welcome' after the first time they turn on the phone, then their device isn't affected and they should use it as normal," said Motorola in an email to Phone Scoop. "People can call [Motorola's] customer service if they have questions."

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AT&T to Sell Sonim's Rugged XP6

Nov 21, 2014, 9:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the immediate availability of the Sonim XP6. The XP6 is a highly rugged Android smartphone that includes buttons and controls like a feature phone. It is certified to mil-spec 810G for protection against drops, vibration, temperature extremes, and humidity. The IP68 rating means it is protected again water and dust intrusion, as well. The XP6 is compatible with AT&T's enhanced PTT service, and has an extremely loud speaker at 103dB. The phone has a 2.64-inch display with 320 x 424 pixels. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Specs include a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage; 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture; an extra large 4,820mAh battery; and Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, and WiFi radios. AT&T is selling the Sonim XP6 through its business sales channels. The Sonim XP6 is available for $0 down at $17.50 per month on AT&T Next 24; $21.88 on AT&T Next 18; $26.25 on AT&T Next 12; $149.99 with a standard two-year contract; or $524.99 with no commitment. Business and government customers can buy the XP6 for $100 with a two-year contract as long as they also sign up for EPTT service.


AT&T Adds $45 Option to GoPhone Plans

Nov 19, 2014, 5:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently added an option to its selection of prepaid plans. Splitting the difference between the existing $40 and $60 plans is a new $45 plan. It includes unlimited calling in the U.S. and unlimited messaging. As for data, the plan offers 1GB of high-speed data. Customers who exceed the monthly limit will be throttled down to 128Kbps for the remainder of the billing period. Alternately, customers can purchase another 1GB of data for $10. The $40 plan includes only 500MB of data, while the $60 plan includes 2.5GB. The new $45 GoPhone plan is already available.


Starbucks Officially Debuts Wireless Charging in Shops

Nov 19, 2014, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Starbucks has begun to deploy wireless charging stations at select coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company said 200 stores now offer wireless charging spots on tables and coffee bars. Customers with compatible handsets can place their devices on the spots to receive a power boost while sipping a latte. Starbucks is working with Powermat, which uses the inductive charging standard developed by the Power Matters Alliance. Some phones in the market use the PMA standard for wireless charging, but many do not. Powermat makes a wide array of sleeves and other accessories for devices that don't support wireless charging on their own. Starbucks will allow customers to buy or borrow a special Powermat Ring, which is PMA compliant and plugs into phones via USB. The Powermat Ring costs $10, or can be used for free when purchasing food or beverages. Earlier this year, Starbucks said it will add about a dozen wireless charging stations to each of its 7,500 locations in the U.S., though many of the deployments won't take place until 2015. There are still competing standards in the wireless charging space. Qi, the standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium, still has strong support in some quarters and is supported by a number of phones. Starbucks' wireless charging project is being supported by AT&T, which is a member of the PMA.


FCC Says AWS-3 Bidding Reaches $12 Billion

Nov 18, 2014, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today said the government has received bids totaling $12 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses. The auction kicked off November 13 with a reserve price of $10.6 billion. Today's revelation means the government has already exceeded its minimum for the auction. At stake are more than 1,600 licenses around the country covering 65MHz of AWS-3 spectrum. The FCC didn't say how long it expects the bidding to continue. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among 70 entities approved to participate in the auction.


AT&T Offering 15GB for the Price of 10GB

Nov 17, 2014, 2:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 17, 2014, 2:36 PM

AT&T today announced yet another promotional data offering. Beginning November 18, Mobile Share Value plan customers can get 15GB of data for the price of 10GB. The monthly data charge is $100, which doesn't include per-line access charges for smartphones, tablets, and other devices connected to the plan. AT&T charges $15 per month for smartphones and $10 per month for tablets on AT&T Next plans, or $40 per month for traditional contract customers. AT&T said the promotion will run for a limited time, but didn't say for exactly how long. The improved data offering is available to new and existing customers. Additionally, AT&T customers can get unlimited international messaging (text, picture and video) on all Mobile Share Value plans for no additional cost. AT&T is still offering the promotional Mobile Share Value plan with 30GB of data for $130 per month.


Wireless Carriers Set Indoor 911 Location Framework

Nov 17, 2014, 9:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.


Opening Round of AWS-3 Auction Nets $1.77B in Bids

Nov 13, 2014, 2:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Wireless and other companies began bidding on AWS-3 spectrum licenses today, which are being auctioned off by the FCC. The initial round of bidding totaled about $1.77 billion for 1,012 of the 1,614 available licenses. The FCC's reserve price for the entire auction is $10.56 billion. Major network operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as are other entities such as Dish Networks. Seventy total groups were approved to participate in the auction. Spectrum blocks in New York City and Los Angeles received the most attention today, with one J Block license in NYC scoring a high bid of $88 million. Bidding is expected to continue for several weeks at least. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands.


United's MileagePlus Cards Now Support Softcard

Nov 12, 2014, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

United Airlines today announced that owners of its MileagePlus credit cards can now add them to their Softcard account and make mobile payments. The cards are backed by Chase bank, which is one of the handful of financial institutions supporting Softcard. In order to entice cardholders to sign up, United is offering 2,500 miles to customers who activate their MileagePlus card on Softcard by February 28, 2015. Further, United will add 500 more miles every month (up to total of 4,000 miles) to the MileagePlus accounts of cardholders who use Softcard at least once per month for mobile purchases. Softcard is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless and is compatible with many Android smartphones and select Windows Phones.


AT&T to 'Pause' Network Investments in Net Neutrality Fight

Nov 12, 2014, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will put on hold a plan to bring fiber-based broadband to 100 cities. It is hitting "pause" said CEO Randall Stephenson thanks to the recently heated up debate over net neutrality. "We can't go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed," he said. "We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like." AT&T has not yet said if it plans to pause any investments in its wireless network. For example, AT&T still plans to participate in this week's AWS-3 spectrum auction, which kicks off Thursday. The debate over net neutrality was sparked anew this week when President Obama weighed in and asked the FCC to create a free and open internet.


AT&T to Kick Off Nexus 6 Preorders November 12

Nov 11, 2014, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that it will begin accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 smartphone on November 12. AT&T is offering the device through several payment avenues. The full retail price of the phone is $683, but customers who sign a two-year agreement can pick up the Nexus 6 for $250. The device is also available via AT&T Next monthly installment plans. It costs $22.77 with Next 24, $28.46 with Next 18, and $34.15 with Next 12. For a limited time, AT&T is offering new and existing customers a $50 discount on the Moto 360 smartwatch when purchased with the Nexus 6. AT&T didn't say when the Nexus 6 will actually ship or reach stores.


AT&T Grounds Plans for In-Flight Connectivity

Nov 10, 2014, 3:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has cancelled plans to offer in-flight connectivity to mobile devices. The company initially thought it could take on incumbent in-flight supplier GoGo with its own, competing wireless service. AT&T has since committed sizable financial resources to purchase DirecTV and Iusacell. AT&T said a review of its finances prompted today's decision.


AT&T Says Samsung Ativ S Neo Owners Can Grab WP8.1

Nov 10, 2014, 2:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that customers with the Samsung Ativ S Neo handset can update their devices to Windows Phone 8.1. The system update includes Cortana, expanded home screen panels, action center, new lock screen widgets, word flow keyboard and other improvements. The update is free and can be installed over the air.


Industry Reacts to White House Net Neutrality Push

Nov 10, 2014, 12:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following the White House's request to reclassify the internet as a utility, a number of industry organizations have fielded responses. First to respond was FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler "welcomed" Obama's comments and said the agency would add them to the existing public discourse regarding the subject. He stopped well short of saying the agency would adopt such measures. "The more deeply we examined the issues around the various legal options, the more it has become plain that there is more work to do. The approaches before us raise substantive legal questions. We found we would need more time to examine these to ensure that whatever approach is taken, it can withstand any legal challenges it may face," said Wheeler. The CTIA Wireless Association, which lobbies for the wireless industry's interests in Washington, disagreed with Obama's proposal in the strongest terms. "Imposing antiquated common carrier regulation on the vibrant mobile wireless ecosystem would be a gross overreaction that would impose inappropriate regulation on a dynamic industry and would threaten mobile providers' ability to invest and innovate, all to the detriment of consumers. CTIA strongly opposes such an approach," wrote CTIA President Meredith Atwell Baker. AT&T went a step further and threatened legal action. "Today's announcement by the White House, if acted upon by the FCC, would be a mistake that will do tremendous harm to the Internet and to U.S. national interests. If the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External & Legislative Affairs. Verizon Wireless issued a statement similar to AT&T's. "Reclassification under Title II, which for the first time would apply 1930s-era utility regulation to the internet, would be a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threaten great harm to an open internet, competition and innovation. That course will likely also face strong legal challenges and would likely not stand up in court," said the company in a post on its public policy blog.


HTC's One for Windows Reaches T-Mobile

Nov 10, 2014, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has begun selling the HTC One (M8) for Windows smartphone on its web site. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down with monthly payments of $24.40, or for $585.60 at full retail. The phone recently reached AT&T and it is already sold by Verizon.


AT&T to Buy Mexican Cell Provider Iusacell

Nov 7, 2014, 4:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced it has agreed to acquire Mexican wireless company Iusacell for $2.5 billion. Iusacell offers wireless service under its own name and the Unefon brand name. It has 8.6 million subscribers, but covers about 70% of Mexico's population of 120 million. AT&T will gain the subscribers, spectrum licenses, network assets, and retail operations of Iusacell. The deal requires that Grupo Salinas, which currently owns just 50% of Iusacell, complete its acquisition of the portion of the company it does not already own. Once it does, AT&T will buy Iusacell from Grupo Salinas. AT&T said it plans to expand Iusacell's network to cover more Mexicans. The company believes the deal makes sense for a number of reasons. Iusacell runs a GSM/UMTS network and owns 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum in select portions Mexico. "Iusacell represents a natural geographic expansion of [our] wireless footprint into a country with a growing economy that is interdependent with the U.S. economy," said AT&T. "Recent changes to government policies in Mexico have created a friendly climate for foreign investment. This transaction gives AT&T the assets necessary to create a first-ever North American Mobile Service area for U.S. customers calling or visiting Mexico, and Mexican customers calling or visiting the United States –whether they live near the border or thousands of miles away." AT&T sees the acquisition as a long-term growth opportunity. Iusacell will remain headquartered in Mexico City. AT&T said it expects the deal to gain the necessary regulatory approvals before the end of the first quarter of 2015.


Verizon Selling Samsung Gear S Today for $349

Nov 7, 2014, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.


Defense Mobile Targets Vets with Low-Cost Service

Nov 7, 2014, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.


Nexus 6 Now Available Directly from Motorola

Nov 6, 2014, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola recently began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 on its U.S. web site. Both the white and blue models are available in 32GB and 64GB variants for $649 and $699, respectively. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model at the moment. Google is also selling the Nexus 6, though its supply is currently exhausted. The Nexus 6 will be made available from wireless network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, later this month. Shipping times have yet to be announced.


AT&T Says FiLIP 2 for Kids to Arrive Nov. 7

Nov 5, 2014, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that it will sell the FiLIP 2 beginning November 7 for $100. The FiLIP 2 is a second generation wearable for children (aged 4 to 11) that includes a rudimentary cell phone and GPS locator. Most of the changes to the FiLIP 2 pertain to the wearable aspect of the device. For example, the FiLIP 2 has an improved wristband that has adjustable sizing in order to make it more comfortable. The device is also more durable to withstand physical activity and it comes in more colors. AT&T said the FiLIP mobile app for smartphones has been improved with a new user interface and a simplified set-up process. The FiLIP lets parents use their smartphone to call the FiLIP and locate their kids easily on a map. The device stores up to five phone numbers that can be called by children from the FiLIP. The FiLIP can receive text messages from parents, but cannot return messages. In addition to pinpointing location, parents can also set Safe Zones in which their child is allowed to roam via geofencing. If the child leaves the Safe Zone, the FiLIP will send an alert to the parent. Last, the FiLIP includes an emergency function for calling parents and/or emergency services. FiLIP plans cost $10 per month.


Verizon, AT&T Using 'Supercookies' to Track Customers

Nov 5, 2014, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 5, 2014, 11:14 AM

Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both admitted to using a tool called supercookies to track the web usage of their customers. The supercookies log which web sites Verizon and AT&T customers visit, generating data that Verizon and AT&T can sell to advertisers. The supercookies allow Verizon and AT&T to monitor customers who've opted out of traditional cookie-based tracking. The supercookies can't be erased, nor evaded by using private browsing modes as they aren't stored on phones. Instead, they're stored on Verizon's network. Verizon says it notified customers about the supercookies, though the effectiveness of the outreach has been called to question. Verizon also says it has taken steps to protect customer privacy. For example, the supercookie codes are a random string of numbers and letters that are changed regularly. Verizon says the data generated by its supercookies are only available to participants of its Precision Markets Insights advertising program. AT&T's supercookie codes are changed every day, but its program is still in the trial stage and not yet fully deployed. The companies contend the codes are anonymous, but security researchers cited by The Washington Post say the data can be de-anonymized to reveal identity info. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reached out to the FCC about the legality of the tracking tools. It is weighing whether or not to take legal action to prevent the carriers from using them.


Windows Phone Owners Can Now Use Softcard

Nov 4, 2014, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard recently expanded to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Softcard, formerly Isis, is a mobile payment service backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Windows Phone owners can associate a credit card from select financial institutions with Softcard on their phone and use it for mobile payments. According to Softcard, its app is accepted at more than 200,000 retail locations around the U.S. Softcard is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, but it requires a secure SIM card from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless in order to function properly.


AT&T Lets Customers Stretch Out Phone Payments Further

Nov 4, 2014, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced AT&T Next 24, a third option for breaking down device payments into smaller monthly chunks. As with AT&T Next 12 and AT&T Next 18, the new plan lets customers join AT&T without requiring a contract. Customers can acquire a phone for $0 down followed by monthly payments that vary according to the phone's cost. With Next 24, customers can upgrade to a new device after making 24 payments, and the device is paid off after 30 total payments. In order to get a new phone with no downpayment, customers will need to turn in their old device when they choose to upgrade after 24 payments. In addition to the new financing option, customers who switch to AT&T and activate a new line of service with a smartphone on AT&T Next will receive a $150 bill credit.


Verizon, AT&T Working On Intercarrier VoLTE

Nov 3, 2014, 1:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless and AT&T today said the companies are working together to make interoperable VoLTE calls a reality. Both carriers offer VoLTE to their subscribers, but those calls can only pass between two VoLTE-enabled devices covered by an LTE network run by the same carrier. In other words, Verizon customers can only call Verizon customers via VolTE and AT&T customers can only call AT&T customers. Engineers from both companies are working to create a set of requirements needed and then plan to move to field trials before a full deployment. Once VoLTE calls are interoperable between the two carriers, they'll work on other services, such as video calls and rich messaging. The two said customers can expect to see VoLTE interoperability for voice calls between Verizon and AT&T in 2015. T-Mobile also offers VoLTE to its customers, but it appears as though the Uncarrier has been left out of this partnership for now.


Kyocera's DuraForce Brings PTT to AT&T

Nov 3, 2014, 10:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the pending availability of the Kyocera DuraForce, a ruggedized Android smartphone. Like many of Kyocera's rugged devices, the DuraForce is mil-spec 810G and IP-68 certified. This means it is protected from drops, shock, temperature, dust, and vibration, and it can sit in up to six feet of water for up to 30 minutes. It also uses Kyocera's Smart Sonic Receiver, which makes it easier to hear in noisy environments. The phone features a 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 3,100mAh battery, and 16GB of internal storage. The DuraForce runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and supports AT&T's LTE network and its Enhanced Push-to-Talk (EPTT) service. The no-commitment price of the Kyocera DuraForce is $390. AT&T is offering the DuraForce for $50 with a two-year contract, $19.95 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $16.63 per month with AT&T Next 18. It will be available online November 7 and in stores November 21.


HTC's One for Windows Also Hits AT&T Nov. 7

Nov 3, 2014, 10:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today revealed availability and pricing details for the HTC One (M8) for Windows. The device, which is already being sold by Verizon Wireless, replaces the Android operating system with Windows Phone 8.1 but is otherwise identical. It has a 4-Ultrapixel camera, quad-core processor, 1080p HD display, and all-aluminum design. The device will be available online and in stores beginning November 7. AT&T is asking for $670 at full retail, $200 with a two-year contract, $33.60 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $27.92 per month with AT&T Next 18.


Microsoft's Lumia 830 Reaches AT&T Nov. 7

Nov 3, 2014, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that it will offer the Microsoft Lumia 830 online and in stores beginning November 7. The Lumia 830 was announced earlier this year. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and features a slim-and-light design. The 830 has a 5-inch HD display, quad-core processor, and 10-megapixel camera. AT&T is selling the phone for $450 at full retail, $100 with a two-year contract, $22.50 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $18.75 per month with AT&T Next 18. For a limited time, AT&T is offering a FitBit Flex wearable with the Lumia 830 for free. The FitBit can be used to track activity and sleep. It normally retails for $99.


AT&T to Sell HTC Desire Eye and RE Camera Nov. 7

Nov 3, 2014, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that it will begin selling the HTC Desire Eye on November 7. HTC announced the Eye earlier this year, which features a 13-megapixel user-facing camera for the best selfies possible. The device will cost $550 at full retail, $150 with a two-year agreement, $27.50 per month with AT&T Next 12, or $22.92 with AT&T Next 18. AT&T also said it will offer the HTC RE camera. Preorders begin November 7 and it will reach all stores November 21. The RE camera costs $150 when purchased with the Desire Eye, or $200 by itself.


US Carriers Agree to Sell Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Nov 3, 2014, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.


Verizon Responds to AT&T's Data Promo with Its Own

Oct 31, 2014, 2:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a new data promotion shortly after AT&T revealed changes to its data offering. Verizon's promo benefits More Everything customers with mid-range plans. For example, the $80 More Everything plan now includes 10GB of data and the $100 plan now includes 15GB of data. The promo applies to new and existing customers and will be available starting November 1. Further, Verizon is offering $150 in bill credits to customers who port their number to Verizon with a new line of service. Verizon said both promotions will be available for a limited time.


AT&T Adds More Data to Mid-Range Plans

Oct 31, 2014, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today tweaked its Mobile Share Value plans and added data to two of the options. Specifically, the $40 plan improves the data allowance from 2GB to 3GB, and the $70 plan improves the data allowance from 4GB to 6GB. All other plans/costs remain unchanged. The Mobile Share Value plans have a per-line access charge of $25 per month for AT&T Next subscribers or $40 per month for contract customers. The data packages are in addition to the per-line fees. AT&T also offers 300MB for $20 and 1GB for $25. All the plans include unlimited talk and text. Tablets still carry a $10 monthly access charge. The new plans will be available to new and existing customers from November 2 through November 15. Customers who need more data to share can take advantage of AT&T's Double the Data offer on its Mobile Share Value plans (15GB to 50GB), which now runs to November 15.


FCC Approves 70 Bidders for AWS-3 Auction

Oct 30, 2014, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.


Samsung Gear S Goes On Sale Nov. 7

Oct 30, 2014, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.


FTC Sues AT&T Over Throttling Practices

Oct 28, 2014, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 28, 2014, 1:53 PM

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today filed a lawsuit against AT&T alleging the company has deceived consumers by throttling the speeds of subscribers to its unlimited plan. AT&T has throttled wireless speeds since 2011, but the FTC says it hasn't properly informed customers about the parameters that trigger it. According to the FTC, AT&T has slowed down broadband speeds of 3.5 million subscribers a total of 25 million times. Subscribers to its unlimited plans have filed thousands of complaints, accusing the company of using bait and switch tactics. The FTC found AT&T throttled data speeds of unlimited customers after they used as little as 2GB. Speeds were often reduced by 80 or 90%, making many network-based activities unusable. "AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." The agency is charging AT&T with violating the FTC Act for changing the terms of service while customers were still under contract. AT&T no longer offers unlimited plans and instead requires customers to purchase data by the bucket. Most carriers throttle the speeds of those who use the network excessively. "The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program, said AT&T general counsel Wayne Watts. "It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts."


Softcard Now Buys a Big Mac with Cheese

Oct 28, 2014, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard announced that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald's locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald's restaurants. Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard (formerly Isis) competes with Apple Pay.


T-Mobile to Explore Settlement with FTC Over Cramming

Oct 22, 2014, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has signaled to the Federal Trade Commission it is interested in reaching a settlement regarding accusations it unfairly profited from bogus charges foisted onto customers' bills. The FTC sued T-Mobile over its cramming practices, despite T-Mobile's attempts to preempt such legal action by banning premium content and offering refunds to customers. The company vehemently denied the FTC's accusations at first, but has since altered its stance. T-Mobile and the FTC have asked the lawsuit to be put on hold for a 90-day period while they discuss possible settlement terms. "Our top priority is doing what's right for our customers," said a T-Mobile spokesperson in a statement. "T-Mobile and the FTC jointly filed for a continuance as a matter of ordinary course. We are actively processing refunds through our proactive refund program." AT&T recently settled with the FTC over similar charges for a total of $105 million.


AT&T to Sell Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 on Oct. 24

Oct 20, 2014, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced the pending launch of the Galaxy Mega 2, a new version of Samsung's low-cost phablet. The Mega 2 features a 6-inch HD screen with a reduced bezel to help keep the footprint as small as possible. The phone adopts the design language of Samsung's Note series, to a certain degree, as well as the Note's split-screen multitasking, but the Mega 2 doesn't include a stylus. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, a user-facing camera, Samsung's Private Mode, and Samsung's battery management software. The device has a quad-core processor and a 2,880mAh battery. The Mega 2 runs Android with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The Galaxy Mega 2 costs $475 at full retail, or can be purchased for $19.80 per month with AT&T Next 18, $23.75 per month with Next 12, or $150 with a new two-year contract. AT&T is still offering a $100 bill credit when customers activate a new or existing line with its AT&T Next plans. The device reaches stores October 24.


Transit Wireless to Start Phase 3 of NYC Subway Project

Oct 16, 2014, 2:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 2:51 PM

Transit Wireless and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority today said more New York City residents will gain access to cellular service when using the subway. To start, Transit Wireless has completed Phase 2 of the project, which means 11 new stations in Manhattan and 29 stations in Queens are now connected with cellular and Wi-Fi service. Phase 3 will add service to Flushing Main Street Station in Queens, as well as stations in Lower Manhattan, West Harlem, and Washington Heights throughout 2015. Transit Wireless' project has seven phases in total, which will eventually bring connectivity to all 277 subway stations in New York by 2017. Wireless service is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


Apple Debuts New Multi-Carrier SIM Card in iPad Air 2

Oct 16, 2014, 2:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 2:35 PM

Apple today revealed the iPad Air 2, and along with it a new way to handle SIM cards. According to Apple, the new Apple SIM gives iPad Air 2 owners unprecedented flexibility when it comes to choosing an LTE service provider. "Whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you -- with no long-term commitment," explained Apple. "And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip." The multi-carrier SIM is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S., as well as EE in the U.K. The iPad Air 2 supports 20 different LTE bands, similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The carriers named by Apple have not yet discussed the particulars regarding no-contract data plans. There's no word on why Verizon Wireless isn't included in the list of U.S. carriers. It's possible that the Apple SIM will find its way to future Apple products, including its iPhones.


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