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printed October 25, 2016
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BlackBerry DTEK60 Boasts Fingerprint Sensor and Top Specs

Today, 8:21 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Today, 8:23 AM

BlackBerry today announced the DTEK60, the company's new flagship non-keyboard phone. The DTEK60 is based on the Alcatel Idol 4S and looks similar, but actually has significantly upgraded specs in nearly every respect. (The DTEK50 is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4.) The DTEK60 sports a fingerprint sensor, Quad-HD 5.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, NFC, and a memory card slot. Unlike the Idol 4S, it also packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 21 megapixel camera, and a USB Type-C connector with Quick Charge 3.0. The DTEK60 maintains the same 7mm thin profile as the Idol 4S, although with a larger camera bump for the upgraded sensor. As with all of BlackBerry's new phones, the DTEK60 runs Android with BlackBerry messaging and security software added. The phone supports LTE networks including those of T-Mobile and AT&T (including band 29.) The DTEK60 is available today directly from BlackBerry for $500 unlocked. Customers who order within the next two weeks will receive a free "soft shell" case and rapid charger.

AT&T to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Sunday, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T has agreed to purchase Time Warner for $85.4 billion in a stock-and-cash deal that will merge AT&T's delivery networks with Time Warner's vast catalog of content. AT&T believes the combined companies will be able to save $1 billion per year once fully merged. The company says the acquisition will diversify its revenue mix thanks to the lower-cost, less-regulated content business from Time Warner. This will balance out the high cap-ex model currently run by AT&T and its wired and wireless networks, and DirecTV satellite service, which are all heavily regulated. The merger has been approved unanimously by both boards, but will require regulatory approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC. The transaction is expected to close before year-end 2017. The combined entity will compete with Verizon-AOL.

Alcatel's Pop 4 and Pixi 4 Series Reach Amazon and Best Buy

Thursday, 6:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today said and Best Buy have agreed to sell four of its low-cost Android smartphones from the Pop and Pixi families. The Pop 4S costs $170, the Pop 4 Plus costs $120, the Pixi 4 (6-inch) costs $120, and the Pixi 4 (5-inch) costs $80. All four handsets are being sold unlocked with support for GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones were announced earlier this year.

iPhone 7 Plus Intel Modem Not Equal to Qualcomm Modem

Thursday, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Under poor network conditions, the iPhone 7 Plus with Intel inside does not perform as well as the iPhone 7 Plus with Qualcomm inside. Apple sourced the iPhone 7 Plus modem from both Intel and Qualcomm. This represents a major change for the company, which has relied solely on Qualcomm modems for years. The Intel modem (XMM7360) is found in the AT&T and T-Mobile variants of the iPhone 7, while the Qualcomm modem (MDM9645M) is found in the Sprint, Verizon, and unlocked variants of the iPhone 7. Cellular Insights conducted extensive signal tests on the iPhone 7 Plus in LTE Bands 12, 7, and 4 to see if any performance differences exist between the two modems. Under optimal network conditions both the Intel- and Qualcomm-equipped iPhones demonstrated an equal level of performance in speed and maintaining a connection. Under weak network conditions, however, the Intel-equipped iPhone 7 Plus posted speeds that were on average 30% slower than those of the Qualcomm-equipped iPhone 7 Plus. The slower speeds at the cell edge mean the Intel-based iPhone 7 Plus may be more likely to experience dropped VoLTE calls and other, similar behaviors. "In all tests, the iPhone 7 Plus with the Qualcomm modem had a significant performance edge over the iPhone 7 Plus with the Intel modem," said Cellular Insights in its report. Apple has not said why it selected modems from two separate suppliers for the iPhone 7 Plus.

AT&T Roams Into Cuba

Oct 18, 2016, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today launched roaming in Cuba. AT&T customers can talk, text, and use data when traveling to Cuba. Roaming in Cuba isn't cheap, however: calls cost $3 per minute, texts cost $0.50 each, MMS messages cost $1.30 each, and data costs $2.05 per megabyte.

FCC Reverse Auction Drops Clearing Price to $54.6B

Oct 14, 2016, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has wrapped up the initial phase of stage two of its incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves, and drastically lowered the price for that spectrum. The initial clearing cost for all the 600 MHz spectrum was $86.4 billion, but bidders failed to come even close during the first round of bidding. Bidders offered up about $23 billion instead. The FCC was forced to go back to the spectrum license holders — in this case, broadcast television stations — and renegotiate a series of minimum prices for those licenses. The new clearing cost for stage two of the auction is $54.6 billion. Bidding will resume on Oct. 19. Most industry watchers assumed the reverse auction would need several rounds to reach completion. The 600 MHz airwaves are valuable due to their signal propagation characteristics. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating in the auction, but Sprint is not.

Sprint Is Last Major Carrier to Cease Note7 Sales

Oct 10, 2016, 2:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in discontinuing the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "Given recent issues reported in the media, Sprint is halting sales of replacement Note7 devices pending the conclusion of the investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung," said the company in statement provided to media. "If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note7 has any concerns, we will exchange it for any other device." Sprint's competitors halted sales of the Note7 a day earlier. Samsung said it has "adjusted" production of the Note7 as it continues to investigate the device's safety. All consumers who have a Note7 are urged to power it down and return it for a new phone.

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T-Mobile, Too, Halts Note7 Replacements

Oct 9, 2016, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile this evening joined AT&T in putting a stop to exchanges, replacements, and sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note7. "While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices," said the company. Customers can bring their new and/or replacement Note7 (along with any purchased accessories) to a T-Mobile store for a full refund and choose from any device in T-Mobile's inventory. The company said it will waive restocking fees, as well as allow those who preordered the Note7 to keep the free Netflix subscription, Gear FT, or SD card they might have received as a gift with the phone. Last, T-Mobile will give all Note7 customers a one-time $25 bill credit for the hassle. The carrier encourages all customers to stop using the Note7, power it down, and return it to T-Mobile as soon as practical. Sprint and Verizon are still selling the device.

AT&T Stops Exchanging the Galaxy Note7

Oct 9, 2016, 2:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T says it will not swap out the original Note7 for replacement devices. "Based on recent reports, we're no longer exchanging new Note7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents," said the company in a statement provided to media. "We still encourage customers with a recalled Note7 to visit an AT&T location to exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice." All four major carriers have said customers may bring their Note7 — original or replacement — to stores for a refund or exchange. The Note7 has vanished from the web sites of AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, but it is still available from Verizon hasn't said if or when it might halt sales/exchanges. Anyone with a Note7 should power it down and bring it bak to the point of sale as soon as possible.

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AT&T, T-Mo, Verizon to Allow Note7 Replacement Exchanges, Too

Oct 7, 2016, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless followed Sprint's lead today and said customers who have a replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 can exchange the phone for any other sold in carrier stores. T-Mobile specified that any customer can return any phone within the initial 14-day trial period, and that includes both replacement and new Note7 handsets. AT&T and Verizon will accept any replacement Note7, regardless of replacement/purchase date. Sprint implemented a similar exchange program late Thursday. The latest action is a response to a replacement Note7 that caused a fire aboard an aircraft.

AT&T Shares LG V20 Pricing and Availability

Oct 6, 2016, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 6, 2016, 2:35 PM

AT&T today revealed its launch plans for the LG V20. Customers can preorder the phone starting Friday, Oct. 7, and it will reach stores on Oct. 28. AT&T didn't disclose the full retail price of the V20, but financing options place the cost at more than $800. For example, customers can purchase the V20 on AT&T Next for $27.67 per month for 30 months ($830 total) or AT&T Next Every Year at $34.59 per month for 24 months ($830 total). Customers willing to sign a two-year agreement can score the LG G Pad 10.1 tablet for $0.99 when purchased with the V20. Last, DirecTV and U-Verse TV customers who port a line to AT&T will be eligible to receive up to $695 in monthly device credits towards the V20.

Asus' Zenfone 3 Series Goes On Sale This Month

Oct 6, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today announced pricing and availability for its Zenfone 3 family of smartphones. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition, Deluxe 5.7, Deluxe 5.5, and Laser will all be sold unlocked, directly to consumers via Asus' web site. The phones share nearly identical designs, with aluminum unibody chassis, full HD AMOLED displays, rear-mounted fingerprint readers, dual SIM card and memory card support, USB Type-C, Android 6 Marshmallow, and Asus' ZenUI 3.0. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition is the most significant of the bunch, as it is one of the first devices to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor aboard with 256 MB of built-in storage. The Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition and Deluxe 5.7 share most other features, including a Sony Exmor 23-megapixel camera with OIS/EIS, but the Deluxe 5.7 uses a Snapdragon 820 processor. The Deluxe 5.5 steps down the display to 5.5 inches, and includes a Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 GB of RAM and a 16-megapixel camera. The Zenfone 3 Laser is the budget-minded member of the family with a Snapdragon 430 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 13-megapixel camera. The phones support the GSM/LTE networks operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 Special Edition costs $799, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.7 costs $499, and Zenfone 3 Deluxe 5.5 costs $399. These three phones are available for preorder and will ship later this month. The Zenfone 3 Laser costs $199 and is shipping today.

Replacement Samsung Galaxy Note7 Causes Fire On Plane

Oct 5, 2016, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight in Louisville, Ky., this morning, forcing the plane to be evacuated and causing damage to the plane's carpeting. The owner, Brian Green, says the Note7 was a replacement device with a marked box indicating the phone was safe. He swapped out his original Note7 at an AT&T store on Sept. 21. Replacement phones are supposed to have safe batteries and pose no risk of fire. The phone was powered down in Green's pocket when it overheated. Green tossed the phone on the floor where it began to emit smoke and eventually caught fire. The plane was still at the gate and Southwest evacuated the aircraft. No one was injured. Samsung initially expressed doubt about the phone's status as a replacement, but said it will work with authorities to determine the cause of the fire. Samsung was forced to recall the Note7 last month amid instances of it burning owners and igniting fires.

FCC Spills New Huawei Phone for AT&T

Sep 30, 2016, 2:59 PM   by Rich Brome

An unannounced Huawei phone for AT&T appeared today on the FCC web site. Slated for AT&T's GoPhone prepaid lineup, the H1611 appears to be an affordable Android phone with a large screen, Snapdragon 615 processor, and sealed-in 3,000 mAh battery. Front and rear cameras are also shown, as well as a memory card slot. The approvals show support for standard AT&T LTE bands, including band 30. The documents reveal few other details. The AT&T web site does not yet list the phone.

AT&T Settles with FCC Over Microwave License Violations

Sep 23, 2016, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today said AT&T has agreed to pay a fine of $450,000 for operating microwave stations outside the parameters of its licenses to do so. Microwave stations are generally set up in point-to-point configurations to beam signals across terrain where it is uneconomical to run copper or fiber wires. Companies use them to serve as backbone connections on the telephone network, to connect cellular base stations to the larger network, or to relay television signals. According to the FCC, AT&T altered dozens of its microwave stations without filing the proper paperwork with the FCC to account for the variances. The FCC has been investigating this matter for several years and first announced its intent to fine AT&T in January 2015. Today's settlement marks an end to the investigation. In addition to the $450,000 fine, AT&T will also have to implement a compliance plan and conduct regular reviews of its wireless fixed microwave stations.

Sony Reveals Xperia XZ and X Compact Pricing

Sep 22, 2016, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today discussed pricing and availability details for the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact (pictured) smartphones. The XZ will cost $700 and it goes on sale via Amazon and other online retailers October 2. The X Compact will cost $500 and will reach Amazon and others September 25. The XZ is a flagship handset with 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, and 23-megapixel camera, while the X Compact is a smaller sub-flagship with a 4.6-inch screen, Snapdragon 650 processor, and 23-megapixel camera. Both devices run Android 6 Marshmallow and are sold unlocked with AT&T/T-Mobile LTE compatibility.

Blu Shows Off the Life One X2

Sep 22, 2016, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Blu today announced the Blu Life One X2, a successor to the Blu Life One X. The Life One X2 features a 5.2-inch full HD display with curved glass, a metal chassis, and a fingerprint reader for biometric security. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 or 4 GB of RAM and 16 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with phase-detection autofocus and LED flash, and the selfie camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a forward-facing LED flash. The phone supports Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for rapid power-ups. The Life One X2 supports LTE Bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for AT&T, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile. Preorders for the phone kick off today from Consumers who preorder Sept. 22 or 23 will receive a 10% discount. The 2 GB / 16 GB model costs $150 and the 4 GB / 64 GB model costs $200. Blu didn't say when the Life One X2 will ship.

AT&T Stepping Up Three-Channel Carrier Aggregation

Sep 14, 2016, 3:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today confirmed to Fierce Wireless that, like its competitors, it is deploying three-channel carrier aggregation on its LTE 4G network. "We're currently in the process of deploying three-way carrier aggregation on our network," said AT&T spokesman Steven Schwadron in a statement given to Fierce. "We're also adding spectrum and equipment on an ongoing basis to further boost our network performance." Schwadron says AT&T began deploying LTE-A in 2014 and now the majority of its customers are covered by two-channel carrier aggregation. Three-channel carrier aggregation bundles together three slices of spectrum to boost capacity and speed. AT&T didn't say specifically which markets are getting three-channel aggregation first, but said it is targeting high-density, high-traffic areas. The company didn't say what spectrum bands it is using for three-channel carrier aggregation, either. AT&T lists some 26 devices as LTE-A capable, though it is not clear if these devices support two- and three-channel carrier aggregation. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all talked about three-channel carrier aggregation deployments in recent weeks.

LG V20: First Phone To Support Band 66

Sep 14, 2016, 1:36 PM   by Rich Brome

FCC documents indicate that the LG V20 variants for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will be the first phones to support LTE in the new band 66. Band 66 includes the AWS-1, AWS-3, and AWS-4 frequencies. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all purchased new AWS-3 spectrum in 2015, but have yet to deploy it. When they do, it will require phones that support band 66. AWS-1 — also known as band 4 — is already deployed by all three companies. AWS-4 is owned by Dish Networks, which has yet to announce firm plans for that spectrum.

T-Mobile to Operate 2G Network Through 2020

Sep 14, 2016, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to operate its 2G GSM network through the year 2020. The company has optimized its 2G network to run on less spectrum alongside its LTE 4G network. The vast majority of T-Mobile handsets connect via LTE. T-Mobile is keeping its 2G GSM network alive specifically for Internet of Things and machine-to-machine devices. As such, T-Mobile is attempting to lure away AT&T's IoT and M2M customers by offering free SIM cards and free 2G service through the end of the year to any subscribers that switch. Many IoT and M2M applications require little bandwidth and generally access the network only periodically. T-Mobile is going after AT&T because AT&T plans to shut down its 2G network at the end of this year.

AT&T Extends Free iPhone 7 Trade-In Deal to All Customers

Sep 9, 2016, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today expanded the availability of its iPhone trade-in program to all customers. Initially, AT&T said only its DirecTV and U-Verse customers could score a free iPhone 7 ($695 in bill credits) when trading in an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus. Today, AT&T decided to extend the trade-in deal to any and all AT&T customers. AT&T customers who own their iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus can trade it in for a free 32 GB iPhone 7 when paired with an AT&T Next or Next Every Year program. Customers who choose to leave AT&T before all the free monthly device credits are applied will owe the remaining device balance. AT&T says the trade-in offer cannot be combined other offers.

AT&T Waves Around Free Phone Offer

Sep 8, 2016, 7:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is giving people the opportunity to get a free phone with a new line of service. Beginning September 9, DirecTV or U-Verse customers who add a new line to their AT&T account will be rewarded with $695 in monthly bill credits towards a new phone. The free smartphone, which can be the new Apple iPhone 7 if that's what customers want, must be added to an AT&T Next or AT&T Next Every Year program when activated. People who are not DirecTV or U-Verse customers can still score a free phone. Consumers who port their number from another carrier to AT&T will be given up to $650 in bill credits when they trade-in their current device and buy a new one on an AT&T Next plan. AT&T says this port-in deal is limited to select phones, but didn't specify which ones. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available for pre-order starting September 9, but don't reach stores until September 16.

AT&T Zero-Rates DirecTV Video Streaming

Sep 7, 2016, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is allowing its DirecTV customers to access and stream DirecTV video content without impacting their data bucket. Consumers who have both AT&T and DirecTV accounts can stream movies and television shows through the DirecTV over AT&T's wireless network anywhere in the U.S. AT&T warns that some "exclusions apply and may incur data usage." Moreover, free DirecTV video streaming will be subject to network management, including throttling. AT&T didn't specify what content might be excluded from free streaming, nor did it say if the content is streamed in high or standard definition. The app also allows people to watch live and recorded shows. DirecTV customers can download recorded shows from their DVR (via WiFi) to their device for offline watching. Last, the app adds dedicated buttons for live TV and DVR for quicker access to those features. The DirecTV app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. AT&T didn't say when this same functionality will reach its Android app.

Incentive Auction Fails to Attract Big Spenders

Aug 31, 2016, 5:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC's 600MHz incentive auction is proceeding slowly and may need to be reset. After 27 rounds of bidding, the total amount bid has reached only $23 billion, far short of the $88.4 billion clearing cost set during the reverse part of the auction earlier this year. The FCC will likely end bidding on the licenses that attracted the most interest and then go back to the television broadcasters to reset the clearing costs for the remaining licenses to drive demand. Some analysts believe the auction made need to reset prices several times before it can come to an end. The 600MHz airwaves are the last low-band spectrum that will be made available to wireless carriers. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as is Dish Networks and myriad other entities. The spectrum is being sold by television broadcasters, many of which have had the spectrum for decades.

FTC Loses Lawsuit Against AT&T

Aug 30, 2016, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

An appeals court has tossed a lawsuit filed against AT&T over its throttling practices. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged that AT&T deceived customers by throttling their unlimited data plans once those customers exceeded a certain amount of data in a given month. During its investigation, the FTC found AT&T slowed some users' speeds by as much as 90%. AT&T argued that common carriers, such as itself, are to be granted exceptions, and the appeals court agreed. AT&T may still face action over the same issue from the FCC, which believes AT&T may have violated its net neutrality rules.

AT&T Signs Interconnect Agreement with Cuba Carrier

Aug 22, 2016, 9:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has signed an interconnect agreement with Cuba's Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA). The agreement will eventually allow AT&T customers to roam on ETESCA's network when traveling to Cuba. AT&T hasn't said when it will make such roaming available and will announce pricing at a later date. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already have similar agreements in place with ETESCA.

AT&T Spearheading Robocall 'Strike Force'

Aug 19, 2016, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.

Samsung Accessories Land Alongside Note7

Aug 19, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

AT&T's Mobile Share Advantage Plans Drop Overages

Aug 17, 2016, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 17, 2016, 12:27 PM

AT&T today announced new service plans for multiple lines that do away with overage charges. The Mobile Share Advantage program includes unlimited talk and text in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, rollover data, sharable data, mobile hotspot, and unlimited texting to more than 120 other countries. Rather than charge customers overage fees for exceeding their monthly data allotments, AT&T will throttle users back to 2G, or about 128 Kbps, for the remainder of the billing cycle. This is in line with what competitors do. Data plans now start at 1 GB and range up to 100 GB for families, and from 25 GB to 200 GB for businesses. AT&T said new options make the plans more flexible, such as the addition of 6 GB and 10 GB data buckets. Smartphone access charges are now a flat fee of $20 per device. Device payments are extra. The new Mobile Share Advantage plans will be available starting August 21.

AT&T and Cricket Launch the Alcatel Ideal

Aug 17, 2016, 12:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Cricket Wireless today announced a low-cost Android handset from Alcatel. The device is the same hardware as the Alcatel Dawn sold by Boost and Virgin, but has been rebadged as the Ideal by AT&T and Streak by Cricket. The phone features a 4.5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution, 1.1 GHz quad-core processor, and 1 GB of RAM. The Ideal/Streak includes a 5-megapixel main camera, VGA front camera, 8 GB of storage, 1,780mAh battery, support for LTE, and a memory card slot for microSD cards up to 32 GB. The AT&T Ideal runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, but the Cricket Streak runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Cricket is selling the Streak for $30.

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AT&T Offers Discounts to Multi-Line GoPhone Plans

Aug 12, 2016, 11:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T plans to offer small discounts to GoPhone plans with multiple lines. In order to score a discount, customers will need to chose either the $45 plan with 3 GB of data or the $60 plan with 6 GB of data. A second line added to the first will cost $5 less per month, with the third, fourth, and fifth lines costing $10, $15, and $20 less, respectively. Customers must chose a "Multi-Line Account" to receive the per-line discounts. The family-friendly offer kicks off August 19. Further, AT&T says now through September 22, customers can buy one AT&T GoPhone and get one free when activated with a new line of service on a $45 or $60 monthly plan. GoPhone does not charge overages, but does throttle users who exceed their monthly data allotment.

Kyocera DuraForce Pro for Verizon Approved by FCC

Aug 11, 2016, 2:54 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today approved new Kyocera phones that seem to match the just-announced DuraForce Pro. One supports both CDMA and LTE 2/4/5/13, a combination unique to Verizon. A separate version compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks was also approved today.

Kyocera's New Flagship Rugged Android Phone is the DuraForce Pro

Aug 10, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Aug 10, 2016, 12:43 PM

Kyocera today announced the DuraForce Pro, its new rugged Android phone. The DuraForce is positioned as a significantly upgraded replacement for both the DuraForce and the Brigadier models, and comes in versions both with and without CDMA. That implies the phone may come to both AT&T and Verizon, although Kyocera is not announcing carrier partners at this time, just that it will be released "in the coming months." Most specs have been upgraded compared to the DuraForce/Brigadier. The main camera steps up to 13 megapixels, and is accompanied by a wide-angle "action camera" with 135-degree lens and 5 megapixels, plus 5-megapixel front camera. A fingerprint reader has been added to the side, which works with NFC. It's just as rugged and waterproof, but also fully washable (unaffected by soap). The screen can be used while wet and the camera has an underwater mode. The screen is larger (5 inches) and higher-resolution (full HD). The processor is a faster Snapdragon 617. It also has a larger 3,240 mAh battery and both fast charging and wireless charging. Other features a 3.5mm audio jack, memory card slot, PTT, dual front speakers, and barometer. For business users, it supports enhanced MDM, enterprise Wi-Fi, and advanced VPN capability. Its rugged specs include IP68 and U.S. Military rating for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, temperature shock, blowing rain, low pressure, sun, salt fog, humidity, water immersion (up to 2 meters for 30 minutes), and icing freezing rain. The DuraForce Pro runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow).

AT&T Touts Galaxy Note7 Offers

Aug 2, 2016, 3:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today shared information about several promotions associated with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone. AT&T is selling the phone for $29.34 per month (for 30 months) with an AT&T Next plan, or for $36.67 per month (for 24 months) with an AT&T Next Every Year plan. Customers who buy a Note7 will be eligible for up to $695 in credit towards the purchase of a second Note7 with a new line of service. The credits will be applied monthly for 30 months. The customer is responsible for the remaining $155 difference, when taking into account the Note7's $849 sale price. Alternately, customers can buy a Note7 and get a free Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch with a two-year agreement, or buy a Note7 and get a Galaxy Tab E for $0.99. AT&T will make the Note7 available for preorder beginning August 3. It will reach AT&T stores August 19.

GameStop Buys More than 500 AT&T Retail Stores

Aug 2, 2016, 2:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

GameStop today said it has finalized the acquisition of three AT&T retailers, giving it some 507 authorized AT&T shops. The company completed its purchase of Cellular World Corp., Midwest Cellular, Inc., and Red Skye Wireless, Inc. Together, the three businesses increase GameStop's wireless retail footprint significantly. GameStop already sells Cricket Wireless products and services at 3,400 of its stores, and operates another 1,400 AT&T stores. Terms of the recent acquisitions were not disclosed.

AT&T's Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Gain Security Patch

Jul 28, 2016, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. In addition to the security update, the phones gain access to AT&T's WiFi Calling service. The update for the S7 and S7 Edge can be downloaded and installed over the air.

FCC Wants Carriers to Step Up Anti-Robocall Efforts

Jul 22, 2016, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today asked the country's major telephone providers to improve consumer tools for blocking robocalls. The FCC said robocalls continue to be one of the top complaints filed by consumers. Wheeler sent letters to AT&T, Bandwidth Comms, Frontier, Level3, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon asking them to make blocking tools available to consumers as swiftly as possible. "Consumers want and deserve more control over the calls they receive," wrote Wheeler in a blog post. "I am calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective. All of these companies have been asked to respond within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues." The FCC said it will continue to investigate consumer complaints against robocalls and prosecute whenever possible.

T-Mobile Gives Away Free Service in Brazil for Olympics

Jul 21, 2016, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its postpaid customers will have access to free mobile data and calling in Brazil for the entire month of August in honor of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. T-Mobile customers will not have to take any action to enjoy free roaming in Brazil. Those who travel to Brazil will have unlimited high-seed data, unlimited calling to the U.S., and unlimited texting worldwide during their visit. T-Mobile said it is supplying the families of Olympic athletes with free T-Mobile service and a Galaxy S7 Olympic Edition handset through October. AT&T debuted its own roaming plan for Brazil earlier this summer, but it costs $50 to add to an existing service plan. About 100,000 Americans are expected to make the trip to Brazil to watch and participate in the games.

AT&T's Galaxy Note 5 Wins A Security Patch

Jul 19, 2016, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is sending out the July 1 Android security patch to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone. Google made the security patch available earlier this month. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. The security update for the Note 5 can be downloaded and installed over the air.

AT&T Rolls Out Bogo for GoPhones

Jul 18, 2016, 11:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced that its GoPhone prepaid customers can buy one eligible phone and receive a second for free. The buy one, get one deal goes into effect July 22 and includes phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Express Prime or LG Phoenix 2. The handsets must each cost at least $59.99 in order to be eligible for the buy one, get one deal. Customers must activate both devices on either the $45 or $60 monthly GoPhone plan. The promotion runs through September 22. GoPhone does not require credit checks or contracts.

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