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printed April 25, 2015
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Verizon Once Again Offering 10GB and 15GB Plans

Yesterday, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 9:08 AM

Verizon Wireless has resumed offering two large data plans for shared lines at a promotional rate. The first costs $80 per month for 10 GB of data and the second costs $100 for 15 GB of data. Verizon first offered these plans in November 2014, but pulled them in February. "We have different offers throughout the year, and right now the $80/$100 plans are available," said a Verizon spokesperson. The plans will be available for a limited time, but Verizon didn't say for how long. The prices don't include device access fees for smartphones, tablets, and hotspots. By way of comparison, AT&T's 10 GB plan costs $100 and its 15 GB plan costs $130.


Defense Mobile Sheds Beta Label, Mission Is Go

Wednesday, 3:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Defense Mobile, an MVNO that targets military personnel, is coming out of beta status today with more coverage and more devices in its arsenal. During its beta trial, Defense Mobile resold access to AT&T and Sprint's networks. Now, it offers Verizon, too, and is in talks with T-Mobile. The company's service is meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Individual plans start at $30 per month and have names such as Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Family plans start at $95 per month with names such a squad, platoon, and battalion. The handset selection varies from entry level phones such as the Motorola Moto G up to today's premium handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The company offers 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. The company sells devices and services directly from its web site, but hopes to reach 25,000 retail distribution points around the country by the end of the year.


HTC Offering Camera Improvements to AT&T One M9

Tuesday, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.


AT&T to Sell LG G Flex 2 April 24

Apr 20, 2015, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced it will begin selling the LG G Flex 2 on April 24. The handset will be available at a variety of price points. The full retail cost of the phone is $708.99 and the two-year contract price is $299.99. Customers interested in monthly payments can snag the G Flex 2 for $23.64 per month with an AT&T Next 24 plan, $29.55 per month on a Next 18 plan, or $35.45 on a Next 12 plan. The G Flex 2 is a second-generation curved phone. It has a 5.5-inch full HD screen that is semi-flexible. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 810 processor and has a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Sprint has been selling the G Flex 2 since March.


Alcatel Launches Idol 3 Pre-Sale At Discounted $199 Price

Apr 17, 2015, 9:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel OneTouch today kicked off a limited pre-sale for the Idol 3 smartphone that drops the price by $50. The pre-sale starts immediately and runs through 11:59pm Pacific Time on April 20. Customers who order the phone during this initial pre-sale window will pay only $199.99 for the phone. After the pre-sale ends, Alcatel will begin accepting standard pre-orders on April 21 at the regular price of $249.99. Alcatel said the Idol 3 will ship in mid-May. The phone, which is compatible with the GSM networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, is being sold unlocked.


AT&T, Verizon Thwart Microsoft's App Deal with Samsung

Apr 16, 2015, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are limiting Microsoft's attempt to bulk up use of its mobile applications. Last month, Samsung agreed to preload Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype applications on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Verizon, however, won't pre-load any of the Microsoft apps on its versions of the S6 and S6 Edge. AT&T will include OneNote and Skype, but not OneDrive. The Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S6 and S6 Edge are shipping with all three Microsoft apps aboard. Neither AT&T nor Verizon commented on their stance against the Microsoft-made apps. Even though the trio of apps won't be pre-loaded, people who buy the S6 and S6 Edge from AT&T or Verizon are free to download the apps, as well as Microsoft's Outlook email and Office productivity apps, from the Google Play Store for free on their own.


AT&T's Galaxy Alpha and S5 Active Updated to Lollipop

Apr 15, 2015, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today began updating its versions of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5 Active to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Both updates are available for over-the-air download and are rolling out over the next few days. Lollipop includes Google's Material Design language, battery-saving features, Smart Lock, and more. The update is free.


Huawei's P8 Variant for U.S. Teased in FCC Approval

Apr 15, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Rich Brome

The FCC this week approved a new Huawei phone for North America that bears a striking resemblance to the just-announced P8 global flagship. The phone approved by the FCC has small but distinct differences, such as a flash on the other side of the camera, matching Huawei's description of a more affordable P8 variant coming the U.S. The FCC approval covers a limited set of LTE bands - plus tri-band WCDMA - that makes it compatible with T-Mobile. In some areas, it may also work with AT&T's LTE network. Huawei has indicated that it plans to launch the U.S. variant of the P8 via unlocked channels in May.


AT&T Piles On The FCC with Another Net Neutrality Suit

Apr 15, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T joined a growing number of bodies suing the FCC Tuesday in an attempt to overturn the agency's net neutrality rules. AT&T's lawsuit follows others filed by the American Cable Association, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, United States Telecom Association, and the CTIA Wireless Association. AT&T's move came as a bit of a surprise, as it was expected to participate through lobbying organizations rather than directly. It makes similar claims against the FCC, charging that the agency's decision to reclassify broadband services under Title II represents government overreach. The FCC believes its rules will stand against legal challenges.


Cricket Selling the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime for $180

Apr 10, 2015, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless announced the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime is available to customers today for $179.99. The phone has a 5-inch qHD display, 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 8-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and a 2,600mAh battery. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat and is compatible with Cricket's LTE 4G network. Service plans start at $35. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.


Hands On with the Huawei SnapTo

Apr 9, 2015, 6:50 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 9, 2015, 7:07 PM

Huawei's newest phone - announced this morning - is an affordable, mass-market Android phone that Huawei is selling unlocked in the U.S. It's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, including 4G LTE. It has a 5-inch HD display, but its specs are otherwise fairly low-end. Its name comes from a unique button shortcut that not only launches the camera, but takes a photo, too. How does it stack up for the $180 Huawei is asking? Read on.

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Google Makes LTE Patents Available Through Via Licensing

Apr 9, 2015, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Via Licensing today said that Google has added its LTE patents to its broader pool of LTE patents. Via Licensing collects wireless patents from a broad range of companies with the intent of licensing them at fair and reasonable rates. Google is the latest to add its intellectual property to the pool, which already has patents from AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, ZTE, and others. Google gained ownership of some 17,000 patents when it acquired Motorola in 2012. Via Licensing says any patent holder is welcome to contribute patents to its growing collection.


Huawei Intros Unlocked SnapTo for US Buyers

Apr 9, 2015, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today announced the SnapTo, an unlocked Android smartphone for sale in the U.S. The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat and is compatible with the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. Basic features include a 5-inch 720p HD display, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 2,200mAh battery. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and can capture 720p HD video. It has a feature called Ultra Snapshot, which will automatically take a picture if the down volume button is pressed twice, even when the phone is locked. The front camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. Huawei said the device is available for pre-order starting today and general availability begins next week. It will be available online from Amazon.com. GetHuawei.com, BestBuy.com, Brandsmart USA, Frys.com and Fry's Electronic retail stores, NewEgg.com and other retailers. The SnapTo costs $179.99.


FCC Awards Spectrum Licenses to AWS-3 Bidders

Apr 8, 2015, 3:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 9, 2015, 11:23 AM

The FCC today officially granted some winning bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum auction the licenses allowing them to take ownership of the airwaves. The AWS-3 spectrum auction concluded earlier this year, with AT&T, Dish Networks, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless the top four bidders. Bids totaled more than $41 billion for slices of airwaves in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. AT&T, Verizon, and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai complained about the tactics used by Dish to win its bids (Dish bid through smaller companies in order to obtain a significant discount). As a result, the FCC has for the time being withheld Dish's licenses, while granting the licenses to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. The three carriers plan to use the spectrum to bolster their LTE 4G networks. Dish owns a great deal of spectrum, but has yet to deploy any sort of wireless service.


AT&T Agrees to Pay $25 Million Over Privacy Debacle

Apr 8, 2015, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today agreed to pay the FCC a fine of $25 million in order to settle an investigation into consumer privacy violations at its call centers. The data breaches, which took place in early 2014, exposed the personal data of some 280,000 AT&T customers at call centers in Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines. The FCC found that customers' names, Social Security details, and private account information were accessed by call center workers who turned around and provided those details to unauthorized third parties trafficking in stolen cell phones. In addition to the fine, AT&T agreed to notify the affected customers, provide credit score monitoring services, and improve its privacy and data security practices by appointing a senior compliance manager. "As the nation's expert agency on communications networks, the Commission cannot — and will not — stand idly by when a carrier's lax data security practices expose the personal information of hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable Americans to identity theft and fraud," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The FCC said it has fined telecommunications providers some $50 million in the last 12 months over lapses in security and privacy policies.


AT&T Pushing Lollipop to HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S4

Apr 7, 2015, 2:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variants of the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Lollipop adds priority mode for managing notifications, battery saving tools, and Smart Lock for protecting devices with nearby Bluetooth accessories, among many other features. Both HTC and Samsung have also revised their Sense and Touchwiz user interface overlays for the One and GS4, respectively. AT&T suggests users download the system updates via WiFi. The updates are free to install.


AT&T and Pine Cellular Seek to Swap Spectrum Leases

Apr 2, 2015, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Pine Cellular have asked the FCC for permission to lease one another's spectrum. AT&T wants to snag a leased license in the Lower 700MHz B Block in parts of Arkansas from Pine. At the same time, Pine Cellular wants to lease one partitioned Lower 700MHz B Block license, three partitioned Lower 700MHz C Block licenses, and four partitioned PCS licenses in parts of Oklahoma. AT&T and Pine Cellular contend the leases will help them each improve their coverage and services in the markets involved. The FCC has accepted the application, applied protection orders, and opened up the transaction for comments. Wireless companies regularly buy, sell, and trade spectrum licenses in such transactions.


AT&T Updates Car Connection Device and Services

Apr 2, 2015, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced Car Connection 2.0, a plug-in module and monthly service for cars that allows users to track their vehicles and myriad other functions. Car Connection 2.0 costs $99 for the module and $10 per month for data service. The device plugs into most cars' data ports. The service lets parents monitor teen driver behavior and can even set geo-fences to contain younger drivers. Car Connection 2.0 can help locate cars, as well as provide notifications for maintenance issues such as the check engine light, battery status, and hundreds of other vehicle functions. Some of the safety features include roadside assistance and automatic crash response, fuel/trip reports, stolen vehicle assistance, and remote access via an accompanying smartphone application. Existing Car Connection owners should be able to add these functions to their unit with a software upgrade. The Car Connection 2.0 device, made by Audiovox, will reach AT&T stores later this month. Verizon has a similar vehicle plug-in that it announced in January.


AT&T Can't Use 'Common Carrier' Label to Escape FTC Suit

Apr 1, 2015, 1:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A federal judge squashed AT&T's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the FTC. The FTC sued AT&T in October over throttling policies for "unlimited data" customers. Despite offering limitless data packages, AT&T throttles users who surpass 3GB - 5GB per month. The FTC believed AT&T deceived customers. AT&T argued in court that it falls under the common carrier definition and is therefore exempt from FTC oversight. The judge disagreed. "Contrary to what AT&T argues, the common carrier exception applies only where the entity has the status of common carrier and is actually engaging in common carrier activity," said Judge Edward Chen. The common carrier argument is legit as far as AT&T's voice services are concerned, but not data services. "When this suit was filed, AT&T's mobile data service was not regulated as common carrier activity by the FCC," wrote Chen. "Once the Reclassification Order of the FCC (which now treats mobile data serve as common carrier activity) goes into effect, that will not deprive the FTC of any jurisdiction over past alleged misconduct as asserted in this pending action." The FTC's case against AT&T can proceed.


Cricket to Sell SIM Card Kits Via Amazon

Apr 1, 2015, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 1, 2015, 8:37 AM

Cricket Wireless today announced a new option for consumers, who can now buy a Bring Your Own Device Universal SIM Card Activation Kit from Amazon.com for $9.99. The kit includes a nano SIM card with micro and mini tray adaptors so the card can be used with a wide variety of devices. The kit provides all the information customers will need to self-activate a service plan (via the web or via phone) with Cricket Wireless. Consumers will need to supply their own unlocked GSM handset, but Cricket will waive activation fees. Service plans start at $40 a month, but customers can earn a $5 deduction if they set up auto-pay with their account. Cricket eventually expects to offer its mobile devices via Amazon, too. Cricket is owned and operated by AT&T.


AT&T Targeting Summer Launch for LTE in WCS Spectrum

Mar 30, 2015, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T plans to begin deploying LTE service in its 2.3GHz WCS spectrum holdings this summer. AT&T acquired some WCS spectrum from NextWave in 2012 and more from Sprint in 2014. AT&T's Tom Keathley, senior vice president of network and product planning, told Fierce Wireless it will use the WCS band to add capacity to its LTE 4G network in markets that need it. "We went out fast to deploy the coverage layer [in 700MHz]. WCS will be a capacity layer. So to the extent that we need capacity in an area, that will be more the indicator of how fast we go." Though deployments will start this summer, Keathley said work will continue into 2016. The company already has handsets on deck that will support the new spectrum band. AT&T expects the deployment will run smoothly. Since most of its cell sites include the necessary antennas, the carrier will need only another remote radio head at each tower. AT&T is already refarming portions of its PCS spectrum to add capacity to its LTE 4G network. AT&T also recently acquired licenses for AWS-3 spectrum from the FCC that it will use to boost downlink performance for its network.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Mar 26, 2015, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


AT&T, T-Mobile Share HTC One M9 Pricing Details

Mar 26, 2015, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Mar 26, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Lumia 640 Landing At T-Mobile In Near Future

Mar 25, 2015, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile recently added the Microsoft Lumia 640 to its web site and described the device as "coming soon." Microsoft revealed the Lumia 640 at Mobile World Congress earlier this month. The phone has a 5-inch HD screen, 8-megapixel camera, LTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and Microsoft's productivity apps. The Lumia 640 will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10 later this year. T-Mobile didn't disclose exact availability or pricing, but Microsoft said the phone will reach stores in April for about $180. AT&T and MetroPCS also plan to sell the Lumia 640.


FCC Weighing Changes to Auction Discount Rules

Mar 23, 2015, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC plans to alter how companies qualify for discounts in spectrum auctions. The rules came under fire recently after Dish Networks won $13 billion in spectrum by bidding through smaller entities. The smaller entities are eligible for discounts, wiping about $3 billion from the total price Dish will have to shell out. Dish's competitors, including AT&T and Verizon, decried the strategy as unfair because Dish is a large company and the discounts are meant for small companies. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has floated a public notice with the other commissioners, according to sources cited by Reuters, that will close this loophole. Wheeler asked his colleagues to comment on how best to reform the discount program moving forward. The idea behind the discount program is to encourage smaller, regional companies to participate in spectrum auctions.


AT&T Trudges Forward with 700MHz Interoperability

Mar 20, 2015, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently told the FCC where it stands with respect to interoperability in the 700MHz band and said it is making good progress. At issue is phones' abilities to roam between several different bands within the 700MHz A Block slice of airwaves, specifically Band 17 and Band 12. AT&T at first argued against the idea of adding support for Band 12, citing expenses and interference. It later reversed course and has recently finalized lab tests of its network multi-frequency band indicator (MFBI) capabilities. The carrier said it is "well into our field testing for all of our macro-cellular vendors and progressing well." AT&T is working with several of its competitors to fully test the interoperability between bands. Support for Band 12 is important mainly for smaller carriers, such as C Spire Wireless, but it is also important for T-Mobile, which plans to deploy LTE in the 700MHz band later this year. Phones that support more bands can be used across a greater range of carriers. "With recent 3GPP specification changes, it is now possible to build Band 17 devices that are upgradeable to Band 12 MFBI using software," said AT&T. "These devices require different filters/hardware than the legacy Band 17 devices. This requirement has been added to AT&Ts device requirements and RFP guidance." AT&T has committed to releasing Band 12-capable handsets later this year. Beginning Sept. 30, half of all new devices released by the carrier will be compliant.


Icon Q Debuts the Q5.5, Its First Smartphone

Mar 19, 2015, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Icon Q today announced the Q5.5, the company's first smartphone. The device is being sold unlocked and free of contracts for $199. The Q5.5 features a 5.5-inch 720p screen, 1.4GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage with support for memory cards. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat and includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone offers Bluetooth and WiFi, and supports GSM networks with HSPA (850MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz), meaning it will work on the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. Icon Q, which makes tablets and other devices, is pitching the Q5.5 as an ideal travel phone since it supports two SIM cards. The device is available directly from Icon Q.


Carriers to Rely on CTIA, Other Trade Groups to Sue FCC

Mar 19, 2015, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and other mobile network operators won't sue the FCC over its proposed net neutrality plans on their own, but will through a number of trade groups. Sources cited by Reuters suggest the move will allow the carriers to streamline their litigation and prevent them from becoming the targets of backlash. "We believe there will be a lot of litigation, which will probably be led by industry associations," said Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo. The CTIA is expected to lead the charge against the FCC and may be joined by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the USTelecom association. The American Cable Association and the National Association of Manufacturers are still deciding whether or not to pursue legal challenges to the FCC's plan. The trade groups involved will likely target the FCC's authority to make the changes it did, and that it didn't properly notify stakeholders of the potential for reclassifying broadband under Title II. The FCC believes its proposal will withstand the impending legal assaults.


AT&T Offering Push-to-Talk API to Businesses

Mar 18, 2015, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today announced a slew of improvements to its enhanced PTT service. Most notably, AT&T has released an API that will let developers add PTT communications directly to their business's dispatch operations. Other new features included in EPTT are: Talk Group Scanning, so managers can prioritize group chats; Broadcast Calling, so businesses can make announcements to 500 people at once; Sonim Channel Select, which lets owners of the Sonim XP6 and XP7 easily change talk groups; and FIPS certification for secured government use. AT&T's EPTT suite is available to businesses and is compatible with most Android handsets.


AT&T to Sell Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini On March 20

Mar 16, 2015, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said customers can scoop up the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini beginning March 20. The phone costs $429 at full retail, but is available for $14.30, $17.88, or $21.48 per month via AT&T's Next 24, Next 18, or Next 12 plans, respectively.


AT&T No Longer Targeting 40,000 Small Cells This Year

Mar 6, 2015, 8:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently dialed back language referring to its small cell deployments planned for 2015. The company said last year it would launch 40,000 small cells around the country to improve coverage and capacity by the end of 2015. However, its March 2014 acquisition of Leap Wireless led it to reconsider those plans. "The Leap deal gave us additional spectrum and towers that allowed us to pull back on our original target because we added more macro sites, providing us additional capacity to meet the rising traffic demands," said AT&T in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. The company is still deploying small cells, but it will not say how many. Fierce Wireless suggests AT&T's goal for 2015 may be 20,000 small cells, or about half the original number.


Softcard to Shutter At the End of March

Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard, the mobile wallet service developed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, has informed users the application will go offline March 31. Softcard customers can use the app through that date, but afterward their accounts will automatically be closed. Softcard recommends users who wish to be able to make mobile payments in the future download Google Wallet. Google purchased certain Softcard assets in a deal announced last month. Google Wallet will replace Softcard on Android handsets later this year. Softcard never caught on with consumers due to limited handset, credit card, and retail support. General interest in mobile payments has increased after the launch of Apple Pay on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Samsung recently announced plans for its own mobile wallet service, called Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay will first be available to the Galaxy S6.


Lumia 640 XL Offers More for Phablet Lovers

Mar 2, 2015, 2:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:05 AM

Microsoft today announced the Lumia 640 XL, a larger version of the Lumia 640. The screen is stretched to 5.7 inches, the camera is improved to 13 megapixels, and the battery is slightly bigger, as well. It includes Microsoft's standard set of productivity apps and supports LTE 4G. It will ship with Windows 8.1, but can be upgraded to the full version of Windows 10. The Lumia 640 XL will be available in April from AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS in the U.S. Microsoft said it will include a one-year subscription to Office 365, 1TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 Skype world minutes. The price will be approximately $245.


Microsoft Pairs with AT&T to Launch Mobile Office Suite

Mar 2, 2015, 2:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 2, 2015, 3:11 AM

Microsoft today announced the AT&T Mobile Office Suite, a new partnership between the two to help small- and medium-sized businesses manage their devices, data, and productivity. It will be available later this year.

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AT&T to Sell LG Watch Urbane

Mar 1, 2015, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it will sell the LG Watch Urbane smartwatch in the near future. AT&T didn't say if it will sell the Watch Urbane LTE. The Watch Urbane runs Android Wear. Pricing and exact availability are still to be announced.


Verizon Annoyed By Dish's AWS-3 Bidding Tactics

Feb 28, 2015, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Like AT&T, Verizon Wireless is upset with the tactics used by Dish Networks in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. It accused the firm of artificially raising prices by creating perceived demand where in fact there was none. Dish used three smaller entities to place bids in the auction, but didn't place any bids itself. Verizon claims Dish closely managed these three entities, two of which ended up winning $13.3 billion in spectrum licenses, beating out Verizon and others. Further, because Dish used to smaller entities to bid for the spectrum, it scored a $3 billion discount on the license costs. Verizon filed a petition with the FCC asking the agency to look into Dish's actions. Dish, however, defended its tactics. "Anyone who's been in auctions knows that's impossible to do," argued Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen. "There was nothing artificial about it. We wanted to win the licenses. We were disappointed we didn't win all the licenses." The FCC hasn't said if it might take any action against Dish.


AT&T Pushing Demin Update to Lumia 1520

Feb 26, 2015, 3:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today made the Denim system update available to the Nokia Lumia 1520. The update makes numerous changes to the behavior of the camera, including a faster shutter and 4K video capture, and also adds Live Folders and an updated Glance screen. According to Microsoft, Lumia 1520 owners need to have 1GB of free internal storage in order to install the update, which can be downloaded and installed via WiFi. The update is free.

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FCC Officially Approves New Net Neutrality Regulations

Feb 26, 2015, 1:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today voted 3-2 along party lines to implement new regulations over broadband services. The rules seek to reclassify broadband services as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which will put them under stricter government oversight. The FCC's two Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly, opposed the vote. Chairman Tom Wheeler and the two Democratic commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, voted in favor of the rules. The rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services on both wired and wireless networks. Wheeler believes the rules will withstand the legal attacks that are sure to come from companies such as AT&T, which has already indicated it will sue. The agency fielded more than four million comments from Americans ahead of the vote.


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