Google this week made its WiFi Assistant feature available to all Nexus devices. The tool is a direct carryover from Google's Project Fi. The WiFi Assistant lets Nexus owners automatically and securely connect to more than one million free, open WiFi hotspots that are certified by Google. Users won't be required to sign in or set up accounts to access the WiFi. Moreover, Google manages the connection and ensures it is protected. Google says the tool can help improve average connection speeds and lower monthly data consumption, regardless of which wireless carrier provides cellular service to the phone. The Google WiFi Assistant is available to Nexus devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Nordic countries. Google says it will roll out over the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi for calling and data, but also hops onto Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular when WiFi is not available.
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 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.
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.
T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile One, a truly unlimited rate plan that includes all-you-can-eat data, messaging, and minutes. T-Mobile says the new T-Mobile One plan includes many of the Uncarrier benefits, such as T-Mobile Tuesdays, Stock Up, WiFi Unleashed, Carrier Freedom, Mobile Without Borders, and Global Freedom. The plan includes unlimited video streaming at standard definition and unlimited hotspot usage at 2G speeds. The first line costs $75 per month. Adding more lines to create a family plan costs $55 for the second, and $25 for lines three through eight. A family of four, says T-Mobile, can subscribe to the unlimited T-Mobile One plan for $180 per month. If all lines are subscribed to Auto Pay, the price for each line drops by $5 per month for a total of $160 for four. There are some extra fees involved. Customers who want to stream HD video over LTE will need to cough up an extra $25 HD video access fee. Customers can get unlimited LTE data for their tablet for $20 per month when paired with a phone line, or for $70 if the tablet is the only line. Customers can add 5 GB of LTE high-speed tethering for $15 per month. Wearables cost $5 per month to add to a T-Mobile One plan. Last, T-Mobile made it clear that customers who exceed 26 GB of LTE data in a given billing cycle will be throttled back to 2G speeds if/when they encounter network congestion. T-Mobile said the T-Mobile One plan will be available starting September 6. Customers may switch to the new plan or stick with their current plan.
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.
Verizon Wireless has followed T-Mobile in making the HTC Desire 530 available for sale. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. Verizon is selling the phone for $144 at full retail or $6 per month on a payment plan.
T-Mobile today said customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy Note7 will receive one of three thank you gifts. Customers can select a Gear Fit2, 256 GB microSD memory card, or a free year of Netflix — each of which has a value of about $100. T-Mobile plans to sell all three colors (black, silver, blue) of the Note7. The device costs $849. Customers can pay the full price, or make a down payment of $70 and then monthly payments of $32.50 for 24 months. T-Mobile will begin accepting preorders at 12:01am August 3.
T-Mobile today added 16 more video streaming services to its Binge On program, bring the total number of services to over 100. The new video services include ABC, Apple Music, Big Ten Network, CEEK VR, DISH Anywhere, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, D-PAN.TV, DramaFever, FOX NOW, FXNOW, NAT GEO TV, Shalom World, Sioeye, and Tubi TV. T-Mobile customers can now stream an unlimited amount of content from these services over T-Mobile's LTE network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Binge On content is streamed at 480p, rather than high-definition. Users may activate or deactivate Binge On at any time.
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 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.
The FCC today published a list of the 62 bidders who've made upfront payments and qualified to bid in the reverse auction for low-band TV spectrum. As expected, the list contains familiar names, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. A significant number of small companies plan to bid, as well, such as Alaska Wireless and Cellular South. Collectively, bidders will need to cough up more than $86 billion to purchase the 126 MHz of 600 MHz airwaves up for auction. The forward portion of the auction begins August 16.
T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, is now selling the entire range of Apple iPhones at more than 5,000 of its stores around the country. The prepaid carrier first tested iPhone sales at a limited number of stores in Florida. MetroPCS is selling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
T-Mobile says starting July 19 customers will be able to play Pokemon Go on their smartphone without impacting their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile is adding Pokemon Go to its T-Mobile Tuesday customer appreciation program. Customers will need to take action to get the free Pokemon data. First, customers need to download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. Once signed in, customers can claim the free zero-rated use of Pokemon on T-Mobile Tuesdays July 19, July 26, August 2, and August 9. Once claimed, Pokemon usage will not touch customers' high-speed data plan through August 2017. The zero-rated Pokemon promo is only available to claim for the next four Tuesdays and goes away after August 9. Beyond the Pokemon promo, on Tuesday, July 19 T-Mobile customers can claim a free Lyft ride of up $15, a free Frosty at Wendy's, and 50% off select accessories. Last, T-Mobile says 250 people will win $100 in PokeCoins, and five people will win a Pokemon Go hunting trip for two anywhere in the U.S.
The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.
T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are sending out the July 1 Android security patch to their variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ smartphones. Google made the security patch available last week. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air.
Google today said Project Fi subscribers now have access to faster wireless speeds when traveling around the world. Google partnered with mobile network operator Three to increase the number of countries in which Fi is available to 135, as well as improve mobile data speeds by a factor of 10 to 20. Project Fi customers were perviously only able to roam at 2G speeds when abroad, but now have access to faster 3G/4G service. Google does not charge Fi subscribers any extra access fees when traveling; the data rates are the same at $10 per 1 GB whether at home or abroad. Google said new Project Fi customers can buy a Nexus 6P for $349 ($150 off) for the next week. Project Fi requires a Nexus smartphone. The service uses a mix of WiFi and cellular service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to maintain a strong, fast connection.
T-Mobile is kicking off a new promotion that will let family plan subscribers score a free Samsung smartphone. The free phones are tied to specific service plans. Families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 6 GB Simple Choice plan pay $30 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy On5 smartphone ($140 value). The $30 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $20 each per month. Similarly, families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 10 GB Simple Choice plan pay $40 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy J7 smartphone ($240 value). The $40 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $30 each per month. In both cases, families can get up to 12 free phones. The price of the free phone is covered via monthly service credits over a period of two years. Once the two-year period is over, the customer owns the phone outright. Customers who cancel service before the two-year period is over will be responsible for the balance of the phone's cost. T-Mobile's back-to-school promotion begins July 13.
HTC today said several U.S. carriers will soon offer its Desire 530 smartphone. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 (announced earlier this year) is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. Essentially, small paint dots appear to be sprinkled on the plastic. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. T-Mobile says the phone will go on sale July 13 for $160. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and availability. HTC plans to sell an unlocked version of the Desire 530 online for $179 beginning later this month.
AT&T today said its customer appreciation program, called AT&T Thanks, is ready to offer its first perk: Ticket Twosdays. Postpaid customers can score a free movie ticket when they buy one at full price for a Tuesday showing. Qualifying customers can get a free ticket each week by visiting AT&T's web site, where they have to verify their number/account in order to receive a coupon code. AT&T said AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group are participating in Ticket Twosdays. Another promo includes priority pre-sales to Live Nation concerts. AT&T says customers will be able to purchase concert tickets and VIP packages ahead of general availability. The Live Nation ticket program doesn't kick off until the fall. There is no cost to take advantage of AT&T Thanks, nor is there an app to download. T-Mobile launched its own customer appreciation program earlier this month.
T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, today said it will soon sell the entire range of iPhones from Apple. MetroPCS plans to kick off iPhone sales at select stores in Florida on July 1, but will expand to all stores around the nation soon. MetroPCS will sell the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS did not indicate how quickly the iPhone will be made available to stores outside of Florida. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.
The FCC today said that the reverse portion of its incentive auction is now complete. Bidding for 600 MHz television airwaves is over, and the cost to clear the 126 MHz spectrum target exceeded $86.4 billion. The FCC expects to begin the forward portion of the auction soon, which will see wireless companies bid on the spectrum blocks. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, but Sprint is sitting out. The auction drew lots of interest from individual bidders, too. It's not clear how much the FCC expects to make from auctioning off the airwaves moving forward, but bidders will need to meet or exceed the $86.4 billion at a minimum. The airwaves are vital low-band spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. "Today, bidding concluded in the reverse auction, establishing the cost for clearing 126 MHz in the TV band for wireless use," said the FCC's Gary Epstein in a prepared statement. "Strong participation from broadcast stations made this initial clearing target possible. Now the action shifts to the forward auction, which will give wireless bidders the opportunity to compete for this beachfront spectrum to meet America's growing mobile data needs."
Amazon today announced the Blu R1 HD, an inexpensive Android smartphone that will be sold unlocked starting July 12. The R1 HD boasts curved Gorilla Glass 3, a metal frame, and soft-touch paint job on the rear cover to give it a premium feel. The screen measures 5 inches with 720p HD resolution and the phone is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 processor with 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. The R1 HD includes an 8-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash, while the selfie camera — which has an LED flash of its own — captures 5-megapixel images. The phone can record video up to 1080p HD. The Blu R1 HD runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and comes with support for two SIM cards and microSD cards up to 64 GB. The phone is sold unlocked and is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile (LTE in Bands 2, 4, 7, 17). The device costs $100, but will be sold exclusively by Amazon for $50 with ads and promotions appearing on the lock screen. A second variant includes 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM for $10 more.
Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Google has updated its Project Fi app in order to take advantage of cellular coverage offered by U.S. Cellular. Earlier this month, Google said it planned to supplement Project Fi's coverage with U.S. Cellular. The freshly updated app allows Fi subscribers to capitalize on that expansion. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which improves Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi also relies on WiFi. The Project Fi app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service is only available to select Nexus smartphones.
T-Mobile today said its customers will be able to use an unlimited amount of high-speed mobile data across Europe this summer. Specifically, customers can enjoy the highest-possible speed, up to and including LTE 4G, throughout the European Union between July 1 and August 31. T-Mobile customers can already use unlimited 2G data in more than 140 countries. The high-speed summer roaming includes unlimited free texting and $0.20-per-minute voice calls, but not tethering. T-Mobile may terminate or restrict service for misuse or excessive roaming. T-Mobile is also giving every person who flies in the U.S. this weekend (including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers) a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi on their smartphone. The free WiFi offer is available from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 on all domestic flights that offer Gogo WiFi. Last, T-Mobile added Belize to its list of Simple Global countries, which means T-Mobile customers can use 2G data and send messages for free, and make low-cost calls when traveling to Belize. Free roaming in Belize begins July 1.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to twitter to announce changes to the T-Mobile Tuesdays rewards program. Legere said the T-Mobile Tuesdays app has been downloaded by more than 2 million customers. This week, so many customers attempted to take advantage of the free Dominos pizza offer that Dominos locations became overwhelmed and unable to fill all the orders. The company saw between three and four times as many orders on Tuesday, June 14, when compared to a typical day. "Basically, T-Mobile customers love Dominos pizza so much, you broke them!" said Legere. Dominos is backing out of the T-Mobile Tuesday promotion and will not be supplying free pizza to T-Mobile customers on Tuesdays. To make up for the loss of free pizza, Legere says T-Mobile customers will have access to a free Vudu rental, free Frosty from Wendy's, $20 in gifts from MLB.com, and a free ride from Lyft (up to $15) on Tuesday, June 21. T-Mobile will cook up other ways to reward customers now that Dominos is no longer an option. Despite the hiccup, Legere promised that the company will continue to thank customers with free stuff.
T-Mobile today said it and its prepaid brand MetroPCS will kick off sales of the Samsung Galaxy On5 later this month. The On5 is an inexpensive Android smartphone with a 5-inch 720p HD display, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel front camera. The On5 is powered by a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, and the phone includes 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. A memory card slot lets users expand storage up to 128 GB. The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, including East Home. Samsung gave the On5 a 2,600mAh battery. MetroPCS will sell the Galaxy On5 starting June 27 for $59 (after $70 rebate) and T-Mobile will sell the phone starting June 29 for $140, or $5.83 per month for 24 months.
T-Mobile today added a handful of video services to its Binge On program, bringing the total number of participating services to nearly 90. The new additions include Azubu, Dailymotion Games, Eyegroove, PBS, and PBS Kids. T-Mobile customers can now stream an unlimited amount of content from these services over T-Mobile's LTE network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Binge On content is streamed at 480p, rather than high-definition. Users may activate or deactivate Binge On at any time.
Google today said it has supplemented Project Fi's cellular coverage with the addition of U.S. Cellular. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which will boost Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi subscribers will begin to roam onto U.S. Cellular's network where coverage exists over the coming weeks.
T-Mobile today unveiled its Uncarrier 11 promotions, which give "thanks" to customers. For example, T-Mobile talked up T-Mobile Tuesdays. T-Mobile customers will be able to win free gifts every week, such as free pizza from Dominos, free frosties from Wendy's, or free movie tickets from Fandango. In order to score the promos, customers need to download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app for Android and iOS. Customers can participate in games to win additional prizes, such as private viewing parties for movies. T-Mobile calls T-Mobile Tuesdays a "major investment" in its customers. T-Mobile Tuesdays kick off June 7. The program does not require fees, or applications, or other hoops through which customers need jump; it only requires the app and customer's phone number. Moreover, T-Mobile is giving one full share of T-Mobile stock to postpaid account owners for free. T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he wants customers to be "invested" in the company. New customers will be able to gain stock, too. Every time customers recommend T-Mobile to a friend who the signs up for T-Mobile, that customer will get another share of T-Mobile stock. T-Mobile will allow people to receive up to 100 shares (for free) each year. Customers will be required to sign up for a brokerage account in order to gain access to the free awards. Customers who "gloat" about their T-Mobile perks online via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are eligible for even more free rewards. Last, Uncarrier 11 allows T-Mobile customers to get a free hour of GoGo WiFi on qualifying domestic flights, as well as unlimited in-flight messaging via iMessage, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and Viber. The free hour of GoGo WiFi (on smartphones only) will kick off June 13.
Coolpad today said T-Mobile has agreed to sell its Catalyst Android smartphone. The Catalyst will be the first Coolpad phone sold to postpaid customers in the U.S. The phone features a 5-inch, 854 by 480 screen, 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel selfie camera, and support for T-Mobile's LTE 4G network. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, and 2,200mAh battery. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and will cost $100 at T-Mobile retail stores. The phone goes on sale at T-Mobile shops on June 7, with MetroPCS stores to follow on July 11. Coolpad is a Chinese manufacturer that has sold a few handsets in the U.S. in recent years.
T-Mobile today announced the T-Mobile Tourist Plan, a prepaid service plan that T-Mobile hopes international travelers will use when they come to the U.S. during the summer months. The plan costs $30 and provides three weeks of service with 1,000 voice minutes (domestic only), 2 GB of LTE data, and unlimited texting (domestic and international). Moreover, T-Mobile won't charge for the SIM card, and it won't charge an activation fee. T-Mobile says tourists interested in the T-Mobile Tourist Plan need only bring their compatible, unlocked handset to a T-Mobile store. The plan will be available beginning June 12.
ZTE today announced the Axon 7, its flagship smartphone for 2016. ZTE designed the phone with the help of BMW Group's Designworks studio. The Axon 7 has a unibody aluminum design and clean lines; it comes in gold and silver finishes. The device features a 5.5-inch quad HD display with 2.5D curved glass. The phone is powered by a 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor with either 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM. The processor and 3,140mAh battery together support Quick Charge 3.0 and can deliver a 50% charge in 30 minutes. The main camera includes a 20-megapixel sensor from Samsung with optical and electronic image stabilization, sapphire lens, and an aperture of f/1.8. The selfie camera has an 8-megapixel camera. The phone can capture video up to 4K. Other standout features include dual AKM HiFi audio chipsets with Dolby Atmos software and stereo speakers, support for Google's Daydream virtual reality platform, support for memory cards, and a quick fingerprint sensor located on the back. The device adopts a USB Type-C connector. The Axon 7 ships with Android 6 Marshmallow and MiFavor 4.0 user interface, portions of which BMW's Designworks helped configure. The phone supports all U.S. LTE bands. It will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile and launch, with Sprint and Verizon compatibility coming later in the year. The Axon 7 is sold with Axon Passport 2.0, ZTE's two-year warranty plan that protects consumers from busted screens and other damage. The Axon 7 goes on sale in China today, but will reach the U.S. soon. The phone is priced under $500 and will be sold directly to consumers via ZTEusa.com, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, ebay, and Newegg.
A group of companies have asked the FCC to make discussions about net neutrality violations more open to public discourse. Specifically, 59 internet companies sent a letter to the FCC and asked the agency how it is handling zero-rating services, such as T-Mobile's BingeOn and Verizon Wireless' FreeBee. As it stands, the FCC is evaluating such services on a case-by-case basis mostly in private. They group argues that internet service providers, including mobile networks, have introduced a wide range of zero-rated services that toe the net neutrality line. Due to the volume of cases, decisions on each and every one "would have much the same effect as a new rule, only without the same public participation and transparency," say the companies. The companies believe the public and stakeholders both have a right to participate in defining any new rules. "Zerorating profoundly affects internet users' choices," said the companies. "Giving ISPs the power to favor some sites or services over others would let ISPs pick winners and losers online — precisely what the Open Internet rules exist to prevent. Because mobile networks are i ncreasingly the way most Americans get online, mobile ISPs matter equally. It would be unacceptable not to seek and incorporate broad input and expertise at this critical stage." Some of the companies that signed the letter include Dwolla, Etsy, Foursquare, Medium, Mozilla, Pinterest, Reddit, Upworthy, Vimeo, Yelp and dozens more. The FCC did not immediately comment on the matter.
T-Mobile today said it has agreed to buy 700 MHz spectrum from Leap in order to bring its "extended-range LTE" coverage to the Chicago metropolitan area. Specifically, T-Mobile is snagging A-Block 700 MHz spectrum covering Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, Waukegan, Evanston, Naperville, Aurora, Gary, Rockford, De Kalb, Janesville, Bloomington, Normal, Kankakee, Kenosha, and others. Leap Licenseco, the company that holds the spectrum licenses, is owned by AT&T. T-Mobile will turn on LTE in the low-band spectrum once the transaction is completed. T-Mobile has been using 700 MHz spectrum to supplement its main LTE network for some time. This deal will allow it to offer low-band coverage to 269 million Americans, including the top 10 U.S. markets. T-Mobile already offers LTE in the Chicago area via its AWS spectrum. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal must be reviewed by the FCC.
Freetel Wireless today made the Kiwami and Priori3 handsets available for preorder. The Kiwami is a flagship-class device with a 6-inch quad HD screen and 21-megapixel camera. The device costs $350. The Priori3 is more of an entry-level device with a 4.5-inch screen and 8-megapixel camera. The Priori3 costs $89. Both phones support LTE in the 2, 4, 7, and 17 bands, which means they are partially compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's 4G networks. Freetel said the devices will ship beginning in June. The Freetel Musashi flip phone will be available later this summer.
T-Mobile today increased the number of video apps that are available through its Binge-On streaming video program. The new services include Google Play Music (music videos), Great Big Story, NBC, Ligonier Ministries, Noggin, Qello Concerts, Radio Disney (music videos), Univision, Univision Noticias, Spotify (music videos), Tidal (music videos), and Toon Goggles. T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of video content from these and other providers without impacting their monthly data bucket. Binge-On video quality is capped at 480p. The company claims its customers have streamed some 377 million hours of video since Binge-On launched in December.
Republic Wireless today said it has partnered with a new GSM-based carrier to help increase its service availability around the U.S. Republic launched as a WiFi-first service in 2011, and partnered with Sprint so customers could make calls, send messages, and surf the web when away from WiFi. Republic's new carrier partner is likely T-Mobile, though Republic Wireless did not say so directly. Republic will work with both Sprint and T-Mobile moving forward. With the new GSM partnership in place, Republic is set to expand its selection of devices to include some newer, top-tier Android phones. Beginning in July, Republic will offer the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, S6, and J3, the Google Nexus 6P and 5X, and the Motorola Moto X Pure Edition — all of which run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Republic said financing will be available for each handset. Customers will be able to bring their own GSM-based device if they so wish. Last, Republic said it is prepared to roll out new service plans. One such plan costs $20 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of LTE. Republic will share more details about its new service plans in the weeks ahead.
T-Mobile today announced new pricing for family plans that sees the price drop to $30 per line. The plan includes unlimited talk, text, and 6 GB of LTE data per line, as well as standard T-Mobile features, such as Rollover Data, Music Unlimited, and Binge On. The same plan previously cost $35 per line, so the new promotion drops the price by a total of $20 for a family of four. Additional lines (5 and up) cost $20 each. T-Mobile is giving away a free Samsung smartphone, too. Customers who buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge with at least one new line of service will receive a prepaid card for a free Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime handset. T-Mobile didn't say how long these promotions will be available.