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printed May 28, 2016
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ZTE Taps BMW to Help Design the Axon 7 Flagship

Thursday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 1:37 PM

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.

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Internet Companies Want Public Zero-Rating FCC Inquiry

Thursday, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Buy Chicago-Area Spectrum to Boost Coverage

Wednesday, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Kiwami and Priori3 Up for Preorder

Monday, 11:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Adds to List of Supported Binge-On Video Services

May 17, 2016, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Partners with GSM Carrier, Adds GSM Phones

May 11, 2016, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Targets Families With Latest Promo

May 10, 2016, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FCC, FTC Query Carriers and Phone Makers Over Security

May 9, 2016, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC and FTC today asked carriers and phone manufacturers how they handle security updates for their devices. The FCC sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other carriers, while the FTC queried Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung. In particular, the agencies want to know: the factors carriers/OEMs consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular phone; data on the specific phones sold in the U.S. since August 2013; the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices; and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities. The government said the line of inquiry is to help it further understand how these companies do or do not protect consumers. "Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered," said the FCC. "To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise. There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices — and that older devices may never be patched." Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android devices, but individual phone makers lag badly. Apple provides occasional updates.


T-Mobile Signs Roaming Deal with Cuban Carrier

May 9, 2016, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has signed an interconnect and roaming agreement with Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba, allowing its customers to call Cuba as well as roam when visiting Cuba. T-Mobile says its U.S. customers can call Cuban landlines and wireless phones for $0.60 per minute when they subscribe to the Stateside International Talk feature for $15 per month. The deal also allows travelers to use voice, text, and data service in Cuba, though roaming won't be available until the summer months. Sprint and Verizon forged interconnect and roaming agreements with Cuba last year.


Kyocera's DuraForce XD Picked Up by T-Mobile

May 4, 2016, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 4, 2016, 2:29 PM

Kyocera today said T-Mobile will soon be selling the DuraForce XD rugged Android smartphone. Starting May 11, the DuraForce XD will be available online and in stores for $449.99. The DuraForce has a 5.7-inch display, 3,700mAh battery, and 1.6 GHz quad-core processor. The phone had been available from AT&T since earlier this year.


Cricket to Sell LG Stylo 2 Starting May 13

May 4, 2016, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today said it will kick off sales of the LG Stylo 2 on May 13. The phone will cost $169.99. Cricket does not require contracts. The Stylo 2 has a 5.7-inch screen with stylus, a 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, memory card slot, and 3,000mAh battery. The phone is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Cricket said consumers who switch to Cricket from other carriers will receive a $50 gift card, and consumers who switch from T-Mobile will receive a $100 gift card. The Stylo 2 is also being sold by Boost Mobile.


Update for T-Mobile Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Tweaks Performance

May 3, 2016, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is pushing a minor update to its variants of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge that improves performance of several features. Specifically, the revised system should offer enhanced voice services on both phones. A bug impacting the volume and power buttons has been eradicated. Last, the update makes unspecified changes to Samsung Pay. The update is available as an over-the-air download. T-Mobile suggests S7 and S7 Edge owners download it via WiFi. The update may take a few days to reach all devices.


FCC Sets 126 MHz Clearing Target for Reverse Auction

Apr 29, 2016, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today announced it has set an initial spectrum clearing target of 126 MHz during the reverse part of the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. Television broadcasters have agreed to part with this spectrum. The FCC then plans to offer 100 MHz in 10 near-nationwide paired blocks to wireless providers in the forward phase of the auction. The majority of the spectrum being given up by television broadcasters will qualify as Category 1, which means it has no or little interference. Some of the spectrum will fall under Category 2, which has a greater degree of interference but not so much that it can't be managed. The FCC is today notifying all the television broadcasters about the status of their applications to sell spectrum. The FCC plans a mock auction for May 24-25, and will kick off the actual reverse portion of the auction May 31. It's unclear how long the reverse auction will take place before the FCC is able to turn around and re-sell the spectrum to wireless companies. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all said they plan to participate in the hunt for low-band spectrum.


Microsoft Rolls Out Lumia 950 BOGO Offer

Apr 25, 2016, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft is looking to clear inventory of the Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 smartphones, which means consumers can buy one at full price and get the second one for free. The deal is available via Microsoft's U.S. web store. Specifically, people who purchase the 950 XL at $649 will receive a Lumia 950, valued at $549, for free. Both devices are being sold unlocked with support for GSM carriers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The promotion is available while supplies last through May 2. Microsoft reported shipments of about 2.3 million Lumia phones in its most recent financial documents, which represents a steep drop from the 8.6 million it shipped in the year-ago period. The company admitted it is sitting on a lot of excess inventory of its flagship Windows 10 Mobile devices. Moreover, the company expects "year over year revenue declines to deepen as we work through our Lumia channel position." Cricket Wireless is expected to launch Microsoft's mid-range model, the Lumia 650, early next month. Microsoft has recently pushed a significant update to its Windows 10 Mobile platform and updated core apps such as email, Groove Music, and the Edge browser.


DeWalt Debuts MD501 Rugged Smartphone

Apr 22, 2016, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

DeWalt recently announced the MD501, a fully rugged Android smartphone aimed at those who work outdoors. DeWalt is not making the device itself; instead, it partnered with Global Mobile Communications to make the device. Global Mobile is licensing the DeWalt name. Cat uses a similar strategy for its rugged smartphones. The MD501 meets mil-spec 810g and IP68 for protection against drops to concrete, dust, water, dirt, fog, humidity, and extreme temperatures. The 5-inch HD screen is extra bright for outdoor visibility and it can be used with gloves. The phone is powered by a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It accepts micro SD cards up to 64 GB. The main camera features a 13-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera features a 5-megapixel sensor. The MD501 includes a 3950mAh battery with Qi wireless charging. The phone does not support U.S. LTE bands, but does support quad-band HSPA that is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. DeWalt hasn't said when the device will go on sale. It is expected to cost about $544.


Review: WeBoost Eqo In-Home Signal Booster

Apr 20, 2016, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

WeBoost's Eqo signal booster promises to improve cellular coverage in your home or apartment. Consisting of a booster and antenna, the whole system fits most average dwellings. If you need a few more bars to connect calls, the WeBoost may be what you need. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth report.

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T-Mobile's Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+ Receiving Marshmallow

Apr 18, 2016, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has begun delivering the Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The update brings the devices from Android 5.1.1 to Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow includes a handful of new features, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, and advanced app permissions. The S6 Edge+, in particular, is also receiving the improved Edge Panel behaviors from Samsung, which offer more content and a broader set of tools for personalizing the panels. The update clocks in at about 1 GB and must be downloaded over WiFi. T-Mobile recently provided the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the same update.


Cricket Debuts Unlimited Plan for $70

Apr 15, 2016, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced a new service plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for $70 per month. That price includes all taxes and fees. Cricket customers who enroll in auto-pay can reduce their monthly cost to $65. Along with the new plan, Cricket Wireless said it will reward T-Mobile subscribers who switch to Cricket with a $100 bill credit. Cricket operates on AT&T's network, but LTE speeds are capped at 8 Mbps. The new plan will be available beginning April 17.


T-Mobile Rolls Out $80 12 GB Plan for Two Lines

Apr 7, 2016, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile kicked off a new promotion that offers 12 GB of data for two lines for $80 per month. Each line gets 6 GB of data in addition to unlimited talk and text. The deal also includes the standard list of T-Mobile features, such as Binge On, Music Freedom, and Data Stash. T-Mobile is also offering the LG K7 and Samsung Galaxy Core Prime to customers with no downpayment. The two-line plan will be available starting April 8. T-Mobile didn't say how long it will be available.


T-Mobile Debuts Enhanced Voice Services

Apr 6, 2016, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the launch of Enhanced Voice Services, new technology that the company says delivers improved call quality. T-Mobile claims EVS improves call reliability in weak coverage areas, which means fewer dropped calls. It also improves clarity beyond what is produced by HD Voice thanks to an expanded audio range. EVS functions on LTE and WiFi, and doesn't require both the caller and recipient to have high-quality connections. Moreover, T-Mobile customers can enjoy EVS even when calling nonT-Mobile lines. EVS was installed on the LG G5 out of the box. The service is being added to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge through a software update. T-Mobile says the service will reach seven more phones by the end of the year.


T-Mobile's Binge On and Music Freedom Gain More Services

Apr 5, 2016, 10:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today expanded the number of providers available to its Binge On and Music Freedom programs. Consumers who enjoy content from Dailymotion, EPIX, OVGuide, OWNZONES, Viki, YipTV, 120 Sports, Nickelodeon, Spike, and TV Land will be able to watch as much as they want on their phone without impacting their monthly data allowance. Similarly, music lovers who enjoy Amazon Music, Chilltrax, ESPN Radio, OHIO.FM, PreDanz, and Uforia will be able to listen to an unlimited number of tracks from these and other providers each month. T-Mobile says more than 100 service providers have joined its Binge On and Music Freedom programs.


Microsoft Now Selling the Lumia 650

Apr 1, 2016, 10:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has made the Lumia 650 available for purchase from its U.S. web site. The phone runs Windows 10 Mobile and features a metal-frame design with a 5-inch HD OLED display, 8-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and removable battery. Microsoft is selling the phone unlocked for $199. It is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile.


FCC Pushes Privacy Rules Forward

Apr 1, 2016, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC on Thursday followed through on plans to tackle consumer privacy. The agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to govern the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The FCC's goal is to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. The FCC also believes consumers should be able to opt-out when they wish. "[This] proposal would give all consumers the tools we need to make informed decisions about how our ISPs use and share our data," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "and confidence that ISPs are keeping their customers' data secure." Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC will continue to shape the policy over the next few months and present it in more final form before fully adopting it.


Walmart Slashes Price of iPhone By $100, Galaxy By $150

Apr 1, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart today said customers can save big bucks on Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones for the next three months. Walmart has cut the price of all iPhones by $100 (including the new iPhone SE) and all Galaxy phones (including the Galaxy S7) by $150. The rollback begins today and lasts through the end of June. The reduced prices will be available only in Walmart stores, and only to customers of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile is not participating in the rollback program.

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FCC Says Netflix Throttling Actions Aren't Its Concern

Mar 31, 2016, 4:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said the agency doesn't intend to investigate Netflix's throttling practices for customers of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Wheeler said web sites and other edge providers fall outside its purview and didn't violate any regulations. Netflix admitted to throttling the speed of video streamed by AT&T and Verizon customers due to those carriers' data overage policies. Netflix doesn't throttle the speeds of video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers.


Verizon Confirms Pending $20 Upgrade Fee

Mar 31, 2016, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phonescoop that it plans to charge customers $20 to upgrade to new devices beginning April 4. The fee will apply to customers who buy handsets with installment plans, or buy phones at full price. Verizon will assess the fee at third-party retailers, too, such as purchases made at the Apple Store or Best Buy. "The upgrade fee helps cover our increased support costs associated with customers switching devices," explained a Verizon spokesperson to Phonescoop via email. "Customers can pay the charge when they upgrade, bill it to their account, or trade in an old device to offset the cost. The fee for upgrading on device payment is still half of the two-year contract upgrade fee." Verizon charges contract customers $40 when upgrading devices. AT&T instituted its own device upgrade fee of $15 last year. Sprint recently lowered its upgrade fee from $36 to $30. T-Mobile charges $20 for a SIM card starter pack, which is widely seen as an upgrade fee. Verizon's new $20 upgrade fee was first uncovered by MacRumors.

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T-Mobile Targets iPhone SE Buyers with New Offer

Mar 30, 2016, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is taking advantage of the iPhone SE launch to debut a buy-one, get-one-half-off deal on iPhones. Customers who buy any iPhone can get the second one for half price as long as it is activated on a new line of service. The deal requires an equipment installment plan for both phones. T-Mobile will reimburse customers for half the value of the second phone with a prepaid MasterCard gift card. The deal applies to the new iPhone SE, as well as the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 5s, and 5c. T-Mobile said the offer is limited to stock on hand.


LG G5 Officially Goes On Sale March 31

Mar 30, 2016, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG said its G5 smartphone will be available for sale in Korea starting March 31, with the U.S. to follow April 1. The G5 will reach other regions, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, over time. LG says more than 200 carriers plan to sell the phone. In the U.S., that includes AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, all of which will offer the phone on April 1. Along with the G5 itself, LG plans to sell the accompanying modules and accessories, called LG Friends. The two most notable Friends as the CAM Plus and Hi-Fi Plus, which are modules that plug directly into the bottom of the G5. The CAM Plus will be available in the U.S., but LG hasn't said if the Hi-Fi Plus will also be available. Other Friends include the 360 VR headset, 360 CAM, Rolling Bot, Tone Platinum, and H3 by B&O. Pricing for the LG G5 varies by carrier. The phone has a 5.3-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C.


FCC's Incentive Auction Starts Tonight

Mar 29, 2016, 2:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC said its incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves officially gets under way at 6p.m. this evening, when broadcasters will need to commit to participating. The auction will see television broadcasters give up their airwaves, which will then be sold to bidding wireless companies and other companies. "In just a few hours, we mark the beginning of the world's first Incentive Auction," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, "which will align the use of the public airwaves to meet America's 21st century spectrum needs. The auction promises to free up more capacity to meet Americans' skyrocketing demand for wireless data while preserving the valuable service that broadcast TV stations provide to their communities." AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are taking part in the auction along with about 100 other entities. T-Mobile has promised to pursue the low-band spectrum aggressively. The auction is expected to last several months.


Netflix Says It Throttles Video on AT&T and Verizon

Mar 24, 2016, 6:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Netflix today said that it has limited its video speeds on most carriers worldwide for years, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The issue came to light when T-Mobile accused AT&T and Verizon of throttling Netflix. Mobile video practices have been under a microscope since the December launch of T-Mobile's Binge On program, which zero-rates the video content from some providers. Netflix admitted that it is throttling its own service on purpose to about 600Kbps to "protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps." Netflix says it has throttled video speeds for as long as five years, but leaves video streamed by Sprint and T-Mobile customers alone due to those carriers' less onerous policies. Netflix, which claims to be a proponent of net neutrality, says it is exploring new ways to stream video in such a way that it consumes less data. AT&T and Verizon were not pleased with the revelation. "We're outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent," said AT&T.


T-Mobile Kicks Off LG G5 Sales March 29

Mar 18, 2016, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said customers can order the LG G5 online starting March 29. The phone will reach stores April 1. T-Mobile is offering several incentives to encourage early adopters. Customers who buy the G5 before April 5 will receive the LG 360 CAM ($200) for free. The 360 CAM lets people capture 360-degree video. Customers who by the G5 before April 17 will receive a battery bundle, which includes a spare battery and docking station ($80). T-Mobile is selling the G5 for $0 down and 24 payments of $26.25. The full retail price of the phone is $629.99.


Verizon Rolls Out Galaxy S7 BOGO Offer

Mar 18, 2016, 7:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has made a Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge buy-one, get-one deal of its own available to smartphone shoppers. Beginning today, customers who buy one Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge can receive a second one for free as long as the second one is activated on a new line. Both phones must be purchased through an installment plan. Verizon will give buyers a prepaid card for the value of the phone. Verizon customers who've already bought a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge are also eligible for a free phone if they choose to activate a new line. AT&T and T-Mobile have similar promotions running right now.

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T-Mobile Adds YouTube to Binge On

Mar 17, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 17, 2016, 9:35 AM

T-Mobile today added several new video content partners to its Binge On service, including YouTube. T-Mobile customers can now stream an unlimited amount of YouTube content to their smartphone over T-Mobile's cellular network without impacting their monthly data bucket. Other new video providers include Discovery Go, FOX Business, Baeble Music, Google Play Movies, ESNE, FilmOn.TV, KlowdTV, and Redbull TV. T-Mobile says it now has more than 50 partners in it Binge On program. Binge On lets T-Mobile customers stream video at 480p resolution from select partners for free. T-Mobile also said that video content providers can opt out of the Binge On program if they wish. "Going forward, any video service meeting traffic-identification requirements will be able to opt out, and T-Mobile will stop including them in the Binge On program and will no longer modify their video streams," explained CEO John Legere. Binge On has gotten the attention of the FCC, which is exploring whether or not the service violates its net neutrality protocols.


Nextbit Shelves CDMA Variant of Its Robin Phone

Mar 17, 2016, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nextbit has canceled plans to bring a version of its Robin smartphone to Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The company cited the slow carrier approval process and ballooning expenses as reasons behind its decision. "What people at the carriers, in good faith given our need for quick answers, thought would take 'weeks' has turned into 'months'," explained Nextbit CEO Tom Moss. "What they thought would cost 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' has turned into 'millions'. And we're still not there." The company is refunding those who pre-ordered the CDMA version of the Robin, and is also offering those customers 25% off the GSM version of the Robin should they want it. The Robin runs Android and proactively offloads apps and files to the cloud in order to conserve storage. It is sold unlocked and works with AT&T and T-Mobile.


T-Mobile Giving Customers Free Year of MLB.TV Premium

Mar 16, 2016, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said baseball fans will be able to watch every regular season Major League Baseball game on their smartphones for free. T-Mobile partnered with MLB and is providing customers with a free year of MLB.TV Premium. T-Mobile customers can stream every out-of-market regular season game to their Apple or Google smartphone and tablet. Moreover, MLB.TV Premium falls under T-Mobile's Binge On program, so streaming games over cellular won't count against users' data packages. The deal also provides a free subscription to At Bat Premium, a mobile sports app for watching home and away broadcasts. At Bat Premium does not fall under Binge On and will be counted against data plans. The free year-long subscriptions will expire February 28, 2017. T-Mobile says people will be able to use the subscriptions on more than a single device. Interested fans will need to sign up during Opening Week, between April 3 and April 10.


FCC Girds for Privacy Battle with Internet Firms

Mar 10, 2016, 6:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC is prepared to propose new rules governing the use of consumer data by broadband providers, both wired and wireless. The proposal is meant to help protect the data generated by millions of people who use internet services every day. The FCC wants broadband providers to obtain permission from customers before sharing their data with others, including advertisers. "Consumers should have effective control over how their personal information is used and shared," said an FCC official. The rules would apply to companies such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon — including each company's wireless units. Firms such as Alphabet (neé, Google) and Facebook would be exempt, which instead fall under the purview of the FTC. The FCC is expected to propose the rules later this month, when they'll be provisionally approved. Internet providers argue the rules would reduce their ability to sell advertisements to consumers. The FCC's next meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 31.


LG G5 to Make US Debut In Early April

Mar 10, 2016, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said U.S. consumers can expect to see the G5 smartphone reach stores in early April. The modular smartphone will be available via AT&T, Best Buy, B&H, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. LG said carriers will be responsible for announcing their own release dates and pricing. The G5 has a removable bottom hatch that allows users to access the battery as well as add modules called LG Friends. The first two modules are a camera grip and stereo DAC. The phone also boasts dual rear cameras and a Snapdragon 820 processor. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.


T-Mobile Rolls Out Galaxy S7 BOGO In Challenge to AT&T

Mar 9, 2016, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today countered AT&T's buy one, get one promotion for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge with one of its own. T-Mobile's deal requires customers to buy one S7 or S7 Edge at full price on an equipment installment plan. When adding a second line, T-Mobile will provide a debit card for the full value of the second phone through an online rebate for the second phone. (AT&T's program offers a monthly credit for the price of the second phone.) Families can get up to two GS7s from T-Mobile for free when buying two at full price. T-Mobile is offering several other benefits. Customers who buy the GS7 or GS7 Edge before March 18 will receive a Gear VR headset for free with a 6-game bundle, as well as a full year of Netflix. T-Mobile says the BOGO deal can be combined with several existing offers, such as covering the costs of switching from other carriers, and unlimited data for four lines for $150 per month. The Galaxy S7 costs $670 and the Galaxy S7 Edge costs $780. The GS7 is available for $0 down and $28 per month for 24 months, while the GS7 Edge requires a $60 down payment followed by $30 per month for 24 months.


Google Drops Project Fi Invites, Drops Nexus 5X Price

Mar 7, 2016, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today nixed the invite system it used for Project Fi and opened the MVNO service up to everyone. Project Fi relies on WiFi and cellular access from Sprint and T-Mobile to provide coverage around the U.S. Its software is able to dynamically jump from network to network in order to provide the best-possible speeds and service. Project Fi is novel in that it only charges people for the actual amount of data used each month, rather than for large buckets. Google says the first 10 months of the project have gone well and it is ready to move into the next phase. For the next month, anyone who activates Project Fi will be able to purchase the Nexus 5X handset from LG for $199.99. The phone's normal price is $349.99. Project Fi is only available to Nexus smartphones, including the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P. Basic service costs $20 per month, plus $10 per 1 GB of cellular data. Google refunds users for the unused portion of data each month.


Alcatel's Go Play Handset Available for Sale Starting Today

Mar 4, 2016, 2:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today made the Go Play available for sale on its web site for $199.99. The phone is being sold unlocked and is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile's LTE networks. The Go Play has a 5-inch 720p HD screen and 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The Go Play has an 8-megapixel main camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, and can record full HD video. The phone features an IP67 rating for protection against water and dust, and can be used to take underwater images. Other features include GPS, an FM radio, and 2,500mAh battery. The Go Play runs Android Lollipop. Alcatel is including a free rugged case with the phone through the end of the month.


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