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printed April 25, 2015
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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.


Google's Project Fi Wireless Service Offers Refunds for Unused Data

Wednesday, 12:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 12:49 PM

Google today announced Project Fi, which relies on a combination of cellular and WiFi networks to keep users connected wherever they roam. Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide the cellular component. Google says Project Fi can automatically connect to over one million verified WiFi hotspots around the U.S, and all connections are encrypted. The goal is to make communicating simple no matter what device or network is being used. Calls made through WiFi connections will seamlessly hand-off to cellular networks with no interruptions. Google says Project Fi users' phone numbers "live in the cloud," so they can talk and text from just about any phone, tablet, or laptop. Project Fi takes a new approach with respect to billing. The basic plan costs $20 per month and includes talk, text, WiFi tethering, and international coverage in 120 countries. Google then charges $10 per gigabyte of cellular data in the U.S. and abroad. So, 1 GB of data costs $10 per month, 2 GB costs $20 per month, and so on. The unique idea here is that Google will refund people for the data they don't use. For example, subscribers who pay $30 for a 3 GB plan, but only use 1.4 GB, will receive a $16 refund from Google for the unused data. Google is offering Project Fi through an early access program. It requires the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which Google says was developed with Project Fi in mind. Nexus 6 owners can request invites starting today.


Google's Wireless Service to Launch Wednesday

Tuesday, 7:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is prepared to launch its wireless service as soon as tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google's wireless service will rely on the mobile networks operated by Sprint and T-Mobile, in addition to WiFi. The service will only be available to the Nexus 6 smartphone at launch, which will be able to dynamically weave from network to network in order to find the strongest signal for calls, messaging, and mobile browsing. In what the Journal calls a key development, customers of Google's wireless service will only pay for the actual data they consume each month, rather than fork over money for buckets of data. Google confirmed last month that it is preparing a mobile service, but has not verified the Journal's details. Google's Sundar Pichai said during the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona the company's wireless service will be offered on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Specifics such as pricing are still unknown. Sprint and T-Mobile both have large MVNO programs, which is, in effect, how Google's service will operate. Sprint and T-Mobile may renegotiate with Google if its service gets too big.


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.


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.


Walmart Family Mobile Stacks Plans with More Data

Apr 17, 2015, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart Family Mobile, which is run by T-Mobile, today added 500MB of data to its plans. The extra data allotment is being offered free of charge, and is applied automatically for existing customers. The entry-level plan costs $29.88 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, with access to 1GB of LTE 4G. For $10 more per month, customers will have access to 3GB of LTE 4G data each billing cycle. Customers who sign up for multiple lines can save $5 per additional line. The updated data offering goes into effect April 18. Walmart Family Mobile is a postpaid, no-contract service only available from Walmart.


T-Mobile Forced to Halt ZTE Zmax Sales Due to User Errors

Apr 16, 2015, 12:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has suspended sales of the ZTE Zmax handset because customers are forcibly removing the non-removable battery. The back panel of the Zmax is clipped - but not glued - on. Some owners have taken to removing the back cover and cutting into the device to replace the battery. Doing this is dangerous, and T-Mobile strongly suggests Zmax owners take their device to a T-Mobile store if the phone is misbehaving. T-Mobile complained to ZTE, which is examining how to remedy the situation. T-Mobile hasn't said if or when it will resume sales of the Zmax.


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.


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.


Sprint Takes a Page from T-Mobile, Offers Free Roaming

Apr 10, 2015, 10:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced a new program called International Value Roaming. Customers who add International Value Roaming to their plan will be able to use mobile data and send/receive text messages for free in select countries. The data roaming may be free, but like T-Mobile's offering Sprint is limiting roaming speeds to 2G. Customers who want access to 3G and higher speeds when roaming will need to purchase a 1-, 7-, or 14-day Speed Pass. The 1-day pass starts at $15. The International Value Roaming program also includes reduced charges for voice minutes, which cost 20 cents each. Eligible countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and the U.K. Customers can add International Value Roaming to their service plan for free.


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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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.


Cricket Offering Free Service to Switchers

Apr 8, 2015, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket today said new customers who switch to Cricket from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Boost, and other competitors will receive one free month of service after completing two months of service. In order to qualify, customers must subscribe to a $50 or $60 rate plan. The offer will only be available for a limited time.


T-Mobile Discontinues Sony Xperia Z3

Apr 6, 2015, 12:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile confirmed via Twitter that it is no longer selling Sony's flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z3. T-Mobile offered the device for just 6 months. The Z3 is still for sale directly from Sony's U.S. web site. Sony is offering it unlocked for $569.


T-Mobile Updates Coverage Map with Customer Data

Mar 30, 2015, 8:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today unveiled a new coverage map that it claims is far more accurate than the maps offered by its competitors. T-Mobile is populating the map with data generated by its own customers. The map shows coverage that's been verified by real customers and shows exactly where LTE, 4G, and 3G coverage is available. T-Mobile is using "Verified Coverage" icons to show where the data has been provided by its customers versus third-party companies. It is using a company called Inrix to verify and backup the customer data. T-Mobile said all coverage map data is updated twice per month, based on on-going customer usage. The map also details speed test data from third-party apps so customers can see what sort of speeds to expect in any given location. The new coverage map is live on T-Mobile's web site. T-Mobile said its LTE network covers 265 million Americans. It expects to cover 300 million Americans by the end of the year.


T-Mobile Asking $780 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Mar 26, 2015, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile was the first carrier today to reveal pricing information for its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. T-Mobile listed the full retail prices at $679.92 and $779.76, respectively, for the two handsets. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge share nearly all specs and features, but the S6 Edge has a display that's curved on two sides. Customers can pre-order the phones beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific on March 27. The S6 will go for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $28.33, while the S6 Edge will require 24 monthly payments of $32.49. T-Mobile customers who order before April 12th can also receive a one-year Netflix subscription at no cost.


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.


T-Mobile Tempting Galaxy S6 Buyers with Year of Netflix

Mar 25, 2015, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today revealed via Twitter that customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will receive a year-long subscription to on-demand video service Netflix. T-Mobile didn't provide any other details about the promotion, nor has the company said when the latest smartphones from Samsung will go on sale.


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.


T-Mobile Makes New Promises to Consumers

Mar 18, 2015, 1:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile's Uncarrier 9.0 event focused on businesses, but still had a few benefits aimed at consumers, too. First, T-Mobile promised to keep all its current promotional rates/plans in place permanently. Promotions that had end or expiration dates no longer do. Further, T-Mobile announced the Un-contract, wherein it agrees to keep customers' prices at the same level for at least two years. It promised it won't raise prices. Last, T-Mobile expanded its "Carrier Freedom" program. It will pay all ETFs, outgoing expenses, leases, and phone payments (up to total of $650 per line) for customers who switch to T-Mobile.

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T-Mobile Targets Businesses with Uncarrier 9.0

Mar 18, 2015, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 18, 2015, 1:03 PM

T-Mobile today announced its Uncarrier 9.0 initiative, which promises to make things less expensive for businesses. The company is aiming at small to mid-sized businesses with attractive price points for unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data. Businesses with more than 20 lines will pay $16 per line. Businesses with more than 100 lines will pay $15 per line. Businesses with more than 1,000 lines will pay $10 per line. T-Mobile is also offering free mobile web site hosting and free Microsoft Office 365 business email to its small business customers.

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Liveblog of T-Mobile Un-Carrier 9

Mar 18, 2015, 10:00 AM   by Eric Zeman and Rich Brome   updated Mar 18, 2015, 1:45 PM

T-Mobile's Un-Carrier events with colorful CEO John Legere are always entertaining. Legere has made a string of bold moves at the helm of the magenta maverick, each introduced at dramatic launch events. These Un-Carrier moves are typically customer-friendly, and the events are filled with jabs at competitors, laced with a healthy dose of profanity. Tune in as we bring you the news and hijinks in real time. It's sure to be fun.

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T-Mobile Expands Data Stash to Prepaid Customers

Mar 16, 2015, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its prepaid customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of its Data Stash program beginning March 22. T-Mobile first announced Data Stash for its postpaid customers in December. Data Stash allows customers to roll forward any unused data they have each month, rather than allow the data to expire. T-Mobile said it will give all its T-Mobile Simple Choice prepaid customers a 10GB pool of LTE 4G data with which to start. Once they've consumed that data, they'll begin to roll forward their unused monthly data for a period of up to one year. T-Mobile's prepaid customers will receive this benefit automatically and at no extra charge. The news arrives just days ahead of an Uncarrier event T-Mobile has planned in New York City on March 18.


Cricket to Sell Motorola Moto E Beginning March 13

Mar 10, 2015, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced plans to sell the second-generation Motorola Moto E starting on March 13. The phone features LTE 4G, a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, quad-core 1.2GHz processor and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone costs $129.99 and does not require a contract. Service plans start at $35 per month. Cricket is offering a free month of service to customers who switch from T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Boost.


Google Adds a Few Features to Android 5.1

Mar 9, 2015, 4:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new version of Android that promises to clean up some bugs. Android 5.1 Lollipop improves stability and makes other minor improvements. In addition to the cleaned-up code, Android 5.1 also adds several features. For example, Device Protection prevents a lost or stolen device from accessing mobile networks without the original owner's Google password - even if the device has been reset to factory settings. The update also adds native support for multiple SIM cards, and improves HD voice performance on the Nexus 6 through T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Last, Android 5.1 makes it easier to manage Bluetooth and WiFi settings (especially device connections) from the Quick Settings menus. Google expects to roll out Android 5.1 to select devices over the next few days.


Google Wireless Service May Require Nexus 6

Mar 6, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's forthcoming wireless service will only be available to the Nexus 6 handset at launch, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, the Journal says Google's wireless service will "weave together" access from T-Mobile and Sprint's cellular services, in addition to WiFi. The service won't be available to older Nexus handsets, such as the LG-made Nexus 5 and Nexus 4. The Nexus 6, made by Google's former Motorola unit, went on sale last year and is available directly from Google online. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week, Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed plans to offer wireless service on an experimental basis. He likened it to the Nexus device program, about which he said, "Our goal here is to drive a set of innovations which we think the system should adopt." Android 5.0 Lollipop is able to automatically pick the best wireless service (cellular or WiFi) based on a given app's needs. Google did not comment on the Journal's report.


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.


Google Says Google-Branded Network to Launch in Months

Mar 2, 2015, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said the company will announce Google-branded wireless service at some point in the coming months. The comments were made by Google's Sundar Pichai, who was speaking at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Pichai says Google hopes to use the service to highlight newer technologies, not compete with incumbent companies. Google will work with wireless carrier partners to offer the service, rather than create a network of its own. Various reports have suggested that Google is prepared to partner with Sprint and T-Mobile, but Google still hasn't confirmed any details.

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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.


Google to Kill Windows Phone Softcard App

Feb 25, 2015, 1:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard today indicated that the Windows Phone version of the Softcard mobile payment application will be discontinued. "The Softcard for Windows Phone app will be terminated. A specific termination date will be provided soon," said Softcard in a statement on a new FAQ web site published today. Softcard was developed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Supported devices, including a handful of Windows Phones sold by AT&T and Verizon, can use Softcard to make tap-and-go mobile payments at participating retailers. Google purchased Softcard's assets from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon earlier this week to bolster its own Google Wallet application. The three carriers have agreed to preload Google Wallet on their Android handsets moving forward. Wallet competed with Softcard. Softcard didn't indicate how soon the Windows Phone app will be deactivated. Without it, Windows Phone handsets won't have the same mobile payment options available to Android and iOS devices.


Global Rollout of LG G Flex 2 Underway

Feb 25, 2015, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the global launch of the G Flex 2, its second-generation curved handset. LG said major carriers in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, and the U.K are rolling the device out first. Sprint has already said when it will sell the phone, though AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have remained mum on their G Flex 2 plans. LG said a second wave of operators in North and South America, Europe, and Asia will begin selling the G Flex 2 later in March. LG first revealed the G Flex 2 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The G Flex 2 is a curved smartphone that is flexible and has a self-healing rear cover. The phone features a Snapdragon 810 processor, 13-megapixel camera, 5.5-inch screen, and 3,000mAh battery.


Ting Delivers On Promise to Add GSM Support

Feb 24, 2015, 7:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Ting, an MVNO that until today only resold access to Sprint's network, has added service from an unnamed GSM network. Anyone may sign up for the service, which Ting is offering as a beta. It requires users to purchase a Ting SIM card to be used with an unlocked, compatible GSM handset. Ting said international roaming and international long distance is unavailable for the moment. Ting's beta service for GSM devices does not require an invitation, it is open to all. Ting offers a la carte service and only charges for what people use. Prices start at $15 per month for 100 minutes, 100 messages, and 100MB of data. Ting did not say which GSM network it is riding on, but the coverage map suggests it is using T-Mobile.


Google Strikes Wallet Deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon

Feb 23, 2015, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have agreed to preload Google Wallet on their Android smartphones later this year. The mobile wallet will come on all devices running Android 4.4 KitKat and higher. At the same time, Google is purchasing intellectual property from Softcard -- the mobile payment service created by the same three carriers -- to help improve Wallet's performance. Softcard said its users will be able to continue to make tap-and-go payments at supporting retailers for the time being. Both Google and Softcard said more information will be made available in the coming weeks. Google is looking to revive its mobile wallet product after seeing Apple's success with Apple Pay, which is only available to the iPhone. Google Wallet has been around since 2011.


T-Mobile Teases Samsung's Galaxy S6

Feb 22, 2015, 10:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CEO John Legere today teased the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 smart phone in a post to his personal Twitter account. Legere said, "Was there even a question? Of course T-Mobile will carry The Next Big Thing." Legere supplied a link to T-Mobile's web site, which has a sign up page for an unnamed Samsung device with the phrase "Six Appeal" emblazoned across the top. The silhouette on the page shows a phone with a curved display, much like the Galaxy Note Edge. Samsung is expected to reveal the Galaxy S6 in Barcelona on March 1.


Gemalto to Investigate SIM Card Hacking Claims

Feb 20, 2015, 9:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Gemalto found itself at the center of a new hacking scandal this week after The Intercept reported the SIM card maker was compromised by the NSA and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Intercept claims the U.S. and British spy agencies stole the encryption keys for SIM cards so they would be able to secretly monitor cell phone users around the world. With the keys in hand, the agencies could snoop around completely undetected by the targets or the network operators, and could do so without warrants. SIM cards are used in most mobile phones to identify the customer and allow the device to access the network. They are protected by light encryption, but only to prevent fraud -- not hacking. Possessing the encryption keys to the cards allowed the agencies to bypass the built-in security measures completely. In order to do this, the agencies monitored Gemalto employees and eventually broke into Gemalto's computer systems. The hacks took place in 2010, and Gemalto was completely unaware of the breech until contacted by The Intercept. The company issued a statement today, saying, "Gemalto is especially vigilant against malicious hackers, and has detected, logged and mitigated many types of attempts over the years. At present we cannot prove a link between those past attempts and what was reported yesterday. We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such sophisticated techniques." Gemalto is the world's largest manufacturer of SIM cards and ships about two billion SIM cards per year. The company is headquartered in The Netherlands, but has a large office in Texas and a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all use Gemalto SIM cards in their mobile devices, as do 450 other mobile network operators around the globe. The Intercept's report is based on documents released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.


T-Mobile Shuffles Execs

Feb 19, 2015, 8:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has promoted CMO Mike Sievert to the COO position, according to a document the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sievert served as the CMO under CEO John Legere since November 2012 and helped develop the company's Uncarrier strategy. Sievert will be in charge of all customer-facing operations, such as sales, marketing, and customer service. Tom Keys, COO of T-Mobile's MetroPCS business, is now president of T-Mobile's indirect channels. These changes are effective Feb. 13. COO of T-Mobile Business, Jim Ailing, plans to leave the company March 13. CEO John Legere said via his Twitter account, "Some changes at T-Moble HQ. Have to change it up when you have great talent and an uncarrier revolution to run."


T-Mobile Urges Consumer Action Against 'Twin Bells'

Feb 18, 2015, 4:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CEO John Legere today asked consumers to help guide the FCC's rule-making process for the upcoming 600MHz reverse auction. Legere hopes consumers will write to the FCC and ask the agency to create rules that will lead to more competition. Legere pointed to the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction, which he called "a disaster for American wireless consumers," as proof of the need for action. AT&T and Verizon Wireless, or the "Twin Bells" according to Legere, won the bulk of the AWS-3 spectrum auctioned off by the FCC. Legere says this can't happen with the 600MHz auction, which is for valuable low-band spectrum. "Three companies alone spent an insane $42 billion between them, grabbing a ridiculous 94% of the spectrum sold at [the AWS-3] auction," argued Legere. "This whole thing should scare the hell out of you and every other wireless consumer in the U.S., because there is another important auction coming next year, and the results have to be different if wireless competition is going survive." Legere wants the FCC to reserve 40MHz or at least half the available spectrum for companies other than AT&T and Verizon. Further, he wants the government to mandate that auction winners use the spectrum to provide mobile service rather than allow it "to be collected and traded like financial securities." Legere has always been outspoken about his feelings for T-Mobile's competitors. Today's appeal to the public for support is more direct that his previous efforts.


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