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printed December 17, 2014
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FCC to Smack Sprint with $105M Cramming Fine

Yesterday, 4:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC is prepared to hit Sprint with a massive fine over alleged cramming practices, according to the Wall Street Journal. The FCC says Sprint played a "willful" role in charging customers for text message alerts, horoscopes, sports scores, ring tones, and other unwanted services. The FCC said Sprint was hit with 35,000 complaints over cramming charges during a three-month window in the middle of 2013. The FCC hasn't finalized the fine against Sprint, but three of the five commissioners are prepared to vote in favor of the penalty. AT&T settled with the FCC for a similar amount over cramming earlier this year, and the FTC is suing T-Mobile for the same practice.


T-Mobile Starts Deploying LTE On Its 700MHz Spectrum

Yesterday, 10:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 11:52 AM

T-Mobile today offered some details about its LTE network. To start, it has expanded its LTE service footprint to cover 260 million POPs -- an increase of 10 million POPs over the last two months. T-Mobile also said it has begun deploying LTE on its 700MHz spectrum holdings. T-Mobile customers in several markets, including Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., can access LTE on 700MHz with properly equipped devices. The 700MHz coverage joins T-Mobile's AWS coverage, and provides better in-building coverage and capacity. T-Mobile says its 700MHz spectrum covers 190 million POPs around the country. T-Mobile didn't say how long it will take to light up LTE covering those 190 million POPs. Further, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said it will replace all its GSM/EDGE coverage with LTE across its AWS and PCS spectrum where it remains. T-Mobile aims to complete replacing GSM/EDGE with LTE by next year.


T-Mobile Intros Rollover Data, Called Data Stash

Yesterday, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced Data Stash, a way for customers to retain unused data from month-to-month. Rather than allow unused data to expire, T-Mobile will let customers keep access to that data for up to a year. For example, customers who have a plan with 5GB of data access per month, but only use 3GB, will see the unused 2GB added to their monthly allotment for the following month for a total of 7GB. Further, to kickstart the whole service, T-Mobile is putting 10GB of data in each customer's "data bank." T-Mobile is requiring a minimum level of service in order to qualify for Data Stash. Data Stash will be available for free to T-Mobile customers with a postpaid Simple Choice plan who have purchased at least 3GB of phone data or 1GB of tablet data per month. T-Mobile said there's no limit to how much data users can collect and store in Data Stash. The company said "you won’t lose data you don't use."


More Banks and Retailers Sign Up to Support Apple Pay

Yesterday, 10:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple Pay has garnered more support from banks and retailers around the country, according to the New York Times. SunTrust, Barclaycard, and USAA have already agreed to support Apple Pay with their cards, and 10 more banks, including TD Bank North America and Commerce Bank, are adding support for Apple Pay beginning today. With the new financial institutions on board, a significantly larger percentage of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can use Apple Pay to make mobile payments at participating retailers. More retailers are interested in Apple Pay, too. Staples will begin accepting Apple Pay at its 1,400 stores beginning today, and Amway Center, where the Orlando Magic basketball team plays, will begin accepting Apple Pay at concessions stands during games. Apple Pay uses an NFC radio embedded in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to power tap-and-go payments at more than 220,000 retail outlets around the U.S. iPhone owners use their fingerprint to approve purchases, which are secured thanks to unique codes assigned to each transaction. Apple Pay launched Oct. 20. Competing services, such as Softcard, are available to select Android and Windows Phones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


T-Mobile Offers Progress Report On Wideband LTE Rollout

Monday, 8:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Monday, 2:12 PM

T-Mobile today said it has expanded the availability of Wideband LTE service to a total of 26 major U.S. cities and 120 small metro areas. The newest additions include all of New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey. T-Mobile said central New Jersey and Westchester County, N.Y., will have Wideband LTE coverage very soon. According to T-Mobile, NYC customers are reporting peak download speeds of 100Mbps with average download speeds hovering around 22Mbps. "Wideband LTE" specifically refers to 15x2 or 20x2MHz LTE over T-Mobile's AWS or PCS spectrum, depending on the market in question.


Cricket Fishing for Prepaid Customers with $100 Lure

Dec 12, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will convince customers of Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile to hop on over to Cricket. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket's service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options. Cricket offered a similar promotion over the summer months, but only targeted Sprint and T-Mobile. The current promotion runs through Dec. 31.


Ting to Add GSM Support Next Year

Dec 9, 2014, 6:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Ting, an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, today said it plans to expand its service next year by adding support for GSM devices. Beginning in February, anyone with an unlocked GSM handset will be able to sign up for Ting service. Ting said customers will be able to have both CDMA and GSM handsets active on the same account, even though the phones are running on two different networks. Ting did not name its GSM network partner, but based on the coverage map it is likely T-Mobile.


T-Mobile Brings Back $100 Unlimited Family Plan

Dec 9, 2014, 3:56 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 9, 2014, 4:08 PM

T-Mobile today brought back several promotions that promise easier-to-manage data plans for families. Beginning Dec. 10, customers can get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data for $100 per month for two lines. A family of four can share unlimited everything for $180 per month ($40 more per line). This promotion will be available for a limited time, but once signed up customers can keep it indefinitely. T-Mobile said it is also offering its 10GB of shared data for four lines (2.5GB per line, plus unlimited voice and messaging) for $100 month plan. This second promotional plan offers the extra data allotment until January 2016, after which the 10GB monthly data plan for four lines will drop to 4GB per month.


T-Mobile and Verizon Agree to Another Spectrum Swap

Dec 9, 2014, 3:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have petitioned the FCC for permission to swap AWS and PCS spectrum licenses in 92 counties and/or 41 Cellular Market Areas around the country. The companies propose to switch spectrum licenses, but not cellular assets or customers. If approved, the change would not increase the total spectrum holdings of either company, but "would allow each to hold larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or align spectrum blocks with those already held in adjacent markets." T-Mobile and Verizon claim the swap would allow each to add capacity and improve data speeds in the counties and markets involved. According to T-Mobile and Verizon, T-Mobile would hold 30 to 102MHz of spectrum in total, and Verizon Wireless would hold 52 to 127MHz of spectrum in total once the transaction is completed. The FCC has accepted the preliminary applications and is now seeking comments on the proposition.


T-Mobile Seeking Funds, Will Sell Stock

Dec 8, 2014, 5:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it intends to raise capital by selling up to 17.4 million shares in stock. T-Mobile said it will use the proceeds from the sale for "general corporate purposes, including capital investments and acquisition of additional spectrum." T-Mobile said the money won't be used for the AWS-3 spectrum auction, which is taking place right now. T-Mobile didn't say how much cash it hopes to raise.


FCC Changes AWS-3 Auction Pace As Total Surpasses $40B

Dec 4, 2014, 2:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today altered how it is conducting the auction for AWS-3 spectrum as fewer bids arrive for each round. Before today, the FCC offered four one-hour bidding windows per day. Moving forward, the FCC is offering six 30-minute bidding windows, giving bidders less time to react to each round. Total bids for the auction now exceed $40 billion. The auction, which began Nov. 13, had an initial reserve of $10.56 billion. With the number of new bids slowing down, it is possible the auction could end soon. AT&T, Dish Networks, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and dozens of other entities are participating in the bidding.


Sprint Says Network Vision Is Basically Done

Dec 3, 2014, 11:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint recently indicated that its years-long Network Vision project is coming to a close. Sprint's 1900MHz LTE network covers 260 million POPs, according to Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer, who made the comments at a Bank of America investor conference this week. Sprint's 2.5GHz LTE network covers 92 million POPs and its 800MHz LTE network will cover 100 million POPs by the end if the year. "I think from a network standpoint we have been waiting to get to this point of having a network that is substantially complete," said Euteneuer. Sprint said it will continue to add coverage in the 1900MHz band as its obtains more spectrum. All Sprint smartphones support tri-band LTE, which Sprint markets as Sprint Spark. Spark-compatible handsets are able to use whichever of the three spectrum bands (800MHz, 1900MHz, 2.5GHz) offers the strongest coverage in areas where all three bands are available. Sprint had previously said Sprint Spark would be available to 100 million people by the close of 2014, and it now appears that goal depends on deploying LTE to its 800MHz spectrum. All the major carriers are supplementing their LTE networks with additional capacity in other spectrum bands. For example, Verizon operates LTE in the 700MHz and AWS bands. AT&T and Verizon cover about 300 million POPs each with LTE. T-Mobile covers about 250 million. Sprint's Euteneuer also noted that Sprint will push an over-the-air update to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the next two to three months to enable Wi-Fi calling.


T-Mobile to Scoop Up Spectrum from nTelos

Dec 2, 2014, 11:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

nTelos has decided to wind down its operations in the eastern half of Virginia and sell its spectrum assets there to T-Mobile. nTelos said it will keep its operations in western Virginia and West Virginia up and running, as it has a stronger retail presence in those areas. T-Mobile has agreed to pay $56 million for nTelos' 1900MHz spectrum. nTelos expects to complete the spectrum sale by April 2015, but will lease back its spectrum thereafter so it can provide service to existing customers through November 2015. After that point, it will be T-Mobile's to do with as it pleases. The FCC will need to approve the spectrum sale.


Sprint to Woo AT&T and Verizon Customers with Halved Rates

Dec 2, 2014, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 2, 2014, 10:15 AM

Sprint plans to go after AT&T and Verizon customers with an aggressive and enticing campaign. Beginning Friday, Sprint will offer rate plans to AT&T and Verizon customers that are half what they're already paying. For example, an AT&T customer who pays $300 per month will be offered a comparable Sprint plan that costs only $150 per month. The offer only extends to the service costs, including minutes, messaging, and data. It does not include subsidies for device payments. Sprint will waive activation fees and pay up to $350 to cover the ETFs of those who switch, though the new customers will need to turn in their old devices. In order to score the half-price plan, new Sprint customers will need to buy a device from Sprint at full retail price or finance it through Sprint Easy Pay. They'll also have to provide a copy of their most recent wireless bill for verification of the monthly cost. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure hinted via Twitter that the company intends to "launch one of our most exciting promotions ever, especially designed for Verizon and att customers who love to save money." The promotion does not apply to T-Mobile or current Sprint customers.


Sony to Reign In and Reduce Its Smartphone Business

Nov 25, 2014, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.


T-Mobile Agrees to Show Customers Real Speed Test Data

Nov 24, 2014, 3:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 24, 2014, 4:50 PM

T-Mobile today agreed to offer customers a more accurate reading of their data speeds throughout each billng cycle. Earlier this year, T-Mobile exempted certain speed tests from counting against customers' data limits. In other words, customers aren't charged for running most speed tests. As part of its usage policy, T-Mobile throttles the speeds of customers who exceed their monthly data allotment (often down to 128Kbps). The problem, according to the FCC, is that speed test data (even that taken after customers were throttled) most often reflected the absolute speeds available from the network, not the real-world speeds available to individual customers based on their billing status. As a result, customers who had been throttled would obtain speed test results that far exceeded their actual available speeds, which led to confusion. Moving forward, customers who've had their speeds reduced for ovestepping their data will see an accurate reflection of the speeds available to them. Further, T-Mobile agreed to notify customers via SMS when they've reached their data limit, as well as supply customers with a link to provide accurate speed tests. T-Mobile also agreed to make these policies easier to understand on its web site. T-Mobile said it will enact these policies within 60 days.


T-Mobile Doubles Supported Music Unlimited Services

Nov 24, 2014, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile's Music Unlimited service today doubled the number of music streaming apps available, jumping from 13 to 27 in total. The new services include Google Play Music, Xbox Music, SoundCloud, RadioTunes, Digitally Imported, Fit Radio, Fresco Radio, Jazzradio, Live365, Mad Genius Radio, radioPup, radio.com, Rockradio, and Saavn. With Music Unlimited, T-Mobile customers can stream an unlimited amount of music over their data connection without it counting against their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile claims its customers are streaming 66 million songs -- or 200 terabytes of music -- per day. Music Unlimited already supports Rhapsody, Pandora, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Samsung Milk Music, Radio Paradise, Rdio, Slacker, Songza, and Spotify. T-Mobile does not charge extra for Music Unlimited.


Motorola Intros Fob for Finding Lost Keys or Phones

Nov 19, 2014, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today announced the Keylink, a Bluetooth device meant to help the absent minded find their missing keys or phone. The Keylink can be attached to a key ring and is paired with devices via Motorola's Connect application. Once set up, your keys and phone will be able to find one another should either go missing. For lost phones, Keylink owners need only press a button to make their phone ring. Similarly, for lost keys Keylink owners need only open the Connect app to make the Keylink ring. According to Motorola, the Keylink has a range of about 100 feet, and the replaceable battery lasts about a year. The Motorola Connect app is free to both Android and iOS devices. The Keylink is available from Motorola and T-Mobile beginning today for $25.


T-Mobile Improves International Calling Plans

Nov 19, 2014, 9:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made it less expensive for customers to make calls from the U.S. to select countries abroad. T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk plan allows Simple Choice subscribers to make unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries for $5 per account (not per line). Alternately, $10 per month buys unlimited calling to mobile phones in more than 30 countries and 1,000 minutes to mobile phones in Mexico, which is in addition to the unlimited landline calling. The promotional pricing is available starting today and runs through the end of the year.


FCC Says AWS-3 Bidding Reaches $12 Billion

Nov 18, 2014, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel today said the government has received bids totaling $12 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses. The auction kicked off November 13 with a reserve price of $10.6 billion. Today's revelation means the government has already exceeded its minimum for the auction. At stake are more than 1,600 licenses around the country covering 65MHz of AWS-3 spectrum. The FCC didn't say how long it expects the bidding to continue. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among 70 entities approved to participate in the auction.


Wireless Carriers Set Indoor 911 Location Framework

Nov 17, 2014, 9:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The CTIA Wireless Association recently announced that its largest members have agreed to a preliminary timeframe for improving the accuracy of 911 calls made from indoors. In February, the FCC demanded that wireless network operators increase 911 location data accuracy to cover larger buildings. It wants network operators to provide X, Y, and Z coordinates to help place callers as accurately as a specific room inside a building. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have decided how they will approach the FCC's demands, and when they plan to meet select milestones. For example, they will verify technologies and vendor performance for indoor and outdoor technologies in a test bed in order to make sure gear sold by different companies all provide the same results. They will speed up the ability to provide dispatchable locations (street address plus floor, suite, or apartment) using indoor technologies, as well as create a database of each handset's performance in this regard. They will also improve all location technologies and tune them for better indoor and outdoor location fixes. The CTIA members said they will provide dispatchable locations for 40% of all wireless 911 calls within two years and 50% within three years. They will also provide dispatchable locations for 75% of all VoLTE calls within five years and 80% within six years. The FCC hasn't responded publicly to the CTIA's suggested framework.


Opening Round of AWS-3 Auction Nets $1.77B in Bids

Nov 13, 2014, 2:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Wireless and other companies began bidding on AWS-3 spectrum licenses today, which are being auctioned off by the FCC. The initial round of bidding totaled about $1.77 billion for 1,012 of the 1,614 available licenses. The FCC's reserve price for the entire auction is $10.56 billion. Major network operators such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as are other entities such as Dish Networks. Seventy total groups were approved to participate in the auction. Spectrum blocks in New York City and Los Angeles received the most attention today, with one J Block license in NYC scoring a high bid of $88 million. Bidding is expected to continue for several weeks at least. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands.


United's MileagePlus Cards Now Support Softcard

Nov 12, 2014, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

United Airlines today announced that owners of its MileagePlus credit cards can now add them to their Softcard account and make mobile payments. The cards are backed by Chase bank, which is one of the handful of financial institutions supporting Softcard. In order to entice cardholders to sign up, United is offering 2,500 miles to customers who activate their MileagePlus card on Softcard by February 28, 2015. Further, United will add 500 more miles every month (up to total of 4,000 miles) to the MileagePlus accounts of cardholders who use Softcard at least once per month for mobile purchases. Softcard is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless and is compatible with many Android smartphones and select Windows Phones.


T-Mobile Pushing Nexus 6 Launch to November 19

Nov 11, 2014, 5:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it is delaying its launch of the Motorola Nexus 6 to November 19 "to give customers the best experience possible." The company was originally expected to release the device November 12.


HTC's One for Windows Reaches T-Mobile

Nov 10, 2014, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has begun selling the HTC One (M8) for Windows smartphone on its web site. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down with monthly payments of $24.40, or for $585.60 at full retail. The phone recently reached AT&T and it is already sold by Verizon.


Verizon Selling Samsung Gear S Today for $349

Nov 7, 2014, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today revealed pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The device is available starting today. Verizon is charging $349 for the smartwatch with a new activation. Service plans for the device, which include voice minutes and limited data, start at $5 per month when paired with a More Everything plan. The Gear S runs Samsung's Tizen platform and is capable of making voice calls independent of a smartphone. AT&T and Sprint are also selling the Gear S beginning today, and T-Mobile will begin selling it November 9. Verizon's competitors are offering the watch at reduced pricing with a service contract as well as via monthly installment plans.


Nexus 6 Now Available Directly from Motorola

Nov 6, 2014, 1:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola recently began accepting preorders for the Nexus 6 on its U.S. web site. Both the white and blue models are available in 32GB and 64GB variants for $649 and $699, respectively. Motorola is selling the unlocked GSM model at the moment. Google is also selling the Nexus 6, though its supply is currently exhausted. The Nexus 6 will be made available from wireless network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, later this month. Shipping times have yet to be announced.


Sprint Weighing a Change to Phone Subsidies

Nov 4, 2014, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company may scrap phone subsidies at some point down the road. Speaking to investors, Claure noted that its installment and leasing programs are beginning to gather steam, which make the possibility of change much simpler. Historically, wireless network operators have subsidized the cost of handsets that are sold with contracts. Customers agree to a one- or two-year term in exchange for a reduced sale price for whatever device they choose. The carrier recoups the remaining cost of the handset over the term of the contract. T-Mobile upended this arrangement with its Simple Choice plans, which scrap the subsidy in favor of monthly device payments. Claure said if Sprint chooses to follow this path, it won't be until next year.


Windows Phone Owners Can Now Use Softcard

Nov 4, 2014, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard recently expanded to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. Softcard, formerly Isis, is a mobile payment service backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Windows Phone owners can associate a credit card from select financial institutions with Softcard on their phone and use it for mobile payments. According to Softcard, its app is accepted at more than 200,000 retail locations around the U.S. Softcard is free to download from the Windows Phone Store, but it requires a secure SIM card from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless in order to function properly.


Verizon, AT&T Working On Intercarrier VoLTE

Nov 3, 2014, 1:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless and AT&T today said the companies are working together to make interoperable VoLTE calls a reality. Both carriers offer VoLTE to their subscribers, but those calls can only pass between two VoLTE-enabled devices covered by an LTE network run by the same carrier. In other words, Verizon customers can only call Verizon customers via VolTE and AT&T customers can only call AT&T customers. Engineers from both companies are working to create a set of requirements needed and then plan to move to field trials before a full deployment. Once VoLTE calls are interoperable between the two carriers, they'll work on other services, such as video calls and rich messaging. The two said customers can expect to see VoLTE interoperability for voice calls between Verizon and AT&T in 2015. T-Mobile also offers VoLTE to its customers, but it appears as though the Uncarrier has been left out of this partnership for now.


US Carriers Agree to Sell Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Nov 3, 2014, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced that the five largest wireless network operators in the U.S. will sell the Galaxy Note Edge beginning this month. The Note Edge is a variant of the Note 4 that has a unique, curved display that provides extra screen space for controls and shortcuts. Samsung said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular will carry the Galaxy Note Edge in both black and white. The Note Edge goes on sale November 14. Carriers have yet to reveal their individual pricing plans.


FCC Approves 70 Bidders for AWS-3 Auction

Oct 30, 2014, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today published a list of entities approved to bid in the upcoming auction for AWS-3 spectrum. A total of 70 companies qualified to participate in the auction, which begins November 13. All applicants have been automatically registered for the auction and will receive additional materials in the days to come. The FCC will hold a mock trial on November 10 so participants can familiarize themselves with the bidding process. The FCC encourages all bidders to join the mock auction. Some of the companies approved to bid include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and a large number of smaller companies, partnerships, and entities. Sprint is not participating. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.


Samsung Gear S Goes On Sale Nov. 7

Oct 30, 2014, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and its carrier partners announced availability and pricing details for the Gear S smartwatch today. AT&T and Sprint will offer the device starting November 7, but T-Mobile won't sell it until November 9. Pricing for the wearable varies by carrier. The full retail price is $350. AT&T is offering it for $200 with a two-year contract and $10 monthly service charge. Sprint says customers can get the Gear S with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $16. Sprint's Gear S plan also costs $10 per month. T-Mobile is selling the Gear S for $0 down followed by payments of $14.58 for 24 months. T-Mobile's Gear S service plan costs $5 per month. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and service plan details. The Gear S requires a service plan because it can access 3G networks and make voice calls independent of a smartphone. The Gear S is based on Samsung's Tizen platform and features a 2-inch, curved Super AMOLED display with 360 x 480 pixels. In addition to 3G, the Gear S includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Samsung says it can transition between cellular and Bluetooth connections seamlessly. It includes Samsung's S Voice service for voice commands, and has an on-screen keyboard for composing messages. Other features include Samsung's S Health and fitness apps, music player and gallery apps, and the ability to receive notifications from a variety of services. The Gear S is powered by a dual-core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. It has a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims provides for two days of usage per charge.


Softcard Now Buys a Big Mac with Cheese

Oct 28, 2014, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard announced that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald's locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald's restaurants. Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard (formerly Isis) competes with Apple Pay.


T-Mobile to Explore Settlement with FTC Over Cramming

Oct 22, 2014, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has signaled to the Federal Trade Commission it is interested in reaching a settlement regarding accusations it unfairly profited from bogus charges foisted onto customers' bills. The FTC sued T-Mobile over its cramming practices, despite T-Mobile's attempts to preempt such legal action by banning premium content and offering refunds to customers. The company vehemently denied the FTC's accusations at first, but has since altered its stance. T-Mobile and the FTC have asked the lawsuit to be put on hold for a 90-day period while they discuss possible settlement terms. "Our top priority is doing what's right for our customers," said a T-Mobile spokesperson in a statement. "T-Mobile and the FTC jointly filed for a continuance as a matter of ordinary course. We are actively processing refunds through our proactive refund program." AT&T recently settled with the FTC over similar charges for a total of $105 million.


T-Mobile Pushing Eye Experience to HTC One (M8)

Oct 21, 2014, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made a system update available to the HTC One (M8) that adds the Eye Experience software. The Eye Experience includes new camera features, such as split camera, crop me in, and improved face tracking. These features are central to the Desire Eye handset, which has an 8-megapixel user-facing camera. The Desire Eye is not yet for sale, but T-mobile's HTC One customers can enjoy the camera tools today after installing the update.


Transit Wireless to Start Phase 3 of NYC Subway Project

Oct 16, 2014, 2:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 2:51 PM

Transit Wireless and the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority today said more New York City residents will gain access to cellular service when using the subway. To start, Transit Wireless has completed Phase 2 of the project, which means 11 new stations in Manhattan and 29 stations in Queens are now connected with cellular and Wi-Fi service. Phase 3 will add service to Flushing Main Street Station in Queens, as well as stations in Lower Manhattan, West Harlem, and Washington Heights throughout 2015. Transit Wireless' project has seven phases in total, which will eventually bring connectivity to all 277 subway stations in New York by 2017. Wireless service is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


Apple Debuts New Multi-Carrier SIM Card in iPad Air 2

Oct 16, 2014, 2:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 16, 2014, 2:35 PM

Apple today revealed the iPad Air 2, and along with it a new way to handle SIM cards. According to Apple, the new Apple SIM gives iPad Air 2 owners unprecedented flexibility when it comes to choosing an LTE service provider. "Whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you -- with no long-term commitment," explained Apple. "And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip." The multi-carrier SIM is compatible with AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S., as well as EE in the U.K. The iPad Air 2 supports 20 different LTE bands, similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The carriers named by Apple have not yet discussed the particulars regarding no-contract data plans. There's no word on why Verizon Wireless isn't included in the list of U.S. carriers. It's possible that the Apple SIM will find its way to future Apple products, including its iPhones.


Google Shows Off Nexus 6 Smartphone, Nexus 9 Tablet

Oct 15, 2014, 11:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 15, 2014, 11:28 AM

Google today announced Android 5.0 Lollipop and with it the first few devices to run the new operating system, the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The Nexus 6 is a large-screened smartphone made by Motorola. It has an aluminum frame and a 6-inch quad HD display with a 13-megapixel main camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization and HDR+ for improved low-light shots. The device has stereo-speakers with high-fidelity sound and comes with a turbo charger for fast charging. Google claims the device can get up to six hours of battery time after plugging it in for just 15 minutes. The Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November. Google will sell an unlocked version through the Play Store, and the Nexus 6 will also be sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. The device costs $649 at full retail, which is $200 more than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 9 tablet is made by HTC and features an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen with a brushed aluminum design. It is run by a dual-core Tegra K1 64-bit processor with each core clocked at 2.3GHz. Other features include an 8.0-/1.6-megapixel camera configuration; BoomSound speakers; dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and LTE; and a 6,700mAh battery. The Nexus 9 will be available for pre-order on October 17 and in stores starting November 3. The Wi-Fi model starts at $399.


MetroPCS Selling Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2

Oct 15, 2014, 6:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

MetroPCS has added the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2 to its roster of Android smartphones. The device, which is already being sold by Metro parent T-Mobile, costs $50 after a $100 discount. MetroPCS doesn't require contracts.


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