"T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere about the company's 600 MHz auction winnings. The company successfully won an average of 31 MHz (ranging between 20 MHz and 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC. The winnings give T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. "That is a [big freaking deal] for our customers. This spectrum sets us up to bring the Un-carrier — and real competition — to wireless customers everywhere," noted Legere. Further, T-Mobile claims it will put some of the new spectrum (at least 10 MHz) to use later this year. T-Mobile began preparing for the 600 MHz spectrum in 2016, and it already has compatible equipment from Ericsson and Nokia on deck. T-Mobile expects devices with select chipsets from Qualcomm will support the 600 MHz spectrum before the end of 2017. "Our team has a history of deploying network technologies at record-breaking pace — including the fastest recorded LTE deployment in US history," remarked T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "We're ready to break records again on 600 MHz." T-Mobile didn't specify which markets might first see access to 600 MHz services, nor did it say what handsets might support the new wireless broadband spectrum.
The FCC today marked the official end of the incentive auction for 600 MHz airwaves. The agency said 50 wireless companies bid a cumulative $19.8 billion on some 70 MHz of spectrum that was put on offer by 175 television stations. In total, the FCC sold some 2,776 licensed spectrum blocks. An additional 14 MHz has been reserved for unlicensed use. The low-band spectrum is seen as ideal for wireless broadband due to its strong propagation properties. T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast, and U.S. Cellular are among the biggest winners, according to the FCC. T-Mobile said it won 45% of all low-band spectrum sold, covering 100% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The company claims it scored 31 MHz of nationwide spectrum, a fourfold increase in its low-band holdings. The FCC will now embark on a 39-month odyssey that will see the owners of the spectrum give it up so it can be repurposed for wireless broadband. Some of the TV station owners have agreed to move to lower channels, while others will give up their licenses and remain on the air through spectrum sharing. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, "The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves. Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace." The auction was put in motion back in 2012, though bidding didn't begin until March 2016. The FCC says the auction will lay the groundwork for 5G services.
ZTE today announced the Quartz, the company's first Android Wear smartwatch. The Quartz offers core tools for a modern wearable, including Android Wear 2.0, LTE connectivity for standalone calls and messaging, and an IP67 rating for protection against liquids and dirt. The watch features a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 and it is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform. It includes a 500mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi. The Quartz also offers interchangeable wrist bands. The ZTE Quartz costs $199 and is compatible with T-Mobile's network. It will be available on TMobile.com beginning Friday, April 14 and in select T-Mobile stores beginning Friday, April 21.
T-Mobile today improved the appeal of its SyncUp Drive product by adding access to Allstate Motor Club. T-Mobile is updating the mobile app that accompanies its in-car diagnostics and mobile hotspot tool to include free roadside assistance. Customers who have the SyncUp Drive will need to accept the new terms of service and enroll themselves in the Allstate Motor Club through the mobile app. Once signed up, stranded drivers will be able to summon help with tire changes, tows, fuel delivery, lockouts, or jumps. In addition to roadside assistance, SyncUp Drive also offers vehicle diagnostics, speed alerts, location tracking, driver analysis, and an in-vehicle hotspot. The module costs $150, though T-Mobile is offering it for $2 per month when financed over 24 months ($48 in total). The new SyncUp Drive app is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.
Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.
- AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
- T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
- Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
- Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
Samsung and Qualcomm today said the Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be the first handsets to ship with Gigabit LTE capabilities. The high-speed data connection is possible thanks in part to the Snapdragon 835 processor and accompanying X16 LTE modem. Together with Qualcomm's TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning technology, 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM, the S8 and S8+ will feature the fastest-possible cellular data speeds. AT&T and T-Mobile said the S8 will be able to take advantage of these higher speeds on their pre-5G networks later this year. Sprint, also indicated that its variant of the phone will support HPUE for better 2.5 GHz LTE performance.
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 has again partnered with MLB and is providing customers with access to a free year of MLB.TV Premium, which includes MLB.com At Bat Premium. T-Mobile customers can stream every out-of-market regular season game to their Apple or Google smartphone and tablet via the MLB.TV app. At Bat Premium is a mobile sports app for watching home and away broadcasts, and it also includes player stats, highlights, and other information. T-Mobile One customers don't need to worry about streaming on their plan thanks to unlimited data. T-Mobile says games will be streamed in standard definition by default, but can be viewed in HD if customers wish. The free year-long subscription will available for just 24 hours on April 4. T-Mobile customers will need to redeem the free subscription via the T-Mobile Tuesdays application and then sign up for MLB.TV Premium no later than April 11. T-Mobile made a similar offering to customers last year.
T-Mobile today improved its monthly insurance program by offering AppleCare at no additional cost. Customers who subscribe to T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection and Jump! with Premium Device Protection insurance plans will have access to T-Mobile's insurance benefits as well as those offered by AppleCare. T-Mobile's plans cover loss, theft, accidental damage, hardware coverage, and security. AppleCare is available for the newest iPhones and iPads, including the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and iPad 9.7. AppleCare includes 24/7 technical support from Apple and low fees for certain repairs at Apple Stores and certified Apple repair facilities. For example, screen replacement deductibles cost just $29, while battery replacement service is free. T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection and Jump! with Premium Device Protection insurance plans cost $12 per month.
Amazon recently added the Alcatel A30 to its roster of Prime Exclusives. This entry-level Android handset includes a 5-inch HD screen and a 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with time-lapse recording while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Alcatel says the phone's 2,460mAh battery provides all-day life. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat and is sold in both CDMA and GSM variants, with LTE for AT&T and T-Mobile. Amazon is selling the phone for $60 with lock screen ads or for $100 without ads. It goes on sale April 19.
T-Mobile today said it is rolling out new network-based tools to help identify and block potential scam calls. Beginning on April 5, T-Mobile will begin to analyze every call that reaches the T-Mobile network against a global database of known scammers. T-Mobile claims it can perform this analysis in a matter of milliseconds. If the number matches that of a scammer, T-Mobile will identify the call as a potential scam when it rings the subscriber's phone. Subscribers can then choose to ignore the call. This feature, which will eventually be available to all T-Mobile customers, is called Scam ID. It is being rolled out to T-Mobile One subscribers automatically, but any T-Mobile postpaid customers can enroll by texting T-Mobile. T-Mobile is also offering the ability for customers to block scam calls entirely. Subscribing to the Scam Block tool will prevent suspected scam calls from ringing T-Mobile phones. T-Mobile says its database of known and suspected scammers is updated constantly and can prevent IRS, medicaid, and other fraudulent calls from reaching customers. Both Scam ID and Scam Block are free. T-Mobile says it will offer these tools to its MetroPCS prepaid customers later in April.
T-Mobile recently rolled out its own variant of the LG K20 and the phone has somewhat better specifications when compared to the Verizon variant of the same handset. The T-Mobile K20 includes the same 5.3-inch 720p display and 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, but improves RAM to 2 GB of RAM and storage to 32 GB. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. It can record video up to 1080p HD. Other features include a 2,700mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The LG K20 Plus is already for sale from T-Mobile for $200. The K20 Plus is also known as the K10 (2017).
T-Mobile today said customers can buy the LG G6 online and in stores beginning April 7. T-Mobile is asking for $26 down and $26 per month for 24 months to cover the phone's $650 retail cost. Further, T-Mobile customers who order the G6 before April 30 will receive a Google Home from LG for free. The Google Home normally costs $129. The LG G6 has a 5.7-inch screen with an 18:9, or 2:1, aspect ratio. Other features include a Snapdragon 821 processor, dual 13-megapixel cameras, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone is made from metal and glass and is waterproof. It runs Android 7 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant.
Hundreds of hang-up calls hitting Dallas' 911 center are causing backlogs, reports the Wall Street Journal, and T-Mobile handsets are to blame. The issue began last fall and occurs when a T-Mobile customer places a legitimate call to 911. After the call concludes, the T-Mobile handset repeatedly calls the 911 center back and then hangs up. Workers at 911 centers are required to call back hang ups to ensure there's no emergency. The Journal says on March 11, the 911 center was hit with so many hang up calls the 911 workers were forced to place more than 400 incoming calls on hold. The same thing happened March 6, with 360 calls placed on hold. The result led to some Dallas-area 911 callers waiting up to 30 minutes before they were able to speak with emergency dispatch services. T-Mobile and city officials have not been able to resolve the problem, but T-Mobile has sent engineers to Dallas to fix it. "We have all eyes on this," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. Neither the City of Dallas nor T-Mobile believes any sort of internet-based attack to blame.
ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 flagship smartphone. The Axon 7 is one of the first devices other than Google's own Pixel handsets to receive this update. Some of the features added in the system upgrade include support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixes bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. People who own the Axon 7 can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.
T-Mobile will allow customers to use more LTE data before throttling them. Previously, T-Mobile said it would throttle the heaviest users after they surpass 28 GB of mobile data in a single billing period. T-Mobile today improved the threshold to 30 GB, which means people can use more data before potentially being hit with slower browsing speeds. T-Mobile says customers who exceed the 30 GB threshold might see their top speeds dialed back only when the network is congested. T-Mobile anticipates this won't impact too many users. The 30 GB threshold resets each month. T-Mobile calls this practice prioritization and says it is primarily used as a way to manage network load.
T-Mobile today resurrected its offer of a free iPhone 7 to people who switch to the Uncarrier, though there are lots of requirements and caveats to the offer. To start, customers must port their number in from another carrier, sign up for the T-Mobile One plan, and trade in an eligible device to score the free iPhone 7. Moreover, T-Mobile is requiring people to purchase the new iPhone 7 (or 7 Plus) on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will provide instant credit toward the new device based on the value of the trade-on. The devices eligible for trade in are limited to the most recent iPhones (6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus) and Galaxies (S7, S7 edge, S7 Active). T-Mobile will then send a MasterCard gift card in the mail for the balance of the new iPhone 7. That gift card can be applied to the remaining monthly EIP payments on the account, but it doesn't have to be. The offer is only available from March 3 to March 16 in T-Mobile stores.
T-Mobile today said most customers who have a service plan with two or more lines can snag another line for free. T-Mobile says this free line can be used for a phone, tablet, watch, or mobile hotspot. It will match the features of the least-expensive line that's already on the plan. For example, T-Mobile is offering two lines of the T-Mobile One plan for $100. This new deal would allow customers to score the third line of T-Mobile One at no extra charge. T-Mobile says the promotion is available to nearly all T-Mobile One, Simple Choice, and Simple Choice No Credit plans, as long as the account already has two or more lines of service. The free line is being given away in the form of monthly bill credits. Handset payments are not included. Customers who cancel one of their existing lines will lose the bill credits for the free line. Customers will need to subscribe to auto-pay to receive the free line, and it may make one or two payments before the bill credit is applied.
Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.
T-Mobile today said it is beginning to upgrade its 4G network with LTE-U this spring. LTE-U allows LTE to operate on the unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band, which is typically reserved for WiFi. Devices equipped with LTE-U will take advantage of available 5 GHz spectrum when needed to boost speed and capacity. If or when that 5 GHz spectrum experiences an uptick in WiFi use, the LTE-U devices will scale back their presence on the unlicensed spectrum and return to T-Mobile's cellular network for coverage. T-Mobile is relying on equipment from Ericsson and Nokia to make LTE-U a reality. At the same time, the FCC today approved the first devices to operate on LTE-U. The FCC's chief concern is that LTE-U doesn't interfere with the WiFi operation of 5 GHz equipment in the shared spectrum. The LTE-U Forum, WiFi Alliance, and myriad other technology players have helped shape LTE-U over the last few years. T-Mobile expects LTE-U to help it eventually deliver gigabit speeds over its wireless network. T-Mobile didn't say what mobile devices might have access to LTE-U once it goes live.
Verizon Wireless today said it plans to trial 5G technology in 11 U.S. markets later this year. This "pre-commercial service" will be offered to a very limited number of customers and not necessarily made available to consumers. The tests will involve the 5GTF spec Verizon developed past year. The trial markets include Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, Brockton, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Verizon competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are each testing their own variants of potential 5G technologies. The actual 5G spec has yet to be defined by the International Telecommunications Union, but carriers and telecom equipment makers around the world are hoping their technologies will be included in the final standard.
T-Mobile is prepared to improve its T-Mobile One unlimited service plan ($70) in the wake of Verizon's new unlimited plan ($80). Primarily, T-Mobile will give T-Mobile One subscribers access to high-definition video and 10 GB of LTE 4G mobile hotspot data. Previously, streamed video was limited to 480p definition and hotspot data was limited to 3G speeds. Verizon's new plan includes HD video and 10 GB of LTE hotspot data, but cost $10 more than T-Mobile's before taxes and fees. T-Mobile has matched the features of Verizon's plan without increasing its prices. Moreover, T-Mobile is offering these features to two lines for $100, and T-Mobile's plan includes taxes and fees. The news was shared by T-Mobile CEO John Legere via his Twitter account. Some details from still aren't clear; for example, whether "HD" means 720p or 1080p. The changes to T-Mobile's One unlimited plan, available to existing customers ad new customers alike, will go into effect Friday, Feb. 17.
T-Mobile today announced several promotions that customers can take advantage of over the next few weeks. To start, the company is offering a free pizza to customers who use its T-Mobile Tuesdays rewards program. T-Mobile said every line enrolled in T-Mobile Tuesdays can score a free pizza from Papa John's during one of the next four weeks. During the other three weeks, customers will be given a coupon for 25% off a regular menu item at Papa John's. On Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), T-Mobile is also including a free Lyft ride and free movie rental from FandangoNOW. Separately, T-Mobile is bringing back its free tablet offer. Any customer who finances either an LG G Pad X 8.0 or Samsung Tab E on a T-Mobile Equipment Installment Plan is eligible for free monthly reimbursements over a two-year period. In order to get the free tablet, customers will have to put the device on a T-Mobile One or other mobile internet plan with at least 6 GB of high-speed data. T-Mobile said the free table offer is available for a limited time.
T-Mobile today said it will refund the sales tax of smartphone purchases. The limited promotion is available for new devices purchased on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan and associated with either a T-Mobile One or Simple Choice Unlimited 4G LTE service plan. After the sale, customers can fill out a form online and receive a MasterCard gift card for 11.2% of the purchase price of the device, which exceeds the cost of sales tax in most cases. T-Mobile says the sales tax refund promotion can be applied to every phone it sells, and can be used with up to 12 lines. T-Mobile didn't say how long this promo will be available. Earlier this year, T-Mobile rolled the cost of monthly service taxes and fees into its plan pricing in order to simplify billing.
T-Mobile today further sweetened the pie for former AT&T customers by offering a free year of Hulu. The offer is a consolation prize of sorts. In December, AT&T kicked off a promotion wherein it gave AT&T customers a free year of DirecTV Now when they switched to T-Mobile. DirecTV Now has experienced a bumpy launch, collecting numerous complaints from customers who say the service doesn't work as advertised. T-Mobile said it wants to protect customers who took advantage of the initial offer. "To make things right for those new T-Mobile customers, the Un-carrier is giving everyone who participated in this deal a free year of Hulu — an awesome streaming service that actually works — on top of their free year of DirecTV Now," said the company in a statement. T-Mobile says all former AT&T customers who signed up for a free year of DirecTV will be eligible for the free year of Hulu Limited Commercials service. The switchers will be notified with a promo code in the weeks ahead.
T-Mobile said its T-Mobile One plan now includes all monthly taxes, surcharges, and fees. The company still charges those fees, but they are rolled into the advertised price of the plan in order to simplify what customers see on their bills each month. For example, a family of four that signs up today will pay $40 per line, or $160 total, with no additional fees visible on their monthly bill. Those fees are now included in the total price. The news was first announced earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Trade Show. T-Mobile has been promoting it heavily via television commercials the last few weeks. In other T-Mobile news, the company's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, announced a free phone promotion. Starting today, customers who upgrade their phone, add a line, or get a new phone number can snag one of 15 different phones for free. Some of the options include the LG Aristo, Samsung Galaxy On5, ZTE Avid Trio, and Alcatel Fierce XL. Customers who port a number to MetroPCS will be able to pick a more expensive free handset, such as the HTC Desire 530, ZTE ZMax Pro, or LG K10. Last, MetroPCS is offering free data to those who sign up for its $50 plan. Typically, the $50 plan includes 5 GB of data. For a limited time, people who choose that plan will have access to 8 GB of data each month for at least a year. Additional 8 GB lines added to the same account will cost $30 per month.
The FCC today said the close of the fourth stage will mark the end of bidding in the auction for 600 MHz airwaves. The auction has been in progress since last May and worked its way through several stages. Television broadcasters agreed to give up portions of their spectrum holdings, which were then sold to wireless carriers. The repurposed airwaves will eventually be used for mobile broadband services and the TV stations relocated. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called the auction a success, but it fell far short of initial projections as far as generating revenue is concerned. "The world's first spectrum incentive auction has delivered on its ambitious promise. Reaching the Final Stage Rule means the benefits of the auction are indisputable," said Wheeler. "We will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum — the test bed for wireless innovation — will be available for consumer devices and new services. The auction will provide $10.05 billion to broadcast television licensees who participated and billions towards deficit reduction." Broadcasters had expected to see as much as $86 billion for 126 MHz of licenses. When bidding in rounds two and three bottomed out, the amount of spectrum offered by broadcasters was reduced accordingly. "There is still a long road ahead to successfully implement the post-auction transition of broadcast stations to their new channels and bring the new wireless and unlicensed spectrum to market," noted Wheeler. "This will be an extremely important task for my successor and the new Commission; I wish them well." Wheeler is leaving his post at the FCC as President-Elect Donald Trumps takes office. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless all participated, but Sprint did not. The FCC hasn't said what new spectrum licenses the carriers and other bidders have won.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS both plan to sell the LG Aristo starting later this month. The handset is an entry-level device running Android 7 Nougat. Specs include a 5-inch HD display, 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and 16 GB of storage. Other features include microUSB, headphone jack, speakerphone, and WiFi Calling/VoLTE. The LG Aristo will reach T-Mobile stores on Jan. 25. It will cost $144, or $6 per month on a payment plan. The Aristo will hit MetroPCS stores on Jan. 23 at a cost of $59 after instant rebate.
ZTE today shared more information about its Project CSX handset, called Hawkeye. ZTE created a public campaign for Project CSX in 2016, which saw hundreds of entries. The final design, a self-adhesive handset that can track eye movement, was selected last fall. The device is a large Android slab that boasts a 5.5-inch full HD display. The phone will be powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features two cameras on the rear, one with a 12-megapixel sensor and one with a 13-megapixel sensor with optical zoom. The user-facing camera has an 8-megapixel sensor. A 3,000mAh battery will provide power, and the USB-C port will allow for rapid charging via Quick Charge 2.0. Other features include a fingerprint reader, Dolby sound, NFC, and support for memory cards. ZTE says the Hawkeye includes LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, and 66 for AT&T/T-Mobile. The Hawkeye, currently available for preorder on Kickstarter, costs $199 and will ship with Android 7 Nougat when it goes on sale in the fall. Right now, the fundraising campaign has generated a bit more than $31,000 out of $500,000.
Alcatel today made its Idol 4S with Windows 10 smartphone available unlocked from the Microsoft Store. The Windows Idol 4S has a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 21-megapixel camera, and USB Type-C. Other features include a wide-angle 8-megapixel selfie camera, 3,000mAh battery, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The Idol 4S with Windows is compatible with Continuum, which enables it to act like a full PC with the proper accessories. The phone is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. The Idol 4S with Windows 10 costs $470.
The FCC today took AT&T and Verizon to task for their zero-rated video services and said they may in fact be harmful to the market. The agency has spent time evaluating each of the zero-rated offerings from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. While the agency has no quibble with zero-rated services, per se, AT&T and Verizon's offerings may cross a certain line with respect to competition. "We ... have found that two of the plans present significant risks to consumers and competition in downstream industry sectors because of network operators' potentially unreasonable discrimination in favor of their own affiliates," said the agency in today's report. The FCC judged the offerings based on whether or not they amount to blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization, and if they don't violate those tenets, whether or not the services violate the general conduct rule with respect to data caps, transparency, and user choice. T-Mobile's BingeOn service, for example, is in the clear because it is open to all customers and all third-party services. AT&T's Data Perks program is okay, too, but its Sponsored Data program crosses the line because it likely violates the general conduct rule. The same is true of Verizon's go90 offering. "We are aware of no safeguards that would prevent [Verizon or AT&T] from offering substantially more costly or restrictive terms to enable unaffiliated edge providers to offer services comparable to [go90 and Sponsored Data] on a zero-rated basis," noted the agency. The FCC believes companies such as AT&T and Verizon that own both the content and the delivery mechanism may cause real harm to consumers and competition. The FCC didn't say what, if any, actions it might take next.
T-Mobile today announced KickBack, an automatic bill credit of $10 per line per month for lines that use 2 GB of data or less in that month. Starting January 22nd, customers of the company's Simple Choice and T-Mobile One plans can opt in to KickBack via the T-Mobile app, or via customer service. After January 22nd, new sign-ups for the T-Mobile One plan will automatically be opted in to KickBack.
T-Mobile today announced that its plans will now include all taxes and fees in the advertised price. The company's T-Mobile One plan is included in this policy, and the price will stay the same, but now include all taxes and fees. Furthermore, the company will phase out all other plans on January 22nd. T-Mobile One — with unlimited data and taxes and fees included — will be the only plan the company offers. Consumers already on other plans (including older T-Mobile One plans that do not include taxes and fees) can keep them as-is, but no other plans will be offered to consumers looking to switch carriers or plans.
Nuu Mobile this week announced the X5 smartphone during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The X5 is a flagship-class Android smartphone for those seeking alternatives to traditional postpaid carriers. The device offers a lot of value thanks in part to Nuu's unique mobile service plans. The X5 is a large slab that features a 5.5-inch full HD display. The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6750T 1.5 GHz octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128 GB. Nuu selected Sony camera chips for the device, with a 13-megapixel BSI sensor on back and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor on front. The X5 supports U.S. LTE bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for compatibility with AT&T and T-Mobile. It also packs Bluetooth 4, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and an FM radio. Last, the phone contains a 2,950mAh battery, and it runs Android 7 Nougat out of the box. Nuu Mobile gave the X5 support for two SIM cards in a removable tray, but the handset also includes Nuu's Konnect i1 eSIM technology. The eSIM allows the X5 to roam in other countries at local wireless rates. Introductory pricing for roaming is approximately $2 per day for 500 MB of high-speed data overseas. People who exceed the daily data limit will be throttled, but will have full access to 500 MB again the following day. The eSIM means users don't have to hunt down a local SIM card when traveling; instead, they can simply activate the Konnect i1 service directly on the X5. The Nuu Mobile X5 goes on sale in March. Pricing wasn't announced, but all of Nuu Mobile's handsets cost less than $250.
T-Mobile today unveiled new pricing for Internet-of-Things connected devices, such as smart meters. The T-Mobile IoT Access pack includes 5 MB of data per month for $20 per year for the first year, and $6 per year after that. Moreover, customers can get unlimited data for their IoT equipment at 64Kbps for $25 per device per year. To help people get started, T-Mobile will cover the cost of a Sequans CAT1 module (up to $16 per module) via bill credits. The new pricing is effective immediately. T-Mobile expects its business customers, such as utilities more so than consumers, will take advantage of the IoT pricing, though it is available to anyone with a connected home.
T-Mobile this week pushed a device-killing, over-the-air update to all remaining Galaxy Note7 devices still being used by its customers. The update prevents the battery from charging, effectively rendering the phone useless. The idea is to convince people still using the Note7 to trade it in immediately. The Note7 suffers from a battery issue that may lead to overheating and fires. In some cases, Note7 owners reported car fires and house fires. Samsung was forced to recall the device earlier this year. T-Mobile competitors AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all plan to deliver the same update during the first week of January. All carriers are offering replacement devices and/or refunds.
T-Mobile today announced several new options for its T-Mobile One plan that adds various features for a few dollars more per month. To start, T-Mobile One customers can turn their plan into a T-Mobile One Plus line for $15 more per month. This nets unlimited 3G data speeds when roaming overseas; unlimited HD video passes; unlimited Gogo in-flight WiFi; voicemail-to-text transcription; and advanced caller ID. T-Mobile has made another option available called T-Mobile One Plus International. It adds unlimited high-speed mobile hotspot when traveling overseas; and unlimited calling from the U.S. to landlines in 70 countries and cell phones in 30 countries. The T-Mobile One Plus International line costs $25 more than the standard T-Mobile One line. Both new plans are already available from T-Mobile.
T-Mobile today said it will give AT&T customers who port their number to T-Mobile a free year of DirecTV Now. DirecTV Now is AT&T's new mobile television service. The service costs between $35 and $70 per month, depending on the package. T-Mobile will cover the entry-level $35 plan for up to 12 months, a total of $420, via monthly service credits. AT&T customers will need to activate at least two lines of service with a T-Mobile One plan. Existing T-Mobile Simple Choice customers can subscribe to DirecTV Now if they wish. T-Mobile has added DirecTV Now to its Binge On program, so T-Mobile customers can watch as much as they want at 480p without impacting their data buckets.
OnePlus has published new builds of OxygenOS for its OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T smartphones. OnePlus 3 owners who've signed up as beta testers can now access OxygenOS Open Beta 9. This beta is based on Android 7 Nougat. OnePlus says the beta expands screenshots, optimizes shelf design and other UI elements, and stabilizes battery and system performance. Beta testers who've already installed previous builds of the beta will be able to download Open Beta 9 over the air. Otherwise, the beta needs to be sideloaded from a PC. OxygenOS 3.5.4 for the OnePlus 3T is a bug-fixing update and does not include Nougat. For example, the update improves performance on T-Mobile's network. It also reduces lag when the battery is below 5%, restores GPS and auto-rotate behaviors when battery saver mode is turned off, resolves a camera bug, and increases stability system wide. The update is available as an over-the-air download.
T-Mobile today announced Digits, a new service that will let customers use the same phone number across multiple devices, or multiple numbers on a single device. The service makes use of T-Mobile's LTE network and works with virtually all connected devices, including phones, tablets, wearables, and computers. Digits relies on an app. Users can sign in on whichever device is most convenient and immediately have access to their phone number, complete with voicemail, text messages, call history, and other features. The service allows a single handset to support up to five phone numbers without requiring additional SIM cards. Similarly, a single number can be used across up to five separate devices. T-Mobile believes Digits will be particularly appealing to business customers, which will be able to assign a T-Mobile Digits number to workers, regardless of the carrier the employee already uses. Digits can run on phones that connect via AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, et al. Digits works natively with the dialer in Samsung's newer smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S7, Note 5, and others. T-Mobile customers who have iPhones or other Android phones will be able to use Digits through a mobile app. T-Mobile is allowing a limited number of postpaid customers to test Digits, which is available as a beta. T-Mobile did not say how much the service costs. The company expects to fully launch Digits early next year.
Bandwidth.com today said it will divest its Republic Wireless business, spinning the company off into a separate business. Republic Wireless has been selling low-cost service since 2011. It relies mostly on WiFi, but when WiFi is not available its customers are able to connect via the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. Bandwidth.com also powers Alphabet's Fi service and Microsoft's Skype service. Bandwidth.com's leadership feel Republic has grown enough thanks to its 300,000 subscribers and $100 million in annual revenue, and its time the company stood on its own. Moreover, Republic competes with Bandwidth.com properties such as Fi and it no longer makes sense to house competing products under the same roof. Once the spin-off is complete, Bandwidth.com chief operating officer Chris Chuang will be named CEO of Republic Wireless. Republic does not intend to make any immediate chances to its existing service plans.