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printed September 25, 2016
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Sony Reveals Xperia XZ and X Compact Pricing

Thursday, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today discussed pricing and availability details for the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact (pictured) smartphones. The XZ will cost $700 and it goes on sale via Amazon and other online retailers October 2. The X Compact will cost $500 and will reach Amazon and others September 25. The XZ is a flagship handset with 5.2-inch screen, Snapdragon 820 processor, and 23-megapixel camera, while the X Compact is a smaller sub-flagship with a 4.6-inch screen, Snapdragon 650 processor, and 23-megapixel camera. Both devices run Android 6 Marshmallow and are sold unlocked with AT&T/T-Mobile LTE compatibility.


Blu Shows Off the Life One X2

Thursday, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Blu today announced the Blu Life One X2, a successor to the Blu Life One X. The Life One X2 features a 5.2-inch full HD display with curved glass, a metal chassis, and a fingerprint reader for biometric security. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 or 4 GB of RAM and 16 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with phase-detection autofocus and LED flash, and the selfie camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a forward-facing LED flash. The phone supports Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for rapid power-ups. The Life One X2 supports LTE Bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for AT&T, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile. Preorders for the phone kick off today from Amazon.com. Consumers who preorder Sept. 22 or 23 will receive a 10% discount. The 2 GB / 16 GB model costs $150 and the 4 GB / 64 GB model costs $200. Blu didn't say when the Life One X2 will ship.


T-Mobile Claims 5G Tests Reach 12 Gbps

Sep 20, 2016, 3:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Ericsson today said lab tests demonstrate the power of forthcoming 5G technology. The two firms pushed data speeds to 12 Gbps over a wireless connection, with latency as low as 2 milliseconds, in the 28 GHz band. The companies also conducted a voice call between 4G and 5G networks, and say 8x8 MIMO can transmit four 4K video streams over the network at the same time. T-Mobile and Ericsson expect to continue testing this technology in the lab and the field during the back half of 2016. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said, "At T-Mobile, we will put 5G to work for people, like we always have with new technologies. And, true wireless 5G on our network has the potential to change things radically, accelerating long-term trends, creating immersive experiences and increasing mobile productivity and entertainment for everyone." Ray doesn't expect 5G will begin to reach consumers until 2020.


LG V20: First Phone To Support Band 66

Sep 14, 2016, 1:36 PM   by Rich Brome

FCC documents indicate that the LG V20 variants for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will be the first phones to support LTE in the new band 66. Band 66 includes the AWS-1, AWS-3, and AWS-4 frequencies. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile all purchased new AWS-3 spectrum in 2015, but have yet to deploy it. When they do, it will require phones that support band 66. AWS-1 — also known as band 4 — is already deployed by all three companies. AWS-4 is owned by Dish Networks, which has yet to announce firm plans for that spectrum.


T-Mobile to Operate 2G Network Through 2020

Sep 14, 2016, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it plans to operate its 2G GSM network through the year 2020. The company has optimized its 2G network to run on less spectrum alongside its LTE 4G network. The vast majority of T-Mobile handsets connect via LTE. T-Mobile is keeping its 2G GSM network alive specifically for Internet of Things and machine-to-machine devices. As such, T-Mobile is attempting to lure away AT&T's IoT and M2M customers by offering free SIM cards and free 2G service through the end of the year to any subscribers that switch. Many IoT and M2M applications require little bandwidth and generally access the network only periodically. T-Mobile is going after AT&T because AT&T plans to shut down its 2G network at the end of this year.


T-Mobile Pitching Free iPhone 7 for a Traded iPhone 6

Sep 8, 2016, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile will give a free Apple iPhone 7 to customers who trade in an iPhone 6 or newer when they preorder the new phone. The offer is being made available to new and existing customers. T-Mobile says an iPhone 6 trade-in (any storage capacity) will net a 32 GB iPhone 7. Customers have to own the trade-in outright, it must power on, and it must be free of water and screen damage. Customers who trade in a device with more memory (or an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus) will be given extra credit towards purchases of the 128 GB iPhone 7, etc. T-Mobile says customers may also elect to pay some cash up front for pricier models. For example, customers who trade in an iPhone 6 but want the iPhone 7 Plus will need to pay $120 up front. The free device is being offered through bill credits over a period of 24 months. After 24 months, the customers will own the iPhone 7. Customers can walk away from T-Mobile at any time during the 24-month period by paying off the phone balance or giving the phone back to T-Mobile. T-Mobile also said it will carry the Apple Watch Series 2 (online only) and the new Beats Powerbeats headphones in an exclusive magenta color. Last, MetroPCS will carry the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus beginning September 23. T-Mobile pre-orders for the new iPhones kick off Friday, September 9th at 12:01a.m. Pacific Time.


T-Mobile Debuts 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM to Double Speed

Sep 6, 2016, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced two significant updates to its network: first, it has launching 4x4 MIMO, and second, it has increased its network footprint. The 4x4 MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) technology falls under the LTE-Advanced category. It doubles the number of channels between cell towers and cell phones, which improves capacity and speed. T-Mobile has deployed 4x4 MIMO across 319 cities. Moreover, T-Mobile is adopting 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads. This technology boosts the number of bits that can be delivered per transmission. T-Mobile claims 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM together can double speeds, pushing them up to 400Mbps. The 256/64 QAM technology is already live on half of T-Mobile's network, with the rest to follow by the end of October. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will be the first to take advantage of this tech with a software update planned for October, with more phones to be supported later. Last, T-Mobile says its LTE network now reaches 312 million Americans, or 99.7% of Verizon's LTE footprint.


T-Mobile Changes Up Tuesday Promos

Sep 1, 2016, 8:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced new promotions that will be available as part of its T-Mobile Tuesday customer thank you program starting Sept. 6. T-Mobile customers who've downloaded the T-Mobile Tuesdays app will be able to redeem a free 6-inch sub from Subway, a free Lyft drive (up to $15), and a free VUDU movie rental ($5.50). On Sept. 13, PetSmart and Buffalo Wild Wings will join T-Mobile Tuesdays with promos of their own. T-Mobile claims the program is a success, with 4 million customers taking advantage of 14 million rewards since its June launch.


Incentive Auction Fails to Attract Big Spenders

Aug 31, 2016, 5:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC's 600MHz incentive auction is proceeding slowly and may need to be reset. After 27 rounds of bidding, the total amount bid has reached only $23 billion, far short of the $88.4 billion clearing cost set during the reverse part of the auction earlier this year. The FCC will likely end bidding on the licenses that attracted the most interest and then go back to the television broadcasters to reset the clearing costs for the remaining licenses to drive demand. Some analysts believe the auction made need to reset prices several times before it can come to an end. The 600MHz airwaves are the last low-band spectrum that will be made available to wireless carriers. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, as is Dish Networks and myriad other entities. The spectrum is being sold by television broadcasters, many of which have had the spectrum for decades.


Alcatel Reveals the Fierce 4 for MetroPCS

Aug 29, 2016, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today announced the Fierce 4, a large, budget-conscious Android smartphone that will be sold by MetroPCS. The Fierce 4 features a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core, 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone has an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus and a 5-megapixel front camera with an extra-wide 84-degree field of view for more inclusive selfies. The phone supports memory cards up to 128 GB; runs on Metro's LTE 4G network; includes a 2,500mAh battery; and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Alcatel Fierce 4 will be available nationwide at MetroPCS stores beginning today for $69. Alcatel says the Fierce 4 will reach T-Mobile later this fall.


T-Mobile Slightly More Generous with Revised 'One' Plan

Aug 29, 2016, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 29, 2016, 8:36 AM

T-Mobile today made several adjustments to its T-Mobile One plan in order to halt the firestorm of criticism the plan has received. First, T-Mobile One subscribers will be able to use an unlimited amount of mobile hotspot data at speeds up to 512Kbps. Hotspot speeds were capped at 128Kbps in the first incarnation of T-Mobile One. Second, T-Mobile is offering HD day passes for $3. Customers can pay $3 to stream as much HD video as they want, providing a bit more flexibility than the monthly add-on originally announced by T-Mobile. The day passes are good for 24 hours. Third, T-Mobile is introducing T-Mobile One Plus, an enhanced version of the plan that includes unlimited mobile hotspot, unlimited use of HD day passes, and 256Kbps free international roaming. According to T-Mobile, the unlimited HD day passes don't cost anything, but they must be toggled on each time the customer wants to use them. The phone will still default to standard definition video until the day pass is turned on. The HD day pass will expire automatically, resetting the device to standard definition at the end of each day. The T-Mobile One Plus add-on will cost $25 extra per month. Last, T-Mobile is launching its T-Mobile One plans five days earlier than originally announced. The plan will be available beginning September 1. The starting price is $75 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 4G data. T-Mobile One subscribers can use up to 26 GB of 4G LTE data before they might encounter throttling on congested cell sites. The price drops to $70 per month if customers use auto-pay.


Google Gives Nexus Phones Access to WiFi Assistant

Aug 24, 2016, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 24, 2016, 11:32 AM

Google this week made its WiFi Assistant feature available to all Nexus devices. The tool is a direct carryover from Google's Project Fi. The WiFi Assistant lets Nexus owners automatically and securely connect to more than one million free, open WiFi hotspots that are certified by Google. Users won't be required to sign in or set up accounts to access the WiFi. Moreover, Google manages the connection and ensures it is protected. Google says the tool can help improve average connection speeds and lower monthly data consumption, regardless of which wireless carrier provides cellular service to the phone. The Google WiFi Assistant is available to Nexus devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Nordic countries. Google says it will roll out over the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi for calling and data, but also hops onto Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular when WiFi is not available.


AT&T Signs Interconnect Agreement with Cuba Carrier

Aug 22, 2016, 9:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has signed an interconnect agreement with Cuba's Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETECSA). The agreement will eventually allow AT&T customers to roam on ETESCA's network when traveling to Cuba. AT&T hasn't said when it will make such roaming available and will announce pricing at a later date. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already have similar agreements in place with ETESCA.


AT&T Spearheading Robocall 'Strike Force'

Aug 19, 2016, 9:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and dozens of other companies are escalating the war on robocalls with a new Strike Force aimed at disrupting spammers' ability to call and pester consumers. AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson says carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers, regulators, and lawmakers will all need to work together to create a play book to tackle the problem. "In parallel with technological solutions, we need our regulatory and law enforcement agencies to go after the bad actors. Shutting down the bad guys is a necessary step, and a powerful example to others. Our goal isn't complicated: Stop unwanted robocalls. Easy to say. Hard to do," said Stephenson in remarks made at the FCC's first meeting of the Robocall Strike Force. Industry player are gathering today to discuss initial plans and are expected to report back with more solid short- and long-term plans on October 19. Some of the companies participating in the Strike Force include AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Comcast, Ericsson, Google, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.


Samsung Accessories Land Alongside Note7

Aug 19, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 reaches U.S. stores today and with it some interesting accessories and companion products from Samsung. The new Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the Note7 and other recent Galaxy phones, has a new look, new color, and expanded field of view. It's available for $100 at carrier stores, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and Samsung. The Gear 360 camera (pictured), able to shoot 360-degree photos and video, will only be available online for $350. Samsung's Gear IconX wireless earbuds are available, too. These $200 headphones are fully wireless, have built-in memory, and can track workouts. The less expensive Samsung Level Active headphones are sweat proof and can control music/calls for $100. Last, the Samsung Connect auto provides an AT&T-backed in-car hotspot via the OBD II port. The Connect auto can also send alerts to the driver and improve driving safety/efficiency. AT&T will sell the Samsung Connect auto online and in stores. The Galaxy Note7 is Samsung's flagship phablet for the year. It has a 5.7-inch screen, 12-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64 GB of storage, and the S Pen stylus. The Note7 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.


T-Mobile Uncarrier 12 Heralds Fully Unlimited Service

Aug 18, 2016, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 18, 2016, 10:38 AM

T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile One, a truly unlimited rate plan that includes all-you-can-eat data, messaging, and minutes. T-Mobile says the new T-Mobile One plan includes many of the Uncarrier benefits, such as T-Mobile Tuesdays, Stock Up, WiFi Unleashed, Carrier Freedom, Mobile Without Borders, and Global Freedom. The plan includes unlimited video streaming at standard definition and unlimited hotspot usage at 2G speeds. The first line costs $75 per month. Adding more lines to create a family plan costs $55 for the second, and $25 for lines three through eight. A family of four, says T-Mobile, can subscribe to the unlimited T-Mobile One plan for $180 per month. If all lines are subscribed to Auto Pay, the price for each line drops by $5 per month for a total of $160 for four. There are some extra fees involved. Customers who want to stream HD video over LTE will need to cough up an extra $25 HD video access fee. Customers can get unlimited LTE data for their tablet for $20 per month when paired with a phone line, or for $70 if the tablet is the only line. Customers can add 5 GB of LTE high-speed tethering for $15 per month. Wearables cost $5 per month to add to a T-Mobile One plan. Last, T-Mobile made it clear that customers who exceed 26 GB of LTE data in a given billing cycle will be throttled back to 2G speeds if/when they encounter network congestion. T-Mobile said the T-Mobile One plan will be available starting September 6. Customers may switch to the new plan or stick with their current plan.


Kyocera DuraForce Pro for Verizon Approved by FCC

Aug 11, 2016, 2:54 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC today approved new Kyocera phones that seem to match the just-announced DuraForce Pro. One supports both CDMA and LTE 2/4/5/13, a combination unique to Verizon. A separate version compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks was also approved today.


Verizon Kicks Off Sales of HTC Desire 530

Aug 5, 2016, 7:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has followed T-Mobile in making the HTC Desire 530 available for sale. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. Verizon is selling the phone for $144 at full retail or $6 per month on a payment plan.


T-Mobile Offering Free Gift with Note7 Purchase

Aug 2, 2016, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said customers who buy the Samsung Galaxy Note7 will receive one of three thank you gifts. Customers can select a Gear Fit2, 256 GB microSD memory card, or a free year of Netflix — each of which has a value of about $100. T-Mobile plans to sell all three colors (black, silver, blue) of the Note7. The device costs $849. Customers can pay the full price, or make a down payment of $70 and then monthly payments of $32.50 for 24 months. T-Mobile will begin accepting preorders at 12:01am August 3.


T-Mobile Zero-Rates 16 More Services, Bringing Binge On to 100+

Jul 26, 2016, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added 16 more video streaming services to its Binge On program, bring the total number of services to over 100. The new video services include ABC, Apple Music, Big Ten Network, CEEK VR, DISH Anywhere, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, D-PAN.TV, DramaFever, FOX NOW, FXNOW, NAT GEO TV, Shalom World, Sioeye, and Tubi TV. T-Mobile customers can now stream an unlimited amount of content from these services over T-Mobile's LTE network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Binge On content is streamed at 480p, rather than high-definition. Users may activate or deactivate Binge On at any time.


FCC Wants Carriers to Step Up Anti-Robocall Efforts

Jul 22, 2016, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today asked the country's major telephone providers to improve consumer tools for blocking robocalls. The FCC said robocalls continue to be one of the top complaints filed by consumers. Wheeler sent letters to AT&T, Bandwidth Comms, Frontier, Level3, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon asking them to make blocking tools available to consumers as swiftly as possible. "Consumers want and deserve more control over the calls they receive," wrote Wheeler in a blog post. "I am calling on the carriers and standards groups to accelerate the development and deployment of technical standards that would prevent spoofing of caller ID and thus make blocking technologies more effective. All of these companies have been asked to respond within 30 days with their concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues." The FCC said it will continue to investigate consumer complaints against robocalls and prosecute whenever possible.


T-Mobile Gives Away Free Service in Brazil for Olympics

Jul 21, 2016, 8:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its postpaid customers will have access to free mobile data and calling in Brazil for the entire month of August in honor of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. T-Mobile customers will not have to take any action to enjoy free roaming in Brazil. Those who travel to Brazil will have unlimited high-seed data, unlimited calling to the U.S., and unlimited texting worldwide during their visit. T-Mobile said it is supplying the families of Olympic athletes with free T-Mobile service and a Galaxy S7 Olympic Edition handset through October. AT&T debuted its own roaming plan for Brazil earlier this summer, but it costs $50 to add to an existing service plan. About 100,000 Americans are expected to make the trip to Brazil to watch and participate in the games.


FCC Names Final Set of Reverse Auction Bidders

Jul 15, 2016, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today published a list of the 62 bidders who've made upfront payments and qualified to bid in the reverse auction for low-band TV spectrum. As expected, the list contains familiar names, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. A significant number of small companies plan to bid, as well, such as Alaska Wireless and Cellular South. Collectively, bidders will need to cough up more than $86 billion to purchase the 126 MHz of 600 MHz airwaves up for auction. The forward portion of the auction begins August 16.


MetroPCS Opens Up iPhone Sales Nationwide

Jul 15, 2016, 9:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, is now selling the entire range of Apple iPhones at more than 5,000 of its stores around the country. The prepaid carrier first tested iPhone sales at a limited number of stores in Florida. MetroPCS is selling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.


T-Mobile to Zero-Rate Pokemon for Weekly Tuesday Promo

Jul 15, 2016, 6:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile says starting July 19 customers will be able to play Pokemon Go on their smartphone without impacting their monthly data allotment. T-Mobile is adding Pokemon Go to its T-Mobile Tuesday customer appreciation program. Customers will need to take action to get the free Pokemon data. First, customers need to download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. Once signed in, customers can claim the free zero-rated use of Pokemon on T-Mobile Tuesdays July 19, July 26, August 2, and August 9. Once claimed, Pokemon usage will not touch customers' high-speed data plan through August 2017. The zero-rated Pokemon promo is only available to claim for the next four Tuesdays and goes away after August 9. Beyond the Pokemon promo, on Tuesday, July 19 T-Mobile customers can claim a free Lyft ride of up $15, a free Frosty at Wendy's, and 50% off select accessories. Last, T-Mobile says 250 people will win $100 in PokeCoins, and five people will win a Pokemon Go hunting trip for two anywhere in the U.S.


Samsung Flagship Phone, Likely Note 7, Clears FCC

Jul 14, 2016, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has approved an unannounced handset from Samsung that is most likely the Galaxy Note 7. The device, model name SM-N930U, is banded identically to Samsung's Galaxy S7 smartphone, which marks the N930U as a probable flagship or other high-end phone. The device supports LTE 4G in the various bands used by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as the corresponding carrier bands for WCDMA/CDMA 3G. Other technical features confirmed by the FCC include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi radios. The FCC did not post images, user manuals, or any other details regarding the Samsung N930U, nor do the documents refer to the device as the Note 7. Samsung has scheduled an event on August 2 in New York where it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 7 in full. The timing of the N930U's FCC approval falls in line with a potential August launch.


T-Mobile, Verizon Updating Security on Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+

Jul 14, 2016, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are sending out the July 1 Android security patch to their variants of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ smartphones. Google made the security patch available last week. It plugs a number of holes in the code, including some that could lead to remote code execution. These security updates can be downloaded and installed over the air.


Google's Project Fi Earns An International Speed Boost

Jul 12, 2016, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Project Fi subscribers now have access to faster wireless speeds when traveling around the world. Google partnered with mobile network operator Three to increase the number of countries in which Fi is available to 135, as well as improve mobile data speeds by a factor of 10 to 20. Project Fi customers were perviously only able to roam at 2G speeds when abroad, but now have access to faster 3G/4G service. Google does not charge Fi subscribers any extra access fees when traveling; the data rates are the same at $10 per 1 GB whether at home or abroad. Google said new Project Fi customers can buy a Nexus 6P for $349 ($150 off) for the next week. Project Fi requires a Nexus smartphone. The service uses a mix of WiFi and cellular service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to maintain a strong, fast connection.


T-Mobile Giving Away Galaxy On5, J7 to Families

Jul 12, 2016, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is kicking off a new promotion that will let family plan subscribers score a free Samsung smartphone. The free phones are tied to specific service plans. Families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 6 GB Simple Choice plan pay $30 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy On5 smartphone ($140 value). The $30 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $20 each per month. Similarly, families who subscribe to T-Mobile's 10 GB Simple Choice plan pay $40 per month per line for service and can receive a free Samsung Galaxy J7 smartphone ($240 value). The $40 cost is applied to the first four members of the family, with additional lines costing $30 each per month. In both cases, families can get up to 12 free phones. The price of the free phone is covered via monthly service credits over a period of two years. Once the two-year period is over, the customer owns the phone outright. Customers who cancel service before the two-year period is over will be responsible for the balance of the phone's cost. T-Mobile's back-to-school promotion begins July 13.


HTC to Sell Low-Cost Desire 530 In US This Month

Jul 7, 2016, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 7, 2016, 8:36 PM

HTC today said several U.S. carriers will soon offer its Desire 530 smartphone. The stand-out feature of the Desire 530 (announced earlier this year) is the unique "micro splash" effect applied to the polycarbonate rear shell. Essentially, small paint dots appear to be sprinkled on the plastic. HTC says no two Desire 530s will have the same pattern. Beyond the appearance, the Desire 530 includes a 5-inch HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and Android 6.0. The main camera has an 8-megapixel BSI sensor and includes tools such as burst shot and panorama. The 5-megapixel front camera includes Auto Selfie and Voice Selfie modes for easier picture taking. T-Mobile says the phone will go on sale July 13 for $160. Verizon has yet to announce its pricing and availability. HTC plans to sell an unlocked version of the Desire 530 online for $179 beginning later this month.


'AT&T Thanks' Program Rolls Out First Offer

Jun 30, 2016, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said its customer appreciation program, called AT&T Thanks, is ready to offer its first perk: Ticket Twosdays. Postpaid customers can score a free movie ticket when they buy one at full price for a Tuesday showing. Qualifying customers can get a free ticket each week by visiting AT&T's web site, where they have to verify their number/account in order to receive a coupon code. AT&T said AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group are participating in Ticket Twosdays. Another promo includes priority pre-sales to Live Nation concerts. AT&T says customers will be able to purchase concert tickets and VIP packages ahead of general availability. The Live Nation ticket program doesn't kick off until the fall. There is no cost to take advantage of AT&T Thanks, nor is there an app to download. T-Mobile launched its own customer appreciation program earlier this month.


MetroPCS to Sell the iPhone

Jun 30, 2016, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, today said it will soon sell the entire range of iPhones from Apple. MetroPCS plans to kick off iPhone sales at select stores in Florida on July 1, but will expand to all stores around the nation soon. MetroPCS will sell the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus for $649 and $749, respectively, and the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s for $349 and $199, respectively. MetroPCS did not indicate how quickly the iPhone will be made available to stores outside of Florida. MetroPCS does not require contracts and service plans start at $35 per month.


FCC Incentive Auction Racks Up $86B In Clearing Costs

Jun 29, 2016, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2016, 12:11 PM

The FCC today said that the reverse portion of its incentive auction is now complete. Bidding for 600 MHz television airwaves is over, and the cost to clear the 126 MHz spectrum target exceeded $86.4 billion. The FCC expects to begin the forward portion of the auction soon, which will see wireless companies bid on the spectrum blocks. Carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are participating, but Sprint is sitting out. The auction drew lots of interest from individual bidders, too. It's not clear how much the FCC expects to make from auctioning off the airwaves moving forward, but bidders will need to meet or exceed the $86.4 billion at a minimum. The airwaves are vital low-band spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. "Today, bidding concluded in the reverse auction, establishing the cost for clearing 126 MHz in the TV band for wireless use," said the FCC's Gary Epstein in a prepared statement. "Strong participation from broadcast stations made this initial clearing target possible. Now the action shifts to the forward auction, which will give wireless bidders the opportunity to compete for this beachfront spectrum to meet America's growing mobile data needs."


Blu R1 HD Revealed In Full

Jun 29, 2016, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today announced the Blu R1 HD, an inexpensive Android smartphone that will be sold unlocked starting July 12. The R1 HD boasts curved Gorilla Glass 3, a metal frame, and soft-touch paint job on the rear cover to give it a premium feel. The screen measures 5 inches with 720p HD resolution and the phone is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 processor with 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. The R1 HD includes an 8-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash, while the selfie camera — which has an LED flash of its own — captures 5-megapixel images. The phone can record video up to 1080p HD. The Blu R1 HD runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and comes with support for two SIM cards and microSD cards up to 64 GB. The phone is sold unlocked and is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile (LTE in Bands 2, 4, 7, 17). The device costs $100, but will be sold exclusively by Amazon for $50 with ads and promotions appearing on the lock screen. A second variant includes 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM for $10 more.


Motorola's Refreshed G Series Streets July 12

Jun 28, 2016, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said its fourth-generation G series smartphones will go on sale beginning July 12. The G4 will cost $199 and the G4 Plus (pictured) will cost $249. The phones will be sold by Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, CarToys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Motorola.com, Sam's Club, and Walmart. Further, Republic Wireless will offer both phones with its service starting July 28. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are sold unlocked with support for most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


US Cellular Coverage Reaches Google's Project Fi

Jun 28, 2016, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Project Fi app in order to take advantage of cellular coverage offered by U.S. Cellular. Earlier this month, Google said it planned to supplement Project Fi's coverage with U.S. Cellular. The freshly updated app allows Fi subscribers to capitalize on that expansion. Project Fi already relies on Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular connectivity, and automatically connects to the strongest signal. U.S. Cellular provides LTE service in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest, which improves Project Fi's overall footprint. Google claims its dynamic network-switching technique provides customers with a cellular connection 99% of the time they are using their phones. Project Fi also relies on WiFi. The Project Fi app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service is only available to select Nexus smartphones.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Summer with Free LTE In Europe

Jun 23, 2016, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its customers will be able to use an unlimited amount of high-speed mobile data across Europe this summer. Specifically, customers can enjoy the highest-possible speed, up to and including LTE 4G, throughout the European Union between July 1 and August 31. T-Mobile customers can already use unlimited 2G data in more than 140 countries. The high-speed summer roaming includes unlimited free texting and $0.20-per-minute voice calls, but not tethering. T-Mobile may terminate or restrict service for misuse or excessive roaming. T-Mobile is also giving every person who flies in the U.S. this weekend (including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon customers) a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi on their smartphone. The free WiFi offer is available from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 on all domestic flights that offer Gogo WiFi. Last, T-Mobile added Belize to its list of Simple Global countries, which means T-Mobile customers can use 2G data and send messages for free, and make low-cost calls when traveling to Belize. Free roaming in Belize begins July 1.


T-Mobile Customers Overwhelm Dominos; No More Free Pizza

Jun 16, 2016, 12:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to twitter to announce changes to the T-Mobile Tuesdays rewards program. Legere said the T-Mobile Tuesdays app has been downloaded by more than 2 million customers. This week, so many customers attempted to take advantage of the free Dominos pizza offer that Dominos locations became overwhelmed and unable to fill all the orders. The company saw between three and four times as many orders on Tuesday, June 14, when compared to a typical day. "Basically, T-Mobile customers love Dominos pizza so much, you broke them!" said Legere. Dominos is backing out of the T-Mobile Tuesday promotion and will not be supplying free pizza to T-Mobile customers on Tuesdays. To make up for the loss of free pizza, Legere says T-Mobile customers will have access to a free Vudu rental, free Frosty from Wendy's, $20 in gifts from MLB.com, and a free ride from Lyft (up to $15) on Tuesday, June 21. T-Mobile will cook up other ways to reward customers now that Dominos is no longer an option. Despite the hiccup, Legere promised that the company will continue to thank customers with free stuff.


T-Mobile and MetroPCS to Sell Samsung Galaxy On5

Jun 15, 2016, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it and its prepaid brand MetroPCS will kick off sales of the Samsung Galaxy On5 later this month. The On5 is an inexpensive Android smartphone with a 5-inch 720p HD display, 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash, and 2-megapixel front camera. The On5 is powered by a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, and the phone includes 1.5 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. A memory card slot lets users expand storage up to 128 GB. The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, including East Home. Samsung gave the On5 a 2,600mAh battery. MetroPCS will sell the Galaxy On5 starting June 27 for $59 (after $70 rebate) and T-Mobile will sell the phone starting June 29 for $140, or $5.83 per month for 24 months.

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T-Mobile Adds More Video Services to Binge On

Jun 14, 2016, 8:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added a handful of video services to its Binge On program, bringing the total number of participating services to nearly 90. The new additions include Azubu, Dailymotion Games, Eyegroove, PBS, and PBS Kids. T-Mobile customers can now stream an unlimited amount of content from these services over T-Mobile's LTE network without impacting their monthly data allotment. Binge On content is streamed at 480p, rather than high-definition. Users may activate or deactivate Binge On at any time.


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