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printed April 18, 2014
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FCC Chair Stands by Proposal to Limit AT&T and Verizon

Yesterday, 3:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today reasserted his belief that AT&T and Verizon need to be restricted from purchasing too much 600MHz spectrum in the reverse auction planned for mid 2015. Wheeler's comments came in the form of a letter in which he responded to Representative John Barrow. "The Incentive Auction offers the opportunity, possibly the last for years to come, to make low-band spectrum available to any mobile wireless provider, in any market, that is willing and able to compete at auction," said Wheeler. "At the same time, a priority of the auction should be to assure that companies that already possess low-band spectrum do not exploit the auction to keep competitors from accessing the spectrum necessary to provide competition." AT&T and Verizon Wireless both hold significant blocks of 700MHz spectrum. Low-band spectrum is coveted for its propagation properties. Wheeler wants to make sure smaller companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, get a shot at the 600MHz airwaves. Wheeler's proposal involves reserving 30MHz in each market for companies that control less than one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market. This essentially precludes AT&T and Verizon from participating. AT&T believes the conditions are unfair and amount to the FCC picking the auction's winners and losers before it even starts. The company threatened to not participate, which could hurt the auction's ability to raise capital for a national safety network.

Phone Makers, Carriers to Add Anti-Theft Tools to Phones

Tuesday, 3:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Tuesday, 3:49 PM

The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.

T-Mobile Kills Overage Charges, Challenges Others to Follow

Monday, 8:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced that it will abolish the practice of charging overage fees beginning in May. The change will apply to all T-Mobile customers, no matter what plan they subscribe to. Overage fees are generally charged when a customer surpasses their monthly limit for voice minutes, messaging, or data use. Further, T-Mobile CEO John Legere challenged AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon to do the same thing. "Charging overage fees is a greedy, predatory practice that needs to go," said Legere. "Today I'm laying down a challenge to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to join T-Mobile in ending these outrageous overage penalties for all consumers – because it's the right thing to do." Legere kicked off a petition and is asking consumers to sign it in order to force change at T-Mobile's competitors.

Isis Mobile Wallet App Updated with Local Offers

Apr 12, 2014, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Isis recently issued an update to its Android mobile wallet application and added several new features. Isis now works better with location data and can help the owner find offers and stores near them that accept Isis. The app also works more closely with the credit card issuer, which can notify users of special offers available only to them. The app has a new icon, as well. Isis Mobile Wallet is free to download from the Google Play Store, but requires a major credit card from select issuers to use for tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Nix Download Booster from GS5

Apr 10, 2014, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's Download Booster, a feature of the Galaxy S5 meant to improve file download speeds, has been removed from the device by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. The companies did not provide a reason for cutting the app. T-Mobile will be the only major U.S. carrier to support the feature. Download Booster splits file downloads between Wi-Fi and LTE in order to create faster speeds. AnandTech reports that Download Booster only works with files from apps such as the Google Play Store, YouTube, Facebook, and the browser that are larger than 30MB. Download Booster's usefulness will vary depending on local network connections.

T-Mobile Ups Free Tablet Data to 1GB for Voice Customers

Apr 10, 2014, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced the second of three new initiatives meant to help lure in customers. The company is targeting tablet customers with its latest offer, which will give current voice subscribers a total of 1.2GB of free tablet data until the end of the year. T-Mobile already offers 200MB to all tablets for free and is adding 1GB to that pot. Second, T-Mobile is selling LTE-equipped tablets at the same price as their Wi-Fi-only counterparts. That means a 16GB Apple iPad Air with LTE will cost $499 instead of $629 when purchased through T-Mobile. T-Mobile is carrying over its Contract Freedom initiative to tablets, as well, and will pay the ETF for customers who break their tablet contract and switch to T-Mobile. Last, T-Mobile is offering tablets for $0 down with corresponding monthly payments for those who prefer to finance their hardware.

Real Networks Debuts Listen Ringback Tone App

Apr 10, 2014, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Real Networks today announced a new service it hopes will help revive the market for ringback tones. Listen is an Android application that lets users replace the ring tone their callers hear with either music or status updates. Listen allows users to choose different tracks/messages for everyone in their contact list. Listen offers auto-set functionality for holidays or special occasions, and includes the latest music selections. Real Networks goes so far as to call Listen a productivity took, suggesting it be used by the subscriber to explain to callers why they can't answer the phone and even offer times when it would be good to call back. At launch, Listen is only available to T-Mobile subscribers.

T-Mobile Drops Entry-Level Plan to $40, But Caps Data

Apr 9, 2014, 10:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 9, 2014, 12:28 PM

T-Mobile today introduced a new low-cost plan for customers who don't need international messaging nor large buckets of data. The Simple Starter plan will be available beginning April 12 and it includes unlimited voice minutes, unlimited domestic messaging, and 500MB of LTE data (with tethering) for $40 per month. The plan is capped at 500MB. Customers who surpass 500MB in a 30-day billing cycle will see their data service suspended for the remainder of the cycle. However, T-Mobile will warn customers once they reach 450MB and offer them the option to buy a 500MB daily pass for $5 or a 1GB weekly pass for $10. According to T-Mobile, the company will still cover the ETFs of customers who switch to this new plan. The company is also offering its Jump device upgrade plan to Simple Starter subscribers. The promotional plan will be available for a limited time, though T-Mobile didn't say for how long.

AT&T and Transit Wireless Eye 242 More NYC Subway Stops

Apr 9, 2014, 8:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and Transit Wireless today announced plans to expand their current project, which is bringing wireless service to New York City's subway stations. Transit and its partners have already lit up service at 30 stations, mostly in midtown Manhattan, with several sprinkled throughout the Chelsea neighborhood, as well. Transit is already working on Phase Two of its project, which will add cell service to 29 underground stations in the borough of Queens and 11 more in Manhattan by the end of summer. AT&T and Transit said they will eventually offer service in an additional 242 stations around the city, though they didn't provide a timeframe for the expansion or details on exactly which stations. Transit also partners with Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, but they haven't yet announced plans to offer expanded coverage.

U.S. Cellular Debuts New No-Contract and Installment Plans

Apr 7, 2014, 12:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular today announced several new initiatives it hopes will lure potential customers to the smaller operator. First, it is offering three new service plans. Customers can choose plans that cost $40, $50, or $60 per month. The first plan is for feature phones and includes unlimited voice and messaging, as well as an unspecified amount of simple web browsing. The second and third plans are for smartphones. The $50 option includes 500MB of data before throttling and the $60 option includes 2GB before throttling. U.S. Cellular added a device installment plan, too. Customers can choose to pay full price for their phone or break the device payments up over time. U.S. Cellular is not offering early upgrades, however. Last, U.S. Cellular will, for a temporary time, compensate new customers up to $350 if they switch from another carrier and join its Shared Connect plan with a device installment payment. U.S. Cellular's changes mirror those made by other companies in recent weeks, including Sprint and T-Mobile.

Hands-On: Nokia Lumia 630/635

Apr 2, 2014, 7:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here are our first impressions of the Nokia Lumia 630 and 635. This entry-level Windows Phone replaces the 520 and offers a lot of smartphone for the buck. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and adds support for LTE 4G networks, including those run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

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AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS to Sell Nokia Lumia 635

Apr 2, 2014, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS all indicated today that they will sell the Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone once it becomes available later this year. The phone features a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-megapixel camera, LTE 4G, and Windows Phone 8.1

T-Mobile Backpedals on Employer Rate Plans

Apr 2, 2014, 2:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has reversed a policy change it announced last week that would have seen the end of employer rate discount plans. The plans were to be discontinued, but after listening to customer feedback, existing enrollees will be grandfathered in. New customers will not be able to sign up for the program, however.

BlackBerry Hangs Up On T-Mobile

Apr 1, 2014, 10:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today announced it will not renew T-Mobile's license to sell BlackBerry handsets when the current agreement expires on April 25. BlackBerry said its existing T-Mobile customers will not see any change in their level of service or support. The company also noted that it is working with other U.S. carriers to make sure T-Mobile customers can transition seamlessly if they wish to continue using BlackBerries for the long term. "BlackBerry has had a positive relationship with T-Mobile for many years. Regretfully, at this time, our strategies are not complementary and we must act in the best interest of our BlackBerry customers," said BlackBerry CEO John Chen. "We hope to work with T-Mobile again in the future when our business strategies are aligned." T-Mobile recently ran a promotion that encouraged BlackBerry users to trade in their BlackBerries for other new smartphones. BlackBerry's Chen was not happy about the promotion, and said as much in a scathing blog post.

T-Mobile to Do Away with Employer Rate Plan Discounts

Mar 29, 2014, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning April 1, T-Mobile will no longer offer monthly discounts to employees of certain companies. In the past, T-Mobile offered these discounts to help close large corporate sales. Given the changes T-Mobile has made to its service plans and device purchasing policies over the last year, T-Mobile feels the practice of offering employer discounts is now outdated. In its place, T-Mobile will offer those employees $25 toward the purchase of a new device. "This change is about simplifying wireless for everyone, including employees of small and large companies alike," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a statement. "It's simple, clear and transparent – like everything we do."

Sprint, T-Mobile, Rural Carriers Prepping 'Data Hub'

Mar 26, 2014, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Competitive Carrier Association is expected to announce what it calls the Data Access Hub at an event later this week. The Hub is a collection of roaming agreements between small, rural carriers and larger ones, such as Sprint and T-Mobile. The purpose of the Hub is to give Sprint and T-Mobile access to the rural networks of regional carriers, and give those regional carriers access to Sprint and T-Mobile's metropolitan LTE 4G networks. With expanded coverage, Sprint and T-Mobile will be better able to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. "The hub is all about providing coverage," said CCA president Steve Berry to CNET. "It would take billions of dollars and several years to build the kind of coverage AT&T and Verizon have today. That's why this concept of the hub is so empowering to smaller players and bigger operators like Sprint and T-Mobile. It gives them choices and incentives to invest in the networks they already operate." Carriers need only sign a single agreement with the Hub, and they'll be granted roaming access to all the other carriers that participate in the Hub. The Hub will include all current wireless technologies, including 2G, 3G, and LTE 4G. Berry said devices that can support nearly all U.S. LTE bands are on the way and, together with VoLTE, will give Hub members' customers a much better experience as they move around the country. More details will be revealed on Thursday.

T-Mobile Says HTC One Will Be In Stores By April 11

Mar 25, 2014, 3:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said that its variant of the HTC One will be available online and in stores on April 11. T-Mobile is asking for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $26.50.

HTC One Available Today, In Verizon Stores Immediately

Mar 25, 2014, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The HTC One can be purchased in the U.S. beginning today. The new smartphone from HTC will be available in Verizon Wireless retail stores beginning at approximately 1PM Eastern time. At the same time, the One will go on sale through the web sites of AT&T, Sprint, and HTC itself. T-Mobile is not offering web orders today. The One will not reach AT&T or Sprint retail stores until April 11, but can be ordered online today for delivery within several days. The One will become available from T-Mobile at some point in early April. The device retails for $199/$249, depending on the carrier, and has a full retail price of $649.

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T-Mobile Offering Galaxy S5 for $0 Down

Mar 20, 2014, 4:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 22, 2014, 2:36 PM

T-Mobile today announced that its variant of the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available for preorder beginning March 24. T-Mobile is offering the device for $0 down, followed by 24 monthly payments of $27.50 (~$660 total over two years). Those who preorder before March 31 will be eligible for $120 off the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. T-Mobile indicated that more than 500,000 people have preregistered for information about the GS5, but people who actually preorder before March 31 will be the first to receive it once it goes on sale. T-Mobile didn't say when the device might ship, nor did it announce plans to carry the Gear 2 or Gear Fit wearable devices.

Straight Talk Now Selling Nano SIM Cards

Mar 13, 2014, 4:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Straight Talk, an MVNO that runs a bring-your-own-device service, is now offering nano SIM cards. Nano SIMs are the smallest SIM cards available, and fit devices such as the iPhone 5/5s/5c, Moto X, and select Droids. The nano SIM cards cost $6.99. Customers can buy the SIM cards directly from Straight Talk and use them in unlocked GSM handsets. Service plans for smartphones start at $45 per month and include unlimited voice minutes and messaging, and 2.5GB of high-speed data. Straight Talk's service runs on the networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile around the U.S.

T-Mobile Files Cease and Desist Against Verizon Over Ads

Mar 13, 2014, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it has taken legal action against Verizon Wireless for what it claims are misleading advertisements. Verizon has run a series of TV commercials that pit the nation's four largest network footprints directly against one another via coverage maps. According to T-Mobile, Verizon is minimizing T-Mobile's actual coverage. "Verizon's ink blots massively understate our coverage and don't begin to represent the actual customer experience on T-Mobile's network," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "So we're setting the record straight - both by demanding an end to the misinformation, and by going straight to the people with the truth." T-Mobile filed a cease and desist demanding that Verizon halt the network map advertising campaign. It accuses Verizon of "cherry-picking a single network technology to depict in its ads rather than accurately reflecting the many technologies widely in use today." T-Mobile is launching a new ad campaign of its own in order to combat Verizon's ads.

T-Mobile To Repurpose EDGE Network for LTE Expansion

Mar 13, 2014, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 13, 2014, 8:29 AM

T-Mobile today revealed more details about the growth of its LTE network. According to T-Mobile, its LTE now covers 210 million people in 273 metro areas nationwide, with its HSPA+ network covering 230 million. T-Mobile said its LTE network will reach 230 million people by mid-year and 250 million by year's end. Right now, T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its AWS spectrum assets. The company today said that it will begin upgrading the remainder of its 2G/EDGE network with LTE 4G. T-Mobile expects about half of its 2G/EDGE network will be converted to LTE by the end of the year, with the rest following by mid-2015. Last, the company said it plans to begin deploying LTE in the 700MHz A Block spectrum as soon as the transaction with Verizon Wireless is complete. Verizon agreed to sell T-Mobile a wide swath of 700MHz late last year. T-Mobile didn't say when the transaction will close. T-Mobile claims to cover 96% of Americans with its network, be it EDGE, HSPA+, or LTE. Once these network upgrades are completed in 2015, T-Mobile will offer LTE in the 700MHz, 1700MHz, and 1900MHz bands.

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SoftBank CEO Critical of U.S. Wireless Market

Mar 11, 2014, 4:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son spoke to lawmakers today about the state of the U.S. wireless market. According to Son, the networks aren't fast enough and consumers are paying too much for them. "American consumers use less data traffic, but pay more. Is that a good situation?" posed Son. Son pitched the idea of entering the home broadband market as an alternative for consumers to companies such as Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon. "We need an alternative. I would like to volunteer, we would like to be the alternative," said Son. "We got the technology, we have to deploy many cells, it requires a lot of capital expenditure, it requires a lot of scale. We are bringing new technology to the States. Speed matters, with better speed we can bring next-generation applications and content." Son hopes his remarks help change the minds of those who might otherwise shoot down Sprint's possible acquisition of T-Mobile.

SoftBank on T-Mobile: 'We Have to Give It a Shot'

Mar 11, 2014, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is convinced the only way Sprint and T-Mobile can compete against AT&T and Verizon is for the two smaller carriers to merge. Speaking on television with Charlie Rose, Son indicated that even though U.S. regulators have warned such a deal would face stiff opposition, Sprint is going to pursue T-Mobile anyway. "We would like to make the deal happen, but there are steps and details that we have to work out," said Son. "We have to give it a shot." AT&T and Verizon together control two-thirds of the U.S. wireless market. Even combined, Sprint and T-Mobile would be smaller than AT&T and Verizon Wireless by tens of millions of customers. Son said if the deal goes through, he'll launch a price war against the two larger carriers in order to break up the duopoly. Son and his team are actively engaging people in the wireless industry as well as in the government in order to convince them the deal has merit. Only after Son feels he has swayed their opinions will the company make an official bid for T-Mobile.

T-Mobile Re-arranges Data Caps on Simple Choice Plans, Adds International Texting

Mar 7, 2014, 7:25 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 7, 2014, 7:32 PM

T-Mobile tonight announced changes to its existing Simple Choice plans. At the lowest tier - people currently paying $50/month for the first line - the high-speed (4G) data cap doubles from 500 MB to 1 GB. The next tier also sees an increase, from 2.5 GB to 3 GB. However the third data tier - which starts at $70/month for the first line - will change from unlimited to a new cap at 5 GB, although existing customers will be grandfathered and keep unlimited data. Unlimited data for new customers will now only be available with a new tier starting at $80/month for the first line. Also, while Simple Choice plans already offered free global roaming in 115 countries for text and basic data, they will now also include free unlimited texting from the U.S. to other countries, and the number of countries has grown to 122. As before, extra lines cost $30/month for the second line and $10/month for lines 3-5. Also, extra data (such as $30/month for unlimited) is multiplied by the number of lines. Existing Simple Choice customers will automatically be upgraded to the new plans on March 23 for post-paid, or April 26 for pre-paid.

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AT&T Quietly Lights Up Carrier Aggregation in Chicago

Mar 6, 2014, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 7, 2014, 10:32 AM

AT&T has improved its LTE network in Chicago and several other markets by using an LTE-Advanced technique called Carrier Aggregation. GigaOm confirmed the soft launch with AT&T SVP of Network Technologies Kris Rinne. With Carrier Aggregation, AT&T has combined the channels of its existing spectrum to double the capacity. AT&T is running LTE in both the 700MHz and AWS bands in Chicago. By aggregating the channels together, AT&T can deliver theoretical peak download speeds of 110Mbps to devices with the proper radio support. At the moment, AT&T is selling only one device with Carrier Aggregation, the Unite mobile hotspot. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is expected to be the first smartphone to support Carrier Aggregation in the U.S. AT&T did not name the other two markets that have access to Carrier Aggregation, but said that more markets on are on the way. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of deploying Carrier Aggregation in their own LTE networks.

Isis Promo Suggests New Yorkers Use It to Pay Cab Fare

Mar 5, 2014, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 5, 2014, 1:20 PM

Isis today announced another promotion with the goal of coaxing smartphone owners into using its tap-and-go mobile payment service. The promotion will give American Express card holders who've registered their card with Isis a statement credit when they use Isis to pay for a ride in a medallioned New York City yellow cab. Isis will credit users back for 50% of the fare up to a maximum of $100. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. About two dozen different Android devices are compatible with the system, which requires a secure SIM card, NFC, a credit card from a participating financial firm, and the Isis mobile application. The iPhone requires a separate case, which costs $70, to use Isis. It is free to sign up for Isis.

SoftBank May Appeal to U.S. Public for T-Mobile Support

Mar 4, 2014, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is prepared to take a new tack in its pursuit of T-Mobile: asking other businesses to approve. Son plans to appeal directly to the U.S. business community and to policy makers in the hope that it can convince them further consolidation in the industry is a good thing, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Son has already been warned by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission that a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would undergo intense regulatory scrutiny. Son is prepared to speak at the Chamber of Commerce next week regarding competition in the wireless industry. It is possible he will use that stage to make his plea for a combined Sprint/T-Mobile. Son contends that neither Sprint nor T-Mobile can compete on their own against AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which together control two-thirds of the U.S. wireless market.

T-Mobile to Begin Decommissioning MetroPCS Network this Year

Feb 25, 2014, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said that its plan to migrate MetroPCS customers away from the MetroPCS network to T-Mobile's network is ahead of schedule. About 3.5 million customers, or 40% of its base, have already switched. As such, it plans to shutter MetroPCS's network in three markets by the end of the year. Those markets include Boston, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas. T-Mobile said it expects minimal disruption to customers in those cities, though it will ramp up efforts to swap customers to T-Mobile gear over the next few months. T-Mobile has already repurposed 25% of MetroPCS's spectrum.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile Hop On Galaxy S5 Express

Feb 24, 2014, 2:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile each today affirmed that it will off the Samsung Galaxy S5 when it goes on sale in April. Exact sales dates and pricing were not shared by the carriers.

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T-Mobile Takes Another Angle on BlackBerry Promo

Feb 19, 2014, 6:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced a new promotion meant to quell the anger it caused recently among BlackBerry users. Beginning Friday, T-Mobile is offering all BlackBerry users (even those on other carriers) $200 to bring in their old, working BlackBerry and trade it in for any smartphone currently sold by T-Mobile. This offer can be combined with T-Mobile's Contract Freedom promotion, which pays the Early Termination Fee associated with some contracts. That means potential customers can get up to $200 by trading in their old BlackBerry as well as have their ETF taken care of. Taking it a step further, T-Mobile is offering its own, existing BlackBerry customers an additional $50 (total of $250) if they upgrade from an old BlackBerry to a new BlackBerry Q10 or Z10 smartphone. The promotion rolls out to retail stores February 21. T-Mobile said that it will offer expedited shipping to customers for BlackBerries not stocked in its stores.

Transit Wireless Enters Phase 2 of NYC Subway Project

Feb 19, 2014, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 19, 2014, 11:00 AM

Transit Wireless today announced that it has begun Phase Two of its project to bring cellular and Wi-Fi wireless service to New York City's subway stations. The first step of Phase Two is to light up service at 11 more midtown Manhattan stations, including those at Grand Central Terminal, 34th St. Herald Square, and Bryant Park. The bulk of Phase Two, however, targets 29 stations in Queens. Transit Wireless is building a hub in Queens to help manage the infrastructure from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The Queens build out begins in March and should be complete by June. Transit Wireless has not said if or when it will offer subway station service in the boroughs of the Bronx or Brooklyn.

BlackBerry 'Outraged' Over T-Mobile Promotion

Feb 18, 2014, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 18, 2014, 3:41 PM

BlackBerry CEO John Chen took T-Mobile to task today for a campaign it recently ran suggesting that BlackBerry customers drop their BlackBerry in favor of a different smartphone on T-Mobile. In a post to the company's blog, Chen thanked BlackBerry's customers for speaking out in protest of the "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion." Chen said it is working on a special promotion for T-Mobile BlackBerry customers that it will reveal soon. Chen finished by saying, "I would like to remind [T-Mobile] that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile. I hope we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again. Notwithstanding the current challenge, we remain very excited about BlackBerry’s future."

T-Mobile to Let Customers 'Jump' to New Phones More Often

Feb 14, 2014, 1:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said that beginning February 23 customers of its Jump early upgrade program will be able to upgrade more often than twice per year. "Whenever you're ready to upgrade, trade in your device and T-Mobile will pay your remaining device payments up to 50% of the device cost," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. "There is no more waiting period or limit to the number of times you can upgrade per year." T-Mobile is requiring that customers pay off half the cost of their phone before upgrading, though. Many phones carry a full retail price of $600 or more. T-Mobile's Jump plans carry a $10 premium over regular plan pricing. The more frequent upgrades mirror those offered under Verizon's Edge plans.

T-Mobile's Moto X Earns Android 4.4.2

Feb 11, 2014, 3:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today released Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the T-Mobile variant of the Motorola Moto X. The update adds cloud printing, improves battery life, and resolves an email sync issue. In addition to the system software upgrade, the minor OS boost includes several bug fixes. The update is free to download and install.

Sprint No Longer Sure About T-Mobile Bid

Feb 10, 2014, 8:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is rethinking its intent to make a bid for T-Mobile after the idea was met with skepticism from government officials. Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son and CEO Dan Hesse met with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission in recent weeks. Both agencies indicated a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would face tough resistance from antitrust regulators. Though Son and Hesse knew the idea would be meet some pushback, they were surprised by the level of skepticism for the deal, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. Sprint and T-Mobile contend that the only way for them to effectively combat AT&T and Verizon Wireless is to join forces. U.S. officials have, however, made it abundantly clear they prefer to have four national carriers and not three. The Journal says Sprint may yet make a play for T-Mobile, but will likely spend weeks or longer to weigh its options.

Court Tells Aio Wireless to Pick a Different Color

Feb 8, 2014, 5:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced that it has triumphed over Aio Wireless regarding a trademark infringement lawsuit. T-Mobile believes Aio Wireless's use of a "plum" color in its logo was too close to T-Mobile's own magenta color and branding. It sued Aio Wireless, insisting the company switch colors to avoid consumer confusion. A federal court agreed with T-Mobile's position. Aio has been told to cease using the color in its marketing, advertising, stores, web sites, and social media. Aio Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.

Wells Fargo Offering Credit to Encourage Isis Use

Feb 5, 2014, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Isis is offering Wells Fargo cardholders up to $300 to join Isis and use Isis to make mobile payments. Wells Fargo customers who sign up for Isis will receive a $20 account credit the first time they use Isis to make a payment. Further, between now and April 30, Wells Fargo will offer 20% cash back in statement credits on all Isis purchases, up to $100 per calendar month over the next three months. Isis is a joint venture supported by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The mobile payment system is available to about 50 smartphones and uses NFC and a mobile app for tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis launched on Android devices in November, but only recently became available to the iPhone through an NFC-equipped case.

FCC 'Highly Skeptical' About Sprint/T-Mobile Tie-Up

Feb 4, 2014, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, told executives from SoftBank and Sprint he is highly skeptical a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would pass regulatory review. SoftBank's Masayoshi Son and Sprint's Dan Hesse met with Wheeler Monday in an attempt to convince the FCC it would be beneficial to the market for Sprint and T-Mobile to combine in order to better fight AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Wheeler said he would keep an open mind about such a deal, according to sources cited by Reuters, but he also repeated the sentiment given by the U.S. Department of Justice that a merger between the No. 3 and No. 4 carriers would face a long road toward gaining regulatory approval.

SoftBank's Masayoshi Son to Meet with FCC

Feb 3, 2014, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is meeting with the head of the Federal Communications Commission today in an attempt to convince the regulatory body that combining Sprint and T-Mobile would be good for the wireless industry. Last week, officials at the U.S. Department of Justice indicated to Son and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse that the agency would not look favorably on such a merger and it would face heavy scrutiny. Son is already holding high-level talks with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company. The companies have not publicly announced plans to merge and are still hashing out details, such as a potential break-up fee, which management team would lead moving forward, and which brand would be preserved. Son intends to argue to the FCC that a combined T-Mobile/Sprint would be a stronger competitor to market leaders AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse will also attend the meeting.

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