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printed February 11, 2016
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T-Mobile Selling LG K7 for $140

Yesterday, 9:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today made the LG K7 available for sale from its web site. The phone, announced last month, has a 5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, 5-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel selfie camera, and LTE 4G. T-mobile is selling the handset for $139.99 at full retail or for $5.84 for 24 months. Boost Mobile is selling the K7 as the Tribute 5.


Alcatel Windows 10 Fierce XL Hits T-Mobile's Site

Yesterday, 8:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has made the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL with Windows 10 available from its web site. The phone, announced earlier this year, has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen, a 1.1GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, an 8-megapixel main camera with flash, and a 2-megapixel front camera. The Fierce XL supports LTE 4G along with VoLTE, HD voice, and WiFi calling. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $139.99 or 24 payments of $5.84. T-Mobile hasn't indicated yet if the Fierce XL with Windows is available in stores. T-Mobile also sells an Android variant of the Fierce XL.


Walmart Adds 10GB Plan and 'Binge On' Service

Yesterday, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Walmart Family Mobile has rolled out a new plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of LTE 4G data for $49.88 per month. Users who surpass the 10 GB cap will be throttled down to 2G speeds. In addition to the high-capacity plan, Walmart Family Mobile also debuted a feature called Data Saver, which mimics T-Mobile's Binge On service. With Data Saver enabled, Walmart Family Mobile customers can watch compressed, DVD-quality video to reduce data consumption. Data Saver can be turned on or off at will. Walmart Family Mobile is an MVNO that operates on T-Mobile's network. The new 10 GB plan with Data Saver will be available only for a limited time. Walmart Family Mobile also offers a 1 GB plan for $30 per month and a 5 GB plan for $40 per month.


T-Mobile Offers Families Unlimited Data for $150

Feb 3, 2016, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today rolled out a new promotion that will give families of four unlimited talk, text, and data each for a total of $150 per month. Other options include four lines with 10 GB each for $120 per month, or two lines with 10 GB each for $100 per month. The promotion, which T-Mobile said will be available for a limited time, is open to new and existing customers and does not require port-ins, trade-ins, or handset purchases. T-Mobile said the new Family Match plan can be combined with the buy-one, get-one half-off offer currently available for certain phones.


US Mobile Yanks Xiaomi and Meizu Phones

Feb 2, 2016, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi has forced MVNO US Mobile to backtrack on plans to sell several Xiaomi handsets to U.S. consumers. "Recent reports have indicated that Xiaomi products will be available in the U.S. Xiaomi only offers a small selection of accessories for sale in the U.S. through Mi.com," said Xiaomi in a statement. However, "there are no plans to sell smartphones through any authorized distributors in the U.S. US Mobile is not authorized to sell Xiaomi products in the U.S." The small operator has pulled the selection of Xiaomi and Meizu phones from its web store. T-Mobile wants to put the phones, which don't operate on its LTE network, through extra certification procedures. US Mobile has not responded publicly to Xiaomi's statement.


US Mobile Selling Xiaomi and Meizu Handsets

Feb 1, 2016, 9:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Mobile recently added several phones from Xiaomi and Meizu to its lineup, making it the first U.S. carrier to sell the Chinese handsets. Xiaomi and Meizu have both said they intend to enter the U.S. market, but have so far not landed any carrier deals. That changes today. U.S. Mobile is offering the Xiaomi Redmi 2 for $119, the Xiaomi Mi 3 for $139, the Xiaomi Mi 4i for $219, and the Meizu M2 Note for $149. U.S. Mobile is a prepaid carrier that resells access to T-Mobile's network. The phones from Xiaomi and Meizu run Android and can access T-Mobile's HSPA network, but not its LTE service. U.S. Mobile offers a wide assortment of service plans that can be customized to suit individual budgets. The Xiaomi and Meizu phone are available directly from U.S. Mobile's web site, where it sells an assortment of competing smartphones. "U.S. consumers have traditionally had to compromise to afford incredible devices," said Ahmed Khattak, founder and CEO of US Mobile. "Now, with the launch of our marketplace, we are thrilled to offer complete range of exceptional smartphones for low monthly payments and to give our customers access to exceptional phones otherwise not available in the U.S."


T-Mobile Offering Free Phone to New Prepaid Customers

Feb 1, 2016, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile will give a free phone to new customers who sign up for one of its prepaid services. The free phone deal kicks off February 3 and includes the Coolpad Rogue, ZTE Obsidian, LG Leon, and Samsung Core Prime. Customers must select a Simply Prepaid, Simple Choice Prepaid, or Simple Choice No Credit plan valued at $40 per month and up in order to receive the free phone. Customers who opt for a Simple Choice No Credit plan can receive an extra $50 mail-in rebate when activating a second line. T-Mobile didn't say how long the free phone deal will be available.


Huawei's Honor 5X Reaches the US January 31

Jan 29, 2016, 3:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 3, 2016, 3:50 PM

Huawei today said the Honor 5X handset will be available as planned on January 31. The mid-range 5X supports AT&T and T-Mobile LTE 4G bands and has a unibody aluminum design. The phone includes a 5.5-inch full HD display, 13-megapixel camera, and 1.5 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 616 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Honor 5X also includes a 3,000 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, and 5-megapixel front camera. It costs $200 and is available from HiHonor.com, Amazon.com, and Newegg.com.


T-Mobile Adds Video Services and Controls to Binge On

Jan 28, 2016, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today increased the number of content partners available to its Binge On service by four. T-Mobile customers can now stream video content from Amazon Video, Fox News, Univision NOW, and WWE Network over LTE without impacting their monthly data bucket. T-Mobile says Binge On is available through more than 40 content providers. In addition to the broader selection of partners, T-Mobile is making the service easier to manage. Customers can now use short codes to change personal settings, such as #BOF# to turn Binge On off, or #BON# to turn it back on. Further, T-Mobile has updated MyT-Mobile.com and the official T-Mobile app so Binge On settings can be adjusted with less digging and fewer clicks. The revised app is being made available to select Android handsets today and will expand to more Android devices, as well as the iPhone, in the weeks ahead. T-Mobile's Binge On service has come under fire for downgrading the quality of all video (even that of non-partners, such as YouTube) to 480p by default. Customers wishing to watch content in higher resolutions need to turn the service off. The FCC has asked T-Mobile for more details about Binge On, which may run afoul of net neutrality regulations.


T-Mobile Bumps Up Prepaid Data Packages

Jan 28, 2016, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has increased the amount of data available to its Simply Prepaid customers. The entry-level $40 plan improves from 1 GB per month to 3 GB per month, while the $50 plan improves from 3 GB to 5 GB, and the $60 plan improves from 5 GB to 10 GB. All three include unlimited talk and text, but international calling/messaging services require extra fees. Those who don't need data can grab an unlimited talk-and-text plan for $25 per month.


T-Mobile Kicks Off BOGO Handset Sale

Jan 27, 2016, 9:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is running a limited promotion for customers on Simple Choice plans that can help them save some cash on hardware purchases. Beginning today, new and existing customers can buy one phone at full price and get a second phone of equal or lesser value from the same manufacturer for half price. T-Mobile says the deal can be used for some of its flagship phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG V10. T-Mobile believes the promotion is idea for families or small businesses looking to upgrade their phones. It will allow customers to purchase up to six handsets at half price. No trade-in is required. T-Mobile didn't say how long the promo will be available.


T-Mobile Again Accused of Fraud by Consumer Groups

Jan 27, 2016, 9:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A consumer watchdog group has filed a complaint with the FCC accusing T-Mobile of inflating customers' bills and misleading consumers through its advertising. The Change to Win Retail Initiative is asking the FCC to investigate T-Mobile's business practices. The organization alleges that T-Mobile enrolls customers in unwanted add-on services without permission, and that retail sales staff are pressured to tack on the add-ons (device insurance, unlimited data) in order to avoid poor performance reviews. The group complains that T-Mobile's "no contract" marketing is misleading, as service plans are paired with monthly device financing costs. Last, the group says T-Mobile misleads customers about its offer to repay ETFs, including "the method, timing and eligibility for reimbursement" of fees when switching from competing carriers. Change to Win's complaint follows a similar one lodged against the Uncarrier in December by several other consumer action groups. T-Mobile has not responded to the latest allegations, and the FCC has not publicly commented on Change to Win's complaint.


MetroPCS Goes After Sprint Customers with Discounts

Jan 20, 2016, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 21, 2016, 12:47 PM

T-Mobile-owned MetroPCS is targeting Sprint customers with new service and handset discounts. Starting January 21, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who switch to MetroPCS can save up to 50% off Sprint's Family Share Pack pricing. For example, a single ported line can save between 22% and 48%, while two or more lines can save between 23% and 50%, depending on a number of variables such as existing plan cost, new plan pricing, and local taxes. Customers who switch can keep the low rate plans as long as they remain with MetroPCS. The promotion includes unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, Data Maximizer and mobile hotspot. MetroPCS is offering switchers a free LG Leon LTE, Kyocera Hydro Wave, Samsung Core Prime, LG K7, or $50 rebate that can be applied to any phone sold by MetroPCS. Last, MetroPCS is offering its existing customers a $20 discount when adding an extra 5GB line. T-Mobile said the promotion will be available for a limited time, but didn't provide an end date.


T-Mobile Shares Priv Launch Details

Jan 19, 2016, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said the BlackBerry Priv smartphone will reach company stores on January 26. Customers who choose T-Mobile's Jump On Demand leasing program can score the Priv for $0 down and monthly payments of $34. People interested in taking a more traditional purchasing route can finance the phone for $30 per month for 24 months, or pay the full retail price of $719. T-Mobile says the Priv is privy to all of the Uncarrier benefits, such as Music Freedom and Binge On. The BlackBerry Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The phone is already being sold by AT&T and will soon be sold by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.


Sony Says Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact Reaching US February 7

Jan 14, 2016, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 14, 2016, 10:38 AM

Sony today announced that the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 smartphones will go on sale in the U.S. on February 7. The Z5 will cost $599.99 and the Z5 Compact (pictured) will cost $499.99. The handsets will be sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile's networks. The two high-end Android smartphones were first announced in September last year. The Z5 series features premium metal-and-glass designs, 23-megapixel cameras, and water resistance to 3 feet. Sony will sell the phones directly to consumers online via Amazon.com, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video.


FCC Says Applications for Incentive Auction Due Today

Jan 12, 2016, 2:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Today marks the deadline for companies planning to participate in the upcoming reverse auction to file their applications. The FCC will accept entries until the end of the day. In February, the agency will release a tutorial for participants to learn how to bid in the auction, and the auction itself will begin March 29. Television broadcasters are being encouraged to offer up their 600MHz spectrum, which will in turn be auctioned off to wireless companies. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are expected to participate, though Sprint will sit the auction out. The National Association of Broadcasters commended the FCC on its hard work. "NAB expects robust broadcaster participation in the reverse auction, and we hope to see similarly robust participation from wireless bidders in the forward auction," said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. The FCC expects the auction will take several months to complete.


AT&T Brings Back Unlimited Data for TV Customers

Jan 11, 2016, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said new and existing customers can once again select an unlimited data mobile plan — as long as they are also a customer of AT&T-owned DirecTV or U-Verse. The unlimited plan includes unlimited LTE 4G, unlimited voice, and unlimited messaging. The first line costs $100 per month, with the second and third lines costing $40 each. Adding a fourth line would be free. Other devices may be added to the unlimited plan as well, such as tablets ($40), watches ($10), and feature phones ($25). AT&T says the unlimited plan is "the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016." AT&T's television customers who aren't yet wireless customers are eligible to receive up to $500 in credits when switching to AT&T with a trade-in. On the flip side, AT&T wireless customers who aren't already television customers can receive discounted service for the first year. AT&T and Verizon Wireless haven't offered unlimited data plans for several years, preferring instead to sell customers buckets of data access. T-Mobile and Sprint still offer unlimited data packages, but have raised prices in recent months. AT&T didn't say if the new unlimited plan is a permanent addition to its offering, or a limited promotion.


Republic Wireless MVNO to Add GSM-Based Service

Jan 9, 2016, 11:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Republic Wireless, an MVNO that operates on Sprint's network, says it has signed a deal with a GSM-based carrier and will expand service with a GSM smartphone later this year. Republic's SVP of sales Lon France told Fierce Wireless the device will be a high-end Motorola handset, though he didn't name the exact model nor the new carrier partner (likely T-Mobile). The company will also introduce a new version of its WiFi calling app when GSM-based services become available. The company is targeting March or April for the GSM launch


LG K7 Coming to T-Mobile and MetroPCS, Too

Jan 6, 2016, 6:26 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile and MetroPCS will both sell the K7 Android phone recently announced by LG. LG previously announced that Boost would carry the same phone branded as the Tribute 5.

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Polaroid Shows Off Two Android Smartphones

Jan 6, 2016, 5:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Polaroid today announced the Power and Snap smartphones, two Android handsets that will be sold to U.S. consumers online. Polaroid did not make these phones; instead, it licensed its brand to Southern Telecom, which designed and manufactured the handsets. The phones offer attractive price points and will be sold unlocked. Each runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, has LTE compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and supports microSD memory cards.

  • Polaroid Power: The Power (pictured) is the company's high-end offering. It has a 6-inch full HD screen, 64-bit octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage. The rear camera rates 13 megapixels with dual LED flash, and the front camera rates 8 megapixels paired with a selfie flash. The Power has a 3,000mAh battery and will cost $249.99.
  • Polaroid Snap: The Snap is a series of phones that will come in 5-, 5.5-, and 6-inch variants. All versions have a quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, and 720p HD displays. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with flash and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with selfie flash. Pricing will range from $129.99 to $179.99, depending on screen size.
The Polaroid Power and Snap are expected to reach the U.S. in the spring and February, respectively. Polaroid said more details will be available closer to release.


Sprint Extends 50% Rate Promo Through February 11

Jan 6, 2016, 4:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint will continue to offer AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers a 50% reduction in service plan costs if they switch to Sprint. The promotion, first introduced in November, was set to expire January 8 and now runs through February 11. Sprint is also offering up to $650 per line to reimburse ETFs and other fees for those who port their number to Sprint. Sprint said the promotion has been well received by consumers, which is why it extended the program.


BlackBerry Priv Wins Support from Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

Jan 6, 2016, 2:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today said Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the Priv smartphone. T-Mobile's variant launches January 26. Sprint and Verizon haven't yet set sales dates. The Priv is already available from AT&T. The carrier deals are a major win for BlackBerry, which claims demand for the Android-powered device is robust.


Macate Intros the Secure GATCA Elite Smartphone

Jan 6, 2016, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 6, 2016, 2:48 PM

Macate today announced the GATCA Elite, a smartphone that boasts advanced security tools. The phone was designed with VIPs in mind. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and offers 256-bit or 512-bit encryption, which goes beyond government-grade security. It relies on biometrics (facial recognition) to secure the handset. The facial recognition can't be fooled by a photograph thanks to "liveliness detection." The GATCA Elite has advanced controls over files, folders, location, and even the SIM card slot. For example, the phone can be set to automatically shut down if an unknown SIM card is inserted. The phone ships with a suite of pre-installed apps for securing basic communications, including calls, email, and messaging — all of which are encrypted from end to end. It includes a video conferencing app that supports up to 20 participants. The handset has a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and is powered by a 1.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6735 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It has a 13-megapixl rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. It includes LTE Bands 2, 4, 5, 12, and 17 for compatibility with AT&T and T-Mobile. Macate is selling the GATCA Elite online for $850.

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Hands-On with the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL with Windows

Jan 6, 2016, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Making good on a promise it made last year, Alcatel has shown off its first Windows 10 smartphone. Rather than start from scratch, the copy repurposed the Fierce XL handset, swapping Android for Windows. Here are our first impressions of this handset bound for T-Mobile.

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Freetel Sets Sites On US Market with Japanese Handsets

Jan 6, 2016, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Freetel today announced plans to sell its smartphones in the U.S. Freetel is one of the larger wireless network operators in Japan and also makes its own smartphones. The company believes the time is ripe to enter the U.S. based on the growing sales of unlocked handsets. Freetel will initially launch three phones during the first quarter, including the flagship Kiwami, the mid-range Miyabi, and the entry-level Priori3. The Kiwami is a high-end metal phone with a 6-inch quad HD screen, 21-megapixel Sony camera, 3,400mAh battery, fingerprint sensor, and rapid charging. It costs $389. The Miyabi has a 5-inch screen, 13-megapixel camera with image stabilization, and a metallic frame. It will cost $199. The Priori3 is a smaller, plastic handset that will cost $99. All three run Android, support LTE for AT&T and T-Mobile, and will be sold unlocked. Later in the year, Freetel hopes to bring the Musashi (pictured) to the U.S. This unique Android handset is a clamshell that features dual 4-inch touchscreen displays with a full numeric keypad. Pricing for the Musashi was not revealed.


WeBoost, SureCall Roll Out In-Home Signal Boosters

Jan 6, 2016, 1:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

WeBoost and SureCall both used CES as an opportunity to show off new cell signal boosters. Both products work in a similar fashion: they collect cell signals from nearby cell towers, amplify them, and rebroadcast them within the home to improve coverage and signal strength. Each has two components — an antenna that is aimed at a cell tower and a broadcaster for supplying in-home coverage. WeBoost's product is called the eqo and resembles a WiFi router. WeBoost says the eqo is improved over its older products because the antenna can be kept indoors, rather than installed outside. This makes it more convenient for apartment dwellers. It can improve coverage over an area of about 1,200 square feet and costs $349. The SureCall EZ 4G is similar. Its antenna resembles a radar dish. The SureCall EZ 4G also provides one to two rooms of coverage and costs $399.99. The eqo and EZ 4G support CDMA, GSM, and LTE, and are compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.


Hands On with the ZTE Avid Plus for T-Mobile

Jan 5, 2016, 10:57 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE's new most affordable smartphone for the U.S. is the Avid Plus. At just $115 MSRP (and probably less through T-Mobile and Metro) it's quite a low-end phone. Just how low-end does it feel? We checked it out.

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ZTE Avid Plus Offers 5-Inch Screen for $115

Jan 5, 2016, 6:18 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE today announced the Avid Plus, an entry-level Android phone for T-Mobile and MetroPCS that will sell for just $115. It sports a 5-inch screen, Cat. 4 LTE, 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel front camera. It can record video at 720p HD resolution. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM. Its 8 GB of storage can be expanded with memory cards up to 32 GB. It also supports Wi-Fi Calling. The Avid Plus is a follow-up to the Avid, which was last sold by MetroPCS in 2013. It had a much smaller 4-inch screen and was designed for MetroPCS's old CDMA/LTE network. The new Avid Plus will go on sale January 20 with both T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

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Lumia 550 Reaches the U.S. Unlocked

Jan 4, 2016, 10:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has made the Lumia 550 available to U.S. buyers through its web store. The 550 launched in international markets last month. The 550 includes a 4.7-inch HD display, 4G LTE, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and 2-megapizel front camera. It uses a 1.1 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor and includes 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The device, available in black, is being sold unlocked. It supports the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile. The Lumia 550 costs $139.


T-Mobile Fires Back at YouTube Over Throttling Allegations

Dec 30, 2015, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile is using semantics to defang YouTube's accusations of throttling. YouTube claims T-Mobile has been throttling YouTube on its network since the launch of Binge On, T-Mobile's unlimited video streaming program. "Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn't justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent," said YouTube earlier this month. Rather than deny the allegation outright, T-Mobile says YouTube has its terminology mixed up. "Using the term 'throttle' is misleading," said T-Mobile to DLS Reports. "We aren't slowing down YouTube or any other site. In fact, because video is optimized for mobile devices, streaming from these sites should be just as fast, if not faster than before. A better phrase is 'mobile optimized.' A less flattering 'downgraded' is also accurate." Binge On limits streamed video to 480p resolution and is turned on by default. YouTube videos are available in high definition, and the company argues that T-Mobile customers shouldn't be downgraded to 480p automatically — especially since YouTube is not part of Binge On. The FCC has already questioned T-Mobile and other companies about zero-rated programs, such as Binge On, as they may be violating the FCC's net neutrality principles.


Verizon Returns Fire On Contract Buyouts

Dec 28, 2015, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon today announced a program to buy out the contract and device debt of new customers switching from competitors. Verizon will now pay new customers up to $650 per line to cover competitors' early termination fee (ETF) or outstanding device payments. The program mirrors those already in place at smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint. To take advantage, customers need to visit a Verizon store to have their existing device evaluated for trade-in value. After trading in the old phone for a new Verizon 4G LTE phone, customers will receive a prepaid card up to $350 to cover their ETF, or a prepaid card up to $650 to pay off a device payment plan. The new line with Verizon must remain active for six months.


T-Mobile Touts Network Milestones

Dec 23, 2015, 11:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray took to the company's blog today to share news of the Uncarrier's LTE network. The company says its LTE 4G footprint grew by almost 1 million square miles during 2015 and is available to 304 million Americans. Moreover, its 700MHz spectrum ("Extended Range LTE") is up and running in 300 markets, including recent additions Seattle, Cincinnati, and New York City. The company is already putting carrier aggregation to use to help boost speeds, and it plans to move to tri-band carrier aggregation and deploy 4X4 MIMO in 2016. T-Mobile says it will participate "aggressively" in the upcoming 600MHz spectrum auction as it continues to build out coverage and improve performance of its network.


YouTube Claims T-Mobile Is Throttling Video Traffic

Dec 23, 2015, 7:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube says T-Mobile is throttling its video traffic, according to the Wall Street Journal. The online video provider complains that its content has been degraded since the carrier launched Binge On, its unlimited video-streaming program. Binge On allows customers to stream unlimited video from select providers at 480p resolution. YouTube is not one of the approved providers for technical reasons. "Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn't justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent," said YouTube. The FCC has already asked T-Mobile to provide more details about Binge On, and its likely YouTube's complaint will force the agency to examine the program more closely.


FCC Queries AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast Over Free Streaming

Dec 17, 2015, 6:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC has sent letters to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Comcast seeking more details about various programs offered by the three companies that allow customers to stream select services at no cost. AT&T offers sponsored data to some customers in limited form. The data is paid for by third parties and customers are not charged against their data plans when using those specific apps and/or services. T-Mobile allows customers to stream music and video content over its LTE network without impacting their monthly data allotments via its Music Freedom and Binge On programs. Comcast has a similar offering for its wired broadband service. At issue is whether or not the zero-rated services violate net neutrality or if they conflict with the "Commission's goal of maintaining a free and open internet while incentivizing innovation and investment from all sources." The companies said they will comply with the FCC's request while maintaining the position that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing.


ZTE Updates Axon and Axon Pro

Dec 17, 2015, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE is pushing system updates to its Axon and Axon Pro smartphones. Both phones gain a camera quick-launch button, Google security patches, Qualcomm modem patches, and better support for MetroPCS. The Axon's camera should zoom more effectively, and the Axon Pro's camera will focus faster in low light and deliver better white balance. The Pro also earns T-Mobile WiFi calling. ZTE said the system updates will be delivered over the air.

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T-Mobile Slashes $100 Off Samsung Galaxy Flagships

Dec 16, 2015, 11:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has one last gift for holiday shoppers: $100 off Samsung's high-end smartphones. Starting Friday, the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5 will enjoy a $100 discount. The promotional price is available until Dec. 23. Moreover, T-Mobile is offering a full year of Netflix to those who buy one of these Samsung handsets. The Netflix offer is available until Dec. 31. The discount and Netflix promotions are available to all customers, existing and new.


Project Fi Now Supports Data-Only Devices

Dec 15, 2015, 2:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Project Fi subscribers can add a tablet or other data-only device to their plan if they choose. Customers will need to order a data-only SIM card from Google through the Project Fi web site. Google charges $10 per 1GB of data, but only bills customers for what they actually use each month. The offer is available only to existing Project Fi subscribers. Tablets cannot be used as mobile hotspots. The initial batch of tablets compatible with the service include the Nexus 7 and Nexus 9, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4, and the Galaxy Tab S. Project Fi uses a mix of cellular service from Sprint and T-Mobile, and WiFi to provide coverage. Devices that run on Project Fi can dynamically switch to the strongest network to optimize performance.


T-Mobile Tempts Verizon Customers with Free Hulu

Dec 10, 2015, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 10, 2015, 8:21 AM

T-Mobile today said it will give a free year of Hulu to Verizon customers who switch to T-Mobile. The Uncarrier Unwrapped promotion is available Dec. 11 through Dec. 17. Verizon customers will need to port their number to a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan in order to receive the Hulu subscription ($100 value). Once converted to T-Mobile, former Verizon customers will have access to Binge On and Music Freedom, which allows them to stream unlimited video and music (from select providers) without eating into their monthly data. T-Mobile said Verizon switchers are also eligible for up to $650 per line to cover ETFs and other fees. Last, T-Mobile is offering 50% off select accessories. T-Mobile has offered similar gifts to Sprint and AT&T customers this month.


Consumer Advocates Lodge Complaint Against T-Mobile

Dec 8, 2015, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Several consumer protection advocates are asking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate T-Mobile's business practices. In particular, the groups believe T-Mobile's "no-contract" advertising is deceptive, and its debt-collection policies are predatory. The groups say T-Mobile links month-to-month service with two-year equipment financing plans, which are, in effect, contracts that result in financial penalties if broken. Moreover, the groups say T-Mobile engages in an abusive pattern of debt-collection practices by providing customers with little or no warning before sending debt to collection agencies, and by providing inaccurate information to collection agencies. The groups also believe T-Mobile's arbitration clause exacerbates the issue by placing legal barriers in consumers' way when seeking redress. The groups include Change to Win, Color of Change, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), U.S. Action, and Consumer Federation of California. "T-Mobile's unethical behavior is particularly troubling because the company's customer base is disproportionately made up of people of color, and Latino and African American consumers are more reliant on mobile for phone service and internet access," said Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of LULAC. T-Mobile CEO John Legere responded to the accusations via Twitter. In a since-deleted Tweet, Legere said, "We stand by our ads! We haven't been accused of false advertising by any regulatory body." The CFPB has not responded publicly to the groups' request.


Sprint Phones Vanishing from Walmart

Dec 4, 2015, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint's presence at the nation's largest retailer has dwindled in recent weeks, according to Fierce Wireless. Some 500 Walmart stores across the country continue to sell Spint handsets, but the majority of Walmart's 4,177 brick-and-mortar locations no longer have them in stock. Wave7 Research says T-Mobile prepaid and StraightTalk have replaced Sprint in some Walmart locations, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless are now the only postpaid carriers advertised by Walmart. Sprint declined to comment on Fierce Wireless' story, but it is worth noting that Sprint acquired an equity stake in the majority of RadioShack's retail stores earlier this year, which are now co-branded Sprint/RadioShack. StraightTalk is one of Walmart's two prepaid brands, the other being TracFone.


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