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printed October 22, 2014
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T-Mobile to Explore Settlement with FTC Over Cramming

Today, 10:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


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

Yesterday, 7:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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


Transit Wireless to Start Phase 3 of NYC Subway Project

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

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


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

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

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


Google Shows Off Nexus 6 Smartphone, Nexus 9 Tablet

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

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


MetroPCS Selling Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2

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

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


FCC Suggests No Joint Bidding for Largest Carriers

Oct 14, 2014, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC wants to prevent the country's Tier 1 operators from filing joint bids in future spectrum auctions. The FCC recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking covering the matter, and is looking for comments on its belief that powerful carriers shouldn't be allowed to collude on spectrum purchases. The FCC also hopes to receive comments about whether or not the largest carriers can submit joint bids with smaller carriers. The FCC had already floated the idea earlier this year when Chairman Tom Wheeler said Sprint and T-Mobile should not be allowed to form a joint venture for the purpose of purchasing spectrum. The NPRM further looks to define what "designated entities" are allowed to do with their spectrum. Designated entities can be small businesses or rural phone companies. Under the current rules, DEs have to build their own wireless networks before allowing others to access the spectrum, but the FCCs proposal would allow them to lease their spectrum to larger carriers without first deploying their own service. The FCC's new rules won't be finalized before the November 13 AWS-3 auction, but likely will be for the 600MHz incentive auction scheduled for mid-2015.


Iliad Bails on Attempt to Acquire T-Mobile

Oct 13, 2014, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Iliad today said it will no longer pursue an acquisition of T-Mobile U.S. The company first floated an offer for the company in late July. It proposed to acquire 56% of the company, but T-Mobile's majority owner Deutsche Telekom rejected the bid. Iliad later put together more resources with the help of financiers and proposed to acquire 67% of the company for $36 per share. Iliad arrived at today's decision "following exchanges with Deutsche Telekom and selected board members of T-Mobile US who have refused to entertain its new offer." Deutsche Telekom has long sought to rid itself of T-Mobile, but has yet to successfully sell the company. Iliad believed acquiring T-Mobile would have helped the combined entities realize $2 billion in annual cost savings, as well as given Iliad a toehold in the U.S. market.

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Sony Selling Xperia Z3 Compact Off-Contract for $530

Oct 13, 2014, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently added the Xperia Z3 Compact to its U.S. web site and made it available for purchase. The phone, which comes in black, white, orange, or green, costs $530 and is being sold unlocked and without a carrier contract. It is compatible with the GSM networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, though exact LTE support is unclear. The Z3 Compact has a smaller 4.6-inch 720p HD display and overall footprint when compared to the Xperia Z3, but carries over the same processor, camera, and waterproof design.


T-Mobile to Sell Sony Xperia Z3 Oct. 29

Oct 13, 2014, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced it will sell the Sony Xperia Z3 online and in stores beginning October 29. Customers can place preorders for the device starting at Noon on October 15. Preorders may arrive before the device reaches stores on October 29. T-Mobile is asking for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $26.25. The Z3 smartphone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is waterproof. It also features a 20.7-megapixel camera, compatibility with Sony PS4 Remote Play for gaming, and Sony's lifelogging service. Verizon Wireless is also selling the Z3, rebadged the Z3v, beginning October 23.


Sprint, T-Mobile Want FCC to Eye AT&T's Spectrum Spree

Oct 10, 2014, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint, T-Mobile, and others want the FCC to "carefully scrutinize" a number of AT&T's proposed low-band spectrum acquisitions. AT&T has asked the FCC for permission to purchase 700MHz spectrum from a range of small companies around the country. AT&T's competitors argue its low-band spectrum purchases should trigger the FCC's spectrum screen and require extra examination for their effects on competition. Low-band spectrum is highly valued for its propagation characteristics, and AT&T and Verizon Wireless already control a significant amount of low-band spectrum around the country. Sprint and T-Mobile claim the FCC has yet to fully define what triggers the spectrum screen with small-scale deals. They believe AT&T is taking advantage of the FCC's lack of clarity on the issue. AT&T responded by saying, "AT&T is confident that after a careful, enhanced factor review, the Bureau will conclude that both of these small deals will cause no harm to competition and will result in significant public interest benefits."


AT&T Agrees to $105M Settlement in Cramming Case

Oct 8, 2014, 12:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced AT&T has agreed to pay fines totalling $105 million in order to settle allegations that it profited from cramming. The FTC alleged AT&T made millions of dollars by allowing third-party companies to fraudulently bill customers for premium SMS and other services. AT&T typically kept 35% of the billed amount each month. AT&T customers who believe they were inappropriately charged for services they did not authorize can seek a refund. A portion of the settlement has been set aside for customer reparations. "While we had rigorous protections in place to guard consumers against unauthorized billing from [premium SMS] companies, last year we discontinued third-party billing for PSMS services. Today, we reached a broad settlement to resolve claims that some of our wireless customers were billed for charges from third-parties that the customers did not authorize," said AT&T. The FTC has made similar allegations against T-Mobile, which vehemently denies the government's claims.


Google Voice Now Supports MMS on Select Networks

Oct 7, 2014, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has enabled MMS within Google Voice on more than 100 networks in North America, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S. Google Voice was previously limited to sending and receiving only SMS messages. For the moment, Verizon has not enabled MMS via Google Voice, and Google didn't say whether or not it intends to. Some of Google Voice's features have recently been ported to Google's Hangouts app/service, such as the ability to make voice calls.


T-Mobile Says Its Lumia 530 Goes On Sale Oct. 15

Oct 2, 2014, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today followed Cricket Wireless in announcing the availability of the Nokia Lumia 530. T-Mobile's variant reaches Best Buy and Microsoft stores October 5, and T-Mobile stores October 15. T-Mobile is charging $79.20 for the 530.


List of Spectrum Bidders Holds No Surprises

Oct 2, 2014, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC revealed on Wednesday that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless - three of the nation's top four carriers - plan to participate in the upcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction. Dish Networks also plans to bid for airwaves, alongside myriad smaller entities. According to the FCC, 80 companies plan to make bids for AWS-3 spectrum, though 47 of the applications were deemed incomplete. The auction begins November 13, but completed applications and down payments are due from all bidders by October 15. Sprint does not plan to participate in this auction. The AWS-3 spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz bands. The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion.


T-Mobile Going After Yet More 700MHz Spectrum

Sep 29, 2014, 12:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile continues to chase 700MHz A Block spectrum across the country. According to recent filings with the FCC, T-Mobile's newest target is a batch of licenses held by Triad 700 LLC. Triad holds four licenses covering Anchorage, Alaska; Salisbury, Md.; Reno, Nev., and Erie, Pa. The spectrum blankets about 2.43 million POPs in those markets, according to AllNet Labs. All told, T-Mobile has initiated 700MHz A Block spectrum purchases that cover just under 18 million POPs. T-Mobile plans to use the 700MHz spectrum to enhance its LTE network. Terms of the latest deal were not disclosed.


BlackBerry Shows Off the Passport for Mobile Pros

Sep 24, 2014, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today fully revealed the Passport, its first smartphone to debut since February. The Passport has a unique shape, providing a large, square screen with a full, physical QWERTY keyboard below. The phone has a steel frame that BlackBerry claims lends it great strength. The screen measures 4.5 inches across the diagonal and has 1,440 x 1,440 pixels. BlackBerry says the square aspect ratio helps fit more content across the screen when compared to 16:9 displays. The company took special care to develop the keyboard, which it claims is faster and more reliable than software keyboards. The keyboard is touch-enabled and lets users brush their fingers over the keys to scroll through information on the screen. Users can also flick up on the keyboard to use next-word suggestions, and swipe from right to left on the keyboard to delete the full last word. Under the hood, the Passport has a 2.2GHz Snapdragon processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It supports microSD memory cards and has a 3,450mAh battery. The phone comes with a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. The device runs BlackBerry OS 10.3 with support the Amazon App Store for applications. Alongside the Passport, BlackBerry also introduced BlackBerry Assistant, a voice-activated tool similar to Siri, Google Now, and Cortana that can perform select actions on the Passport. BlackBerry claims Assistant is more powerful than rivals because it can access information behind corporate firewalls. BlackBerry is selling the Passport directly to U.S. consumers from its web site. The phone costs $599 and is being sold without a contract. It is compatible with HSPA/LTE networks, such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile.


Big Four Carriers to Sell Samsung's Connected Gear S

Sep 24, 2014, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently said AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will all offer its Gear S smartwatch "this fall." Samsung didn't say when the device will actually go on sale. The Gear S differs from Samsung's other wearables in that it has a cellular radio inside and can make/receive phone calls and messages. Pricing has yet to be revealed for the device itself, as well as for the plans connecting it to cellular networks. In an email, T-Mobile said the Gear S will be available for purchase on its Equipment Installment Plan, which breaks down payments over time.


T-Mobile Hoping to Snag More 700MHz Spectrum

Sep 23, 2014, 12:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile has its eye on the 700MHz spectrum owned by Frontier Communications and a person named Thomas Kurian. The Frontier spectrum in question covers 1.51 million POPs around Rochester, N.Y., and the deal with Kurian covers around 620,000 POPs in Grand Forks and Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota and Minnesota. Financial terms of the transactions weren't disclosed. T-Mobile did say the acquisition will help it improve coverage and its level of service to customers in the markets covered.


Samsung Note 4 Available Oct. 17, Preorders Start Sept. 19

Sep 18, 2014, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 18, 2014, 9:05 AM

Samsung today said it will begin accepting preorders for the Galaxy Note 4 on September 19. The device won't ship, however, until October 17. Samsung said the Note 4 will be available in black and white, and it will be carried by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular. Samsung said the phone will also be available at Samsung Experience Shops in Best Buy stores, as well as from Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Individual carriers and retailers will provide their own pricing and availability details in the near future. AT&T was first to announce those details. AT&T said the Note 4 will cost $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18; $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12; $299.99 with a two-year agreement; or $826 at full retail. AT&T is offering a $100 bill credit to new/existing customers who activate a new line of service with the Note 4. Verizon is offering the Note 4 for $299 with a new contract and said Verizon Edge installment pricing will also be available. T-Mobile isn't accepting preorders until September 24, and it is asking for $0 down followed by $31.24 a month for 24 months.


T-Moble's Personal CellSpot Available Today for $25

Sep 17, 2014, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile said the Personal CellSpot is available to its customers beginning today. The CellSpot is a Wi-Fi hotspot for in-home use that allows smartphones to make voice calls over Wi-Fi rather than T-Mobile's cellular network. This particular hotspot prioritizes voice traffic over data traffic and can hook into any existing home network. The idea is to provide better in-home voice service to customers where T-Mobile's network doesn't quite reach. The CellSpot is made by Asus. It costs $100 to own outright, but T-Mobile is allowing people to take one home if they put down a deposit of $25. All new T-Mobile smartphones will have Wi-Fi calling enabled moving forward. T-Mobile's existing customer base will be able to add Wi-Fi calling to their handset through a software update, though T-Mobile didn't say when to expect it. Separately, T-Mobile customers will be able to send text and picture messages, and listen to voicemail via the Wi-Fi networks provided by GoGo in select airplanes. T-Mobile says more than 2,000 aircraft offer the service in the U.S. In-flight messaging is free to T-Mobile customers.


Hands On with the ZMax for T-Mobile

Sep 16, 2014, 7:27 PM   by Rich Brome

At an event in NYC tonight, ZTE announced the ZMax, an affordable, large-screen phone for T-Mobile USA. The phone comes at a time when ZTE is trying to escape its low-tier reputation in the U.S. The company will be putting its own brand on all phones instead of white-labeling many. Is this phone the one to help ZTE make a name for itself? Read on for our impressions.

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ZTE ZMax Phablet Coming To T-Mobile

Sep 16, 2014, 6:18 PM   by Rich Brome

ZTE today announced the ZMax, a large-screen phone exclusive to T-Mobile in the U.S. The ZMax has a 5.7-inch HD screen, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 8-megapixel camera with flash, 1.6-megapixel front camera, large 3400 mAh battery, and runs Android 4.4. It also sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor, 16 GB of internal memory, and a memory card slot. Unlike many previous ZTE phones, the ZMax is fully ZTE-branded. It will go on sale September 24 for $252 (full retail), or $10.50/month on a payment plan.

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Subway to Accept Softcard Starting October 1

Sep 16, 2014, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Subway today announced it has partnered with Softcard and will begin accepting Softcard-based mobile payments on October 1. Softcard, which launched last year as Isis, is backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The service allows smartphone owners to link their credit card to the Softcard app on their phone and use it to make mobile payments at select retailers nationwide. Subway said it will accept Softcard at 26,000 locations around the U.S. Further, the company is offering $1 back on every purchase made with American Express Serve through 12/31. Last, Subway will eventually add its Subway Card Rewards Program to the Softcard app, which will let customers earn rewards points when making mobile payments. Softcard is available to a wide number of Android smartphones through a dedicated application.


AT&T to Wait Until 2015 to Launch WiFi Calling

Sep 12, 2014, 11:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T's top exec today said the company won't offer WiFi calling on its devices until next year. WiFi Calling has been around for years, but was highlighted by Apple this week as a new feature in the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Further, T-Mobile announced this week plans to expand WiFi calling to all its smartphones with a new in-home hotspot. T-Mobile's WiFi service goes live soon, but AT&T is in no rush to compete. "We're very focused on making sure it's a great experience for customers, but we see it as a complement, not a replacement," said CEO Ralph de la Vega. "We feel good about a great nationwide network with unlimited talk and text." WiFi calling passes voice calls and text messages over a local WiFi network rather than the macro cellular network.


T-Mobile Expands Wi-Fi Calling, Partners with GoGo

Sep 10, 2014, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 17, 2014, 7:04 AM

T-Mobile today said it will make Wi-Fi calling available to all its postpaid customers for free. The move, announced at an event in San Francisco, is meant to help provide improved voice coverage in spaces where T-Mobile's network doesn't reach. Wi-Fi calls can be made from any open network. Even so, T-Mobile also debuted the T-Mobile Personal Cell Spot. This Wi-Fi hotspot, made by Asus, requires a $25 deposit and works with existing in-home internet service. It will permit T-Mobile customers to experience high-quality Wi-Fi calls when at home. It prioritizes voice functionality over data functionality. New phones sold by T-Mobile (including the iPhone 6) will have this new functionality built in from the get-go, while older devices will receive an update to gain the new Wi-Fi calling features. The Personal Cell Spot will remain private; only those with the Wi-Fi password will be able to use it for calls and messaging. The Wi-Fi calling feature is free to use for all customers. T-Mobile offered a similar service back in 2007, called Hotspot@Home, but discontinued it in 2010. T-Mobile also announced a partnership with GoGo that will let its customers send and receive SMS/MMS messages from GoGo-equipped airplanes, as well as receive visual voicemail. The in-flight messaging service goes live September 17 and is free to all T-Mobile customers. The service will work with select phones at launch, including Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple iPhone 5s, HTC One, and LG G3 among others. More will be added over time.

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Hands-On: Alcatel Fierce 2 and Evolve 2

Sep 9, 2014, 5:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 9, 2014, 7:46 PM

Alcatel scored a win with T-Mobile, which has agreed to sell the OneTouch Fierce 2 and OneTouch Evolve 2. These low-cost handsets redefine value with their solid build quality and eye-popping price points.

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FCC Dubious On Future Wireless Mergers

Sep 9, 2014, 4:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today suggested the agency will take a long, hard look at any proposed mergers between wireless companies. "We will continue to be skeptical of efforts to achieve scale through the consolidation of major players," said Wheeler at the CTIA trade show in Las Vegas. Sprint and its parent company SoftBank abandoned plans to acquire T-Mobile just last month after meeting with resistance from lawmakers. The FCC also shot down AT&T's attempted purchase of T-Mobile in 2011. The FCC has repeatedly suggested it prefers to have four national wireless network operators for increased competition. Wheeler also warned operators that the FCC may yet take a more active interest in regulating how they manage their networks. "One of the constant themes on the record is how consumers increasingly rely on mobile broadband as an important pathway to access the internet," said Wheeler. According to Wheeler, Microsoft agrees. It said there is "no question that mobile broadband access services must be subject to the same legal framework as fixed broadband access services." The FCC has new net neutrality rules on deck for approval in the months ahead.


Softcard 'Working with Apple' to Work on iPhone 6

Sep 9, 2014, 3:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Softcard, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said it is "actively working with Apple to enable Softcard on the iPhone in 2015," according to CEO Michael Abbott. Softcard said Apple's decision to support NFC is "very significant and sets the stage for rapid scale adoption of mobile commerce." Softcard (the new brand name for Isis) has been available to Android smartphones since November 2013 and the iPhone via a special case since early 2014. Apple today separately announced its own mobile payment service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay will use NFC and properly-equipped retail terminals to power tap-and-go payments. Apple Pay launches in October with support from a number of banks and retailers.


Sprint Says Its Trade-In Program Beats T-Mobile's

Sep 9, 2014, 9:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today matched T-Mobile's move to increase the appeal of its trade-in program. Beginning immediately, Sprint will meet or beat all AT&T's, T-Mobile's, and Verizon's buyback pricing on all new lines of service to ensure the best trade-in values. T-Mobile on Monday said it would meet or beat competitors' trade-in programs, as well as give customers a $50 credit if they find a better deal. According to Sprint, T-Mobile's program is limited to one trade-in per line. Sprint's program isn't offering $50 in additional credit, but Sprint will accept up to three trade-ins per line and up to five trade-ins per calendar year. Further, Sprint customers can trade in old devices any time. Sprint offers up to $300 for trade-ins, depending on the phone and its condition, which can be put towards new purchases or account credit. Sprint has always been serious about accepting device trade-ins and has a significant recycling program.


T-Mobile Hoping to Forge LTE Roaming Deals

Sep 8, 2014, 3:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today indicated it is working with other carriers to offer LTE roaming. T-Mobile competitors Sprint and Verizon Wireless have aggressively pursued rural LTE roaming deals, which has in turn increased their LTE availability. T-Mobile has been slower to make such agreements, and it lacks coverage in many rural locations. T-Mobile's director of business development, Heather Stacey, said the company is weighing the Competitive Carrier Association's data roaming hub and/or making a bilateral roaming arrangement directly with another carrier. Stacey admitted that both technical and business issues (i.e., cost) have slowed T-Mobile's progress on roaming agreements. Nevertheless, T-Mobile expects to have at least some LTE roaming agreements in place before the end of the year. Such agreements will expand the availability of LTE service to T-Mobile's customers.


T-Mobile Offering to Best Any Trade-In Deal

Sep 8, 2014, 2:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced it will beat the trade-in value offered by any of its competitors. The company explained that it plans to track the market value of most phones and will offer the best possible price for trade-ins. However, if a customer finds a better trade-in price from a national carrier, T-Mobile will match the price, plus cover the difference, and add an additional $50 in credit. The offer starts September 17 and is for a limited time. T-Mobile customers will need to act quickly, as they'll have to contact T-Mobile within seven days of trading in an old device.


MetroPCS Expands to More Markets, Ups Data Bucket

Sep 4, 2014, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today increased the number of markets in which it operates MetroPCS by 10. MetroPCS, which is T-Mobile's prepaid brand, will reach consumers in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chicago, Ill.; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minn.; Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, and Richmond-Petersburg, Va.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, Wash., over the next few months. According to T-Mobile, MetroPCS is available from 11,000 points of sale across 55 metro areas. T-Mobile today also responded to recent moves by its competitors by increasing the data available to its prepaid customers. Beginning today, subscribers to MetroPCS' $40 plan will see their data limit bumped from 500MB to 1GB. Subscribers to the $50 plan will see their data increase from 2.5GB to 3GB. All customers will automatically be added to the new plans. T-Mobile doesn't charge overages, but does throttle back the speeds of those who surpass their monthly data allotment.

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Isis Rebrands to Softcard

Sep 3, 2014, 6:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said its new name will be Softcard. The service will remain the same, only the name is changing. Isis announced its intent to rebrand earlier this year to avoid any association with ISIS.


T-Mobile to Sell HTC One for Windows this Fall

Aug 28, 2014, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today voiced support for the HTC One for Windows on its web site. The company will sell the device in the weeks ahead. It is already sold by Verizon Wireless, and will also soon be sold by AT&T. The One for Windows runs Windows Phone rather than Android.


FCC Finalizes $819,000 Fine Against T-Mobile

Aug 27, 2014, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC today levied an $819,000 fine against T-Mobie for its lack of support for hearing-aid compatible handsets. The FCC originally made its claim against T-Mobile more than two years ago, when it discovered T-Mobile "willfully and repeatedly" failed to comply with rules mandating each carrier offer a certain number of hearing-aid compatible (HAC) handsets. According to the FCC, T-Mobile violated the rules during 2009 and 2010. The requirements make sure consumers with hearing loss have access to advanced telecommunications services. The minimum number of HAC phones required to be offered by Tier 1 carriers has evolved over the years, but at the moment 10 handsets or at least 50% of a carriers' breadth of devices must offer an M3 acoustic coupling, and seven handsets or at least 33% must offer a T3 inductive coupling. T-Mobile attempted to mitigate the fine over the last few years, but its arguments didn't convince the FCC. T-Mobile has 30 days to pay the FCC, or it will face the Department of Justice.


Cricket Offering Five Lines for $100

Aug 27, 2014, 1:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced a new incentive to win over T-Mobile and other customers. Cricket is offering five lines for $100 per month. The plan includes one more line than T-Mobile's current promotion (four lines for $100). Cricket said, "People can sign up for the five lines for $100 up until January 2, and enjoy the promotion long after." It didn't provide an actual end date. Each line gets unlimited talk/text and 500MB of data. The pricing is based on five lines of service with an eligible $40 base plan. Each successive line gains a greater discount. For example, line two receives a $10 monthly discount; line three receives a $20 monthly discount; line four receives a $30 monthly discount; and line five receives a $40 monthly discount. The promotion is available to new and existing customers (in good standing, with two eligible lines of service). Accounts with multiple lines will automatically be enrolled into the new promotion. The $100 monthly cost includes all taxes and fees.


T-Mobile to Sell Alcatel OneTouch Fierce 2 and Evolve 2

Aug 27, 2014, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 27, 2014, 9:10 AM

T-Mobile and Alcatel today announced the addition of the Fierce 2 and Evolve 2 to T-Mobile's value handset roster. Both devices run Android 4.4 KitKat. Shared hardware features include 5-megapixel main cameras, VGA user-facing cameras, 4GB of built-in storage, support for microSD cards up to 32GB, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

  • Fierce 2: The Fierce 2 (pictured) is the larger of the two phones, boasting a 5-inch qHD display. It is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and includes 1GB of RAM. The camera includes HDR, panorama, and burst modes. The Fierce 2 has a 2,000mAh battery.
  • Evolve 2: This compact phone has a 4-inch WVGA display and it is powered by a 1.3GHz dual-core processor with 512MB of RAM. It has a 1,4000mAh battery. Alcatel is pitching the Fierce 2 as an entry-level smartphone.
T-Mobile's web site lists the phones as "coming soon." Pricing was not provided.


T-Mobile Dials Music Freedom Up to 13

Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 AM

T-Mobile today expanded the availability of its Music Freedom program to include six new music services. Music Freedom already allows T-Mobile customers to stream music from iHeartRadio, iTunesRadio, Pandora, Rhapsody, Samsung Milk, Slacker, and Spotify for free. The music streamed across T-Mobile's LTE network doesn't count against customers' data buckets. Beginning today, customers will be able to stream music from AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio, and Songza, too. Further, T-Mobile said Google's Play Music service, chosen by T-Mobile customers through a poll, will be available later this year. T-Mobile claims its customers have streamed 7,000 terabytes of music across its network since Music Freedom began in June.


T-Mobile Increases Family Plan Limit to 10 Lines

Aug 26, 2014, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today expanded the flexibility of its family plan from a maximum of five lines per plan to a maximum of 10 lines per plan. T-Mobile Simple Choice subscribers can add new lines to their plan for $10 each after the second subscriber. Beginning August 27, they'll be able to add up to 10 lines. T-Mobile says the increase is in response to demand from large families as well as small business. Each T-Mobile Simple Choice plan provides unlimited talk/text, unlimited 2G data, and up to 1GB of LTE data. Subscribers can add unlimited LTE data for $30 per line if they wish. T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans do not require a contract, don't charge overages, and include 2G data and texting while abroad, in addition to free music streaming in the U.S. In addition to the expanded Simple Choice family plans, T-Mobile is upping the data available to tablets. Beginning September 3, customers can add a tablet to their plan for $10 per month and T-Mobile will match the customers' smartphone data allotment up to 5GB. For example, a Simple Choice subscriber who pays for 3GB of LTE data for their smartphone will receive that same amount of data for their tablet for $10 per month.


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