Sprint today announced new shared data plans that offer twice as much mobile data as comparable plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint's Family Share Pack includes four lines with unlimited talk and text and 20GB of shared data for $160 per month. AT&T and Verizon have similarly-priced plans that include only 10GB of data. T-Mobile's shared plan costs $100 per month. Further, Sprint is offering a huge incentive to families that port their numbers from another carrier. Sprint will give families with up to 10 lines unlimited talk/text and 20GB of shared data for only $100 per month through 2015, plus an additional 2GB per line. Under this promotion, a family of four would have up to 28GB of data per month and a family of 10 would have up to 40GB of data per month. The promotional $100 plan pricing will be available from August 22 to September 30. Last, Sprint is offering to cover the ETFs - up to $350 per line - for families that break their contract to sign up with Sprint Family Share Pack. All new devices must be purchased through Sprint Easy Pay. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company will debut new plans for individuals later this week.
T-Mobile has confirmed reports that it may throttle down the data speeds of customers who it says violate the company's terms of service. "A very small number of our customers are misusing their Simple Choice Unlimited data service in violation of their rate plan and terms and conditions by bypassing the default tethering feature or engaging in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to FierceWireless. "This type of usage can negatively impact our ability to offer affordable unlimited data. In order to protect all T-Mobile customers, we will be reaching out to these people to educate them on our terms and conditions of service, but if the misuse continues, they could have their data speeds reduced for the remainder of their billing cycle." Enforcement of the terms of service is set to go into effect August 17 and applies only to customers with T-Mobile's $80 Unlimited Simple Choice plan. T-Mobile's action follows closely that of Verizon Wireless, which recently said it plans to throttle the data speeds of its unlimited LTE customers in certain scenarios. The FCC has queried all the carriers on their network management policies in response.
Two low-cost providers, RadioShack No Contract and Spot Mobile, have decided to call it quits. RadioShack didn't operate a traditional MVNO, but branded and resold Cricket Wireless' service as its own. Now that Cricket is owned by AT&T, and RadioShack No Contract struggled to win over customers, the company will cease selling the service. According to RadioShack, customers who purchased the service will be able to continue using their device and will be transitioned to Cricket Wireless. RadioShack will honor its 30-day return policy so those who recently purchased a RadioShack No Contract device can get a refund. RadioShack's retail business is also hurting and the company plans to close a wide number of stores this year. Separately, Spot Mobile, an MVNO that resold access to T-Mobile's network, also decided to shut down. Spot Mobile has already ceased processing account refills, and will shut down service altogether September 7. Spot Mobile said customers can port their number out to their carrier of choice.
T-Mobile recently asked the FCC for permission to buy spectrum licenses from Actel, a company owned by CenturyLink. The deal includes 13 licenses that cover various small cities in portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The total number of POPs contained in the markets is about 6.5 million. T-Mobile told the FCC the purchase will help it improve its service offering to customers in those regions. No terms were disclosed in the FCC filing. T-Mobile also recently agreed to snap up another small sliver of 700MHz spectrum from I-700 A Block. Those licenses cover Evansville, Ind., and Henderson and Paducah, Ky.
T-Mobile today announced a refresh to its Pay as You Go plans. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile's low-cost offering will charge one flat rate of $0.10 per voice minute or per message. The plan will require a monthly minimum spend of $3, providing customers with up to 30 minutes of talk, 30 messages, or a combo thereof. The plan does not require credit checks, deposits, or annual contracts. Customers will also be able to buy LTE day passes. The data passes cost $5 for one day (up to 500MB of LTE) or $10 for seven days (up to 1GB of LTE). The new Pay as You Go plans can be paired with a wide range of devices.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today indicated the agency has sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile with questions pertaining to their network management policies. The issue bubbled to the surface recently when Verizon announced plans to throttle its heaviest unlimited LTE subscribers. In a letter to Verizon, Wheeler called the policy management criteria "deeply troubling." Verizon responded and claimed its policies do not differ from those of its competitors. Wheeler is not convinced. "'All the kids do it' was never something that worked for me when I was growing up," said Wheeler. "My concern in this instance - and it's not just with Verizon, by the way, we've written to all the carriers - is that it is moving from a technology and engineering issue to the business issues ... such as choosing between different subscribers based on your economic relationship with them." AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have not yet responded publicly to the FCC's query.
The FCC today formally adopted rules that will require all providers of messaging services to enable their apps with text-to-911 capabilities. Earlier this year the FCC said industry players outside the four major wireless network operators need to get on board. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless began accepting text-to-911 in select markets around the country in May. The FCC recognized, however, that not all consumers subscribe to the four major carriers, nor do all consumers make use of traditional SMS messaging services. The new rules apply to nearly all messaging apps and services, including over-the-top apps such as WhatsApp, as well as the remaining wireless network operators. The FCC wants apps and operators to enable text-to-911 by the end of the year. Some messaging services will be exempt, such as those that function within games or social networks. The FCC feels this is an essential service and keeps in step with how consumers prefer to communicate. The CTIA Wireless Association, which represents the wireless network operators, voiced displeasure with the new rules. "While the wireless industry remains committed to collaborating with public safety to make text-to-911 available in the near-term, we are disappointed that the FCC acted today to codify a voluntary agreement to deploy an interim technological solution across all wireless carriers and interconnected 'over the top' text providers. The chilling effect of the Commission's proposed enforcement role is particularly worrisome in situations where, as here, the voluntary agreement involves new services that face challenging obstacles to implementation." Earlier this week, AT&T also took issue with the FCC's plan in a post published to its public policy blog. According to AT&T, the FCC's plan is ill-conceived and presents new challenges to network operators.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today voiced his approval of Sprint's decision to halt its attempt to acquire T-Mobile. "Four national wireless providers is good for American consumers. Sprint now has an opportunity to focus their efforts on robust competition," said Wheeler in a statement. The FCC and Justice Department have long contended the U.S. market needs four national carriers. Had Sprint acquired or merged with T-Mobile, that number would have been reduced to three. Wheeler's statement sends a clear signal that the FCC likes things the way they are, with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all competing with one another.
Sprint today announced it has named Marcelo Claure as President and CEO of the company, who replaces Dan Hesse. Claure already served on Sprint's board of directors, and is the Founder and CEO of Brightstar Corp. Sprint owner SoftBank also owns a significant portion of Brightstar, which distributes mobile devices. Claure will resign from his CEO position at Brightstar effective August 11, and SoftBank will acquire his remaining shares of the company. Dan Hesse will depart Sprint on August 11 after leading the company since 2007. Hesse oversaw many transformations at Sprint, including its acquisition of Clearwire and acquisition by SoftBank. "I'm proud of the resilience of Sprint's people during a difficult transformation and I'm optimistic about how they will build on a foundation of innovation to succeed in the future," said Hesse. "It's been an honor to have led such dedicated teammates. Marcelo's entrepreneurial background, business savvy, industry experience and strong relationship with Masayoshi Son make Marcelo an excellent choice to lead Sprint going forward." Claure will be based at Sprint headquarters in Overland Park. Claure said he looks forward to leading "the Sprint team as we mobilize to become the wireless carrier of choice in the U.S. In the short-term, we will focus on becoming extremely cost efficient and competing aggressively in the marketplace. While consolidating makes sense in the long-term, for now, we will focus on growing and repositioning Sprint." Sprint has lost customers to rivals during the last few years and has struggled to launch LTE 4G as quickly as its competitors. Separately, Sprint will cease its efforts to acquire T-Mobile and will forge ahead on its own.
Sprint plans to end its pursuit of T-Mobile. The company and its owner SoftBank have been weighing the idea for nearly a year. They now believe Sprint will not be able to win regulatory approval of an acquisition or merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, according to unnamed sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. The FCC and Justice Department were quick to tell Sprint they prefer a four-carrier market to maintain competition. Sprint and its owner Softbank will pursue a solo strategy moving forward. Sprint may make a formal announcement regarding a change of direction as soon as Wednesday. Separately, Bloomberg also reported that Sprint and T-Mobile have ended merger talks. Bloomberg further noted Sprint may also announce a new CEO to replace Dan Hesse along with its new strategy. Sprint has not made any announcements, nor did it comment on either report.
T-Mobile has rejected Iliad's initial offer to buy the company, reports the Wall Street Journal. The $15 billion bid for a 56.6% stake in the company was "not attractive enough" and "dead on arrival" according to a source cited by the Journal. T-Mobile also denied Iliad's request to open its books, which would have been necessary for Iliad to conduct due diligence on T-Mobile. Iliad's bid came as a surprise. The company fills a similar role to that of T-Mobile as a competitive game-changer in its home market of France. Another source cited by the Journal said Iliad is considering its next steps, though it is unclear what those steps might be. Had T-Mobile taken Iliad's offer seriously, it would have thrown a wrench into Sprint's long-term plans to acquire T-Mobile.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS today announced the Kyocera Hydro Life, a new semi-rugged and waterproof Android smartphone. Like many of Kyocera's handsets, the Hydro Life is for customers who need a robust phone that can survive the trials and tribulations of an active lifestyle. It is certified to mil-spec 810G for protection against drops and shock, and IP57 for protection against dust and water damage (submersion in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes). The phone has an impact-resistant 4.5-inch qHD display that Kyocera says has a non-slip finish. The Hydro Life is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The phone includes a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel selfie camera. The Hydro Life packs Kyocera's Smart Sonic receiver for improved phone call audio, as well as Kyocera's EcoMode and MaxiMZR tools for managing the 2,000mAh battery. The phone supports Wi-Fi and T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling service, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, and T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. The Kyocera Hydro Life runs Android 4.3. It will be available to T-Mobile customers at Walmart stores beginning August 8 for $125. It will reach MetroPCS stores on August 29.
The FCC has shot down the idea of allowing two or more wireless network operators to bid on spectrum jointly. Sprint and T-Mobile hoped to join forces in some bidding and requested permission to do so. FCC bureau chief Roger Sherman said the idea would contradict the FCC's wish to see competitive bidding from a wide range of companies, large and small.
Iliad, a telecom business based in France, has made an unsolicited offer to purchase T-Mobile U.S. The company submitted the offer to T-Mobile's board within the last week. It is offering $15 billion in cash for a controlling 56.6% stake in the company. Iliad's role in the French mobile market is similar to T-Mobile's in the U.S. market. It sees T-Mobile as a natural fit and a way to break into the U.S. market. "The U.S. mobile market is vast and attractive," said Iliad in a statement. "T-Mobile has successfully established itself in the market by positioning itself, in many respects, in a similar way to Iliad in France." Iliad's offer complicates Sprint's interest in T-Mobile. Sprint and T-Mobile are believed to have agreed to the broad strokes of an acquisition, but are still hammering out details. Sprint has not made a formal offer for T-Mobile, but may have to accelerate its plans with Iliad's offer now on the table. T-Mobile has not commented publicly on Iliad's offer, but it did report second quarter earnings today. T-Mobile added 1.5 million new customers this quarter and has expanded the availability of VoLTE nationwide as of today.
Cellphone users in the U.S. have been fraudulently charged hundreds of millions of dollars, says a report released today by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on cramming and believes small companies that sell ringtones and other premium text messaging services often fraudulently bill customers who never signed up. The money was collected by the wireless network operators, which keep a cut of the revenue. "Some carrier policies allowed vendors to continue billing consumers even when the vendors had several months of consecutively high consumer refund rates," read part of the report. The FTC recently sued T-Mobile for allowing its customers to be crammed, though T-Mobile vehemently denies the accusation. Earlier this month, a California court shut down six companies that raked in more than $100 million via cramming. The Senate has yet to decide what to do about the matter.
T-Mobile today announced the Samsung Galaxy Avant, which is a low-cost Android smartphone. The device features a 4.5-inch qHD screen, quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 1.5GB of RAM, 5-megapixel camera, and 16GB of storage with support for microSD cards up to 64GB. Other features include an FM radio, S Voice, NFC, Easy Mode, and Wi-Fi calling. The Samsung Galaxy Avant is available starting today for $216 or $0 down followed by 24 payments of $9 each.
T-Mobile today announced a promotional plan that undercuts AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon's offerings dramatically. T-Mobile says a family of four can sign up for a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan with 10GB of LTE data for $100 per month. T-Mobile says each line receives 2.5GB of data in addition to unlimited talk, text, free 2G international data, and unlimited streaming music. The promotional price is good until January 2016 and is available beginning July 30 through September 30. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all charge $160 per month for similar four-line plans.
The FCC has published the rules regarding Auction 97, which will see 1,614 spectrum licenses sold by the government to wireless network operators. The auction will start November 13, with a trial auction scheduled for November 10. The spectrum includes 65MHz in the 1695-1710MHz, 1755-1780MHz, and 2155-2180MHz -- or AWS-3 -- bands. The lower of the three blocks will be sold unpaired in 5MHz blocks, while the upper two bands will be sold in 10MHz paired blocks (with a couple of exceptions). The collective reserve price for the lower block is $580 million and the collective reserve price for the upper blocks is $10.07 billion. Of the 1,614 licenses offered in Auction 97, 880 will be Economic Area (EA) licenses and 734 will be Cellular Market Area (CMA) licenses. Dish Networks and T-Mobile wanted the unpaired and paired licenses to be auctioned separately, but the FCC decided against splitting the bidding process in favor of efficiency for all parties involved. The FCC has another auction, for 600MHz spectrum, scheduled for mid 2015.
Microsoft today revealed the Lumia 530, a new entry-level Windows Phone that succeeds last year's 520. The device features the same colorful design language common to Lumia models and includes interchangeable rear shells for personalization. The Lumia 530 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana, MixRadio, and HERE Maps. The 530 features a 4-inch 854 x 480 display, is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor, and includes a 5-megapixel camera. Connectivity is limited to HSPA at 21Mbps, but it includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and aGPS. System memory is limited to 512MB and storage is limited to 4GB. The Lumia 530 supports microSD cards up to 128GB and will be sold in a dual-SIM variant in select markets. The Lumia 530 will be available globally and begins shipping in August. The target price point is about $130. T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier to voice support for the 530, which it said will go on sale later this year.
Sony recently made the Xperia Z2 available to U.S. buyers via its web store. The Z2, which was announced in January, costs $699 and is being sold unlocked. The Z2 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 20.7-megapixel camera with 4K video capture, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, and various sensors/radios. It is also water and dust resistant. The Z2 is compatible with the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony typically offers its smartphones through its web store when they aren't sold by wireless network operators.
AT&T and T-Mobile recently filed paperwork with the FCC seeking permission to swap spectrum assets. The companies are looking at PCS and AWS spectrum in a handful of markets. First, AT&T was required to divest spectrum in 12 markets, mostly in Nevada and Texas, in order to win FCC approval of its Cricket Wireless acquisition. These assets will be transferred to T-Mobile. Second, the companies want to exchange assets scattered around California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. In their filings with the FCC, AT&T and T-Mobile said the swap will "enable more efficient operations resulting from larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or the alignment of spectrum blocks held in adjacent markets." Such spectrum swaps are common in the secondary market for airwaves. The two companies didn't place a dollar value on the proposal, which requires FCC approval.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today sent an email to employees outlining his thoughts on the company's future. Much of the email centered on what Nadella believes should be a renewed focus on improving productivity through software and services. Nadella did spare a few words, however, to discuss the company's hardware strategy. "Our Windows device OS and first-party hardware will set the bar for productivity experiences. Windows will deliver the most rich and consistent user experience for digital work and life scenarios on screens of all sizes – from phones, tablets and laptops to TVs and giant 82-inch PPI boards," said Nadella. He suggested the company continue to invest in new technologies, such as speech, gesture, and pen input, as well as entice developers with greater opportunities across is range of products. "Our first-party devices will light up digital work and life. In addition, we will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem. It also means we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone, which is our goal with the Nokia devices and services acquisition." Microsoft closed its purchase of Nokia's cell phone business earlier this year. The company's latest Windows Phone device is the Lumia 635, which reaches T-Mobile later this month. Further, Windows Phone 8.1, the company's latest operating system, will begin to see widespread distribution to existing devices in the weeks ahead. Nadella didn't announce any specific new hardware or features for Windows Phone.
Dish Networks has told the FCC it intends to "meaningfully participate" in the reverse auction for 600MHz airwaves scheduled for next year. "The incentive auction offers opportunities for competitive providers and new entrants to bid on and win much-needed lowband spectrum, which will facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband services," said Dish Senior Vice President Jeffrey Blum in the filing with the agency. The FCC is still in the process of finalizing rules for the incentive auction, but expects to have them in place by September. The process will involve television stations giving up their 600MHz spectrum holdings, which the FCC will then auction to companies such as Dish, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Dish has long wanted to become a wireless provider of sorts. Earlier this year Dish won at auction PCS spectrum that abuts some spectrum it already owns. Dish also took the opportunity to tell the FCC it should block the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner.
T-Mobile today said it will cut $100 from the combined price of any iPhone and any iPad when purchased together at its stores. T-Mobile offers tablets 1.2GB of free data each month.
Sony recently added the Xperia Z1 Compact to its U.S. web store. Sony is selling the phone unlocked for the full retail price of $549. It is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile's HSPA+/LTE networks. The Z1 Compact, which was introduced in January, has many features found on the Z1S flagship device, including a 20.7-megapixel Exmor camera sensor with G Lens, IP58 rating for protection from water immersion, and Sony applications and services, such as Video and Music Unlimited. The Z1 Compact has a 4.3-inch 720p HD TriLuminos display with Sony's mobile Bravia Engine, and a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. The Xperia Z1 Compact runs Android 4.4 KitKat.
Isis, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, has decided to rebrand its service. Isis is making the change after the rise of ISIS, a militant group based in the Middle East, has gained worldwide notoriety. "However coincidental, we have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence and our hearts go out to those who are suffering," said Isis. "As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand." Isis said it is still weighing what the new brand name will be. Whatever the name is, the change won't affect the company's product or services. Isis said it will share new details as soon as they are available. Isis launched in November last year. It is available on many Android smartphones and enables tap-and-go mobile payments at select retailers nationwide.
Rok Mobile officially launched today, allowing select invitees to try its music-focused wireless service. Rok Mobile is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint and T-Mobile's 3G and LTE 4G networks. Rok doesn't just provide wireless service, it also bundles in its own streaming music service. Rok charges $50 per month for unlimited voice, messaging, and data in addition to music streaming, downloading, and caching. Rok offers customers access to 20 million tracks and lets people create their own playlists, as well as automatically generate playlists based on crowd-sourced favorites. Interested customers can bring their own device, or purchase an iPhone or Android smartphone from Rok. Rok offers iOS and Android apps to provide access to its music service. Anyone wishing to trial Rok Mobile can request an invitation from its web site.
Sprint today revealed it will commence sales of the LG G3 on July 18 in stores, online and via telephone. Sprint is offering several different ways to pay for the device. With Sprint Easy Pay, for example, customers can buy the G3 with $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $25. Preorders for the device begin July 11. The company is offering award cards for early adopters of the phone. New and existing customers who buy the G3 between July 11 and July 24 will qualify for a $150 gift card, and those who buy the G3 between July 25 and August 14 will qualify for a $100 gift card. T-Mobile plans to sell the G3 beginning July 16. AT&T and Verizon have yet to announced G3 availability.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere responded publicly to complaints filed against it by both the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission today. Legere called the allegations "unfounded and without merit." Legere countered that T-Mobile has worked proactively to stop third-party companies from fraudulently charging its customers. He further explained how the company ceased allowing premium SMS services altogether, and set up the refund program last year. "We believe [the third-party] providers should be held accountable, and the FTC's lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected." The FTC and FCC allege T-Mobile allowed the unwanted premium service charges to continue for months despite evidence customers didn't subscribe to them. The government believes T-Mobile knowingly bilked consumers out of tens of millions of dollars.
The FCC today said it, too, is investigating claims that T-Mobile fraudulently charged its customers for premium services they did not want. The FCC will work with the FTC to consolidate their cases. The FCC said it will "use our independent enforcement authority to ensure a thorough, swift, and just resolution of the numerous complaints against T-Mobile."
The Federal Trade Commission today filed a complaint regarding T-Mobile's billing practices for premium third-party services. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile made millions of dollars by allowing companies to tack high monthly fees onto its customers' bills, while often pocketing 30% to 40% of those fees. The practice is often referred to as cramming. The FTC alleges that T-Mobile knew about potential fraudulent charges made against its customers in 2012, but didn't begin to take action until 2013. The complaint suggests T-Mobile often hid third-party charges in lengthy and difficult-to-understand monthly bills. The FTC also believes T-Mobile didn't provide customers with full refunds, flat-out refused to refund some customers, and in some cases told customers to recoup the charges directly from the scammers - without providing the pertinent contact details. "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent" said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The FTC's goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges." The FTC wants a court order to permanently prevent T-Mobile from engaging in mobile cramming, to obtain refunds for consumers, and to relieve T-Mobile of its ill-gotten gains. The FTC's story differs significant from the one told by T-Mobile. Late last year, the company said it tried to police premium SMS services, but too many of its partners were breaking the rules. T-Mobile discontinued premium SMS services across its network in late 2013, and agreed to refund some customers. T-Mobile recently reminded customers to check their eligibility for those refunds. T-Mobile's efforts on behalf of its customers appear not to have dissuaded the FTC from taking its own action.
T-Mobile and MetroPCS today announced the pending availability of the Nokia Lumia 635. The device will see a gradual rollout that takes place over the course of several weeks. The Lumia 635 will first be available to T-Mobile's prepaid customers starting July 5 via the Home Shopping Network. T-Mobile's web site will then offer the 635 beginning July 9, followed by T-Mobile retail stores July 16. Finally, the Lumia 635 will reach MetroPCS' web site and select stores July 18. T-Mobile customers can purchase the Nokia Lumia 635 for $0 down followed by $7 per month for 24 months with a Simple Choice plan. MetroPCS customers can purchase the device for a promotional price of $99. The 635 is an entry-level Windows Phone handset that replaces last year's 521. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and includes a 4.5-inch screen.
Ultra Mobile, an MVNO that resells access to T-Mobile's network, recently begun offering customers access to LTE data. Ultra Mobile doesn't sell handsets and instead only sells SIM cards. Ultra Mobile has no plans to change this arrangement, but customers who provide their own LTE-equipped hardware will now be able to use the faster wireless networking technology. They were previously limited to HSPA+. Further, Ultra Mobile has tweaked its service plans. Customers who subscribe to its $29, $39, and $49 plans now have unlimited free calling to more than 40 countries, such as Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, and others. Last, the $29 plan now provides customers with $2.50 in credit towards global international calling in addition to 500MB of LTE data per month.
T-Mobile announced that customers can preorder the LG G3 beginning today. The device reaches stores July 16. The full retail price is $599. T-Mobile didn't immediately say what monthly pricing will be for Simple Choice Plans.
T-Mobile today announced customers can now purchase an Apple iPhone at Apple retail stores and use it with T-Mobile's prepaid, no-contract plans. T-Mobile is offering iPhone buyers a $50 discount off the price of the phone when paired with a prepaid plan. Customers who buy an iPhone and use it with T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans will receive a $50 iTunes gift card. T-Mobile also announced today it is selling the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad Mini with Retina Display (with T-Mobile LTE) at Costco locations around the U.S. T-Mobile says Costco is offering the devices at "competitive out-of-pocket prices." Today's announcements come on the heels of T-Mobile's free, week-long iPhone trial, which was revealed at its UNCarrier announcement in Seattle. All three promotions are meant to help T-Mobile sell more iPhones.
GIV Mobile today said it is offering potential customers a free Android smartphone when they prepay for two months of service. GIV is an MVNO that operates on T-Mobile's network. Its plans cost $40 and $50, and include unlimited talk and text and up to either 250MB or 2.5GB of 3G/4G data per month, respectively. GIV is giving away the Alcatel OneTouch for free, but also sells older flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the LG G2 at reduced prices. GIV is unique in that it earmarks 8% of customers' bills for donation to various charities. Customers are able to select up to three charities to which their donations can be sent. GIV launched in May 2013.
Microsoft recently began accepting preorders in the U.S. for the Lumia 635. Microsoft is asking $99 for the AT&T model and $129 for the T-Mobile model, both off contract. The 635 is an entry-level Windows Phone 8.1 handset.
T-Mobile has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission with the hope that it will help define "commercially reasonable" data roaming rates. T-Mobile does not want the FCC to set or regulate roaming rates for mobile data, but it does want the FCC to offer some guidance on what is acceptable. In its request, T-Mobile called out AT&T for setting what it believes are unreasonable rates. "T-Mobile has been forced to throttle and cap its customers' ability to roam on AT&T's data network due to AT&T's unreasonably high data roaming rates. This is precisely the type of impact on consumers that the 'commercially reasonable' standard should be interpreted to prevent. Data roaming traffic carried by the substantial majority of roaming partners other than AT&T is generally offered at rates that do not require throttling or capping." T-Mobile asked the FCC to act quickly, as some of its "most critical roaming agreements" are set to expire at the end of the year. T-Mobile was given a generous roaming agreement from AT&T in the wake of the larger carrier's failed attempt to purchase T-Mobile, but the exact scale of that agreement is unknown. The FCC mandated in 2011 that carriers allow competing devices to roam on their data networks at fair prices.
T-Mobile today announced Music Freedom, a new service that allows customers to stream an unlimited amount of music across its network from most of the major providers. Customers on T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans will be able to stream music without it counting against their data plans. The offer includes Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Milk, iTunes Radio, and BeatPort. Customers who hit their data limit for the month will still be able to stream music thanks to Music Freedom. It is available starting June 19.
T-Mobile today said its LTE network rollout continues to move forward at a steady clip. As of today, T-Mobile's LTE network covers 227 million POPs. It will reach 230 million POPs by the end of the month, 250 million by the end of the year, and T-Mobile will finalize its LTE build-out across its entire footprint moving into 2015. Further, T-Mobile has expanded the number of markets that offer VoLTE to 16, including major metro areas New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. T-Mobile says VoLTE is available to more than 100 million of its customers with this rollout on a total of four devices. (The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be made VoLTE-capable with an over-the-air download expected this week.) VoLTE supports clear HD Voice, which T-Mobile has boosted to a codex of 24Kbps. Last, T-Mobile has expanded the reach of its wide-band LTE network, which uses 15+15MHz and 20+20MHz channels to improve capacity. T-Mobile claims its wide-band LTE is capable of delivering theoretical download speeds of 150Mbps.