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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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-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.
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.
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.
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'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 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.
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.
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, 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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
T-Mobile today announced a new option for subscribers of its Simple Starter plans. The plan already offers unlimited talk/text and 500MB of data for $40 per month. Starting September 3, subscribers will be able to quadruple their data to 2GB of LTE 4G access per month for $5 more. The Simple Starter plan does not require an annual service contract and does not charge domestic overages.
Cricket Wireless is borrowing a play from T-Mobile by offering a $100 credit to customers who switch from the UNcarrier or MetroPCS to AT&T-owned Cricket. The $100 bill credit offer is available from August 24 to October 19 at Cricket stores nationwide and online. According to Cricket, there is no limit on the number of lines a customer can switch to Cricket. Each line transferred from T-Mobile/MetroPCS is eligible for the $100 bill credit. Cricket's prepaid Basic, Smart, and Pro plans cost $40, $50, and $60, respectively, per month. Each plan offers a $5 monthly reduction when customers choose to use auto-pay.
Sprint today announced a new unlimited plan that it says undercuts the competition. The plan, which will be available beginning August 22, provides a single line of service with unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month. Sprint claims the offering beats T-Mobile's best price by $20 per month, and that similar options aren't available from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. There is a catch. In order to qualify for the plan, customers need to either bring their own device, pay full retail for a device, or sign up for Sprint's Easy Pay financing plan. The Sprint $60 Unlimited Plan for single lines follows a complete overhaul of Sprint's family share plans, which offer savings to four or more lines of service.
T-Mobile today said it will give current customers unlimited LTE data for a full year if they convince an AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon customer to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is likening the program to "throwing a lifeline" to those on competing networks. Not only does the current customer receive unlimited LTE for a year, but so does the new customer. Customers who already pay for unlimited data will receive a $10 monthly credit instead. The referral program kicks off August 29. Customers will then be able to enter their own number and the number of a friend who's ported their service, which must be reported within 30 days of the friend's activation. The referral program runs for a limited time, but T-Mobile didn't immediately indicate an end date. It doesn't apply to pre-paid plans, and is limited to one referral per account.
ZTE today announced it is bringing the Nubia 5S mini with LTE to the U.S. The 5S mini is a compact handset that's part of ZTE's premium line of Android smartphones. It has a 4.7-inch 720p HD IGZO display from Sharp, and it is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor with an Adreno 305 GPU. The phone is equipped with a 13-megapixel main camera and a bevy of advanced controls for focus, light metering, and white balance. The five-element f/2.2 lens is protected by sapphire, and the camera has three shooting modes: Fun, Auto, and Pro. The 5S mini has a 5-megapixel user-facing camera, too, and can capture 720p HD video. Other hardware features include 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a memory card slot; Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and support for AT&T/T-Mobile LTE; and a 2,000mAh battery. ZTE is offering the Nubia 5S mini with LTE directly to consumers via Amazon, where the device costs $280 and ships unlocked. The phone is available for order today, and ships starting August 27.
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.