All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ beginning in March. Preorders for the phones kick off March 2 and the handset is expected to be available in stores on March 16. Samsung itself is selling the unlocked version via its web site. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840. Customers can apply for financing from Samsung to break down the cost of the phone over 24 months. Samsung is offering app to $350 off the price with a qualifying trade-in. Pricing from U.S. carriers varies significantly.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking subscribers to its AT&T Next plans to pay $26.34 per month for 30 months for the S9 (total: $790), or $30.50 per month for 30 months for the S9+ (total: $915). AT&T says business customers can get a $150 activation credit with they by the S9 or S9+ on an installment plan. The devices support Band 14, and thus the AT&T-run FirstNet public safety network. AT&T's prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, plans to sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at full cost.
- Sprint: Sprint is selling the S9 for $33.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $792). The Galaxy S9+ will be $38.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $912).
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is asking customers to pay $30 per month for 24 months for the S9 with $0 down (total: $720), and $30 per month for 24 months for the S9+ with $120 down (total: $840) For a limited time, postpaid customers can get up to $360 off either phone with a qualifying trade-in when the S9 or S9+ is purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, will sell the Galaxy S9 starting March 16 for full price.
- Verizon Wireless: Last, Verizon Wireless is charging $33.33 per month for 24 months for the S9 (total: $799) and $38.74 per month for 24 months for the S9+ (total: $930). Customers who switch to Verizon, port in their line, and trade in an old phone may get up to $500 in bill credits towards the purchase of a Galaxy S9 or S9+.
Google says its Android Messages app is on the upswing thanks to new RCS-based tools and growing support from phone makers and wireless network operators. To start, brands now have more power to interact with consumers thanks to RCS business messaging. Google says brands can "send more useful and interactive messages" to their customers with photos, videos, and links for purchasing. A number of companies have been testing RCS business messaging via Google's Early Access Program. Some include 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway — all on Sprint in the U.S. Google says more businesses will be deploying richer messaging via the Android Messages app over the coming months. The Android Messages app has gained a lot of traction with phone makers and carriers, and more support is on the way. Moving forward, Alcatel, BlackBerry, Transsion, Blu, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential will all preload Android Messages as the default SMS/messaging app. A number of phone makers already offer Android Messages, including Huawei, LG, HMD Global, HTC, Kyocera, Motorola, Sony, and ZTE. The app has a growing footprint with carriers, as well. Google says America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company, and Telefonica have joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint, and Telenor in their commitment to launch RCS messaging. Sprint is the lone U.S. carrier to go all-in with Google's RCS and Android Messages. AT&T and Verizon each offers its own RCS-based messaging client for Android handsets. Google believes this new momentum for RCS and Android Messages will eventually mean a better messaging experience between people, brands, and more.
Google today said the Google Assistant is prepared to grow in a number of significant ways. First, the voice-activated tool is picking up some new languages. Google says Assistant will speak Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai on Android phones and iPhones in the next few months, with more languages on the way. Google expects Assistant to understand as many as 30 languages by the end of the year. Further, Google Assistant will be able to understand multiple languages at a time, meaning people can speak both English and German to their Assistant without changing settings. This feature will first be available between English, French, and German, with other languages to follow. Google also noted that it is working more directly from carriers and phone makers to improve Assistant. For example, LG, Sony, and Xiaomi are all prepared to rollout device-specific commands and features based on Google Assistant. Moreover, carriers Sprint, Koodo, Telus, and Vodafone are developing integrations with Assistant. Between the phone makers and carriers, Google expects Assistant to support individual device features, customer service queries, and more. Last, Google Assistant is adding two new tools to help people manage their day. Routines let people issue one command and set off a chain of actions. For example, say "Hey Google, I’m home" and the Assistant on Google Home or phone can turn on the lights, share any home reminders, play your favorite music, and more. Location-based reminders have now expanded to Google Home speakers. People can tell Assistant on their speaker to set reminders for specific locations, such as to get milk when at the store, and the alert will popup when appropriate. Google expects to bring even more features to Assistant throughout the year.
Sprint expects to deploy voice over LTE across its network starting this fall. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already offer VoLTE across the bulk of their footprints, making Spring the last major carrier to deploy the upgraded voice technology. "For more than a year we’ve been testing VoLTE and preseeding our customer base with VoLTE-capable devices in preparation for our commercial deployment starting this fall," said Sprint to Fierce Wireless. "Our network today offers a great HD Voice experience on a very efficient 1x platform, and our goal with VoLTE is to match this same high-quality experience that our customers have today." VoLTE allows devices to connect voice calls over carriers' data networks, rather than legacy voice networks, and delivers as much as three times the clarity. Sprint didn't say which devices support VoLTE, nor did it say if its VoLTE service will be compatible with those of other network operators. AT&T and Verizon, for example, allow some customers on some devices to connect VoLTE calls across carriers, though typically VoLTE calls are limited to intra-carrier connections.
Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon X24, a Cat 20 LTE modem with support for downloads up to 2 Gbps, to its hardware partners. The X24 is built on a 7nm FinFET process and includes advanced LTE technologies, such as 7-channel carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO on up to five carriers, and Massive MIMO. The X24 supports all deployed LTE bands worldwide and can be configured as needed by each carrier with licensed spectrum or License Assisted Access. Up the uplink, the X24 supports 3 x 20 MHz carrier aggregation up to 256-QAM. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon X24 is paired with an RF transceiver built on a 14nm FinFET process with support for envelope tracking up to 60 MHz. It also includes HPUE in Band 41 (for Sprint). Last, the X24 includes multi-frequency global navigation satellite system (GNSS), which will lead to more accurate real-time location tracking within apps. Qualcomm claims the X24 can deliver mobile experiences such as 360-degree video streams and instant apps. Qualcomm plans to demonstrate the X24 with its partners at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona later this month. Qualcomm expects to see the Snapdragon X24 in commercial devices by the end of the year. Qualcomm is positioning the X24 as the tallest, strongest bridge between today's 4G LTE technology and forthcoming 5G NR technology. The Snapdragon X20 modem with 1.2 Gbps speeds, announced late last year, will find its way into the top phones of 2018 that rely on the Snapdragon 845 processor. The X20 will be followed by the X24 in late 2018 and then, eventually, the X50 modem for 5G NR devices in 2019.
Qualcomm today said various network operators plan to use its Snapdragon X50 5G modem in trials this year, while a number of device makers have selected the X50 for mobile gear due next year. According to Qualcomm, the carriers committed to the X50 include AT&T, British Telecom, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telstra, Verizon, and others. They will all rely on the Snapdragon X50 to test mobile 5G. A notable exception is T-Mobile in the U.S. The tests will occur in sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands and will be based on the 3GPP Release 15 5G NR standard. Qualcomm says the X50 will allow the carriers to test the modem within hardware that has the size, power, and limitations of a smartphone. This will help operators fine-tune their pre-launch 5G networks accordingly. Further, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon X50 will wind up in commercial mobile devices as soon as the first half of 2019. Device makers including Asus, Fujitsu, HMD Global, HTC, LG, Netgear, Oppo, Sharp, Sierra Wireless, Sony Mobile, vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE, and others all plan to bring 5G devices to market with the Snapdragon X50 5G NR providing the connectivity. Notable abesntees from the list include Apple and Huawei. Qualcomm believes the Snapdragon X50 will be ideal for smartphones, always-connected PCs, mobile broadband, and extended-, virtual-, and augmented-reality applications. The goal for 5G is to deliver multi-gigabit per second speeds and ultra-low latency — something Qualcomm asserts that the X50 can do. Network operators in the U.S. including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless have all committed to launching some form of 5G over the next 10 to 18 months.
Sprint will use its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings to provide the backbone for its planned 5G network, which is on deck to go live during the first half of 2019. The company is already hard at work on what it calls its Next-Gen Network. Sprint plans to deploy 64T64R Massive MIMO 2.5 GHz radios, which it says will increase capacity by as much as 10 times that of current LTE systems, in addition to boosting data speeds. Massive MIMO will support both LTE and 5G New Radio services at the same time on the same towers. The company is already in the process of upgrading its towers in all three spectrum bands (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5 GHz). It plans to build thousands of new cell cites as part of its densification project, and hopes to deploy up to one million Sprint Magic Boxes. The Sprint Magic Boxes are small cells already being used at 80,000 sites across 200 cities. "We’re working with Qualcomm and network and device manufacturers in order to launch the first truly mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure today during the company's quarterly earnings call. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all committed to launching some form of 5G service later this year, though none has a nationwide footprint on deck for launch. Sprint has 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S. Sprint's competitors are eyeing other spectrum bands for their 5G networks. For example, T-Mobile plans to use some of its 600 MHz holdings. Sprint says chipsets and devices are in the works, too. "We have come to an agreement with Qualcomm that they are going to be able to release this toward the later end of 2018, the new chipsets," said Claure. "And we have had a conversation with a leading Korean manufacturer to basically have devices ready by the first half of 2019." LG and Samsung are both based in Korea. Sprint expects to charge more for unlimited 5G service. Claure believes it has more wiggle room with respect to price than its competitors because it currently charges less for unlimited 4G service. In other Sprint news, the company said it added 256,000 postpaid customers during the fourth quarter of 2017, as well as 63,000 prepaid customers.
Sprint today followed AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in offering free service to customers who travel to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. International service is already available to Sprint customers who have eligible phones. Sprint customers who travel to South Korea between February 1 and March 18 will have access to free high-speed data, voice, and texting. Sprint's global roaming service does not include free picture, audio or video messaging. Sprint did not specify the rates for sending such multimedia messages. Customers will need to be on a post-paid plan. The free roaming will be awarded to Sprint customers through seven-day passes. The weekly pass normally costs $25, but Sprint will waive the fee during the games.
HTC said that Sprint will begin pushing the Android 8 Oreo system update to its variant of the HTC U11 starting today. The news was shared by HTC executive Mo Versi on Twitter. Android 8 Oreo includes notification dots, picture-in-picture, and auto-fill. The new code from HTC also includes other bug fixes and tweaks. Though the update is available today, it may take up to a week to reach all users. The unlocked and T-Mobile variants of the U11 were updated to Android 8 late last year, as were most variants of the HTC U11 Life. HTC still plans to distribute Android 8 Oreo to the HTC 10 and U Ultra.
Sprint and Cox Communications today said they've agreed to work together to improve one another's businesses. Sprint plans to use Cox's broadband infrastructure to improve its macro backhaul performance, as well as to densify its wireless network through the use of small cells. Sprint will make use of macro towers, air poles, strand mounts, and repeaters all patched into Cox's network to improve coverage. It will be putting its 2.5 GHz spectrum to use with the Cox-supported small cells. Sprint owns more than 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S. Today's deal was also reached in part to settle patent litigation between the companies, according to Sprint.
Sprint is offering a year of free unlimited service to people who switch from other postpaid carriers to Sprint. The deal, detailed on Sprint's web site, requires switchers to jump through a lot of hoops and meet a wide variety of conditions. In order to quality for the free service, potential switchers need to have compatible, unlocked handsets, and they'll need to purchase and activate Sprint SIM cards before porting their number to Sprint. Sprint says the SIM cards cost $3 each, with $10 shipping and handling. The actual SIM activation will be free. People who take advantage of the deal will not be able to upgrade to new devices for at least four months, and Sprint warns that some phone features and network experiences will vary depending on the handsets in question. The promotion will provide one year of free talk, text, and data with 10 GB of mobile hotspot per line. People who exceed the 10 GB mobile hotspot allotment will be throttled. Video can be streamed at up to full HD, music can be streamed at up to 1.5Mbps, and games can be streamed at up to 8Mbps. Sprint says it will throttle people during instances of network congestion, particularly those who exceed 23 GB per month. People who earn free service will still be on the hook for taxes and other monthly fees. Sprint will allow a total of five free lines per account. Tablets are not supported, nor are other connected devices. The free service will expire January 31, 2019, after which Sprint will charge its normal rates for multi-line unlimited accounts. Auto-pay is required.
Sprint recently launched its Direct Connect Plus push-to-talk service. Direct Connect Plus powers walkie-talkie style conversations with instant connections between users. The service relies on Kodiak's LTE network-based technology, rather than Sprint's discontinued iDEN network. It supports one-to-one and group conversations. Features include presence status, support for tablets, and corporate control over contacts and groups. Sprint's Direct Connect Plus service is available to most Android and iOS smartphones and tablets via mobile app for $5 per month. Several handsets in Sprint's line-up, including the Kyocera DuraXTP, DuraForce Pro, and DuraTR, include physical PTT buttons and native support for Direct Connect Plus. The service is aimed at business customers.
SoftBank Group, the parent company of Sprint, is weighing whether or not to offer shares in its own Japan-based wireless company. Under the direction of CEO Masayoshi Sun, SoftBank has transformed itself in recent years into an investor in technology companies. The goal of the IPO would be to raise about $18 billion in funds so SoftBank Group could continue to invest in other entities. SoftBank Corp., the wireless company in question, is Japan's third-largest provider of wireless services behind KDDI and NTT DoCoMo. SoftBank is exploring a fall listing on the Tokyo stock exchange and may also list sales in London. The plans are not final and may change. The potential IPO should not impact SoftBank's ownership and management of Sprint. SoftBank also has large investments in Alibaba and ARM Holdings.
Kyocera has quietly launched the DuraTR, a ruggedized bar phone intended for Sprint's Direct Connect service. The DuraTR meets mil-spec 810G for protection from drops, bumps, scrapes, and bruises. It can handle immersion in water, as well as exposure to fog, heat, moisture, dust, and cold. It is also certified for use in some hazardous environments. Stand out features include a user-assignable action button, extra-loud speakerphone, non-slip finish, and a standard numeric key pad. As far as specs go, the DuraTR includes a 2.4-inch screen, quad-core Qualcomm processor, 1 GB of memory, 8 GB of storage, and a 2,900mAh removable battery. It packs a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and HD video capture. Software features include messaging, email, mobile browser, and enterprise-focused software, such as time sheets. Sprint is selling the phone through its business web site. Sprint's Direct Connect service is not yet live, though it is expected to become available later this month. Direct Connect uses Kodiak's service to power push-to-talk over the LTE 4G network, rather than a dedicated PTT network. Once Direct Connect goes live, DuraTR owners will be able to activate the service through a software update.
Boost Mobile recently added the LG Tribute Dynasty to its lineup of affordable Android smartphones. This device includes a 5-inch HD display and is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The Tribute Dynasty has an 8-megapixel main camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. Other features include a 2,500mAh battery; Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and LTE; and microUSB and headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The LG Tribute Dynasty costs $100, but is on sale at the moment for $60. The phone is already available at Boost Mobile stores. Sprint said it will carry the phone starting Jan. 12.
Sprint today appointed seasoned telecom executive Michel Combes as President and Chief Financial Officer. Combes replaces Tarek Robbiati, who will transition away from Sprint at the end of the month. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure thanked Robbiati for his work in helping Sprint reduce costs over the last few years. In addition to serving as CFO, Combes will be added to Sprint's board of directors. Before joining Sprint, Combes served as CEO of Altice, CEO of SFR, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, CFO of France Telecom, and CEO of Vodafone Europe. "I have known Marcelo for many years and am delighted to join the Sprint team and build upon the great progress achieved to date," said Combes. Combes officially joins Sprint on January 6, he will report directly to Claure.
Sprint today voiced its support of the recently ratified NSA 5G NR specification and revealed its own plans for deploying 5G. The specification for NSA 5G NR includes support for up to 100 MHz on a single carrier (in the 2.5 GHz band) versus today's limit of 20 MHz per carrier. Sprint holds a massive 160 MHz slice of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S., which will allow Sprint to offer mid-band 5G to many Americans. The company is working with Qualcomm and SoftBank to bring 5G services and devices to market by late 2019. Sprint says it will first use Massive MIMO as a stepping stone to 5G. It will launch Massive MIMO in its 2.5 GHz spectrum in 2018. These radios contain 64 transmitters and 64 receivers each, which allow for incredibly accurate beam-forming. These radios will be software-upgradeable to 5G NR. Sprint did not say anything about plans to support mmWave-based 5G in high-band spectrum. "This is an important milestone and we’re making great progress accelerating the development and commercialization of 5G NR in the 2.5 GHz band," said Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO. "5G will spur dramatic innovation and progress around the world, and we see great opportunity in mobile 5G, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications." AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have similar plans and timeframes for bringing 5G to market.
Andy Rubin is taking some time away from Essential Products, where he is CEO. The company's day-to-day operations will be handled by president Niccolo de Masi during Rubin's absence. The timing of Rubin's leave coincides with a report from The Information that said Rubin had an inappropriate relationship with an employee during his time at Google. Google investigated the relationship in 2013 and concluded that "Rubin’s behavior was improper and showed bad judgement." He was moved after the investigation from the Android team to Google's robotics division. Rubin later left Google and founded Essential Products. Essential insists the timing of Rubin's leave is not related to The Information's report. "At our last regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in November, Andy asked for a leave of absence to deal with personal matters," said the company in a statement provided to The Verge. Essential makes the PH-1 smartphone, a high-end Android handset. The PH-1 went on sale earlier this year for $699, but has since been discounted to $499 amidst slow sales. The device is available unlocked from Essential, and it is also sold by Sprint.
The HTC U11 is on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo beginning today, according to HTC exec Mo Versi. He tweeted the news over the holiday weekend. The unlocked version of the U11 will be first to see the Android 8 Oreo upgrade, though Versi said other variants, including Sprint, shouldn't be too far behind. Other HTC handsets that will receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10, U Ultra, and U11 Life. Versi didn't say when Oreo will be available for those devices
Sprint is adjusting its top ranks in an effort to streamline its management structure, according to an internal memo obtained by Fierce Wireless. To start, a number of executives are departing the company, including COO Günther Ottendorfer, who's been behind a lot of Sprint's network advancements. Ottendorfer framed the departure as a chance to return to his family in his home county of Austria. Other departures include Jeff Nelson and Jim Hyde. A handful of executives have been promoted, including Dow Draper, who is now the chief commercial officer, and Kevin Crull, who is now the chief strategy officer. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has reduced the number of executives who report directly to him from 16 to nine, including Draper, Crull, COO Nestor Cano, President of Sprint Jan Geldmacher, and CTO John Saw. In addition to the management changes, Claure outlined plans to reimagine its corporate offices in a way that promotes teamwork. Claure and select executives are relocating to a new space on the Sprint campus to test the changes, which will be rolled out across Sprint offices nationwide if they function as hoped. "As we start this new chapter, we’re building an organization that is flatter, faster and closer than ever to our customers," said Claure to Sprint employees. "At the same time, we’re creating an environment where partners can collaborate more easily and are empowered to make the decisions that will enable Sprint’s success." The changes appear to be a response to the failed merger with T-Mobile.
ROK Mobile has rolled out a new promotional rate plan that includes three months of unlimited service for $99. The offer is available to new customers only. After the three-month period ends, the plan reverts to the normal monthly rate of $45. ROK Mobile is an MVNO that offers service on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Customers can select which carrier they wish to use when they sign up for ROK Mobile. This allows people to use their own device. The $99 promo is only available to new customers who choose service on Sprint or Verizon. Those who select Sprint will be eligible for a free ZTE Prestige smartphone. ROK Mobile started out as a music-focused MVNO but has since transitioned to a more traditional MVNO. Service plans range from $20 to $50 per month, depending on the data bucket. ROK Mobile also offers what it calls Life Plans, a series of services including roadside assistance, accidental death and cremation insurance, family legal services, family telemedicine, and ID theft insurance. These Life Services can be added as extras to any of ROK Mobile's service plans. Pricing ranges from $5 to $15 per month depending on the package.
Sprint and Hulu today said they've partnered together so Sprint customers can enjoy access to Hulu's content for free. New and existing Sprint Unlimited Freedom subscribers can add Hulu at no extra charge. Hulu has three services tiers: streaming with limited commercials for $8 per month, streaming with no commercials for $12 per month, and streaming with live TV for $40 per month. The Sprint promotion applies to Hulu's entry-level limited commercials plan. Sprint and Hulu hope to offer an upgrade option for Hulu's sports and news-focused live TV plan in the near future, but potential pricing wasn't revealed. Sprint Unlimited Freedom customers can stream HD content over the network, though only some of Hulu's content is available in HD. Sprint says customers can sign up for free access to Hulu starting November 17. The move by Sprint and Hulu mirrors a similar tie-up between T-Mobile and Netflix.
Samsung today said it will sell the Deepsea Blue color variant of the Galaxy Note8 smartphone in the U.S. Since launch, the device has only be available to U.S. buyers in black or gray. Other than the color, everything about the Deepsee Blue Note8 is identical to the black and gray versions. The phone will be available from Best Buy stores, BestBuy.com, and Samsung.com beginning November 16. Customers will be able to select an AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, or unlocked model. The Note8 has a 6.3-inch Infinity Display, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual camera system, S Pen stylus, 6 GB of RAM, and fast wireless charging. The phone Galaxy Note8 runs Android 7 Nougat and costs $929.
Samsung today said its rugged Galaxy S8 Active will soon be sold by T-Mobile and Sprint. The phone has been available from AT&T since earlier this year. Notably, the T-Mobile variant of the S8 Active supports Band 71, or 600 MHz spectrum, which T-Mobile is slowly lighting up with service in rural areas. Otherwise, the device is unchanged from the AT&T variant. The S8 Active has a metal frame with bumpers that are able to withstand drops up to 5 feet. Samsung says the phone meets mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse in addition to IP68 for protection against water. The phone has a 5.8-inch quad HD+ display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio, but drops the S8's curved glass for a flat piece of hardened glass. Other features unique to the S8 Active include a larger 4,000mAh battery, and Samsung's Activity Zone software for tracking workouts and other activities. The S8 Active is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, boasts 12-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera, and includes a dedicated Bixby key. T-Mobile says the Galaxy S8 Active will require a $100 down payment followed by $30 monthly payments for 24 months. Alternately, customers can lease the phone for $100 down and $29 per month for 18 months. It will be available from T-Mobile's web site starting November 17 and should hit stores November 22. Sprint has yet to share pricing and availability details.
Sprint has signed an agreement with Altice USA to resell Sprint service as an MVNO. Sprint is calling the deal a first-of-its-kind arrangement, as it will see the companies sharing services. Altice USA is the parent company of both the Optimum and Suddenlink brands, which provide internet, TV, WiFi, and telephone services to a combined 4.9 million customers in various markets throughout the country. Altice is currently building a next-generation fiber network. With the Sprint agreement, Altice USA plans to offer mobile voice and data services under its own brand. What's unique is that Altice will be able to connect directly to Sprint's network. Sprint will provide cellular connectivity to Altice MVNO wireless subscribers. On the flip side, Sprint will rely on Altice USA's broadband platform to help densify its own backhaul network. Sprint believes this differentiated network operating model will benefit both companies and help ease with integrating their services. Sprint may pursue similar agreements moving forward. Terms of the deal were not made public. The move comes just a day after Sprint and T-Mobile said the two wireless companies will abandon merger talks.
T-Mobile and Sprint today said they have ceased talks to merge into a single entity. The companies said they could not find mutually agreement terms. T-Mobile and Sprint have flirted with the idea of merging since 2014. Talks ramped up again earlier this year, but it appears the two companies weren't able to find a deal that worked for both organizations. "The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record. Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories — ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it." T-Mobile and Sprint have vast spectrum resources, but combining them would have been difficult. Moreover, T-Mobile is worth twice as much as Sprint from a market capitalization perspective and that threw a wrench in how the merged company would be led. Marcelo Claure, Sprint's CEO, said, "While we couldn’t reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination. We have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own. We know we have significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth. We look forward to continuing to take the fight to the duopoly and newly emerging competitors." AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two industry leaders, each have about twice as many customers as both T-Mobile and Sprint.
T-Mobile has approached Sprint with a new proposal, reports the Wall Street Journal, in an attempt to keep the potential merger of the two companies alive. Talks failed earlier this week when Masayoshi Son, CEO of Sprint parent SoftBank, appeared to walk away from the deal over a disagreement concerning which company would own the other. The terms of T-Mobile's new proposal are unknown, but Sprint is considering them according to the Journal's unnamed sources. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure have been in direct contact since Wednesday. T-Mobile ($49 billion) has twice the market capitalization of Sprint ($26 billion). This should put T-Mobile in the driver's seat concerning the terms of the merger agreement and ownership. The Journal's sources say a new deal could be reached within weeks, though they were certain to note talks could always fall through.
Blu Products recently announced the S1, an inexpensive Android smartphone that's available unlocked from Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. One of the chief benefits of the S1 is its wide compatibility with U.S. LTE networks. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, and, unusually, Sprint, as well as their prepaid services including Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, and MetroPCS. Blu says it also offers SIM kits for the S1 from Tracfone, Net10, and H2O. The S1 features a curved glass front with metallic paint on the smooth rear panel. The 5.2-inch display offers 720p HD resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the phone is powered by an octa-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek 6750 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include Bluetooth, FM radio, GPS, and WiFi; 16 GB of storage and support for microSD memory cards; front-mounted fingerprint sensor; and a 2,800mAh battery. The Blu S1 runs Android 7 Nougat and is available online for $130 from Amazon and $180 from Best Buy.
Sprint and T-Mobile may not be merging after all. SoftBank, the majority owner of Sprint, plans to break off merger talks, according to Reuters. SoftBank and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom haven't been able to agree on who will own the combined company. T-Mobile and Sprint are the country's third- and fourth-largest carriers, when measured by customers. The merged entity would have been better able to compete with market leaders AT&T and Verizon. SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom had widely been expected to announced merger details by the end of the month. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile commented on Reuters' report.
Virgin Mobile USA today said it will offer customers the Apple iPhone X starting November 10. The company will accept preorders beginning November 3, which happens to be the same day the handset reaches Apple retail stores and those of Virgin's owner, Sprint. Virgin did not reveal pricing details for the iPhone X, but it will likely charge customers the full retail price of $999 for the 64 GB model and $1,049 for the 256 GB model. iPhone X owners on Virgin Mobile can get unlimited talk, text and data at up to 4G LTE speeds for just $50 per month.
The recent release of the Google Pixel 2 means Sprint customers have access to 10 handsets that support HPUE. Sprint has been deploying HPUE tech on its 2.5 GHz spectrum since late last year. The primary benefit is better performance (higher speeds, more capacity) at the cell edge. The result is a wireless experience more like that of Sprint's mid-band 1.9 GHz spectrum. The devices able to access HPUE include the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, and Note8; the LG G6, V30+, and X Charge; the ZTE Max XL and Warp 8; the Motorola Z2 Force; the HTC U11; and the Pixel 2. Apple has yet to release any iPhones that support HPUE. Sprint said it expects to offer many more HPUE devices before long.
Essential Products today dropped the price of its PH-1 smartphone by $200. In order to score the new price, consumers will need to order the phone from Essential.com. The company thanked its early supporters, who are being offered a $200 friends and family gift card toward the purchase of an Essential 360 Camera or another Essential PH-1. "At Essential, one of our driving principles is that premium craftsmanship and the latest technologies shouldn’t be for the few," explained the company in a blog post. "We could have created a massive TV campaign to capture your attention, but we think making it easier for people to get their hands on our first products is a better way to get to know us." Essential Products is spearheaded by Andy Rubin, who helped create the Android operating system. The PH-1 is a high-end handset with a large screen, bezel-less design, and top specs. The phone received mixed reviews when it went on sale earlier this year, mainly due to the camera. Essential has pushed several updates to improve the camera since its release. Sprint is the only U.S. operator that sells the Essential. The company has been offering a half-off lease program on the PH-1 for several weeks. "At $14.58 per month on Sprint Flex, Sprint still offers a better value on Essential Phone" than even Essential's new lower price. "Our current offer is 50% off the standard lease price," said Sprint to Phone Scoop via email. Sprint's lease program for the Essential PH-1 lasts 18 months.
Sprint today debuted a new resource for parents called Safe & Found. It allows parents to view their child's smartphone location any time, as well as set controls over apps and usage. The service includes real-time geolocation and geofencing, which allows parents to create safe zones in which their children are permitted to travel. If the child's phone departs the geofenced area, parents will receive alerts. The service includes an SOS button, which will send an emergency alert with the child's location to all family members. Alternately, if the phone is lost Safe & Found lets subscribers find, lock, or wipe it remotely. Parental controls give mom and dad the ability to restrict calls to trusted numbers, install age-appropriate apps, and regulate usage based on the time of day. The service includes content restrictions, too, so inappropriate web content and apps are blocked from kid phones. Safe & Found costs $6.99 per line per month and it is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Sprint today rolled out a new lease offer for the Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus that sees discounts up to $350 off the list price with an eligible trade-in. For example, customers can snag the 64 GB iPhone 8 for $0 down and $9.72 per month after bill credits. The same monthly price is available for the 256 GB iPhone 8, but it requires a $150 down payment. Lease prices for the iPhone 8 Plus are a few dollars more at $13.89 per month with $0 down for the 64 GB model and $150 down for the 256 GB model. Device trade-ins must be fairly new and in working order. Eligible devices include the Apple iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and 7 Plus; the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+; the LG G5, G6, or V20; the Motorola Z Droid, Z Play, Z Force Droid, Z2 Play, or Z2 Force; the Google Pixel or Pixel XL; the BlackBerry KEYone; or the HTC U11. Trades must be owned outright and not under any form of payments. Sprint allows lessees to upgrade their device after 12 monthly payments.
Samsung today said its Gear Sport smartwatch and Icon X 2018 headphones will be available for pre-order starting October 13, with general retail availability to follow October 27. The Gear Sport, a fitness-focused smartwatch that runs Samsung's Tizen platform, costs $299.99. It will initially be sold by Samsung.com and BestBuy.com, and will later expand to Amazon, Macy's, and U.S. Cellular. The watch has a 1.2-inch screen, GPS, rotating bezel for controlling the user interface, and waterproof chassis for recording swim workouts. The Gear Icon X 2018, wireless earbuds with heart rate detection and other fitness features, costs $199.99. The Icon X will initially be sold only by Samsung.com, with Amazon, BestBuy.com, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular to follow later. The Icon X 2018 are second-generation Bluetooth headphones that can interact with Samsung's Bixby personal assistant. The devices were announced earlier this year.
ZTE today announced the Blade Force smartphone for Boost Mobile. This Android handset includes support for Sprint's High Performance User Equipment technology and two-channel carrier aggregation for better performance near the cell edge. The Blade Force has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 427 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports external storage cards up to 128 GB. The rear camera has an 8-megapixel sensor while the front camera has a 5-megapixel camera. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and FM radio. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is available online starting today for $130.
Sprint will offer LG's new flagship V30+ phone starting on October 13th. The V30+ is exclusive to Sprint in the U.S.; other carriers will offer the standard V30. The V30+ has 128 GB of internal storage, twice that of the standard V30. It will also come with LG QuadPlay high-quality earbuds. For a limited time, it will also come with a free Google Daydream VR headset. The V30 is one of the first LG-branded phones compatible with Daydream. Sprint is selling the phone for $912, or leasing it for $38/month. For a limited time, Sprint is offering 2-for-1 on the $38/month lease.
T-Mobile and Sprint have made significant progress in ironing out merger terms, according to Reuters. T-Mobile and Sprint have made a "major breakthrough" on a merger between them. As it stands, SoftBank, Sprint's parent, would own between 40% and 50% of the combined company, with Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, owning the majority stake. These terms are near final and will require due diligence before a deal is announced, which may happen as soon as the end of October, according to Reuters' sources. In addition to shareholder and board approval, the deal would face regulatory scrutiny from the U.S. government. SoftBank was forced to abandon an attempted merger with T-Mobile back in 2014 due to government pressure. The combined T-Mobile/Sprint entity would catapult to 130 million customers, putting it just behind rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile and Sprint declined to comment on Reuters' story.
Google today made it easier for businesses to configure and deploy Android handsets to employees with a new tool called zero-touch enrollment. Google says zero-touch lets companies configure purchased devices and ship them directly to employees completely preconfigured with corporate policies and controls all in place. Users need only sign in to gain access to their work apps and data. The new zero-touch enrollment tool is available on handsets purchased from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. Google is working with Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, HMD Global, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Honeywell, Zebra, and Sonim to ensure a wide selection of devices support zero-touch. Google indicated the Huawei Mate 10 and Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact will be among the first devices to support zero-touch in the coming weeks. Businesses will be able to use a wide range of enterprise device management tools from the likes of BlackBerry, MobileIron, IBM, Suite, and VMware to configure zero-touch. Google encouraged businesses that are interested in zero-touch to contact their carriers directly.
Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.