Sprint is shutting down its Virgin Mobile prepaid brand. Starting the week of February 2nd, Sprint will move current Virgin Mobile customers to Sprint's other prepaid brand, Boost Mobile. According to a Sprint statement to FierceWireless, "In most circumstances, customers can keep their current phone and will receive a comparable or better Boost Mobile service plan with no extra cost". All of Sprint's business plans are currently in a kind of limbo as the company awaits a court verdict on whether it will be allowed to merge with T-Mobile. The pending merger has put a pause on all major investments and strategic moves, which in turn has hurt business units such as Virgin Mobile.
Sprint has joined T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T in offering a free service with basic protection against fraud and spam callers. Like the free services already offered by other carriers, Sprint's new Call Screener Basic can block the highest-risk fraud calls, and identify other likely spam calls as they ring. Sprint's new free service also include caller-ID for businesses. A premium version, called Call Screener Plus, runs $3/month and includes advanced caller-ID for personal lines, plus options to automatically block lower-risk spam calls. Users of Sprint Call Screener will receive a free 15-day trial of Sprint Call Screener Plus. Android phones sold by Sprint should already have the app. iPhone users can download the app from the App Store.
MediaTek has revealed that its first SoC with integrated 5G modem and high-end processor will be called the Dimensity 1000. The company revealed the first set of details on the chip in May. Now that it has a name, MediaTek has revealed additional details of the SoC. It's fabricated using the latest 7nm process and is designed for "premium and flagship" phones. The 5G modem component supports SA (stand-alone) and NSA (non-stand-alone) 5G networks, as well as DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) that allows 4G and 5G to efficiently share the same frequency band. It also supports 5G carrier aggregation, which enables downlink speeds up to 4.7 Gbps and seamless handovers as users move around. It also supports dual 5G SIMs, which MediaTek claims is a first. The processor part of the chip includes a five-core image signal processor (ISP) to power cameras up to 80 megapixel at 24fps. Its AI processor assists with camera functions, offering features like multi-frame video HDR, which MediaTek claims is another first. The chip also supports Full HD+ displays with refresh rates up to 120Hz, and 2K+ up to 90Hz. The Dimensity 1000 only supports 5G in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, not mmWave. By the end of this year, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will all offer sub-6 GHz 5G networks with broad coverage. The first devices powered by the Dimensity 1000 will ship in the US by the end of this year, which is earlier than previously announced. The new Dimensity brand will include a whole line of chips with integrated 5G.
Nevada has reached a settlement with T-Mobile on the terms of its proposed merger with Sprint. This comes after Texas announced a similar settlement this morning. Colorado and Mississippi previously reached their own settlements. That leaves 14 attorneys general still suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds. As part of its deal with Nevada, T-Mobile is bound to:
- Keep certain promises it made at the start of the month, such as a $15/month data plan with 2 GB of data, and a $25/month plan with 5 GB of data, with additional data added each year. New in the Nevada settlement is a commitment to keep these low-price plans for at least six years.
- Provide internet access for low-income families with small children. (Another promise made earlier this month, now made legally binding.)
- Donate $30 million to charities in Nevada chosen by the Attorney General.
- Keep an existing call center in the state with 450 employees for at least six years.
- Offer all current employees of both companies comparable jobs when the merger closes.
- Meet certain 5G coverage requirements.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced a settlement with T-Mobile over its proposed merger with Sprint. This removes Texas from the list of states suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds. Paxton was the only conservative attorney general participating on the suit. The settlement stipulates that Texans have access to rate plans as good or better than current plans for the next five years. The settlement also includes promises on 5G coverage, and guarantees current employees will be able to keep their jobs when the merger is executed. 15 attorneys general are still suing to stop the merger. The suit is led by New York AG Letitia James and California AG Xavier Becerra. Still signed on to the suit are the AGs for Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
Sprint recently launched Sprint Perks, a collection of plan discounts available to certain groups. The main offer is Sprint's top plan (Unlimited Premium) for the price of its middle plan (Unlimited Plus), a discount of $10/month/line. The discount is available to anyone employed in government, education, military, or healthcare. It's also available to small business owners and employees of specific other companies that have partnered with Sprint. In total, 130 million Americans are eligible. Sprint Unlimited Premium includes Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Tidal. It also offers 100 GB of mobile hotspot data and unlimited roaming in Canada and Mexico. The mid-tier Unlimited Plus plan does not include Amazon Prime and has less hotspot data. Unlimited Premium, normally $80/month, is $70/month with this offer. A second line runs $50/month. For lines 3-5 on a family plan, Sprint is running limited-time special pricing of just $10/month/line through January 2021. The special, limited-time discount on lines 3-5 is open to everyone, and varies by plan. Lines 3-5 are free for those on the cheaper Unlimited Basic plan, and $20/month/line for those paying full price for the Unlimited Premium plan (those not eligible for Sprint Perks.) Sprint Perks includes several other discounts and special offers, such as 50% off for military families, and special offers for members of AAA, American Airlines AAdvantage, Walgreens Balance Rewards, and credit unions.
T-Mobile today announced plans to offer three new programs offering 5G service for free to certain groups, or cheaply for everyone else. The company is promising to launch the programs when and if it is allowed to merge with Sprint. Although the federal government has approved the merger, over a dozen state attorneys general are suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds, claiming the move would lead to higher prices for consumers. The new programs are:
- Connecting Heroes Initiative: Free unlimited wireless service — including 5G data, talk, and text — for all first responders in the country. This would include every public and non-profit state and local police, fire and EMS first responder agency in the US. T-Mobile is promising to offer this program for 10 years, spending "up to $7.7 billion" on it.
- Project 10Million: In an attempt to address "the homework gap", T-Mobile will offer free mobile hotspots and 100 GB/year of free data to low-income families with children and no home internet access. The company promises to spend $700 million equipping 10 million households with free hardware, and spend $10 billion offering free service for five years.
- T-Mobile Connect: A $15/month prepaid plan available to everyone that offers 2GB of high-speed data plus unlimited talk and text. A step-up plan would offer 5GB of data for $25/month. T-Mobile also commits to increase the data limit of each plan by 0.5 GB every year for the next five years.
T-Mobile has announced December 6th as the launch date for its low-band 5G network, which will use band 71 (600 MHz). The nationwide network will cover more than 200 million Americans and more than 5,000 cities and towns across the country. Unlike mmWave 5G networks that have limited coverage and building penetration, T-Mobile's low-band 5G network uses a frequency band already used for 4G, and will thus offer the same coverage and properties as the 4G network. Sprint is pursuing a similar strategy with its 5G network, and AT&T plans to add low-band to its 5G network in the coming months. T-Mobile has also launched mmWave 5G in parts of Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. T-Mobile will offer three 5G phones. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G only supports the mmWave networks. The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren only support the new low-band network launching Dec. 6.
Sprint has revealed its launch details for the new LG G8X ThinQ with its unique Dual Screen accessory. As we previously reported, the companies are offering a free Dual Screen accessory via rebate. This promotion is available until January 9th to any Sprint customer (new or existing) that leases or purchases a G8X. The free Dual Screen will ship from LG within six weeks. Sprint is offering the LG G8X for $750. Special pricing is available to new customers, existing customers that are upgrade-eligible, and customers adding a line. Those customers can get the G8X for $15/month on a Sprint Flex Lease (18 months to upgrade or 24 months to own.) The G8X ThinQ will be available for pre-order from Sprint on Nov. 1st, with full availability on Nov. 8. The G8X has a Snapdragon 855 chip, standard and wide-angle rear cameras, 32-megapixel selfie camera, 4,000 mAh battery, in-display fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, NFC, and wireless charging. The snap-on Dual Screen sports a full-HD OLED screen identical to that on the G8X. It also has an extra "cover" display on the outside. The Dual Screen hinge folds a full 360º.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have formed a new joint venture to accelerate the adoption of Rich Communications Services (RCS) and ensure it works seamlessly across US and global networks. The venture is called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) and "is working to develop and deploy the standards-based, interoperable messaging service starting with Android and expected in 2020." RCS is an existing open industry standard for advanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It supports high-quality media, read receipts, typing indicator, and more. Google has been pushing RCS heavily in the past two years, but US adoption has been slow due to delayed carrier deployments.
When T-Mobile launches low-band 5G later this year, the two phones that support it will also be capable of supporting Sprint's already-launched mid-band 5G network, should the two companies be allowed to merge. The OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren and Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ will both support 5G in bands 71 (T-Mobile's 600 MHz) and 41 (Sprint's 2,500 MHz). Those two phones do not, however, support 5G in the mmWave bands, which T-Mobile has launched in several cities. T-Mobile does sell the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G which supports its mmWave 5G network but not the upcoming low-band network. When T-Mobile launches low-band 5G this year, it will cover 200 million people, far more than any other US 5G network to date.
Sprint today announced that its 5G coverage has expanded to cover 16 million people in the nine cities where it has launched 5G so far, up from 11 million a few months ago.
Colorado's attorney general has dropped out of the multi-state lawsuit attempting to block the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. In exchange, Colorado received a promise from Dish to locate the headquarters for its new wireless division in Colorado. Dish will create its new wireless division using assets being divested from Sprint and T-Mobile as part of their deal with the US Department of Justice to approve the merger. 16 states remain attached to the lawsuit challenging the merger.
LG is bringing its dual-screen concept to the US along with a new variant of the G8: the G8X ThinQ. The G8X drops the 3D depth camera and quad-HD display resolution in favor of a 32-megapixel selfie camera, full-HD display, stereo speakers, and a larger 4,000 mAh battery. It also has an in-display fingerprint reader instead of the standalone sensor on the G8. Other features of the G8X are similar to the G8, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, standard and wide-angle rear cameras, high-end audio chip, extra-loud speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, IP68 water resistance, NFC, wireless charging, fast charging, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. The snap-on Dual Screen sports a full-HD OLED screen identical to that on the G8X, including the small notch. It also has an extra "cover" display on the outside that shows notifications, date, time, and battery life. The hinge folds a full 360º, and locks in place at 120º, 140º, 180º (flat), and 270º (tent). The phone + Dual Screen together will sell for $700 unlocked. Both AT&T and Sprint will offer the LG G8X ThinQ. AT&T is including the Dual Screen for free for a limited time. Sprint will offer an online rebate form for a Dual Screen, which will ship from LG. Sprint will have "more details to share next week" on its launch offer. Pre-orders start Friday, will full availability on November 1st.
The FCC today held a vote on — and gave its blessing to — the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The five commissioners voted as expected and/or promised. The vote was along party lines, with the three Republican commissioners voting to approve, and the two Democratic commissioners voting against. The deal has also been approved by the Department of Justice. However the deal could still be stopped by a bipartisan coalition of 17 state Attorneys General that are suing to block the deal. Pennsylvania was the most recent state to join the lawsuit, one month ago.
The FCC this week launched an investigation into allegations that Sprint collected federal subsidy payments for 885,000 subscribers that were not actively using Sprint service, violating a key rule of the Lifeline program for low-income consumers. If true, this would amount to Sprint collecting over $8 million/month of taxpayer money that it was not entitled to. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the investigation yesterday. Today, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks released a statement saying that the investigation "directly impacts our review of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, one of the largest wireless transactions in FCC history. Given the enormity of the apparent wrongdoing committed here, we must pause our Commission review. ... There is no credible way that the merger before us can proceed until this Lifeline investigation is resolved and responsible parties are held accountable."
Sprint is offering a free iPhone 11 to new customers when they trade in an iPhone 7 or newer. The old iPhone can be in any condition but must be unlocked. The deal requires a new line activation and an 18-month "lease" that costs $0 after a monthly credit is applied. Verizon is offering a similar deal of a free iPhone 11 for new customers with trade-in. T-Mobile is offering 50% off the new iPhones with trade-in.
Walmart and Verizon are both offering substantial discounts and offers for customers buying a new iPhone this year. New and existing customers of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint can pre-order the new iPhone 11 models from walmart.com starting this Friday and receive $50 off the usual phone price when choosing a device payment plan and picking up their phone in a Walmart store (starting Sept. 20). Existing customers of Verizon and AT&T can instead opt to have the phone shipped to them with free two-day shipping, and receive the same $50-off pricing. Separately, Verizon is offering deals on iPhones for customers activating new Unlimited lines, and deals on other Apple devices for all customers. Customers activating a new Unlimited line can get up to $700 toward a new iPhone 11 (making the base model iPhone 11 free) with device trade-in. The trade-in credit of up to $500 is applied over 24 months, with the remaining $200 delivered as a prepaid card. Or customers can get a second iPhone Xr for free when purchasing the first iPhone Xr on a payment plan and activating a new Unlimited line. Verizon customers can also get a $250 discount off any iPad when purchasing any iPhone (with both devices on Verizon payment plan; discount applied over 24 months.) Verizon customers purchasing a new Apple Watch can get a second one for up to 50% off.
Sprint today launched 5G service in four new cities, and launched one new 5G phone: The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, available starting today. In New York City, 5G covers 1.7 million people, and parts of Manhattan from Central Park to the southern tip. It also covers La Guardia and JFK Airports, parts of Flushing and Rockaway Beach in Queens, Red Hook in Brooklyn and Concourse in the Bronx. In New Jersey, Sprint will cover areas of Hudson County including Union City and North Bergen. In Los Angeles, 5G now covers covers approximately 1.2 million people with service available from Marina del Rey to Downtown L.A., and West Hollywood to Culver City. In addition, Sprint 5G is also available in parts of Orange County, Pasadena and Cerritos. In Washington, DC, 5G covers approximately 520,000 people with service available in popular parts of the District, as well as areas of Montgomery County, Arlington, and Fairfax County. In Phoenix, 5G covers approximately 740,000 people with service available across the greater Phoenix metro area with service in parts of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Glendale. The company also announced expanded 5G coverage in existing 5G cities of Kansas City, Dallas-Ft Worth, Atlanta, and Houston. Sprint also announced that its Unlimited Premium plan now includes a free three-month trial of the Hatch game-streaming service. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is very similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro, simply with 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be the first phone to support sub-6 GHz FDD 5G for T-Mobile and AT&T. However, the AT&T and T-Mobile versions will not support mmWave 5G that offers faster speeds in central areas of major cities, even though the Verizon version will support only mmWave 5G. T-Mobile and AT&T spokespeople have confirmed to Phone Scoop that their versions will not support mmWave. Sub-6 GHz FDD bands (low-band) are the same bands used for 4G service today, and offer broad coverage that mmWave frequencies cannot. T-Mobile and AT&T have announced plans to launch 5G on sub-6 GHz FDD bands later this year. Verizon will be first to sell the Note10+ 5G on August 23rd. Verizon will have an undisclosed period of exclusivity, after which AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will also offer it. Verizon will charge $1300 for the 256 GB model, available in black, white, or a prismatic "Aura Glow", and $1400 for the 512 GB version, available in black. The 5G and 4G versions of the Note10+ are identical in appearance, size, and features. The only difference is a 2 gram weight difference to account for the 5G components. The Note10 series includes Play Galaxy Link, which lets you stream games from your home PC to your phone, a feature that will benefit greatly from the data speeds and low latency offered by 5G.
Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note10 and Note10+. The company's super-flagship Note series for 2019 comes in two sizes: The Note10 packs a screen similar to the Note9 into a smaller body, while the Note10+ sports a larger display in a body similar in size to the Note9. The Note10+ will also be available in a 5G version. The Note10 has a 6.3-inch full-HD display, 3,500 mAh battery, and 8 GB of RAM, while the Note10+ has a 6.8-inch quad-HD display, 4,300 mAh battery, and 12 GB of RAM. The Note10+ also adds a ToF camera for 3D scanning, and a memory card slot. Both new models are thinner and lighter than the Note9. Samsung accomplished this by removing the headphone jack, iris scanner, and heart rate sensor. Key features from the S10 have been included, including triple rear cameras (dual-aperture plus tele and wide), in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader, and Wireless Power Share. The included S Pen now has a motion sensor, allowing it to support mid-air gesture shortcuts. The DeX feature that turns the phone into a computer now works via USB connected to a PC or Mac, where the phone's desktop is displayed via a new app, which supports both copy-and-paste, and file drag-and-drop between desktops. A 25W charger is included, and the Note10+ supports an optional 45W charger that can provide a "full day" charge in 30 minutes. All US models are powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and come with at least 256 GB of internal storage. All four top US carriers will offer all three models — including the Note+ 5G — although Verizon will offer the 5G model first for a short exclusivity period. 256 GB models will be available in white, black, and a prismatic Aura Glow. Models with 512 GB of RAM will only be available in black. Best Buy will also offer the Note10+ in an exclusive Aura Blue color. All three models will go on sale August 23rd, with pre-orders starting tomorrow, August 8th. Pre-orders include a credit of $100-$150 to spend on samsung.com. The Note10 starts at $949, the Note10+ at $1099, and Verizon will sell the Note10+ 5G starting at $1300.
Sprint today announced that it will soon offer its first phone from OnePlus, and that it will be a 5G phone. Further details will be announced "soon". OnePlus does offer a 5G version of its newest flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro, in some markets, including the UK. It only supports sub-6 GHz 5G, the kind Sprint recently launched. OnePlus has not shown interest in developing phones with mmWave 5G the kind deployed so far by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Prior to this announcement, T-Mobile was the only major US carrier to carry OnePlus phones. Sprint currently offers 5G in areas of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City, and the company expects to launch service in areas of Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington, DC, in "the coming weeks".
Texas has joined 14 other states in suing to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that "[Texas] Attorney General Ken Paxton will assume a key leadership role in this case, along with [California] Attorney General Becerra and myself". "After careful evaluation of the proposed merger and the settlement, we do not anticipate that the proposed new entrant will replace the competitive role of Sprint anytime soon," said Paxton.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James today confirmed that she continues to lead a coalition of 14 states in suing to stop the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint on anti-trust grounds, in spite of today's approval of the merger by the US Department of Justice. The states' concerns include specific issues with the deal announced today by the DoJ and Dish, for Dish to take certain assets from Sprint to build a new, fourth national carrier. The new concerns include: "Dish has never shown any inclination or ability to build a nationwide mobile network on its own and has repeatedly broken assurances to the Federal Communications Commission about deployment of its spectrum." and "T-Mobile and Sprint are asking Americans to trust that this new mega corporation will act directly against its own economic interests by helping transform Dish into an independent competitor that rivals this new company" In addition to New York, the plaintiffs currently include California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Dish Network will pay $5 billion to buy significant Sprint assets in an attempt to create a new national 5G wireless network, in a deal brokered by the US Department of Justice to win approval for T-Mobile merging with Sprint. The deal includes $3.6 billion for licenses to 14 MHz of nationwide 800 MHz spectrum. For its new 5G network. Dish will use the new 800 MHz spectrum alongside 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 1,700 MHz spectrum it already owns. Dish will also pay $1.4 billion to acquire Sprint's prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid. That purchase includes 9.3 million customers and 400 employees. Dish has made a new commitment to the FCC that it will build its own 5G network capable of serving 70 percent of the US population by June 2023. Dish will pay a penalty of up to $2.2 billion if it fails to meet that deadline. Dish will have access to the new T-Mobile / Sprint network for seven years while it builds its own network. Dish will also lease T-Mobile some of its 600 MHz spectrum for several years to smooth the transition. Dish will also have the option to acquire certain tower, network equipment, and retail assets that will be decommissioned as part of the Sprint / T-Mobile integration process.
The US Department of Justice has given its blessing to the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Several conditions — including a comprehensive deal with Dish intended to create a small fourth national carrier — have satisfied the federal government's anti-trust concerns. The FCC has already announced it will allow the deal, meaning the deal is cleared at the federal level. Five state attorneys general joined in supporting the deal. However, ten state attorneys general have filed suit to block the deal on anti-trust grounds, including those for New York and California. Those states are not signed on to the deal announced today. That action remains outstanding and could still delay or scuttle the deal. The required deal with Dish will see Dish acquire all of Sprint's prepaid business, including the Boost and Virgin brands and 9 million customers with those brands, along with radio spectrum licenses. Dish will also have "robust access" to the new T-Mobile/Sprint network as an MVNO for at least seven years, giving it time to build out its own physical network. T-Mobile/Sprint will also be required to "make available" at least 20,000 tower sites and hundreds of retail locations, in order to facilitate Dish building its new network and wireless business. Dish has a long history of hoarding spectrum licenses while promising — but failing — to build any significant network to use them.
The Justice Department could announce approval of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger as soon as this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal would require the companies to sell radio spectrum licenses and prepaid customers to Dish, and grant Dish use of the companies' networks while it builds its own.
Sprint is launching its 5G network in Chicago this week. Utilizing the company's 2.6 GHz (band 41) spectrum, the network offers better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave 5G networks launched by other companies in Chicago to date. The coverage area reaches from the historic IL-64 in the north to Stevenson Expressway in the south, and as far as California Avenue in the west. It covers 700,000 people. Chicago joins Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City among Sprint's 5G cities, and the company promises to launch 5G in Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC "in the coming weeks". Sprint customers in Chicago will be able to buy a 5G device starting Friday, July 12th. Sprint currently offers the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
At today's FCC meeting, the Commission voted to approve two actions that will open up four radio frequency bands to new 5G service. Three of the bands are ultra-high mmWave frequencies near 40 GHz, while the fourth is mid-band, near 2.5 GHz. For the three mmWave bands, today's action finalized the rules for Auction 103, which will allow companies to bid on licenses for Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. Auction 103 will commence on December 10th, 2019. The 39 GHz band was first auctioned off in 2000, with some of those licenses ending up in the hands of Verizon and AT&T via sales and acquisitions. However some 39 GHz licenses remain privately-owned, but unused. Auction 103 will include an incentive auction component to facilitate the sale of those licenses to companies that will use them. The 2.5 GHz band was originally set aside for educational TV broadcast service, which never took off. Today the FCC voted to remove rules requiring the band be owned by education institutions and used for educational purposes. Existing license holders will be able to lease out the spectrum, making it available for commercial 5G. Many licenses in the band remain unsold, which the FCC will auction off, after giving priority to Tribal Nations. The 2.5 GHz band is near the band 41 that Sprint already uses for 5G service. It has better range and building penetration than mmWave bands.
Verizon will launch its second phone with integrated 5G — the LG V50 ThinQ 5G — for all customers on June 20th. As with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Verizon isn't restricting sales to areas where 5G service is available, as Sprint has done. Verizon is selling the phone for $1,000, or $41.66/month for 24 months. For a limited time, Verizon is waiving the $10/month 5G access fee. Verizon's 5G network uses mmWave frequencies and is currently available in part of Chicago and Minneapolis, with another 28+ cities coming by the end of the year.
Google will offer its own RCS service for Android users on networks that have not yet launched RCS. RCS is an open industry standard for enhanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It offers many of the features of Apple's iMessage, such as read receipts, high-quality attachments, and typing indicators. Most new Android phones support RCS via Google's Messages app and its Chat feature, but it requires support on the network side. RCS was designed so that network operators could launch RCS support on their own networks, but most operators have been slow to adopt RCS. Sprint has launched it. T-Mobile has also launched it, but does not yet support it on all Android phones. Verizon has launched it for Pixel phones and promised greater support in 2019. AT&T does not yet support the Universal Profile that makes it RCS standard and interoperable between networks. RCS servers can be located anywhere on the Internet, though, so Google is launching its own. Google is rolling out the service on a country-by-country basis, starting with the UK and France this month. When available, Android users without an active RCS service will see a new prompt when opening the Messages app, asking if they want to opt in to Google's RCS service. Google has pledged to delete message content from its servers as soon as message delivery is confirmed.
Sprint and Verizon both recently started offering standalone GPS tracker devices that can report their exact position using cellular networks. AT&T already offers such a device. The devices use the new LTE Cat-M1 technology designed specifically for small, low-power devices that only need to transmit small amounts of data. Unlike Bluetooth-based tracking tiles, they do not need to be near the phone viewing the location, although the tracker device does need to be within the coverage area of the cellular network it's associated with. All of the tracker devices are roughly the size of a matchbook, are water-resistant, include Wi-Fi for enhanced location accuracy and efficiency, and have multi-day battery life. They are designed for tracking kids, pets, vehicles, and luggage, for example. Sprint's Tracker is made by Coolpad and features a light sensor and speaker. Its battery lasts 3-10 days and it's rated IP67 for dust and water. Sprint is charging $60 for the tracker and $5/month for service. The Verizon Smart Locator has battery life up to five days and an IP67 rating. Verizon charges $100 for the tracker with one year of free service, after which service is $3/month. AT&T offers the Samsung SmartThings Tracker, which has battery life up to one week and an IP68 rating. AT&T charges $100 for the tracker which includes one year of service. After the first year, service on the AT&T network is offered through Samsung, and runs $5/month or $50/year.
Sprint will offer its second 5G phone — the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G — on June 21 for $1,300. Sprint is offering a $250 discount for customers who pre-order, which is available starting today. Customers choosing a Sprint Flex Lease will pay $40.28 per month after the $13.89/month credit from the $250 discount. The phone is available only in markets where Sprint has launched its 5G network, which currently includes Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. 5G markets launching "in the coming weeks" are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. The S10 5G joins the LG V50 in Sprint's 5G phone lineup. Sprint also launched the new, mid-range Samsung Galaxy A50 today.
A group of ten states is suing to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The action is led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. James outlined the crux of the states' argument in a tweet, saying "The merger would deprive customers of the benefits of competition & drive up prices for cellphone services." Today's action follows an investigation by the attorneys general, which "found that many of the claimed benefits [of the proposed merger] were unverifiable and could only be delivered years into the future, if ever. By contrast, if the merger were to go through, the combined company would immediately have the power and incentive to raise prices." "Additionally... the ten states are concerned that further consolidation at the carrier level would lead to a substantial loss of retail jobs." The complaint was filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Sprint's 5G network launches tomorrow in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City, as previously announced. In the coming weeks, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC will also gain 5G service. At that point, Sprint's 5G network will cover a total of 2,180 square miles and 11.5 million people, the largest 5G coverage area in the US by far. Sprint is using the 2.5 GHz frequency band (band 41) for its initial 5G network, which offers much better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave frequencies that Verizon and AT&T have launched 5G with so far. Sprint also uses band 41 for LTE, and its new Massive MIMO antennas are delivering 4G LTE and 5G NR simultaneously in band 41, with similar coverage for each technology. Sprint's 5G network in Dallas-Fort Worth covers approximately 575 square miles and 1.6 million people. In Houston, Sprint 5G covers approximately 165 square miles and 800,000 people. In Kansas City: 225 square miles and 625,000 people. In Atlanta: 150 square miles and 565,000 people. Sprint's first 5G phone is the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, which goes on sale tomorrow in cities with Sprint 5G service. Sprint will offer the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G later this summer.
Bittium's new Tough Mobile 2 is a mid-range smartphone with unusually advanced security features, designed for organizations with exceptional security needs, including governments and militaries. A privacy switch disables microphones, cameras, and Bluetooth at a hardware level, and reduces sensor sensitivity to prevent fingerprinting. The operating system is secured against rooting and tampering, validated in hardware and software at boot. A hardware secure element stores user credentials. A Workspaces feature creates isolated OS environments that keep work data separate from personal data, and confidential data from different organizations separate. The phone is designed and manufactured in Finland, and Bittium supervises phones from manufacturing to customer delivery. Also, the component and software solutions can be audited by authorities. The phone is also rugged, military rated for shock and drop, and IP67 for dust and water. The 5.2-inch full-HD screen works when wet and through gloves. The Tough Mobile 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 chip with 4 GB of RAM. It runs Android 9 (Pie) and has 64 GB of internal storage plus a memory card slot. Its 12-megapixel main camera can record 4K video. It has customizable physical shortcut buttons, including privacy, PTT, and emergency. It has NFC, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. It's fully compatible with all LTE bands used by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, including FirstNet (band 14). Pricing starts at 1550 €.
Internally, the US Justice Department's antitrust division has recommended the agency file a lawsuit to block the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, according to a Reuters reports citing two sources familiar with the matter. The final decision on whether to allow the merger now lies with political appointees at the department. That decision is expected in about a month, the two sources said. Earlier this week, two FCC commissioners announced their support for the deal, after Sprint agreed to shed its Boost prepaid brand. Both the FCC and DoJ must approve for the merger to proceed.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he will recommend the agency approve the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. To secure the recommendation, the companies have promised to divest the Boost prepaid brand and not raise prices for three years. With Commissioner Brendan Carr also announcing his support, the deal seems close to FCC approval. The Department of Justice must also approve the deal.
Sprint's first 5G phone — the LG V50 ThinQ 5G — will launch on May 31st. Pre-orders start tomorrow, May 17th, and the company is offering special pre-order pricing on the LG V50: 50% off ($24/month with a "Sprint Flex lease"). The company is also offering a 5G mobile hotspot from HTC. Sprint's initial 5G coverage includes Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. In "the next few weeks", Sprint will switch on 5G in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix. and Washington, DC. Sprint's initial 5G network uses band 41, which is near 2500 MHz, offering much better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave bands Verizon and AT&T are using for their initial 5G networks. Sprint is offering a free three-month trial of the Hatch game-streaming service on its 5G phones, including the LG V50.
Google today expanded its Pixel lineup with two mid-range models: the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. The new models look much like the higher-end Pixel 3 models and have many of the same features, but use software to bring enhanced quality to more affordable hardware components such as a camera module without Google's Visual Core chip. Cost savings also come from dropping water resistance, wireless charging, and the wide-angle selfie camera. The processor is Snapdragon 670 instead of 845, and the rear is made of plastic instead of glass. The Pixel 3a has a 5.6-inch display and sells for $399. The larger Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch display and sells for $479. The phones are on sale starting today from Google. Tomorrow, Google is expanding distribution of its whole Pixel 3/3a lineup to T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, in addition to Verizon. The Pixel 3a phones include a 3.5mm audio jack, full-HD OLED displays, Night Sight and Portrait modes in the camera app, call screening, a squeeze shortcut for Google Assistant, USB-C, stereo speakers, Google's Titan M security chip, and a promise of OS updates for three years. The phones support fast charging and come with an 18-watt charger. The Pixel 3a is available in three colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Purple-ish.