Verizon Wireless' prepaid unit today added the Orbic Wonder to its lineup of inexpensive phones. The Wonder features a 5.5-inch full HD screen that is protected by Asahi Glass. The phone is power by the Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. It supports microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with flash. Verizon did not list the user-facing camera's specs. The phone has an embedded 3,000mAh battery. The Orbic Wonder, made by Reliance Communications, costs $99.99 and is available online.
Kyocera and Verizon Wireless today announced the DuraForce Pro 2, a ruggedized smartphone that targets construction and public safety workers. The DuraForce Pro 2 is fully ruggedized thanks to its hard rubber exterior, meeting the mil-spec 810G rating. It can withstand drops, shock, vibration, radiation, temperature extremes, blowing sleet/rain, and high elevations. An IP68 rating means the DuraForce Pro 2 can handle submersion in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Kyocera says the DuraForce Pro 2 can be used around harmful vapors without fear of sparking a fire. The phone features a 5-inch full HD display that's protected by Kyocera's Sapphire Shield, which is scratch proof. It is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. It supports microSD memory cards up to 512 GB. The DuraForce Pro 2 has powerful front speakers that produce 106dB of sound. Four noise-cancelling mics ensure that PTT calls, speakerphone calls, music, and other audio is loud and clear. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and features such as wide 135-degree field of view, underwater mode, slow motion, time lapse, and automatic scene detection. The phone also has a 5-megapixel front camera. Programmable keys let users launch select apps, such as PTT or the camera, at the press of a button. The phone has a 3,240mAh battery that supports rapid charging and wireless charging. A fingerprint reader is built into the power button on the side. The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 costs $444, or $18.50 for 24 months. It is only available online.
Verizon Media Group has launched a brand new version of the Yahoo mobile app. It combines all facets of Yahoo's online services in a single space. The app ties together separate services such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo Finance, as well as various pieces of Yahoo's main web page. Users who create profiles and sign in can customize the app to show them local news and weather, local sports and highlights, as well as top news stories, stocks, daily deals, video content, and search. A separate tab called Watch contains the latest and most popular video on the web, curated by Yahoo's editors. Yahoo says app users will be treated to a "Deal of the Day" from partners during the upcoming holiday season, which delivers savings on potential gift items to Yahoo inboxes. The new Yahoo app is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Motorola and Verizon Wireless say they've successfully completed a 5G NR data transmission test between the Moto Z3 paired with a 5G Moto Mod and Verizon's network. Motorola announced the Moto Z3 for Verizon in August along with a Moto Mod capable of adding 5G to the Z3. While the Z3 went on sale over the summer, Motorola and Verizon said the 5G Moto Mod wouldn't arrive until 2019. The test demonstrates that the Mod does indeed bring 5G service to what Motorola and Verizon marketed as the "first 5G upgradeable phone." The companies performed this test in Providence, R.I., using Verizon's 28 GHz spectrum. The 5G Moto Mod relies on Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem with QTM052 mmWave antennas. The companies used the publicly available Motorola Moto Z3. Motorola says the Moto Z3 will be the "first smartphone with access to Verizon’s 5G network" when that network launches. Verizon is expected to launch mobile 5G service during the early months of 2019. It launched fixed 5G in October. Verizon competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all clamoring to be first to offer mobile 5G. AT&T recently revealed its first mobile 5G product, the Netgear Nighthawk hotspot. Sprint says it is working with LG to bring a 5G-capable phone to market.
OnePlus today said the thunder purple color variant of its flagship OnePlus 6T phone will reach North America beginning November 15. The device was initially an exclusive to OnePlus' home market of China. The thunder purple model features a gradient rear panel that transitions from purple at the bottom to black at the top. Other than the color, all the other features of the phone are the same as the midnight black and mirror black versions. The 6T has a 6.3-inch display, Snapdragon 845 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. It also includes an under-the-glass fingerprint reader and is compatible with Verizon's network. The thunder purple OnePlus 6T costs $579.
Commuters who use the Port Authority's PATH train service will soon have broader access to wireless service. Beginning today, AT&T and T-Mobile service is live in underground PATH stations in New York City. AT&T and T-Mobile service will expand to underground stations in New Jersey over the next three weeks. The Port Authority says service from Sprint and Verizon Wireless will reach underground stations in both New York and New Jersey in early 2019. Cellular service will be available on platforms and throughout the underground stations. The underground PATH stations in New York are located at 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th, and Christopher streets, while the underground New Jersey stations are located at Hoboken, Exchange Place, Newport, and Grove Street. The Journal Square, Harrison, Newark Penn Station (which are all above ground), and World Trade Center PATH stations already offer cellular device. The Port Authority recently added free unlimited, high-speed WiFi service at the four major New York-area airports.
Verizon Prepaid now offers a bit more bang for the buck. Verizon Wireless has shuffled its prepaid plans and is including more discounts along the way. The new plans cost $70 per month for unlimited service, $50 for 8 GB, and $40 for 3 GB. These plans are all eligible for a $5 per-line discount when customers opt for Auto Pay. Verizon still offers a basic prepaid unlimited talk and text plan with 500 MB of data for $30 per month. All plans offer unlimited international texting, while the 8 GB and unlimited plans also include unlimited calling from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico. Verizon Prepaid customers can now enroll as many as 10 lines (up from five) on a single account, including tablets and Jetpacks. Verizon Prepaid service can now travel with subscribers to international destinations thanks to TravelPass. Last, prepaid customers can mix and match prepaid plans to find the right combination of services for each family member. The new plans and discounts go into effect November 6.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sent letters to more than a dozen telephone service providers today asking them for a status update on their efforts to curb robocalls. He demanded these companies deploy a system that authenticates the identity of callers as those calls transit the networks with the goal of identifying and squashing spoofed numbers and spam. Pai wants the system rolled out no later than 2019. "Combatting illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC," said Pai. "That’s why we need call authentication to become a reality — it's the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence." Earlier this year, the FCC approved an authentication system called SHAKEN/STIR. This system verifies calls from the originating carrier as legitimate and ensures they are validated once again by the receiving carrier before the calls reach consumers. Americans receive billions of robocalls annually. If no action is taken, more than half of all calls made in 2019 are predicted to be robocalls. "By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones," continued Pai. "If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does." Pai asked the telephone service providers to send in status reports indicating how far along they are in adopting the SHAKEN/STIR framework. The telephone companies have until November 19 to reply. Some of the companies that received letters include AT&T, Google, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.
Verizon today announced plans to reorganize its internal business structure to reflect its jump into the 5G era. Moving forward, the company will have three major business groups that are all tied together by its network. The new Verizon Consumer Group will center on running Verizon's wireless and wireline businesses for consumers, while the Verizon Business Group will do the same for Verizon's small, medium, and large business customers. The Business Group also contains Verizon's telematics business. These two organizations will be run by Ronan Dunne and Tami Erwin, respectively. Verizon Media Group, the company's Oath brand, ties together media, advertising, and technology through a collection of web sites. Oath will be led by Guru Gowrappan. Last, Verizon's global Network & Technology organization will serve all company operations by deploying and maintaining the company's wireless and wireline services. This group will be led by Kyle Malady. The top-level executives will not change. Verizon says its new structure will go into effect January 1, 2019.
ZTE is taking its first, cautious steps in staging a comeback in the U.S. market with two entry-level phones that can run on Sprint, Verizon, and GSM networks. The Blade Max View and Blade Max 2s (pictured) both cost under $200 and offer big screens and big batteries. Shared features between the two include 6-inch displays with full HD+ resolution, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C, memory card support, 4000mAh batteries, basic GSM/LTE for AT&T/T-Mobile, fingerprint readers, and a clean version of Android 7 Nougat.
- Blade Max View: This is the slightly more capable of the two phones. It is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The dual-camera configuration includes a 16-/2-megapixel combination. The main sensor has a five-element lens at f/2, while the secondary sensor has a three-element lens at f/2.4 The second sensor is meant chiefly for contrast and depth-of-field information for bokeh photos. The phone has an 8-megapixel front camera. The Blade Max View provides Cat 6 LTE on Verizon Wireless.
- Blade Max 2s: This is the spiritual successor to the Max XL. It is powered by a 1.4 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It includes a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The Blade Max 2s works well on Sprint's LTE 4G network.
Apple this week distributed iOS 12.1 and with it turned on the dual-SIM capability of the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Each of these newer iPhones includes a slot for physical SIM cards as well as an embedded eSIM. The eSIM can be used to change carriers at will. Despite the feature's availability from Apple, U.S. carriers aren't supporting it just yet. A check of Apple's web site shows that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will add the capability "later this year." AT&T says it is still working with Apple to add the feature, T-Mobile says it is still finalizing the software, and Verizon has confirmed that the eSIM causes coverage issues. Sprint has publicly said it will support the dual-SIM and eSIM functionality of the newer iPhones, but the company has not said when that might be. This all means U.S. consumers hoping to take advantage of the new iPhones' dual-SIM capabilities will have to wait a bit longer.
Verizon Wireless today announced the Jetpack MiFi 8800L, a mobile hotspot that relies on the most advanced LTE technology to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps. Verizon says the 8800L is the first Cat 18 LTE hotspot. It supports two-, three-, and four-channel career aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and LTE-LAA to enable gigabit speeds. The 8800L, built by Inseego, includes business-grade security, such as IT admin controls, a VPN, guest network options, and anti-hacking features. The battery provides 24 hours of connectivity, charges rapidly, and can recharge the batteries of phones or tablets when necessary. Last, the 8800L has a 2.4-inch color touchscreen for managing passwords, settings, and usage. The Inseego Jetpack MiFi 8800L costs $200 to purchase outright, or $100 with a two-year agreement. It is available from Verizon.com.
Verizon Wireless will not support Apple's dual-SIM technology at first due to a software bug that degrades service. The new Apple iPhones (Xs, Xs Max, Xr) support dual-SIM functionality thanks to one physical SIM and one eSIM. The way dual-SIM phones typically work is to designate a primary SIM for voice, text, and data, with a secondary SIM handling voice and messaging through a second subscription. Many dual-SIM phones allow you to switch which SIM is designated as the primary/secondary at will. With the new iPhones, a third option exists that uses the primary SIM for iMessage and FaceTime, and the secondary for data. According to PCMag, when a Verizon physical SIM is designated as the secondary account, it drops to 2G CDMA data, which is slow, not widely available, and doesn't support MMS. Verizon confirmed the issue to PCMag and said it is working on a fix. "Wireless customers will be able to activate Verizon service eSIMs as soon as we're confident you'll be able to have the great, high-quality service you expect from us on both your primary and secondary line. If you are a Verizon customer and you activate another carrier's service on your iPhone's eSIM, your Verizon service will be degraded due to the current software configuration. We believe these concerns will be resolved quickly and you should be able to add our great Verizon service on your secondary line before the end of the year." Verizon said that until the secondary SIM supports all its LTE-based services, it won't activate service on any eSIM for now. Apple is activating the dual-SIM feature on its new iPhones today via iOS 12.1.
AT&T and Verion today disclosed launch details for the Red Hydrogen One. The phone, which boasts a 3D "holographic" display, will reach select stores on November 2. AT&T has priced the phone at $43.17 per month for 30 months on an AT&T Next plan, which totals more than $1,295.00. AT&T typically also offers 18- and 24-month payments plans for devices, but it hasn't provide details on those options. Verizon Wireless also plans to sell the phone, and will charge $53.95 per month for 24 months for a total of $1,295. The Hydrogen One has a 3D screen and can capture 3D photos and video.
Verizon Wireless today confirmed that the Razer Phone 2 has been certified on its network. This means the phone supports a base level of performance with respect to connecting to 3G/4G, connecting calls, and accessing data. Verizon doesn't actually sell the Razer Phone 2. Razer offers the device unlocked via Best Buy and it can be used on Verizon's network should the owner wish.
Verizon Wireless today shared launch details concerning the new Palm companion device. Verizon says the small smartphone will be available online and in stores starting November 2. Big Red is offering several ways to finance the phone. The Palm can be paid off over 24 months for payments of $14.58 per month. Alternately, customers can sign a two-year agreement and pay $299 for the Palm, or buy it outright and contract-free for $349. The Palm companion device requires a $10-per-month Verizon NumberShare plan that is anchored to a standard smartphone service plan. The idea behind this diminutive device is to allow people to access their vital apps when needed, but keep them from staring at their screen all day. The Palm features an aluminum chassis with Gorilla Glass panels and an IP68 rating for protection against dust and water. It syncs messages, calls, and other data between itself and the primary phone. The Palm has a 3.3-inch HD screen, Snapdragon 435 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera with flash and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The Palm includes LTE, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth, with an embedded SIM card. It has an 800mAh battery and relies on face unlock for security. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo and is compatible with millions of Android apps. Palm has customize the software to minimize notifications and interruptions.
Razer took to its Twitter account to admit that an issue is preventing owners of the Razer Phone 2 from using their device on Verizon's network. "We're aware that Verizon is not enabled on the #RazerPhone 2 right now and are working to enable it ASAP — hang in there!" said the company. The $800 phone, which launched earlier this month, targets gamers with a high refresh rate display, powerful camera, stereo speakers, and boosted graphics. It is sold directly from Razer unlocked and supports a number of LTE bands for U.S. networks. Razer didn't say how quickly it might push a patch to enable the Razer 2 on Verizon.
Verizon Wireless has removed the SIM lock from the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Some users had noticed the phone was locked before being activated on the network, something Verizon began doing earlier this year to deter theft. "At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores," explained Verizon to Droid-Life via email. "We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future." This means all Pixel phones sold will be SIM unlocked and can be used on any network, not just Verizon's. Verizon is the only carrier officially selling the devices, though it is also available via Google's Project Fi MVNO.
At an event in NYC today, RED CEO Jim Jannard revealed how owners of the company's forthcoming Hydrogen One phone will be able to access and share 3D content. The phone has stereoscopic 3D cameras on both sides, and a "holographic" display that displays 3D content without special glasses. The phone will come with HoloPix, an Instagram-like app for sharing 3D photos. The company is also working on a FaceTime-like app for real-time 3D video chat, which should launch shortly after the phone launches. The company's Hydrogen Network service will offer paid and free commercial movies and video. The catalog of 3D films will include 55 titles from Warner Brothers, including The Hobbit. AT&T customers will receive Ready Player One and a Fantastic Beasts movie for free. Established content creators can apply to create their own channel on Hydrogen Network with paid and/or free content. The Leia Loft is a separate service for 3D-compatible games and apps, paid and free. RED claims that developers can make their games compatible with the holographic display very easily. 3D photos taken with the Hydrogen One are saved as JPEG files with the 3D data in metadata, so that they automatically display as 2D photos on any 2D devices they're shared with. Pricing and launch date with AT&T and Verizon have yet to be finalized.
Verizon Wireless today said that it will automatically credit its customers in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael for three months of service. The credit will be made for every line on both consumer and business accounts. While the company continues to make repairs to its damaged network, it has set up temporary cell sites for first responders in areas that have little or no service. Verizon said earlier that it has sustained massive damage to its fiber network, which carries traffic from its wireless network across the internet. The company has put up charging stations at some shelters and police/fire stations. Verizon customers can check the company's web site to follow the progress on repairs.
Palm, a California company that purchased the rights to the Palm brand from TCL, today launched a new device it calls an ultra-mobile product that "syncs with your smartphone to keep you connected but not consumed." The idea is to allow people to access their vital apps when needed, but keep them from staring at their screen all day — particularly when they are out and about. The device is tiny and features an aluminum chassis with Gorilla Glass panels front and back. It's rated IP68 for protection against dust and water. Palm says the device is designed to be worn, not carried. Rather that serve as a primary phone, it is a companion device. Owners will need to have a regular Android or iOS smartphone on a Verizon service plan. The Palm is billed like a smartwatch. Service costs $10 per month and it relies on the same number as the main device. It's able to keep messages, calls, and other data in sync between itself and the primary phone. The Palm has a 3.3-inch HD screen and it is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera with flash and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The Palm includes LTE, WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth, with an embedded SIM card. The device has an 800mAh battery and relies on face unlock for security. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo and is compatible with millions of Android apps. The user interface skips the idea of a home screen and instead shows all the on-board apps. A small gesture pad is available at the bottom of the screen, accessed by swiping up, and it can be used to search for apps based on scrawling the first letter of the app. The gesture pad also contains shortcuts to the phone, messages, camera, and music apps. The crux of the Palm is Life Mode. With this mode activated, the Palm essentially goes to sleep when users turn off the screen, preventing calls and messages from interrupting the owner. Owners can customize Life Mode a bit. The phone returns to full functionality when owners choose to wake the screen back up. Google Assistant is built in and works with custom, voice-activated shortcuts that perform a variety of actions. The Palm costs $350 and will go on sale in November.
Verizon Wireless today became the first company to launch a live 5G network for consumers in the U.S. The new service is called Verizon 5G Home, and provides 5G-based broadband internet to homes and businesses in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Verizon picked these markets "because of forward-looking state policy and local leaders who embraced innovation and developed a strategic vision for how 5G" could benefit the consumers and businesses under their jurisdiction. Verizon says customers are on already deck in these markets, and named Clayton Harris of Houston as the company's first 5G customer. The company's installation crews are beginning their work in all four markets today. Verizon 5G Home is built on Verizon's 5G TF network standard, which is not the 5G NR standard ratified by the 3GPP. Verizon says it will transition its 5G TF service to 5G NR service over time (at no expense to customers). Moreover, this is not Verizon's mobile 5G service, which is what would be used by cell phones. Verizon's mobile 5G service won't launch until early 2019.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Sunday that made net neutrality the law, but the state was quickly sued by the U.S. Department of Justice. The net neutrality bill, approved by California's legislature last month, had been sitting on Brown's desk for several weeks awaiting approval. Once the law goes into effect January 1, 2019, internet providers will have to obey strict rules governing web traffic. For example, there can be no blocking, no throttling, and no paid fast lanes. The Trump administration, which dismantled the FCC's net neutrality rules earlier this year under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, fired back at the Golden State. According to the Justice Department, California's action "unlawfully imposes burdens on the Federal Government's deregulatory approach to the internet." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that individual states cannot regulate interstate commerce, which is how the DoJ and FCC view internet services. "The California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy," noted Sessions. The FCC's Pai lauded the lawsuit. "I'm pleased the Department of Justice has filed this suit. The internet is inherently an interstate information service. As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area. Not only is California's internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to ensure the internet remains 'unfettered by Federal or State regulation,' as federal law requires, and the domain of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists, not lawyers and bureaucrats." Pai's FCC tore down net neutrality rules despite wide public support for those rules. Pai's actions were seen as a win for internet companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.
Verizon Wireless says it has reached peak download speeds of 1.45 Gbps together with partners Nokia and Qualcomm. The speed was achieved using 6-channel carrier aggregation. The test was completed on Verizon's network in New York using a combo of the carrier's licensed PCS and AWS spectrum together with four carriers of LAA spectrum. The equipment included Nokia's AirScale base station and a prototype mobile device from Qualcomm running the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, which is capable of reaching maximum download speeds of 2 Gbps. Other technologies involved in the test included 256 QAM and 4x4 MIMO. Verizon called the result another stepping stone along its path to 5G. Verizon plans to roll out fixed 5G service in some cities next month, with mobile 5G scheduled for launch some time in early 2019. Verizon will continue to improve the capabilities of its LTE 4G network, which will serve the majority of its customers until 5G is more widely available.
The FCC is stripping power away from state and local governments in order to facilitate the installment of 5G infrastructure. This week the agency moved forward on an earlier proposal that sets limits on fees municipalities can charge for cell site applications, as well as the timeframe in which those applications need to be approved. Carriers must apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local governments can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons, as well as charge fees. Since 5G requires more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. To start, the FCC is setting limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC is mandating that local governments charge no more than is reasonable. The FCC has also shortened the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, new equipment that is to be added to existing cell sites will have a 60-day shot clock, and entirely new cell sites will have a 90-day shot clock. Local governments that charge onerous fees or sit on applications past the new 60- and 90-day windows will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legitimate reasons prepared. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks. This step by the FCC helps these companies at the expense of local governmental control. Earlier this year, the FCC made similar changes at the federal level.
Verizon Wireless today announced the GizmoWatch, a second-generation smart wearable that targets children ages 3 to 11. The device is primarily meant to serve as a location tracker for parents. Using the free Android and iOS apps, parents can view their child's real-time location, set geo-fences, and receive alerts should the child stray outside of designated zones. Parents can also control the device's uptime and ensure that it is quiet during school hours. The wearable runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network and can receive calls from up to 10 parent-approved numbers. The GizmoWatch includes 20 preset text messages that kids can send to their contacts. Kids will be able to track their steps, as well as use a voice-changer app for fun. Verizon says the GizmoWatch battery lasts between three and four days. The GizmoWatch, available starting today, costs $180 and requires a $5 monthly fee for connectivity.
Don't expect to be able to use the same phone across 5G networks, at least in the early days, says AT&T. "It's not because there isn't a desire and we don't want to," explained Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's VP of radio networks and device design, to PCMag. Technical challenges are the roadblock that will prevent 5G roaming from the onset. Specifically, phones won't be able to contain the 28 GHz 5G radio used by Verizon and T-Mobile, and the 39 GHz 5G radio used by AT&T in a single device. This means the first 5G phones will likely be carrier exclusives. The same story played out when LTE 4G first launched, as network operators used disparate bands for their high-speed service. It wasn't until 4G radios began to support multiple bands that LTE roaming became a reality. Mansfield believes this scenario won't last too long with 5G. "As an industry, that will be very quickly overcome; I don't think the single band introduction from the millimeter-wave point of view will last very long," he said. AT&T's first 5G device, expected before the end of the year, will be a puck-style mobile hotspot. The carrier hasn't said when it will go on sale, nor how much it will cost. The company is also preparing 5G-enabled smartphones, though those aren't expected to reach the market until 2019.
The nation's four largest network operators recently provided an update on the progress being made by the Mobile Authentication Taskforce. In September 2017, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless agreed to work together in order to build a better way for people to log-in to apps and other services with their phone. This week, they announced Project Verify, which they contend will replace passwords with a "more secure, device-based, multi-factor authentication." With Project Verify, consumers will have control over what information they share through their device and what apps are allowed to access it. Once they've set up the initial handshake between their phone and their favorite apps and services, they will be logged in automatically. The Mobile Authorization Taskforce says user IDs will be backed by unique identifiers, including phone numbers, account type, account tenure, and SIM card data — all of which are protected by the mobile network's authentication protocols. Consumers' ID is verified via network intelligence that matches the SIM card to device owner data. The service can work with text- and email-based two-factor authentication methods when necessary. Users will need to protect their phone with a password, fingerprint, or other method to prevent others from easily accessing their apps and data. The carriers hope Project Verify will help prevent fraud and data breaches, while also helping people bypass the hassle of usernames and passwords. There's no word yet on when Project Verify will launch, nor what phones and carriers will be able to use the service.
Apple today announced that its new iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will be the first to support dual SIM cards. Rather that include the space for two physical SIM cards in the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, the phones will include support for one physical SIM and one eSIM, an electronic SIM card that can be programmed with carrier service. The eSIM will not be accessible to those purchasing the Xs/Xs Max right away. Apple says an update to iOS 12 will enable the eSIM later this year. Using the eSIM and physical SIM together will not be as simple as it would be to use two physical SIM cards. "To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked," explained Apple on its web site. "Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier (Sprint or Verizon) provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA." Apple says the eSIM can serve as your only cellular plan if you don't have access to a physical SIM card. Otherwise, the main cellular plan will be attached to the physical SIM and the second to the eSIM. Apple says with two active carrier accounts on a single iPhone, owners will be able to select primary and secondary accounts, set one for calls/texts and the other for data, or use both lines for calls, texts, and data. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will support the eSIM, but Sprint will not. Apple warns that the eSIM may be disabled when purchased from some carriers.
Apple has realigned its roster of smartphones with the debut of the new iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Moving forward, Apple's entry-level model is the iPhone 7 at $449 and the iPhone 7 Plus at $569. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $599 and $699, respectively. Last year's iPhone X has been discontinued, as have the iPhone 5 SE and iPhone 6s. The iPhone Xs costs $999 for the 64 GB model, $1,149 for 256 GB, or $1,349 for 512 GB. The iPhone Xs Max costs $1,099 for the 64 GB model, $1,249 for 256 GB, or $1,449 for 512 GB. All these iPhones are available with service from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless, as well as unlocked with support for global GSM/LTE networks. The iPhone Xr costs $749 for 64 GB, $799 for 256 GB, or $899 for 512 GB. The Xr will not initially be sold unlocked and must be purchased with service from one of the four national carriers. Each iPhone ships with Lighting EarPods, a Lightning charging cable, and a 5W charger. They do not include Lightning-to-3.5mm adapters for standard headphones.
Verizon Wireless will offer consumers in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento 5G service beginning October 1. Verizon is calling its new offering Verizon 5G Home, which is its fixed 5G service that will act as a replacement for in-home broadband, cable, or fiber. Verizon's mobile 5G service, which will offer access to phones, tablets, and other mobile devices, won't launch until 2019. For now, Verizon says its 5G Home service can offer peak download speeds of 1 Gbps and average speeds of 300 Mbps. The service costs $50 per month for Verizon Wireless subscribers, taxes and fees included, or $70 per month for non-Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon says the service will be available with no data caps at launch. Verizon is offering freebees to early adopters. For example, Verizon's fixed 5G service includes three months of free access to YouTube TV, and a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra device. Verizon will install all the necessary equipment for free, including WiFi devices and routers, as well as provide dedicated support to 5G customers. People who jump on Verizon's 5G fixed service will have first access to 5G mobile devices when they launch. Verizon calls its 5G network "5G ultra wideband." It relies on Verizon's extensive fiber-based backhaul network, a large number of small cells, and mmWave spectrum. Of note is that Verizon 5G Home is not based on the 5G NR standard. Instead, Verizon is using its proprietary 5G TF standard, which is ready now. The 3GPP 5G NR standard is not yet being incorporated into commercial gear. As such, once 5G NR gear becomes more widely available, Verizon will upgrade 5G Home customers' equipment at no charge. Starting September 13, consumers can sign up to become "First On 5G Members." Signing up puts you on the list for in-home 5G service when it launches October 1, and ensures people who live outside of the launch markets will be kept up to speed on when 5G fixed and mobile service will arrive in their neighborhood.
Verizon Wireless continues to make progress in developing its future 5G network. The latest milestone saw Verizon and partners Ericsson and Qualcomm create a 5G NR call using commercial equipment and a smartphone-sized test device. Previous calls have been made in labs and to vans with the proper equipment. This demonstration shows how 5G NR mobile service will eventually work on phone-sized devices. Verizon says the call was completed over its 39 GHz spectrum with an Ericsson mmWave radio and the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 modem. Verizon expects to launch fixed 5G service in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston, and Indianapolis before the end of the year, with its mobile 5G on deck for early 2019.
Verizon Wireless today said that together with partner Nokia it has taken another step forward its eventual launch of mobile 5G. The company says it completed the first "over-the-air, end-to-end data transmission on a commercial 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) network." The test, completed in Washington, D.C., used a real-world 5G base station and transmitted data using Verizon's 28 GHz (mmWave) spectrum to a Nokia van on the city street. Last month, the two companies completed a successful hand-off between two 5G cell sites in a controlled setting. Verizon is preparing to deploy fixed 5G service as an in-home broadband replacement later this year. It won't launch mobile 5G service, which this test covered, until 2019.
The FCC wants to ensure that wireless companies don't hit any unnecessary hurdles thrown in the way by state or local governments as they build out their 5G networks. As it works today, carriers typically have to apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local government can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons. Since future 5G will require more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. A new Declaratory Ruling and Report and Order seeks to establish new guidelines. For example, the FCC wants to set limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC also wants to shorten the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, it wants to see a 60-day approval window when carriers seek to adjust an existing cell site and a 90-day window for installing new cell sites. The Order will codify the existing 90 and 150 day shot clocks for larger wireless facility deployments. Local governments that don't comply with the new clocks will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legit reasons prepared. "This is part of a national strategy to promote the timely buildout of this new infrastructure across the country by eliminating regulatory impediments that unnecessarily add delays and costs to bringing advanced wireless services to the public," argued the FCC. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wirless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks.
TCL today announced the BlackBerry KEY2 LE, a mass-market smartphone with a keyboard. The phone is a scaled back variant of the KEY2 with a new exterior. Gone is the rigid metal build and in its place is a polycarbonate frame with a soft-touch material on the rear surface. The KEY2 LE comes in three color combos: slate, champagne, and atomic red. The latter two have contrasting shades to give them more personality. The LE is less buttoned-down than the standard KEY2. The screen is the same size and resolution (4.5 inches, full HD) as the original. One area where TCL moved to cut costs was the keyboard. The keys are the same shape as those on the pricier KEY2, but the keyboard loses capacitive touch support. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm 636 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage. A dual-camera system graces the rear of the phone and a selfie camera is on front. The main shooter is a 13-megapixel job at f/2.2 and the secondary sensor is a 5-megapixel job at f/2.4. Other hardware features include 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C, and the dedicated speed key on the keyboard. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0. Of note, TCL says the KEY2 LE will be compatible with more networks. It will be able to operate on Verizon's network as an LTE-only phone. It is also compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. TCL has lined up a wide number of retail and carrier distribution points for the phone, which goes on sale for $399 / 32 GB and $449 / 64 GB at the end of September.
Members of Congress want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Verizon's data-throttling practices after it was revealed that the company slowed down the data of California firefighters fighting blazes in Mendocino. One fire company said its unlimited plan was throttled down to dial-up speeds after it surpassed its monthly high-speed allotment. Verizon refused to remove the speed cap until the fire company paid more money to up its plan. The fire company was in the field actively fighting one of California's large fires at the time. Members of Congress, including Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, want to know what happened. "The FTC must investigate whether Verizon and other communications companies are being unfair or deceptive in the services they're offering to public safety entities, and if so, to determine what remedies are appropriate to ensure our first responders have adequate service when lives are on the line." Verizon is feeling the heat. The company has apologized, calling it a customer service matter. The company said it will adjust its policies moving forward. "We removed all speed cap restrictions for first responders on the west coast and in Hawaii to support current firefighting and Hurricane Lane efforts. Further, in the event of another disaster, Verizon will lift restrictions on public safety customers, providing full network access," said Verizon on its web site. The company plans to offer a new unlimited plan to first responders as soon as next week. The throttling first became known to the public when several fire and police departments in California sued the FCC to overturn its repeal of net neutrality. Details of the throttling were included in the lawsuit and first reported by Ars Techinca.
The attorneys general from 22 states, plus the District of Columbia, have asked an appeals court to reinstate the Obama-era net neutrality rules that were stricken by the FCC in June. The states also want to ensure the Trump administration cannot prevent individual states from installing their own such rules. The states had filed a lawsuit against the FCC back in January after the agency voted to reverse the rules, which had prohibited internet providers from throttling, blocking, or prioritizing internet traffic. The states believe the FCC's action will lead to harm against consumers, and also believe the agency doesn't have the "valid authority" to overrule state laws that would reapply net neutrality regulations. In addition to these 22 states, a handful of companies have filed their own lawsuits seeking to overturn the FCC's action. Moreover, a democrat-led vote in the Senate pushed for the rules to be reinstated. That measure will likely fail to pass the House or be signed by Trump. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai believes the industry will police itself. His decision is seen as a win for internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. It's unclear what the appeals court will do.
Verizon Wireless today said that together with partner Nokia it has completed a mobile 5G call with the receiving device moving from one cell to another. This is an important step in the development of 5G, as it will eventually allow people to use 5G devices freely when moving around outside. Verizon says it completed the test at Nokia's Murray Hill, NJ, location using the 3GPP New Radio (NR) 5G standard. It used two radios on Nokia's building to broadcast 28 GHz (mmWave) to a receiver in a moving vehicle. Verizon says the vehicle traveled between the two radio coverage zones and made a successful handoff from one to the other. Verizon is preparing to deploy fixed 5G service as an in-home broadband replacement later this year. It won't launch mobile 5G service, which this test covered, until 2019.
Verizon Wireless today said that Indianapolis will join Los Angeles, Houston, and Sacramento as one of its launch markets for 5G. This particular deployment will be fixed residential 5G broadband service. Verizon is testing a number of different technologies for its forthcoming 5G network, including millimeter wave. Verizon doesn't plan to launch mobile 5G service until 2019. Verizon and its carrier competitors are all racing to be first to deploy 5G, with AT&T and T-Mobile also targeting late 2018 launches. Initial rollouts will include fixed broadband service, with mobile service to follow later. Phones with 5G may reach the market as soon as the first half of 2019. Sprint and LG announced such a device today. AT&T has gone on the record saying its first mobile 5G device with be a puck, or mobile hotspot. Verizon also announced today that YouTube TV and Apple TV 4K will be included with its fixed 5G service.
Sprint today announced that together with LG it will bring its first 5G mobile phone to market during the first half of 2019. Sprint said the "innovative handset" is being "built for the country's first mobile 5G network." Sprint claims its forthcoming 5G network will allow customers to download full-length HD movies in seconds instead of minutes, and stream graphic-heavy videos and games without delays or lag-time. Specifics concerning the device were not provided. Sprint plans to launch its 5G mobile network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Sprint says more 5G devices are in development and will be announced over time. All the major carriers are rushing to be first to launch 5G. AT&T expects to offer a 5G mobile hotspot by the end of the year, while Verizon Wireless and Motorola will offer a 5G Moto Mod to the recently-announced Moto Z3 smartphone early next year.