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Verizon Launches the GizmoWatch for Kids

Today, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Initial Batch of 5G Phones Likely to Work On a Single Carrier

Sep 14, 2018, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Major Carriers Reveal Project Verify for App Sign-Ins

Sep 13, 2018, 11:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


iPhone Xs and Xs Max eSIM Won't Work Until Later This Year

Sep 12, 2018, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 iPhones Now Range In Price from $449 to $1,449

Sep 12, 2018, 2:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 to Launch 5G As an In-Home Broadband Replacement Oct. 1

Sep 12, 2018, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says It Has Completed a 5G NR Call with a Phone-Type Device

Sep 10, 2018, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says It Completed 5G NR Data Call with Commercial Gear

Sep 6, 2018, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


FCC Wants to Speed Up the Approval Process for 5G Cell Sites

Sep 6, 2018, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


BlackBerry KEY2 LE Sheds Metal Frame, Adds a Splash of Color

Aug 30, 2018, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Verizon's Throttling of Firefighters Draws Congress' Ire

Aug 25, 2018, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


States Push to Have Net Neutrality Reinstated

Aug 21, 2018, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 and Nokia Complete Mobile 5G Call Handoff

Aug 17, 2018, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says Indianapolis Is On Deck for Fixed 5G

Aug 14, 2018, 5:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

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 Says 5G Phone from LG Planned for First Half of 2019

Aug 14, 2018, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

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.


Here's What U.S. Carriers are Charging for the Samsung Galaxy Note9

Aug 10, 2018, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

All the major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy Note9 when it becomes available August 24. Each has a different offer on hand to entice consumers to buy the phone.

  • AT&T: AT&T is asking customers to pay $33.34 per month for 30 months for the $999.99 128 GB version of the Note9. For a limited time, customers who buy the Note9 can get a second Note9 or Galaxy S9/S9+ for free when the phones are financed on an installment plan.
  • Sprint: Sprint customers can get the Note9 for half off for a limited time, which puts monthly payments on the Sprint Flex Lease at $20.83. Customers who opt for the Galaxy Forever plan can upgrade to a new phone after completing 12 monthly payments. Sprint's deal includes the AKG headphones and/or Fortnite V-bucks.
  • T-Mobile: The Uncarrier is asking customers to make a downpayment of $280 for the 128 GB Note9 and then pay $30 per month for 24 months. The 512 GB Note9 will require a $530 down payment followed by 24 months of payment at $30 each. For a limited time, T-Mobile is offering 50% off the price with a qualifying Samsung trade-in. The price will be reduced via the monthly payments.
  • U.S. Cellular: The carrier is offering $150 in bill credits to those who buy the Galaxy Note9 with a new line of service.
  • Verizon Wireless: Big Red is asking for $41.66 per month for 24 months for the 128 GB model and $52.08 per month for 24 months for the 512 GB model. For a limited time, customers who initiate a new line of service and buy one Note9 on a monthly plan can score a free 128 GB Note9, or Galaxy S9/S9+. Verizon's deal includes the AKG headphones and/or Fortnite V-bucks.


All Major U.S. Carriers to Sell Galaxy Note9

Aug 9, 2018, 10:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Preorders for the Samsung Galaxy Note9 kick off on August 10. The 128 GB capacity variant will be available in blue and lavender from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, U.S Cellular, and Xfinity for $999.99. Samsung will sell an unlocked version of the phone on its web site. The device will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy, CostCo, Sam’s Club, StraightTalk Wireless, Target, and Walmart. The 512 GB model will be available from AT&T, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, but not Sprint for $1,249.99 The Galaxy Note9 streets August 24.


Verizon Customers On Unlimited Plans Get Free Apple Music

Aug 8, 2018, 5:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its customers can enjoy Apple Music for six months at no cost. Beginning August 16, subscribers to any of Verizon's Unlimited plans, new and existing alike, will be able to register for Apple Music. The offer includes the full, ad-free version of Apple Music, meaning Verizon Unlimited customers can stream as many songs as they wish via 4G or WiFi, as well as download songs and playlists for offline playback. Apple Music is available on iPhones, the iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac and Windows computers, HomePod, CarPlay, and Android devices. After the six-month offer concludes, the normal $9.99 monthly fee for Apple Music applies. Verizon called this offer "the first step in an exclusive partnership with Apple."


Red Hydrogen One Delayed to the Fall

Aug 8, 2018, 10:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Red says its Hydrogen One phone will not be available this summer as planned. The company recently had to retool a part for the phone and this has delayed the certification process. The company has a new release schedule for the phone. The device will begin shipping on October 9 to those who pre-ordered it. Red says the aluminum model will be available first, with the titanium to follow after. The device will mark its debut with AT&T and Verizon on November 2. Similarly, aluminum will arrive first, with the titanium model likely not arriving until 2019. The Hydrogen One stands out thanks to its 5.7-inch holographic display, which promises 3D without glasses. The screen handles both traditional stereo 3D as well as Red's Hydrogen 4-View (H4V). The phone recently passed certification at the the FCC. The phone will sell for $1,295.


DNC Tells Democrats to Stop Using Phones from Huawei, ZTE

Aug 4, 2018, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Democratic National Committee has told candidates running as Democrats this fall they should not use phones made by Huawei or ZTE. The Trump administration says they represent a security risk. Earlier this year, the administration pressured AT&T and Verizon to drop plans to sell Huawei devices. Best Buy also stopped selling Huawei devices. "Please make sure that you are not using or purchasing ZTE or Huawei devices anywhere within your staff — for personal or work-related use," said Bob Lord, the DNC's chief security officer in an email to party members. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also believes Huawei represents a threat of espionage. Huawei phones are not sold on military bases. Neither Huawei nor ZTE commented on the matter.


Motorola's 5G Moto Mod Explained

Aug 3, 2018, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola and Verizon Wireless hope consumers will buy into the idea of upgrading their Moto Z3 phone with a modular 5G attachment some time next year. The Mod promises to bring a 10x improvement in data download speeds without sapping the battery too much. How are Motorola and Verizon making this work? We'll tell you.

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Hands On with the Motorola Moto Z3

Aug 2, 2018, 5:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The latest entry in Motorola's Moto Z series of devices is the Z3, a thin slab that's compatible with Moto Mods modular attachments. The Z3 is an improved version of the Z3 Play thanks to a better processor and camera configuration. More importantly, owners will be able to upgrade the phone to 5G on Verizon's network early next year. Here's our first look.

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Motorola's Moto Z3 a Verizon Exclusive, to Offer 5G Mod

Aug 2, 2018, 2:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 2, 2018, 4:27 PM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z3, what it calls the first "5G upgradable" phone. The phone itself is a warmed-over version of Motorola's modular phone. The Z3 is, for all intents and purposes, a hot-rodded version of the recently announced Z3 Play. The Z3 has a 6-inch AMOLED full HD+ display with a 2:1 aspect ration. Motorola improved the processor by adopting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The phone has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of built-in storage and supports memory cards up to 2 TB. The Z3 has two 12-megapixel cameras on the rear with portrait/bokeh tools. Where the Z3 Play has two full-color sensors, the Z3 has one color sensor and one monochrome sensor for depth sensing, contrast, and true black-and-white imaging. The user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Motorola says the 3,000mAh battery supports TurboCharge and lasts all day. Other features include splash resistance, USB-C, Bluetooth 5 with aptX HD, face unlock, dual-band wifi. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo and will be updated to Android P later this year. It includes Moto Actions, Moto Display, and Motorola's swipe-based navigation tool at the bottom of the display. Verizon will begin selling the Moto Z3 on August 16. The phone will cost $20 per month, or $480 at full retail. Verizon will knock $300 off the price of a Moto Z3 to those who switch to Verizon and trade-in their old phone. Pricing and availability for the 5G Moto Mod will be announced later this year. Verizon expects to launch fixed-wireless 5G in a small number of markets, including Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, late this year. Verizon says its mobile 5G network will go live in early 2019.


Rok Mobile Drops Verizon, Forcing Customers to Port to AT&T

Aug 1, 2018, 12:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Rok Mobile confirmed this week that it is no longer offering service on Verizon Wireless' network. "Rok Mobile has decided not to move forward with utilizing Verizon Wireless service on our platform," said the company on its web site. The change went into effect on July 30 and left customers who relied on Verizon for service stranded. "We will continue to support our other wireless carriers and those customers that are on that service," said Rok. The MVNO originally allowed customers to purchase service from AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. Now Rok Mobile only allows customers to purchase service on AT&T's platform. The company no longer offers service on Sprint, but Rok Mobile customers who put their service on Sprint will not lose it. Rok Mobile customers who relied on Verizon will need to port their number to AT&T's network to re-establish service. Rok Mobile apologized for the inconvenience.


Verizon's New CEO Takes Over Starting Today

Aug 1, 2018, 7:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Hans Vestberg has assumed the role of Verizon's CEO, replacing long-time leader Lowell McAdam. The company announced the change in June. McAdam will remain with the company as Executive Chairman of the Board through the end of the year, and then transition to a non-executive Chairman role in 2019. Hans Vestberg, who previously served as the company's Executive Vice President, President of Global Networks, and Chief Technology Officer, takes on the top spot at Verizon. Vestberg has played a large role in developing the architecture for Verizon's fiber-centric networks, including its LTE 4G service and forthcoming 5G service. Vestberg previously worked for Ericsson. In June, Vestberg said, "I am humbled to be appointed CEO of Verizon at such an exciting and dynamic time for our company and industry. We are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way users interact in the digital world, and we are racing ahead to remain at the forefront of technology, connectivity and mobility." Vestberg has spent the past month in the field at Verizon locations learning the day-to-day activities of its employees.


Amazon Adds LG Stylo 4 to List of Prime Exclusive Phones

Jul 31, 2018, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon has made the LG Stylo 4, a rebadged variant of the LG Q Stylus, available via its web site as a Prime Exclusive. Prime Exclusives are offered at slightly lower prices than retail and include a variety of Amazon apps and services preinstalled. The Stylo 4 includes a stylus and has a metal body with mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse and IP68 protection against water and dust. The Stylo 4 has a 6.2-inch screen with LG's 2:1 Full Vision (2,160 x 1,080) resolution. The phone is powered by a 1.8 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 450 processor with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The phone comes with a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera with a wide-angle lens. The Stylo 4 has a 3,300mAh battery and specs including USB-C, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, wifi, and LTE 4G. The fingerprint scanner is located on the rear surface. The phone ships with Android 8 Oreo and LG's pen-based software tools, such as memos and notes. Amazon is selling the LG Stylo 4 unlocked with support for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. (The phone is already being sold by Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS.) Amazon is charging $249.99, a savings of $50.


Verizon Offering Customers a Low-Cost VPN

Jul 27, 2018, 3:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 27, 2018, 3:24 PM

Verizon Wireless today announced Safe WiFi, a virtual private network (VPN) that can protect customers when they connect to public hotspots. Verizon says Safe VPN relies on bank-grade encryption to help protect against ad tracking as well as help block targeted ads. Safe VPN is available for $3.99 per month and covers up to 10 devices per account. The first month is free. It is compatible with Android and iOS devices.


Verizon Says Houston Will Get 5G During Second Half of Year

Jul 24, 2018, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said that Houston will join Los Angeles 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 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. Qualcomm recently announced new wireless antennas that make mobile 5G a possibility on phones. Phones with 5G may reach the market as soon as the first half of 2019. AT&T has gone on the record saying its first mobile 5G device with be a puck, or mobile hotspot.


Verizon Ceases Activating 3G Phones On Its CDMA Network

Jul 17, 2018, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless will no longer activate 3G CDMA devices on its network as it moves towards sunsetting the legacy service. "For several years we've been publicly saying that our 3G CDMA network will remain available through the end of 2019. Virtually all traffic on our network is on our 4G LTE network," said the company in a statement provided to Droid Life. "To facilitate a smooth transition to 4G LTE capable products and services, we are no longer allowing devices that are not 4G LTE capable to be activated on our network." Verizon has previously said it will shut down its 3G network by December 31, 2019. It is common for carriers to discontinue older or outdated networks and re-farm the spectrum for newer technology. Verizon says it will launch 5G before the end of the year.


Xfiinity Mobile Revises Unlimited Plan to Limit Video and Hotspot

Jul 2, 2018, 8:54 AM   by Rich Brome

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile has changed the terms of its Unlimited Plan to limit video resolution to 480p (non-HD), and throttle personal hotspot speeds to "3G speeds" (600 Kbps). The company plans to offer an option for higher video resolution for an extra fee, but not until "later this year". Video resolution limits are not uncommon with unlimited data plans. T-Mobile pioneered the practice. Comcast claims the changes are necessary in order to maintain the current plan prices. Xfinity Mobile operates as an MVNO using the Verizon network.


Motorola Moto Z3 Play Certified to Run On Verizon's Network

Jun 29, 2018, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the Motorola Moto Z3 Play to its list of certified devices. This means the Z3 Play was tested by Verizon in its labs and passed Verizon's network performance requirements. Verizon itself does not sell the Moto Z3 Play, but you can buy the phone unlocked and bring it to a Verizon store for activation. The Z3 Play is available from Motorola.com, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Amazon starting today. The phone adopts a 6-inch 2:1 screen, and is made form a slim metal-and-glass chassis. It is compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories and includes either a speaker or battery. The phone costs $499. The Moto Z3 Play will be sold by Sprint and U.S. Cellular later this summer.


Verizon and Verizon Prepaid Offering Samsung Galaxy J3

Jun 29, 2018, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 29, 2018, 12:12 PM

Verizon Wireless today added the Samsung Galaxy J3 to its lineup of postpaid and prepaid phones. The Galaxy J3, announced earlier this month, has a 5-inch HD display, 8-megapixel main camera at f/1.9, and a 5-megapixel selfie cam at f/2.2. The J3 has a 2,600mAh battery and includes Android 8 Oreo, 2 GB of memory, 16 GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.2, and WiFi. It is powered by an octa-core Exynos processor. This phone includes Samsung's Easy Mode UI skin for bigger fonts and icons and offers the Bixby Home app for learned recommendations. The phone is available as the Galaxy J3 V via Verizon's postpaid service for $168, or $7 per month. It is available as the Galaxy J3 3rd Gen via Verizon's prepaid service for $124.


Verizon to Kill Off Its Go90 App

Jun 29, 2018, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon says it will shut down go90, its mobile video service, by the end of July. The service launched in 2015 as a free option for consuming video via mobile devices. The service never found a real audience. "Following the creation of Oath, go90 will be discontinued," said Verizon in a statement provided to Reuters. "Verizon will focus on building its digital-first brands at scale in sports, finance, news and entertainment for today's mobile consumers and tomorrow’s 5G applications." Oath is Verizon's content branch and encompasses apps and services from the former AOL and Yahoo brands. Verizon has begun informing its content providers about go90's imminent closure and said it will return all rights back to its production partners.


Verizon Rolls Out More Military Discounts

Jun 28, 2018, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced new discounts for members of the U.S. armed services. The company is offering savings on its Unlimited plans. Military families can select the Unlimited plan that best suits them and then apply a $15 discount off one line, $35 off two lines, or $40 off three or more lines. Verizon says active-duty military, reservists, Gold Star families, and veterans can take advantage of this offer by signing into their account and choosing the plan they need. Verizon also said military families can score a $200 Mastercard prepaid card if they activate a new line of service on a 4G LTE smartphone. The savings are available starting today.


State AGs Join Justice Department in Assessing Sprint/T-Mobile Impact On MVNOs

Jun 28, 2018, 8:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Attorney General's office from New York is investigating if and how T-Mobile's proposed merger with Sprint might impact the MVNO and prepaid markets. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNOs, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the New York attorney general is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Dozens of other states are participating in the probe, says the Wall Street Journal. This investigation mirrors a separate one underway with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has similar concerns. The $26 billion deal was proposed earlier this year and would see the nation's third- and fourth-largest carriers become one. Antitrust investigations are normal for such deals. Sprint and T-Mobile defended the deal in front on Congress on Wednesday. The companies insist the deal will create jobs and ensure the combined entity can compete with AT&T and Verizon.


AT&T to Buy AppNexus

Jun 25, 2018, 7:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it has agreed to buy AppNexus for an undisclosed sum. AppNexus runs a global advertising marketplace and helps publishers, marketers, and agencies place digital ads. The company will be added to AT&T's newly formed advertising and analytics business, which is run by Brian Lesser. AT&T's ad business is one of four new pillars the company announced after it closed its acquisition of Time Warner. AT&T says it needs the company to compete with Verizon, Google, and others. AT&T expects the acquisition to close during the third quarter of the year.


More Lawmakers Target Google Over Huawei Relationship

Jun 20, 2018, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

More members of Congress are posing questions about the relationship between Google and Huawei. Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, Republican Representatives Liz Cheney and Michael Conaway, and Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger all signed a letter sent to Google concerning the search giant’s recent decision to halt work on Project Maven. "While we regret that Google did not want to continue a long and fruitful tradition of collaboration between the military and technology companies, we are even more disappointed that Google apparently is more willing to support the Chinese Communist Party than the U.S. military,” read the letter, in part. It’s not clear what the lawmakers’ end goal is. Huawei uses Google’s Android operating system in its phones. Huawei is the world’s third-largest supplier of phones. Some members of Congress see Huawei as a national security threat due to its ties with the Chinese government. Earlier this year, Huawei saw smartphone distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon evaporate after pressure from Congress.


Sprint, T-Mobile Agree to Halt Sharing Location with Some Apps

Jun 19, 2018, 5:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following moves made earlier in the day by Verizon and AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have now said they also will cease sharing customer location data with certain third-party apps and services. Sprint said it is "beginning the process of terminating its current contracts with data aggregators to whom we provide location data." T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted, "I've personally evaluated this issue & have pledged that @tmobile will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen." The matter rose to attention after some third-party location brokers left the real-time data of millions of customers unprotected. Lawmakers called for change and today's responses appear to be it.


AT&T to Also Drop Location-Data Sales to Third Parties

Jun 19, 2018, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said it, too, will cease the sale of subscriber location information to outside companies. The move follows an identical change made by Verizon earlier today. "Our top priority is to protect our customers’ information, and, to that end, we will be ending our work with aggregators for these services as soon as practical in a way that preserves important, potential lifesaving services like emergency roadside assistance," said AT&T in a statement provided to The Verge. Carriers are under fire because one of the third-party companies exposed the real-time location data of millions of wireless customers without their knowledge or consent. The matter is being investigated by the FCC. Sprint and T-Mobile have yet to make the same commitment.


Verizon to Cease Sharing Phone Location with Other Companies

Jun 19, 2018, 11:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said it will stop making customer location data available to third-party apps and services. The decision follows last month's revelation that third-party companies didn't always properly protect this data. LocationSmart, for example, exposed the real-time location of millions of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless customers without their consent. Accuracy of the location data was as good as a few hundred yards. The breach caught the attention of lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Wyden, who wanted the matter invested. "When these issues were brought to our attention, we took immediate steps to stop it," said Verizon spokesperson Rich Young. Wyden thanked Verizon for changing its policy, but pointed out that AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have left their location-sharing practices in place.


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