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.
AT&T today said it has launched what it calls 5G Evolution in 99 new markets, bringing the total of pre-5G markets to 239. AT&T is on track to reach its goal of 400 markets by the end of the year, and nationwide coverage during the first half of 2019. The company says its 5G Evolution technology — which is not 5G NR — can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones. AT&T expects to launch true 5G mobile service in a dozen markets by the end of the year, with another seven joining the list in early 2019. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint to parts of 20 markets and expects to reach 24 by December. LTE-LAA can push speeds to a theoretical max of 1 Gbps. A handful of phones sold by AT&T are LTE-LAA capable, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S8+, S9+, Note8, Note9, and S8 Active, as well as the LG V30 and V35, the Motorola Moto Z2 Force Edition, and the Netgear Nighthawk Mobile Router. AT&T's first real 5G NR mobile device will be a mobile hotspot.
AT&T today said active military members, their families, and veterans qualify for lower bills on select AT&T service plans. Beginning October 5, military subscribers to the AT&T Unlimited &More and AT&T Unlimited &More Premium wireless plans can take advantage of a 25% discount. A single line will cost $52.50, or customers can nab four lines for a total of $120 per month after autopay and paperless billing discounts. AT&T is also offering $15 off select DirecTV and AT&T Internet plans. AT&T recently offered similar discounts to first responders.
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.
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.
AT&T and Harman this week launched the Harman Spark, a module that brings safety and security features to cars. The Spark plugs into a car's OBD II port and connects to AT&T's LTE network. Some of the functions include emergency crash assistance, wherein owners will receive a call if the module detects a crash, as well as a roadside assistance manager for help hailing and paying for a tow truck. A virtual mechanic provides alerts and guidance when it detects problems with the car, and can contact car owners if the car is bumped, moved, towed, or stolen. Other features include geofences to set boundaries for novice drivers, family/fleet management with real-time location sharing, in-car mobile hotspot for up to eight devices, and parking reservations to secure a spot in advance. Last, the module offers driving feedback after analyzing driver behavior. AT&T says the Harman Spark costs $80 on its own, or $30 when purchased alongside a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, or Note9. Service costs either $10 or $20 per month, depending on whether or not the Spark is being added to an existing wireless account. The Harman Spark goes on sale Sept. 28. Verizon Wireless sells a similar product called the Hum.
The FCC today revealed the ZTE Blade X2 Max in documents made public on the agency's website. The phone, a follow-up to the Blade X Max, appears to be bound for Cricket Wireless based on branding seen on the user manual and AT&T LTE banding (14/30). Other features confirmed by the FCC include dual rear cameras, a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port for charging. The Blade X2 Max relies on a nano SIM card and the tray also supports microSD memory cards. The phone's screen adopts the 16:9 aspect ratio. The draft user manual makes reference to the size of the display, which it says measures 6 inches with full HD resolution. The manual also indicates the battery may be 4,080mAh, and the phone may include 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Last, the manual notes the phone's two rear cameras are a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front camera is 8 megapixels. Information found in the draft user manual is subject to change. Given ZTE's current position in the U.S. market, it is possible this phone will never reach the market. ZTE was forced to put operations on hold for three months after the U.S. banned it from accessing U.S.-made parts and software. ZTE only returned to full operations in July. The company says it still considers the U.S. market vital to its success. ZTE implied it will most likely sell new devices direct to consumers online rather than through carrier distribution deals. Cricket has not confirmed that it will sell the ZTE Blade X2 Max.
AT&T today said it plans to expand its retail footprint around the country with the addition of 1,000 new stores. The new outlets will take several different forms. For example, the company says it will launch about 100 pop-up stores, which are smaller and more flexible, in densely populated urban areas, including inside apartment buildings. The company will boost the number of mobile stores to 150 by the end of the year. Mobile stores are typically contained in a vehicle and can be driven to events or areas that need help during emergencies. Beyond these, AT&T says it will sprinkle hundreds of stores in smaller cities and towns around the country. AT&T claims its retail stores have performed consistently well and it sees them as a way to reach more people around the country. AT&T hasn't said exactly where the new stores will spring up.
AT&T and its prepaid business Cricket Wireless have filed a third lawsuit against people suspected of illegally trafficking cell phones. The lawsuit is like two others AT&T has already filed against several businesses and individuals in New Jersey and Florida. Trafficked phones are typically purchased in bulk from AT&T or Cricket Wireless at a discount and then unlocked without permission by AT&T/Cricket. The buyers often discard the original packaging and sell the phones at higher prices to make a profit. AT&T says this practice "negates the subsidy that AT&T Prepaid and Cricket intended to benefit the consumer." The new complaint was filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of New York against CellNTell.
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.
Alcatel today announced the Tetra, an entry-level device that's being sold by AT&T's prepaid business. The Tetra features a 5-inch display with 480 by 854 pixels for FWVGA resolution. The display is protected by 2D Dragontrail glass. The Tetra is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6739WM processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 128 GB. The 5-megapixel camera on the rear has an LED flash and can capture 720p HD video with time-lapse and stabilization. The 2-megapixel selfie camera on front has a screen-based flash and can also record 720p HD video with face beautification. Other features include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, WiFi, LTE, and a 2,050mAh battery. The Tetra runs Android 8.1 Oreo. AT&T Prepaid is selling the Alcatel Tetra for $39.99. It is available online today and will reach stores on September 14.
AT&T today announced that it plans to roll out mobile 5G service in parts of Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio by the end of this year. The company previously announced plans to bring 5G to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco this year. Early next year, the company's mobile 5G network will expand to parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. The company reached a milestone over this past weekend when it made its first 5G mobile data connection "in the wild" over millimeter wave frequencies, using a Qualcomm smartphone-form-factor test device and Ericsson 5G-NR tower equipment. The test, and AT&T's planned rollout, are compliant with the 3GPP Release 15 global 5G NR standard.
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.
AT&T and its prepaid business Cricket Wireless are targeting cell phone traffickers with legal action. The company has filed lawsuits against several businesses and individuals suspected of trafficking new prepaid cellphones. Trafficked phones are typically purchased in bulk from AT&T or Cricket Wireless at a discount and then unlocked without permission by AT&T/Cricket. The buyers often discard the original packaging and sell the phones at higher prices to make a profit. AT&T says this practice "negates the subsidy that AT&T Prepaid and Cricket intended to benefit the consumer." The lawsuits, filed with the U.S. district court in New Jersey, target US Mobile Pros LLC and Maz Wireless, LLC.
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.
AT&T today added Indianapolis to its list of 5G mobile launch markets. AT&T expects to kick off 5G service in more than a dozen markets, including Dallas and Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., and others by the end of the year. Indianapolis already enjoys LTE-LAA, which is available in more than a dozen other markets. LTE-LAA can push speeds to theoretical a max of 1 Gbps. AT&T hopes to have LTE-LAA up and running in 24 markets by the end of the year. AT&T hasn't said exactly when it will launch 5G mobile service other than to say before the end of the year.
Two different security flaws affecting the customers of AT&T and T-Mobile were revealed this week. The security gaps could have given hackers access to customer account PINs, which would in turn allow them to potentially hijack the customers' SIM cards. AT&T customers were left vulnerable by the insurance provider Asurion. When initiating claims through Asurion's web site, hackers could have gleaned PINs through a form that failed to have a limit on attempts to enter the PIN correctly. This opened the door for brute-force attacks. T-Mobile customers were left vulnerable by the Apple Store app on iPhones. The issue left an opening on a web page that bridged the Apple Store with T-Mobile's account verification system. Similar to the Asurion issue, the Apple Store didn't place a limit on the number of attempts for PIN entry. This also permitted a brute-force attack to guess the number. Both Asurion and Apple resolved the lapses after they were brought to their attention. The T-Mobile vulnerability left some 77 million customers exposed. The number of customers impacted at AT&T is not known. SIM hijacking allows hackers to essentially copy the identity of a legit phone that can then be used to verify identify in apps and services that used SMS-based two-factor authentication.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Asus recently revealed the ZenFone Live L1, a Best Buy exclusive that runs Google's Android Go platform. Android 8 Oreo Go is a pared-down version of Android that's able to run on devices with limited memory. The Live L1 features a 5.5-inch LCD screen with HD+ resolution at an 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 425 processor, which is paired with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The Live L1 supports memory cards up to 1 TB. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, FM radio, and microUSB. The phone accommodates up to two SIM cards and functions on GSM/LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. Best Buy is selling the Asus ZenFone Live L1 unlocked for $109.99.
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.
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.
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 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.
AT&T today added Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. and Oklahoma City to its list of 5G launch markets. AT&T expects to kick off 5G service in more than a dozen markets, including Dallas and Waco, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., by the end of the year. Further, AT&T has expanded its LTE-LAA footprint from seven markets to parts of 15 markets. LTE-LAA can push speeds to theoretical a max of 1 Gbps. The new LTE-LAA markets are Austin, Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, San Antonio, San Jose, Tampa, and Tuscaloosa, Ala. AT&T hopes to have LTE-LAA up and running in 24 markets by the end of the year. Last, AT&T says its baseline 5G Evolution technology is now live in more than 140 markets, and is on track to reach more than 400 markets this year. The company says its 5G Evolution technology — which is not 5G — can deliver theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps to properly equipped phones.
The Justice Department has asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to prioritize its appeal against last month's decision regarding AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. A single judge ruled in AT&T's favor after the Justice Department sued over the acquisition. AT&T completed the acquisition within days of the decision, but that didn't stop the Justice Department from filing an appeal. Though AT&T completed its purchase of Time Warner, it is holding off on finalizing its acquisition of Turner Networks, which owns CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, and others, until February 2019. The Justice Department suggests that any delay in the court system will make it more difficult for the companies to disengage from one another should the appeal be successful. The Justice Department argues that the judge who presided over the case ignored "fundamental economic principles" when making his decision. It went on to suggest that AT&T will hold new power over rivals to negotiate contracts for Time Warner's content that will in the end lead to higher prices for consumers. AT&T said it was "surprised" by the Justice Department's plan to appeal.
AT&T has kicked off sales of the LG Phoenix Plus, a variant of the K10 announced earlier this year. The Phoenix Plus has a U-shaped metal frame with a 5.3-inch, 720p display and a 1.5 GHz, octa-core Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone features an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The selfie camera can capture bokeh-style shots. LG said the phone has new Low Light Noise functionality that improve low-light photography. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery, fingerprint reader, NFC, LTE, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, FM radio, microUSB, and Android 8.1 Oreo. AT&T Prepaid sells the LG Phoenix Plus for $130.
Vivo today announced that its all-screen NEX flagship phone will be launching this month in Russia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, making it available in the global unlocked market. The international model supports LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41, meaning basic support for AT&T and T-Mobile networks, as well as full support for the CDMA and LTE bands used by Sprint. The NEX has a truly all-screen design. To avoid employing a notch, the speaker and fingerprint reader are both built into the screen, and the 8-megapixel selfie camera slides up from the top of the phone when in use. The AMOLED screen measures 6.59 inches and has FHD+ (2316x1080) resolution. The premium model is powered by a top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8 GB of RAM. The battery is large at 4,000 mAh. The 12-megapixel main camera features 4-axis optical stabilization and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor. It's available with either 128 or 256 GB of internal storage. A cheaper NEX model has the same all-screen design, but a standard fingerprint reader on the back, a Qualcomm 710 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and no support for Sprint bands.
AT&T has agreed to pay a fine of $5.25 million to the FCC for its failure to connect 911 calls during two short periods last year. The FCC called the 5-hour outage in March 2017 and 47-minute outage in May 2017, during which some 12,600 and 2,600 911 emergency calls failed, respectively, unacceptable. “The FCC’s investigation found that, during the March outage, the company failed to quickly, clearly, and fully notify all affected 911 call centers,” said the FCC. “Such preventable outages are unacceptable. Robust and reliable 911 service is a national priority, as repeatedly expressed by both Congress and the Commission. Carriers have a responsibility to both prevent outages and, if they do take place, quickly inform the Commission and affected 911 call centers.” In addition to the fine, AT&T will implement new measures to ensure it makes the proper notifications should future outages occur.
OnePlus hopes to distribute its phones through carriers in the U.S., reports PCMag. OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau told PCMag that the company is holding discussions with U.S. carriers, though it didn't specify which ones. Moreover, the company plans to release a 5G phone next year, which will coincide with the expected launch of 5G service in the U.S. For the moment, OnePlus sells its phones unlocked on the open market. Its most recent device, the OnePlus 6, includes support for AT&T and T-Mobile. OnePlus said its good working relationship with Qualcomm has helped pave its path towards 5G.
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.
KaiOS says Google has agreed to invest $22 million in its light-weight mobile operating system. The investment from Google follows commitments made earlier this year by Google, Facebook, and Twitter to support the platform. "This funding will help us fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing us to connect the vast population that still cannot access the internet, especially in emerging markets," said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. KaiOS is already available on a number of low-cost phones, including Nokia's 8110 5G "banana" phone and the Doro Phone 7050. KaiOS says it is working with other manufacturers, including TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax, and that it has partnerships with carriers including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Beyond the investment, Google plans to bring Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search to KaiOS. Google said it is "excited to work with KaiOS to further improve access to information for feature phone users around the world."
AT&T has quietly increased the administration feed charged to its wireless customers from $0.76 to $1.99. Multiplied monthly by its 64.5 million postpaid wireless customers and the increase boosts AT&T's revenue by some $800 million per year. AT&T says the fee has not been raised in several years. "This is a standard administrative fee across the wireless industry, which helps cover costs we incur for items like cell site maintenance and interconnection between carriers," claimed the company in a statement. The increase was first noticed by BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk. All carriers tack vague fees onto monthly bills. The move comes just a week after AT&T closed its acquisition of Time Warner. "Presumably the administrative fee is another way to help AT&T fund its network build and Time Warner acquisition going forward," said Piecyk.
AT&T today said it has added a number of rewards and promotions to AT&T Thanks, its customer appreciate program. Once AT&T customers download the app and sign up for the program, they'll have access to new priority pre-sales and sweepstakes for a handful of concerts. AT&T has partnered with iHeartRadio to schedule 10 pop-up concerts this summer in cities including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Memphis, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. In addition to early access to tickets, AT&T Thanks participants may be able to interact with artists on site. AT&T Thanks is gaining dining deals, too. Participants can find offers and discounts from chain restaurants around the country, including Corner Bakery Cafe, TGI Fridays, Texas de Brazil, and Blaze Pizza. AT&T Thanks is available only to postpaid AT&T Wireless, DirecTV, U-Verse, and AT&T Internet customers. The app is available to Android and iOS devices.