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.
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.
AT&T today added to its top-tier plans in the wake of its recent acquisition of Time Warner. The company's unlimited service plans now offer an optional video service called Watch TV. Watch TV includes more than 30 live channels and is compatible with most every smartphone, tablet, browser, and device. The service offers access to 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand. Some of the available channels include AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, History, HLN, IFC, Lifetime, OWN, TBS, TCM, TLC, TNT, Velocity, and Viceland. The service is included at no extra charge in the two new unlimited offerings, which are called AT&T Unlimited &More Premium and AT&T Unlimited &More. The Premium plan offers 15 GB of high-speed tethering, high-quality video, and a $15 monthly credit toward DirecTV Now, DirecTV, and U-Verse. Premium customers may tack on one premium add-on, such as HBO or Pandora Premium, at no extra cost. The simpler Unlimited &More offering does not include tethering, limits video to 480p, and includes a $15 discount only toward DirecTV Now. AT&T Unlimited &More Premium costs $80 for a single line and $190 for four lines. AT&T Unlimited &More costs $70 for a single line and $160 for four lines. These prices require autopay and do not include taxes, fees, or device payments. WatchTV will also be made available as a stand-alone service for $15 per month. AT&T says it has more bundles on the way.
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.
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 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 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.
AT&T today made it possible to buy one iPhone X and get a second iPhone for free. The offer is available to new and existing customers, and requires both phones to be purchased on an AT&T Next installment plan (24 or 30 months). The first line can be new or an upgrade, but the second line — with the free iPhone — must be a new line. The second free iPhone can be the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X. After approximately three billing periods, AT&T will begin making the monthly device payments spread out over 30 months. Customers will be responsible for taxes and activation fees on both phones at the point of sale. The offer ends June 19.
AT&T today said it has completed its purchase of Time Warner, a deal originally valued at $85.4 billion when it was announced in October 2016. Earlier this week, a U.S. judge sided with AT&T after the Justice Department sued the company to block the deal. After losing the case, the Justice Department made no further recommendations against the deal and AT&T wrapped up the legal paperwork quickly. Time Warner — and now AT&T — owns Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner, which in turn owns CNN and other media properties. "Combine [Warner's content] with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience," said Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T in a prepared statement. “We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers." Many fear the deal will lead to less choice and higher prices for consumers. Moving forward, AT&T will consist of four core businesses: AT&T Communications (mobile, broadband), AT&T media (Turner, HBO), AT&T International (mobile in Mexico), and AT&T's advertising and analytics. AT&T says it will create a formal name for this last business unit later in the year. John Donovan will serve as CEO of AT&T Communications, John Stankey will serve as CEO of AT&T’s media business, Lori Lee will serve as CEO of AT&T International, and Brian Lesser will serve as CEO of AT&T’s ad and analytics business. All four will report to Randall Stephenson, who remains chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc.
The 3GPP today ratified another piece of the 5G specification, termed the Standalone 5G New Radio, or SA 5G NR. This spec is for 5G networks that are developed on their own, apart from legacy or pre-existing networks. The Non-Standalone portion of the 5G spec was ratified late last year and covers 5G that hooks into existing LTE 4G systems. "The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision," said BalÃ¡zs BertÃ©nyi, chairman of 3GPP RAN. "5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G." The SA 5G NR and the NSA 5G NR standards will together include the technology used by commercial entities, the air interface, and end users. The spec was approved by more than 600 delegates from the world's leading carrier, handset, and silicon vendors. Some participants included AT&T, DISH, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Kyocera, LG, MediaTek, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, SoftBank/Sprint, Sony, Verizon, Xiaomi, and ZTE. The 3GPP said the technical specifications for the ratified SA 5G NR will be published in the days ahead.
AT&T today was given permission to buy Time Warmer with no conditions and no divestitures. The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon. The ruling settles the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has opposed the deal from the start. The Justice Department believes AT&T will use Time Warner's content as a weapon against consumers, raising prices and limiting competition. AT&T says it needs to acquire Time Warner in order to compete with Verizon Communications. The government will not require AT&T to meet any special conditions to finalize the merger, nor sell any properties. In a last-minute twist, Justice Department attorney Craig Conrath asked the judge to take some protective measures, such as concessions, should he allow the deal to proceed. It appears as though Leon did not feel this tactic was warranted. The deal is valued at $85.4 billion. Time Warner owns HBO and CNN.
Asus today revealed that its ZenFone 5Q phone, first announced in February, is now available for sale in the U.S. The ZenFone 5Q has 2.5D curved class on the front and rear with a plastic frame in between. It boasts a 6-inch full HD+ 18:9 display. The Zenfone 5Q has four cameras, with an ultra-wide, 120-degree lens on each side. The main sensor on the rear captures 16-megapixel images, while the selfie camera has a Sony 20-megapixel sensor. The 5Q features a number of shooting modes, including portrait/bokeh. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 630 processor and comes with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The phone ships with a 3,300mAh battery. Other features include NFC, dual SIM, face unlock, Bluetooth 4.1, dual-band wifi, fingerprint reader, speaker, and microUSB. Asus didn't spell out which LTE bands are supported but says the phone is compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone runs Android 8 Oreo with Asus ZenUI 5.0. Asus says the ZenFone 5Q in midnight black is immediately available from Abt, Amazon, B&H, Best Buy, and Newegg for $299, while the moonlight white variant is available from Amazon, B&H, and Newegg for the same price.
AT&T today said fire, medical, police, and other first responders now have more access to its FirstNet network. FirstNet has been available for purchase by agencies, but hasn't been directly sold in stores. Beginning today, any verified first responder can walk into one of AT&T's 5,300 retail shops and initiate service with a new device. The retail availability of FirstNet will be a boon to first responders who volunteer and/or aren't issued communications devices by their agency or local government. A fairly wide number of phones are compatible with FirstNet, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, S8 Active, Note 8, S9, S9 Plus, and J3; Apple iPhone 6/Plus, 6s/Plus, 7/Plus, 8/Plus, and X; LG V35 ThinQ; Motorola Moto G6 Play; Sonim XP5S and XP8; BlackBerry KEYone; and the Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router. The public safety network is available nationwide in its own, reserved spectrum (Band 14). First responders may also sign up for FirstNet service using AT&T's web site.
Starting in July, subscribers who are grandfathered-in to AT&T's unlimited data plan will see their service cost climb from $40 per month to $45 per month. The original price of the plan was $30 per month. AT&T last raised the service cost by $5 in March 2017, and by $5 before that in February 2016. In a statement provided to MacRumors, AT&T said, "Consumers are using mobile data at record levels and the trend is expected to continue. To help make sure we continue to provide the best service for all of our customers, a small price increase is being made at this time." AT&T says the new pricing won't coincide with reduced speeds. Right now, unlimited customers can use 22 GB of high-speed data per month before they see throttled speeds when the network is congested. The current price of AT&T's Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan is $80 per month for the first line. AT&T customers can change plans at any time.
AT&T today indicated it is prepared to settle with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it throttled users' mobile data speeds without property informing them. AT&T advertised "unlimited" mobile data, but slowed users' speeds once they crossed a certain threshold. The FTC first sued AT&T over the matter in 2014, but that case was tossed. The FCC at one point levied a fine of $100 million against AT&T over the issue, though that fee was never collected as the appeal worked its way through the court. Earlier this year, the FTC case was reinstated. "We have decided not to seek review by the Supreme Court, to focus instead on negotiating a fair resolution of the case with the Federal Trade Commission," said AT&T spokesperson Mike Balmoris. The FTC has not said what concessions AT&T might have to make.
TCL today announced that its Alcatel 1x phone, an entry-level Android device that runs Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition, will be available from Amazon.com starting the first week of June. The unlocked device is priced at $99. It will reach Best Buy and Walmart later in the month. The 1x has a 2:1 ratio 5.3-inch screen with 960 by 480 resolution and it is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.28 GHz. The phone ships with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other hardware features include Cat 4 LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; microUSB and memory card slot; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Alcatel 1X includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. It includes Go-optimized versions of core apps, including Google Assistant Go, Google Go, Files Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, and Gmail Go, as well as performance optimizations to Chrome, Google Play, and Gboard. The Android Go platform is designed to run on low-spec'd hardware. The Alcatel 1x includes modest support for AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS, though it lacks the newest LTE bands.
Blu Products today announced the Pure View, a premium handset that adopts modern design aesthetics and features. The Pure View has a metal frame and ultraviolet battery cover on the rear in midnight black. The phone has a 5.7-inch HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The Pure View is powered by a 1.3 GHz MediaTek octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera at f/2.2 on the rear with flash and dual selfie cameras on the front with flash. Both front cameras have 8-megapixel sensors, one with a standard-view lens and the other with a 120-degree wide-angle lens at f/2.2. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, fingerprint scanner, face unlock, memory card slot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, and microUSB. The phone is sold unlocked with modest support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The Blu Pure View retails at $199, but Amazon.com is offering it for $129 for a limited time.
AT&T today said it will sell the new LG V35 ThinQ beginning this week. Preorders kick off Friday, June 1, with the phone scheduled to reach AT&T stores on June 8. The LG V35 ThinQ is an updated version of the V30 that relies on the same internal components as the LG G7 ThinQ. The V35 has a 6-inch screen, two 16-megapixel cameras with Google Lens, a 3,300mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Critically, the V35 ThinQ will support Band 14 and AT&T's FirstNet first responders network. The phone will be made available to FirstNet customers in addition to AT&T's own subscribers. The phone costs $30 per month for 30 months, or about $900.
LG today announced the V35 ThinQ, an amalgamation of its existing lineup of smartphones. The V35 ThinQ takes the chassis from the V30 and merges it with the components and software of the G7 ThinQ. The V35 has a 6-inch quad HD+ OLED display with support for HDR 10 and Google’s Daydream platform. An aluminum frame separates the front and rear Gorilla Glass 4 panels. The phone is certified IP68 for protection against water ingress and mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse. On the inside, the phone adopts the Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The phone features the same dual-camera array found on the G7: a standard-view lens (71 degrees) at f/1.6 and a wide-angle lens (107 degrees) at f/1.9. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor at f/1.9. Like the G7, the V35 features LG’s AI Cam and can recognize 18 different scenes, such as flowers, pets, and the beach. The AI Cam then adjusts to capture the best shot. It automatically uses pixel binning to capture more light in the Bright Mode for low-light scenes. The camera can snag bokeh-style portraits using either the front or rear camera. It also includes the new Google Lens tool built directly into the camera app. The V35 packs a 32-bit quad DAC for superior wired sound, as well as DTS-X for cinematic surround, a wind filter, and super far-field voice recognition for discerning spoken commands from greater distances. Other specs include a 3,300mAh battery, wireless charging, NFC, Bluetooth 5, dual-band wifi, GPS, USB-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone supports newer U.S. LTE bands, such as Band 29 for AT&T and Band 66 for T-Mobile. It ships with Android 8 Oreo and LG UX 7. The LG V35 goes on sale in early June for about $900.
Qualcomm today announced the FSM100xx, a 5G NR product designed for small cells and remote radio heads. Qualcomm says the FSM100xx builds on its existing Qualcomm FSM Platform for 3G and 4G small cells. It supports 5G NR in sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum, allowing network operators to make use of whatever spectrum is available to them in a given location. Qualcomm designed the FSM Platform for flexibility. It is based on 10nm mobile technologies for controlling power consumption while allowing for fast performance. Qualcomm says the FSM100xx can address the propagation characteristics of mmWave spectrum in real time, particularly in indoor spaces where small cells are most often deployed. Further, it supports MIMO and multi-gigabit throughout, as well as power-over-ethernet for broader outdoor deployments. Last, the FSM100xx includes a software-defined modem, which gives carriers the flexibility to control and update their hardware when needed to comply with future 3GPP releases of the 5G NR spec. Qualcomm says it expects the FSM100xx to begin sampling in 2019. Meanwhile, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all claim they will launch 5G in select markets by the end of 2018.
The FCC today said it is investigating reports that a web site leaked the location data of millions of U.S. cell phones. A security researcher claims a company called LocationSmart suffered a leak and made it possible track the whereabouts 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. On her Twitter account today FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "The @FCC needs to investigate. No ifs, ands, or buts." Senator Ron Wyden agreed, saying, "This leak, only days after the lax security at Securus was exposed, shows how little companies throughout the wireless ecosystem value Americans’ security. Wireless carriers and LocationSmart appear to have allowed nearly any hacker with a basic knowledge of web sites to track the location of any American with a cell phone. A hacker could have used this site to know when you were in your house so they would know when to rob it. A predator could have tracked your child’s cell phone to know when they were alone." Wyden demanded an investigation and the FCC appears to agree. The agency has pushed the matter to its enforcement bureau to investigate.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless today voiced support for the Red Hydrogen One phone, which they'll sell later this summer. The Hydrogen One was first announced in summer of 2017. It is a pricey Android phone with a 5.7-inch "holographic" display touting glasses-free 3D. While the display supports traditional stereo 3D, it also supports a new 3D-like "holographic" technology created by Red called Hydrogen 4-View (H4V). The phone body sports Red's industrial design and comes in either aluminum or titanium. The Hydrogen One will support snap-on modules for shooting both high-resolution video and H4V content. It will also integrate with other Red products, serving as a touchscreen controller and monitor for Red cameras. The phone also has USB-C and a microSD memory card slot. When first announced, Red listed the Hydrogen One's price as $1,195. Neither AT&T nor Verizon said what they'll charge for the phone. The Hydrogen One was expected to go on sale in early 2018, but it has been delayed several times. An exact for-sale date was not provided.