Sprint this week became the last major US carrier to commit to ending its relationships with location aggregators, companies that resell phone location data, including real-time customer location. AT&T and T-Mobile last week pledged to cut off location aggregators in March, while Verizon has also told The Washington Post that it's working to end its location aggregator contracts. An investigation by Motherboard published last week found that loose regulation and oversight had led to location data being made available on an effective black market, with bounty hunters and other private citizens able to purchase real-time location data. Legitimate users of the data may be affected by the cutoffs, including roadside assistance services and banks that use customers' location to detect credit card fraud. Several members of congress have called for inquiries into the sharing and protection of location data.
T-Mobile has now launched Caller Verified technology, which uses the STIR and SHAKEN standards to confirm that caller ID information hasn't been spoofed. The anti-robocall service is currently available only on the Galaxy Note9, but is coming to other T-Mobile smartphones "later this year". The technology requires other telecom companies around the world to also implement STIR / SHAKEN in order to work for all legitimate calls. When caller ID info is confirmed authentic, "Caller Verified" will appear on the phone's incoming call screen.
ROKiT is a new line of affordable unlocked phones accompanied by a unique range of health and life services for what it calls "transitionals", which means people between jobs, people struggling socioeconomically, and anyone without adequate health insurance. The lineup includes two very basic feature phones and three Android models. Two of the Android phones have glasses-free 3D screens and a ROK Flix app with exclusive 3D content. One of the first content offerings is an animated bible created by the company's own animation studio. The company offers a variety of subscription services tailored to its target market. ROK Health is included free for the first year on the three Android phones, and includes pharmacy discounts and family telemedicine. The subscriber and family members under 26 can call and consult with a real doctor at any time. After the first year, ROK Health is $10/month or $100/year. A step-up plan called ROK Life adds roadside assistance, accidental death insurance, burial and cremation insurance, ID theft protection, and family legal services. ROK Life runs $15/month or $150/year. The roadside assistance is also available separately for $30/year. The feature phones are priced $35-40. The Android models run $90-275. The phones work on AT&T and T-Mobile networks, and cellular service must be purchased separately. ROKit phones and services will be available in March. The parent company ROK Brands previously launched ROK Mobile as a music-focused MVNO in 2014, re-launched it in 2015, then closed shop last year.
Sprint joined the other top-tier US carriers in committing to sell Samsung's 5G phone next year. AT&T and Verizon have committed to offering the unnamed phone in the first half of next year. Sprint plans to launch the phone in "summer", which likely puts its launch after the other two carriers, although Sprint will offer a 5G phone from LG in the first half of the year. T-Mobile will offer the same Samsung phone, but has only committed to launching it some time in 2019. Sprint's version of the Samsung phone will access 5G in Sprint's 2.5 GHz radio frequency band, as well as 4G LTE in all of Sprint's usual bands. In the first half of 2019 Sprint plans to launch its mobile 5G network in nine cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., with additional markets to be announced.
T-Mobile has successfully tested 5G technology on three different radio frequency bands, including 600 MHz (band 71), in a real setting outside of a lab. The company is working toward offering 5G service nationwide in 2020. T-Mobile worked with Ericsson and Intel to complete the recent test, which involved three users participating in a video call, using 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. While the GHz bands offer greater speed and capacity, the 600 MHz band offers better "blanket" coverage. During the tests, the teams generated a 5G signal capable of covering more than a thousand square miles from a single tower.
T-Mobile's long-delayed mobile TV service won't launch in 2018 as originally planned and is now primed for a 2019 debut. Earlier this month reports suggested as much, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere confirmed the delay in a blog post. Legere spent much of the post lambasting AT&T and Verizon, but he also said the company will "start to take on the Cableopoly on all fronts — TV AND broadband — all backed by the same Un-carrier approach of listening to customers and solving their pain points." Legere said the first steps toward attacking the "stupid, broken, arrogant industry" will get underway in the new year. T-Mobile will target TV services, and it will also target in-home broadband. Legere didn't elaborate on how. T-Mobile hopes the government approves its proposed merger with Sprint in the early months of 2019. The company wants to surpass AT&T and Verizon with the launch of its own 5G network in 2019, which will be based on its 600 MHz spectrum, rather than the mmWave spectrum being employed by AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile's 5G launch, expected mid-year, will cover much of the country when it goes live.
T-Mobile today said a 5G phone will be among its first mobile 5G devices, and that phone is the same Samsung device that AT&T and Verizon confirmed earlier this month. "That’s right," exclaimed Neville Ray, T-Mobile CFO, in a blog post. "T-Mobile is working on that phone too — and other 5G devices with other OEMs and chipset manufacturers. In fact, we expect to have multiple 5G devices — that will work across multiple spectrum bands — in 2019." Ray said that rather than focus on being the first to market with 5G, something he believes AT&T and Verizon are "hyperventilating" about, it will focus on "getting it right." Verizon kicked off fixed, non-standard 5G service in a handful of markets in October. AT&T's mobile, standards-based 5G services goes live December 21 with a mobile hotspot. T-Mobile has only specified that it will launch 5G in 2019. The company hopes for a much broader launch so it can deliver 5G to more people at once.
T-Mobile went on the defense this week after being accused by the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) of misstating coverage. The RWA alleged that T-Mobile overstated where it provides coverage in rural areas. This is harmful because if the federal government believes an area is properly covered, it won't provide additional funds to cover it. "Contrary to RWA's claim that T-Mobile submitted 'future' coverage, T-Mobile followed required procedures and submitted shapefiles reflecting 4G LTE coverage as of December 2017," said the company in a letter to the FCC. "Rather than overstating T-Mobile coverage, the submitted files more likely understate coverage as T-Mobile continued to expand its network throughout the challenge process," claimed the company. "RWA's misrepresentations are part of an ongoing pattern of baseless allegations by the organization against T-Mobile designed to delay or thwart competition in rural America and deprive rural Americans of meaningful choice for broadband services," said T-Mobile. The RWA made its claims against T-Mobile (and Verizon) just before the FCC announced an investigation into rule-breaking amidst the major carriers for overstating coverage. The Un-carrier insists it is not under investigation by the FCC for inaccurate maps.
Several government agencies have given T-Mobile and Sprint the approval they need to move forward with their merger plans. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice have all agreed to the deal, valued at $26.5 billion. In order to appease these agencies, T-Mobile and Sprint's parent organizations, Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank, respectively, have said they'll reconsider their use of equipment from Chinese supplier Huawei. Huawei has long been branded a security risk by U.S. lawmakers. The combined company will have about 100 million customers, putting it on more even ground with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The deal still needs to win the approval of the FCC and FTC. T-Mobile expects the deal to close during the first half of 2019.
T-Mobile today said owners of the Apple iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max can now take advantage of the embedded eSIM. T-Mobile is allowing unlocked variants of these iPhones to access prepaid T-Mobile service as a secondary line. In order to do so, people will need to download the (free) T-Mobile eSIM app from the iTunes App Store and use it to initiate prepaid service. T-Mobile says its support of the iPhone eSIM is intended for those who travel to the U.S., for existing T-Mobile customers who need a secondary line on their device, and for those who wish to take T-Mobile’s service for a spin before making a longer commitment. T-Mobile will continue to require physical SIM cards for primary lines and family plans. AT&T and Verizon's method for activating the eSIM requires users to visit a store or use a scannable QR code sent via the carrier. Sprint is not likely to support the eSIM until 2019.
T-Mobile and Sprint expect their proposed merger will be given the green light by government security officials as soon as next week, according to a report from Reuters. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has been reviewing the merger for potential security issues. At the same time, government officials have been pressuring Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent organization, and SoftBank, Sprint's parent organization, to cease use of Huawei networking gear. The U.S. insists that Huawei gear may include a back door that could be accessible to the Chinese government for spying purposes. Deutsche Telekom agreed to review its use of Huawei gear in its home country of Germany and other European markets. SoftBank says it will replace 4G Huawei equipment with new gear from Nokia and Ericsson. These concessions appear to be enough for CFIUS, say Reuters' sources, and the security committee may grant T-Mobile and Sprint the permission they need to move forward with the merger. The deal still needs to be approved by the FCC and Department of Justice. The companies expect the deal to be finalized in early 2019. None of the firms mentioned by Reuters offered comment on the report.
Blu today revealed the Vivo Go, a sub-$100 smartphone that runs the Go Edition of Android 9 Pie. Android Go focuses on delivering the core Android experience through lightweight versions of Google's apps. The phone has a curved glass front, mirrored frame, and metal-plated rear panel. The Vivo Go includes a 6-inch, HD+ (1,440 by 720p) screen with a 2:1 aspect ratio. It is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek chipset with 1 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The phone supports microSD memory cards up to 64 GB. Blu paired an 8-megapixel main sensor with a VGA secondary sensor on the rear. The dual-camera setup supports adjustable depth-of-field portrait shooting. The selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and a flash of its own. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB, and basic support for AT&T/Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile/Metro. The Blu Vivo Go goes on sale via Amazon.com today for $80. It will be available briefly at a price of $60 upon launch.
T-Mobile hopes to offer support for the newer iPhones' eSIM by the end of the year, according to a report from PCMag. The carrier is distributing training materials concerning its eSIM app to staff this week. T-Mobile will allow iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr owners to sign up for prepaid T-Mobile service on the eSIM using this new app. T-Mobile will continue to require physical SIM cards for primary lines and family plans. AT&T and Verizon's method for activating the eSIM requires users to visit a store or use a scannable QR code sent via the carrier. AT&T began allowing the eSIM today, and Verizon is expected to support the eSIM tomorrow. The eSIM is already supported by GigSky and Truphone. Sprint is not likely to support the eSIM until 2019.
OnePlus today said it will use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile processor in next year's flagship phone. OnePlus didn't provide any other details about the phone. It will likely build on the path set by the 6 and 6T, which were released this year. The company had previously said it would launch a 5G phone during 2019. OnePlus specified today that it is partnering with European carrier EE to launch this forthcoming 5G phone. Given OnePlus' relationship with T-Mobile, it is possible that next year's 855-powered flagship from OnePlus will also be sold by T-Mobile.
Metro by T-Mobile and Alcatel today announced the 1X Evolve, an update to the compact Alcatel 1X from earlier this year. The phone has curved, 2.5D Dragontrail glass on front and a soft suede finish on the rear. The phone features a 5.34-inch display with a 2:1 aspect ratio and minimal bezels along the outer edges. The 1X Evolve has an 8-megapixel camera on back and a 5-megapixel camera on front. Camera tools include Alcatel's Social Mode for editing and sharing, Social Square for previewing images on half the screen, and Instant Collage for merging photos into shareable collages. The 1X Evolve is powered by a quad-core processor and supports T-Mobile's 600 MHz (Band 71) spectrum for better LTE 4G performance. It packs a 2,460mAh battery and ships with Android 8 Oreo. The Alcatel 1X Evolve reaches Metro stores on December 10. Pricing was not immediately disclosed.
T-Mobile has rolled out a digital banking service called T-Mobile Money. T-Mobile says T-Mobile Money is available to T-Mobile customers as well as non-customers. The service focuses on providing easy access to funds and banking services through a mobile device. T-Mobile Money can be managed from the Android and iOS platforms via dedicated mobile apps. T-Mobile says the service doesn't charge maintenance, ATM, overdraft, or minimum balance fees, and delivers guaranteed interest. All customers can earn at least 1.00% interest on an annual basis, and T-Mobile subscribers are eligible to earn up to 4.00%. T-Mobile Money is FDIC insured and provides protection against unauthorized purchases. It is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay for mobile transactions. Customers can receive a MasterCard-backed T-Mobile Money debit card if they wish. Other features include online bill pay, mobile check deposit, and easy setup for direct deposit. People can register via the T-Mobile Money app, which is available in the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Customers can also sign up online.
Google today renamed its MVNO, Project Fi, to Google Fi. Along with the name change comes dramatically expanded compatibility with phones. Moving forward, the service will work with most Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone. The process of activating Fi on Android devices will be straightforward. Google says compatibility with iPhones is in beta and will require people to jump through a few more hoops, including the use of an iOS app. Basic service will be available to the majority of devices. Fi operates on T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and WiFi, dynamically jumping to the strongest connection. Subscribers will need specific phones, listed on the Fi web site, to get this benefit, as proper LTE support is required. Google recently added VPN protection to Fi. The base service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice and text. Google charges $10 per gigabyte of data. People interested in the service will need to order SIM cards from the Google Fi web site. The service does not require contracts.
Recently published research suggests the four major wireless carriers are throttling video traffic and three Senate Democrats want to know what's going on. Senators Edward Markey (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.) sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless about the allegations with a demand for a formal explanation from each. "All online traffic should be treated equally, and internet service providers should not discriminate against particular content or applications for competitive advantage purposes or otherwise," said the senators in their letter. The Wehe testing platform showed that AT&T throttled NBC Sports, Netflix, and YouTube; Sprint throttled Amazon Prime, Netflix, Skype Video calls, and YouTube; T-Mobile throttled Amazon Prime, NBC Sports, and Netflix; and Verizon Wireless throttled Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube. T-Mobile also engaged in boosting, which provides unthrottled video streaming for a short time before eventually throttling it. Carriers' usage policies may allow for some throttling or down-graded resolution, and, due to the loss of net neutrality protections, current law does not explicitly prohibit throttling. However, the law does say that carriers have to disclose their throttling policies, if any exist. In this case, it's not clear if any of the carriers have specifically stated that they'll throttle the aforementioned apps and services. AT&T disputed the research and Sprint told Ars Technica that it does not "impose any restrictions on VoIP traffic or VoIP services." The carriers have until December 6 to answer the senators' questions.
T-Mobile CFO J. Braxton Carter believes the company's planned deal with Sprint could close during the first quarter of 2019. The proposed merger is still being weighed by the FCC and Department of Justice. "The only remaining thing that is happening is depositions with the DoJ, which have started and will be completed in a few weeks," said Carter at a technology conference. The two companies proposed the merger in April and initially expected it to close during the first half of 2019. A key facet of the deal is 5G. Carter says the merger is needed for the two companies to compete with market leaders AT&T and Verizon. "The combined assets of Sprint and T-Mobile can create 8 times the 5G capacity that either of us could do on a standalone basis and 15 times the speed," noted Carter. If the government allows the merger to move forward, the U.S. will drop from four national carriers to three. Some say this will reduce competition, which could lead to higher prices for consumers. Neither the FCC nor the DOJ has made any official statements on the deal.
T-Mobile today announced the pending availability of the T-Mobile Revvl 2 and T-Mobile Revvl 2 Plus (pictured). These low-cost Android phones are rebadged variants of the Alcatel 3 and Alcatel 7, respectively. Shared features between the two phones include 18:9 displays, mirror black finishes, fingerprint sensors and facial recognition, 32 GB of storage, and Android 8 Oreo. Each supports T-Mobile's Band 66 and Band 71 LTE.
- Revvl 2: The smaller of the two phones has a 5.5-inch HD+ display with a 1.5 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6739 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Revvl 2 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. It includes a 3,000mAh battery.
- Revvl 2 Plus: The larger of the two phones has a 6-inch full HD+ display with a 2.5 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6739 processor with 3 GB of RAM. This phone has a 12-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel secondary camera for portrait shots. The Revvl 2 Plus has an 8-megapixel selfie camera. It includes a 4,000mAh battery.
Intel today introduced the XMM 8160, a 5G modem that will bring high-speed connectivity to mobile phones, computers, and other broadband devices in 2020. The modem supports the 5G NR spec, including both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) modes for fixed and mobile service. The XMM 8160 will be backwards compatible with 4G, 3G, and 2G networks. It supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz spectrum (including T-Mobile's 600 MHz Band 71), and will be capable of peak download speeds of 6 Gbps. Intel claims the multi-mode baseband will allow device makers to create smaller and more power-efficient gear that can support old and new networking technologies. For example, it includes simultaneous connectivity, allowing devices to seamlessly switch between 5G and LTE 4G when 5G is not available. Intel says the modem has support from carriers and device makers and is compatible with a wide range of platform. The Intel XMM 8160 5G modem will ship to device makers in the second half of 2019 and will reach commercially available equipment during the first half of 2020. This is an accelerated timeline. Previously, Intel said its 5G modem wouldn't be available until early 2020, with devices arriving in late 2020. Intel is facing fierce competition from Qualcomm, which has the Snapdragon X50 5G modem on deck for the first wave of mobile 5G devices.
Commuters who use the Port Authority's PATH train service will soon have broader access to wireless service. Beginning today, AT&T and T-Mobile service is live in underground PATH stations in New York City. AT&T and T-Mobile service will expand to underground stations in New Jersey over the next three weeks. The Port Authority says service from Sprint and Verizon Wireless will reach underground stations in both New York and New Jersey in early 2019. Cellular service will be available on platforms and throughout the underground stations. The underground PATH stations in New York are located at 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th, and Christopher streets, while the underground New Jersey stations are located at Hoboken, Exchange Place, Newport, and Grove Street. The Journal Square, Harrison, Newark Penn Station (which are all above ground), and World Trade Center PATH stations already offer cellular device. The Port Authority recently added free unlimited, high-speed WiFi service at the four major New York-area airports.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sent letters to more than a dozen telephone service providers today asking them for a status update on their efforts to curb robocalls. He demanded these companies deploy a system that authenticates the identity of callers as those calls transit the networks with the goal of identifying and squashing spoofed numbers and spam. Pai wants the system rolled out no later than 2019. "Combatting illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC," said Pai. "That’s why we need call authentication to become a reality — it's the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence." Earlier this year, the FCC approved an authentication system called SHAKEN/STIR. This system verifies calls from the originating carrier as legitimate and ensures they are validated once again by the receiving carrier before the calls reach consumers. Americans receive billions of robocalls annually. If no action is taken, more than half of all calls made in 2019 are predicted to be robocalls. "By this time next year, I expect that consumers will begin to see this on their phones," continued Pai. "If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does." Pai asked the telephone service providers to send in status reports indicating how far along they are in adopting the SHAKEN/STIR framework. The telephone companies have until November 19 to reply. Some of the companies that received letters include AT&T, Google, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon.
Best Buy recently added the Motorola One to its web site. The phone, available for pre-order, costs $400 and will begin to ship November 9. Motorola had not previously announced plans to sell the phone in the U.S. The Motorola One runs the Android One platform, which means it will recent regular security updates from Motorola. It ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, but will receive Android 9 Pie soon. The phone doesn't have bloatware and ships only with essential apps from Google. The Motorola One has a 5.9-inch HD+ screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It packs dual 13-megapixel cameras on the back and an 8-megapixel camera on front. Photo modes include portrait, cinemagraph, time-lapse, 4K video capture and Google Lens. Google says the 3,000mAh battery supports TurboPower charging. The Motorola One is based on a Snapdragon 625 processor with eight cores at 2 GHz. The phone has 64 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 256 GB. The Motorola One is sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.
The OnePlus 6T is available for purchase from T-Mobile and OnePlus.com. The phone, announced only days ago, has a 6.41-inch screen with a small, teardrop-shaped cutout at the top. The 6T adopts an under-the-glass fingerprint reader. It is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor at 2.8 GHz with 6 or 8 GB of RAM and either 128 or 256 GB of storage. The phone includes a 3,700mAh battery that supports OnePlus' Dash Charge rapid charging tech. A dual camera system lets the phone capture portrait / bokeh images. It has a 20-megapixel sensor at f/1.7 and a 16-megapixel secondary sensor with OIS and EIS. The 6T supports Cat 16 LTE and 42 different global LTE bands with 4x4 MIMO and five-channel carrier aggregation. The phone runs OnePlus' OxygenOS, which is based on Android 9 Pie. The OnePlus 6T starts at $549 in both Mirror Black and Midnight Black.
Apple this week distributed iOS 12.1 and with it turned on the dual-SIM capability of the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Each of these newer iPhones includes a slot for physical SIM cards as well as an embedded eSIM. The eSIM can be used to change carriers at will. Despite the feature's availability from Apple, U.S. carriers aren't supporting it just yet. A check of Apple's web site shows that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless will add the capability "later this year." AT&T says it is still working with Apple to add the feature, T-Mobile says it is still finalizing the software, and Verizon has confirmed that the eSIM causes coverage issues. Sprint has publicly said it will support the dual-SIM and eSIM functionality of the newer iPhones, but the company has not said when that might be. This all means U.S. consumers hoping to take advantage of the new iPhones' dual-SIM capabilities will have to wait a bit longer.
T-Mobile is still hyping its forthcoming TV service, though its plans don't appear to be coming together as quickly as the company initially promised. During the company's recent earnings call with press, T-Mobile's Mike Sievert said when the TV service launches later this year, it won't be mobile. Instead, T-Mobile will offer some sort of fixed, in-home TV service. The mobile TV offering won't become a reality until next year. "We have our heads down creating the first TV service for the 5G era," said Sievert. "The journey will start later this year. We're very excited about that. And the second phase of the journey, next year, will be expanding into mobile. Because 5G is about mobility, not just fixed." Sievert went on to say the offering will include hundreds of high definition channels without the need for a cable box. All this will be based on the technology it gained when it purchased Layer3 TV. Layer3 already offers TV service in four markets in the U.S., though it is a more traditional, in-home service offering. T-Mobile hasn't said exactly when either TV service, in-home or mobile, will truly launch. The in-home service was initially expected to arrive in November. T-Mobile's 5G network won't get off the ground until some point during the first half of next year, so the mobile TV service will wait at least that long.
The OnePlus 6T is the company's latest flagship, and it further refines the company's hallmark "affordable flagship" approach. New is the in-display fingerprint reader. It also has an all-screen design with a notch. For the first time, they have a carrier deal in the U.S., offering the phone through T-Mobile. We check it out and give you our first impressions.
OnePlus today announced its flagship phone for the back half of the year, the OnePlus 6T. The phone is a significant upgrade to the OnePlus 6. To start, it improves the 6.41-inch screen by reducing the size of the notch. The display now has a teardrop-shaped cutout at the top, rather than a saddle-shaped notch. The Super AMOLED panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 6. OnePlus is one of the first few phone makers to adopt an under-the-glass fingerprint reader. The tech made its real-world debut at CES earlier this year, but has yet to reach many phones. The reader can detect fingerprints through the display, which allows OnePlus to create a more seamless device. OnePlus says the technology is fast enough and secure enough for everyday unlocking and mobile payments. It is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor at 2.8 GHz, and an Adreno 680 PGU with 6 or 8 GB of RAM and either 128 or 256 GB of storage. The phone includes a 3,700mAh battery that supports OnePlus' Dash Charge rapid charging tech. A dual camera system on the rear ensures the phone can capture portrait / bokeh images. It has a 20-megapixel Sony IMX519 sensor at f/1.7 and a 16-megapixel SonyIMX376K sensor with OIS and EIS. The phone can capture slow-motion at up to 480fps. The 6T supports Cat 16 LTE and 42 different global LTE bands with 4x4 MIMO and five-channel carrier aggregation. The phone runs OnePlus' OxygenOS, which is based on Android 9 Pie. OnePlus created its own swiping gestures for controlling the UI that are simpler to master than those from Google. The OnePlus 6T goes on sale November 1 for $549 in both Mirror Black and Midnight Black.
OnePlus today announced that T-Mobile will be its first official carrier partner in the U.S. T-Mobile has agreed to sell the OnePlus 6T flagship phone, which goes on sale November 1. OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau said the device will be available at some 5,600 T-Mobile stores. This is significant for OnePlus, as scoring a carrier distribution deal is the best way to reach U.S. consumers. Before today, OnePlus devices were only available online and via popup stores. In support of the launch, T-Mobile is offering $300 off the price of the OnePlus 6T with an eligible trade-in. The company will accept more than 30 different devices on trade, including popular models from Apple, Samsung, LG, and others. The 6 GB / 128 GB model costs $549, with the 8 GB / 128 GB model costing $579 and the 8 GB / 256 GB model costing $629.
Qualcomm expects to see two major waves of 5G handsets arrive throughout 2019. Speaking at the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said, based on its viewpoint, there will be an initial set of launches along with the arrival of 5G mobile networks themselves. U.S. carriers are expecting to get their 5G mobile networks up and running during the first six months of 2019, and some may launch during the first quarter. Amon believes a second wave of 5G phones — all flagships — will hit the market in the latter part of the year ahead of the holiday shopping season. OnePlus CEO, Carl Pei, who joined Amon on stage, says his company will have one of the first, if not the actual first, 5G phones to reach consumer hands. Pei noted that OnePlus has already begun conducting 5G tests with partner Qualcomm in San Diego. OnePlus is prepared to launch the OnePlus 6T at an event in New York on October 29. It is likely the 6T's successor that will include 5G. Earlier this year, Sprint claimed it would be the first carrier to launch a 5G handset with partner LG. Given OnePlus' recent tie-up with T-Mobile, it's possible OnePlus' 5G smartphone will operate on T-Mobile's network. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile has provided a firm 5G launch date for 2019.
T-Mobile today announced new handset and service promotions that offer new phones for low monthly payments with one big catch: the equipment installment plan runs for 36 months. That means it will be three years before customers pay off their device, rather than the customary two years. The basics are these. Beginning October 19, customers can trade in an eligible phone for a new Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, Note9, LG G7, LG V40 ThinQ, and others for payments as low as $10 per month. T-Mobile hopes customers taking advantage of this promo will jump on the T-Mobile Essentials plan, which provides a family of four new phones with unlimited service for $40 per line per month, or $160 total. This breaks down to $30 per month per line for service and $10 per month for device payments. The actual device payment may be different. Customers who want the T-Mobile One plan will need to pay another $10 per month per line, or $50. This deal requires auto-pay. Eligible phone trade-ins will be credited to customer accounts monthly over a period of 36 months. The maximum trade-in value is $360 per device, but that will depend on the trade and its condition. T-Mobile didn't immediately list a set of devices eligible for trade-in. The trade can be applied to the purchase price of most phones LG sells, including the forthcoming iPhone Xr.
Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile's recently-renamed prepaid brand, will offer 5G service to customers at about the same time T-Mobile rolls out 5G to its postpaid subscribers. "When we talk about 5G for all, it's not just nationwide 5G service, but it's all shades of T-Mobile, magenta and purple," said Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile, at an event today. T-Mobile says it will launch 5G in some 30 markets during the first half of 2019, and both T-Mobile and Metro customers will be able to access the faster speeds and lower latency. Metro's new service plans, announced earlier this month, are available starting today. Metro's $40 plan doubles the amount of high-speed data to 10 GB per month. The new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One online cloud storage (Android only). The $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers when the network is congested. On all plans, customers who consume more than 35 GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to deprioritization.
OnePlus today said it will launch its next device on October 30 at an event to be held in New York City. The company has already shared a few details about the device. To start, the 6T will adopt an in-display fingerprint reader. The reader will be buried under the display glass, allowing OnePlus to design a more seamless device. OnePlus has also said the device will drop the 3.5mm headphone jack, in favor of the USB-C port. Last, the OnePlus 6T will be the first device from OnePlus to be sold by a U.S. carrier. The company says T-Mobile has agreed to sell the OnePlus 6T once it becomes available. OnePlus is offering tickets to the event so fans of the brand can attend the launch. Fans who pay to attend the launch will receive a gift bag as well as a set of Bullets Wireless headphones.
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.
MetroPCS is no more. T-Mobile is rebranding its prepaid service to Metro by T-Mobile. Along with the new name, Metro by T-Mobile will come with new service plans. First, Metro's existing $40 plan will double the amount of high-speed data allowed per month to 10 GB. Second, the new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One for online cloud storage that's accessible from phones and PCs. Google One requires an Android device. Third, the $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime gives people access to quicker shipping and Amazon's content and media services, such as Amazon Video. The free Amazon Prime offer is only valid to new Amazon Prime subscribers. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers, particularly when the network is congested. On all plans those customers who consume more than 35GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to prioritization. Video streams are capped at 480p. The name change and new rate plans will kick off officially in October.
Google and T-Mobile are working together to ensure that T-Mobile customers' location is more accurately pinpointed when calling 911 emergency services. About 80% of the annual 240 million 911 calls in the U.S. are made via cell phones. Where landlines can point to an exact address for emergency services, cell phones often provide only a general location that can be off by hundreds of feet. Google and T-Mobile have been looking to solve this problem for four years. Moving forward, Android devices running on T-Mobile's network will use the RapidSOS system. RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline can share location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. This newer system integrates with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. This user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. RapidSOS is operating in about 1,000 of the country's 5,700 911 call centers. RapidSOS is available to all 911 centers, though there's no word on when the rest will adopt it. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Google and T-Mobile claim RapidSOS reduces the average location radius from more than 500 feet down to 122 feet. This is within the range mandated by the FCC. Apple adopted RapidSOS with the release of iOS 12, allowing iPhones to provide similarly accurate location data to 911 call centers.
The Communications Workers of America believe the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile merger will lead to as many as 28,000 job loses nationwide. The union has written the attorneys general in all 50 states asking them to investigate the deal and weigh in on the pros and cons at a local level. The CWA, which has 700,000 members, has detailed which metro regions are likely to be most severely impacted and predicts the bulk of job losses will be due to retail store closures. The attorneys general of California and New York have already begun to look into the matter. In the letter, CWA President Christopher Shelton "expressed concern" that the deal would "result in substantial harm to consumers and employees." Sprint and T-Mobile insist they need to merge in order to better compete against market leaders AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint President Marcelo Claure believe the merger will lead to more job gains than loses, though they admit some 3,200 retail jobs will likely be lost. The deal is still being reviewed by the FCC and Justice Department.
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.