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Samsung and LG Launch New Affordable Phones on US Carriers

Monday, 3:24 PM   by Rich Brome

US carriers have launched a flurry of new entry-level phones from LG and Samsung in recent weeks. The phones include three new models from each of the two manufacturers. They range in price from $60 to $260.

  • LG's new most affordable phone goes by many names and ranges in price from $60 to $160. It's offered by just about every carrier except Verizon. T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro offer it as the Aristo 5. Boost offers it as the Tribute Monarch. U.S. Cellular offers it as the K8x. All of those versions come with 32 GB of storage. Only AT&T's version comes with just 16 GB of storage, which they offer from AT&T Prepaid as the Phoenix 5, or from Cricket as the Fortune 3. Oddly, Cricket also offers this phone as the Risio 4. The Risio 4 and K8x have a front camera that's downgraded from 5 to 3 megapixel. Key specs in common include a 5.7-inch HD display with notch, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 2 GB RAM, and a 3,000 mAh Battery. It also has a 13-megapixel main camera, dedicated wide-angle camera, and a rear fingerprint reader.
  • LG Harmony 4: Currently available only from Cricket (for $140), this step-up model has a larger display (6.1-inch), larger battery (3,500 mAh), and more RAM (3 GB). It also has USB-C and a better front camera. Regulatory filings indicate it may also come to Verizon prepaid and TracFone using the Sprint network.
  • LG K51: Already available from T-Mobile, Metro, and Boost, this model is now available from Verizon for $168. Compared to the Harmony 4, it offers an even larger display and battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor.
  • Samsung A01: First launched on Verizon in April, Samsung's most affordable phone is now available from AT&T, Cricket, and Metro, for $115, $60, and $160, respectively. It has USB-C and fast charging, but no fingerprint reader.
  • Samsung A11: A big step up from A01, this $180 phone is now available from AT&T and Verizon. It will launch with Boost on July 21st at a limited-time price of $130. It has a 6.4-inch HD display with a hole-punch design, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, fingerprint reader, and a dedicated wide-angle camera.
  • Samsung A21: Now available from Verizon, T-Mobile, Metro, Sprint, and Boost. While the standard price is $250, Metro is charging $260 while Boost is currently offering it for $200. It has a similar display and battery compared to the A11, but has upgraded cameras, MediaTek Helio P35 processor, 3 GB RAM, and NFC.


Dish Closes Acquisition of Boost Mobile, Unveils New Plans

Jul 1, 2020, 10:51 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile US and Dish Network today announced that they have completed the previously-announced sale of Boost, the prepaid arm of Sprint. Dish now owns the Boost brand and takes responsibility for its 9.3 million customer accounts, hundreds of employees, and thousands of independent retailers. Boost customers are promised a smooth transition thanks to a seven-year agreement for Dish to use the T-Mobile network while Dish builds its own 5G SA (stand-alone) network. Dish unveiled two new plans for Boost customers. The "$hrink-It!" plan offers lower rates over time, to encourage customers to stay with Boost. It's similar to a plan Boost offered six years ago, as well as Verizon's new prepaid plans. It starts at $45/month for 15 GB of data, with a $5/month discount after three on-time payments, and an additional $5/month discount after six total on-time payments. The other new plan offers 10 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text for $35/month. Both plans will be available starting tomorrow, July 2nd. Dish also unveiled a new logo for Boost that blends the existing Boost logo with the Dish logo. Dish paid $1.4 billion for Boost, the same amount originally agreed upon when the deal was first announced. The sale was required by the government in order for T-Mobile to win approval for its deal to merge with Sprint. Dish has started building its own 5G SA network, having recently signed infrastructure deals with Fujitsu, Altiostar, and Mavenir.


T-Mobile's REVVL 4+ Will Be Made by TCL

Jun 18, 2020, 4:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Regulatory filings for a new phone from TCL bear the name "REVVL 4+" and describe a phone supporting all of the network bands unique to the T-Mobile/Sprint network. Since 2017, T-Mobile has offered a series of white-label phones under its own "T-Mobile REVVL" brand. Most of the first and second generation REVVL phones were made by TCL. Last year's REVVLRY and REVVLRY+ were the third generation, and the first to be made by Motorola. The filings reveal very few details about the phone, except the FCC approval confirms it will have NFC, and the Bluetooth SIG approval confirms it will have Bluetooth 5.0. The Bluetooth approval for this phone is shared with the TCL 10L, indicating the REVVL 4+ may be based on the 10L. The TCL 10L is a mid-range Android phone with a Snapdragon 665 processor, 48 megapixel main camera, wide-angle camera, and "Super Bluetooth" supporting up to 4 simultaneous connections.


T-Mobile Extends T-Mobile Tuesdays to Sprint Customers

Jun 18, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile's rewards program — T-Mobile Tuesdays — is now available to Sprint customers. Upcoming offers include 50 Starbucks Stars and three free months of Postmates Unlimited.


Samsung Galaxy A71 5G Coming to All Major US Carriers

Jun 15, 2020, 11:45 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jun 15, 2020, 12:12 PM

Samsung's new mid-range 5G phone, the Galaxy A71 5G, will be available from T-Mobile and Sprint this Friday for $600. Samsung has also made it official that both Verizon and AT&T will offer the phone "later this summer", and that it will also be available unlocked. We broke the news about the Verizon version of the A71 5G a month ago. T-Mobile and Sprint will offer the Galaxy A71 5G in a "Prism Cube Black" finish. The A71 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip, has a 6.7-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display, 4,500 mAh battery, 25W fast charging, quad rear cameras including a 64 megapixel main camera, and 6 GB of RAM. T-Mobile also announced today that it will carry many of the other models in Samsung's latest A-series of phones. The slightly cheaper Galaxy A51 5G will come to the T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro brands this summer. The company will also offer the entry-level A01, A11, and A21, at prices ranging from $160 to $250.


Dish Having Second Thoughts About Buying Boost

Jun 11, 2020, 3:47 PM   by Rich Brome

Dish is trying to re-negotiate its deal to buy Boost Mobile, according to reporting from Fox Business. The US Department of Justice mandated that Sprint sell its Boost prepaid business as part of the company's deal to merge with T-Mobile. The agreed-upon purchase price was $1.4 billion, but Dish is now balking at that number. T-Mobile would need to find another buyer, and a major private equity firm may be interested. Dish was supposed to close the Boost purchase by June 1st. The DoJ has its own final deadline of July 1st for the deal.


New Moto e is a Big Upgrade Over Last Year's Model

Jun 5, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Motorola is refreshing its entry-level lineup with a new Moto e for 2020 and a new model at the low end of its (mid-range) g series. The Moto e (2020) and Moto g fast will both be available unlocked and with Boost, and the Moto e will be available with several other US carriers as well.

  • Moto e (2020): This year's Moto e delivers several major upgrades over last year's e6. It has a larger display (6.2-inch vs. 5.5-inch) thanks to a modern notch design. It also has a larger battery: 3,550 mAh vs. 3,000 mAh, and it steps up to a 600-series Snapdragon processor (the 632) compared to last year's 400-series chip. It also offers 32 GB of storage — double last year's amount — and adds both a depth camera and a fingerprint reader. Keeping things affordable, its front camera is 5 megapixel, it has 2 GB of RAM, and it uses a micro-USB charging connector. It does, however, have water-repellent coating, 3.5mm headset jack, and a memory card slot. It will be available unlocked for $150, and later sold by Verizon Prepaid, T-Mobile, Metro, US Cellular, and Xfinity Mobile. There are two variants with different network support: The version for Verizon supports fewer LTE bands, but, oddly, full support for AT&T's LTE network is only found on Verizon's version.
  • Moto g fast: The $200 Moto g fast is a more-affordable cousin to the recently-announced Moto g power (2020) and Moto g stylus. Like those models, it has a 6.4-inch display with a corner hole punch design, Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor, water resistance, a fingerprint reader, and triple rear cameras (including wide and macro). Making it more affordable is the HD+ display resolution, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and an 8 megapixel selfie camera. It has the same 4,000 mAh battery as the Moto g stylus and the same 16 megapixel main camera as the Moto g power. Other features include USB-C, fast charging, 3.5mm audio jack, and a memory card slot. So far, Boost is the only US carrier that has announced plans to carry the Moto g fast.
Both phones will be available unlocked starting June 12th from Best Buy, B&H Photo, Walmart, Amazon.com, and Motorola.com. Pre-orders start today.


T-Mobile Offers Free Service to First Responders

May 21, 2020, 10:23 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is offering free, unlimited service to all official EMS, police, and fire agencies in the US. The new type of plan includes unlimited smartphone and tablet data within the US, including 5G. Streaming video is limited to SD quality (1.5 Mbps) and mobile hotspot is limited to 1 GB at high speed, but otherwise, data, text, and voice are all unlimited and free within the US. The plan includes 5 GB of high-speed data in Canada and Mexico, but no other international features are included in the free plan. A step-up plan for $15/month offers unlimited texting and basic data worldwide, 20 GB of mobile hotspot data, and unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi with Gogo. The new plans are available to all full-time staff using a company account registered to a verified first responder agency. Inclusion of volunteers will be at the discretion of the station chief or commander in consultation with T-Mobile. T-Mobile has committed to offering these plans for ten years.


LG Stylo 6 Comes to Boost

May 19, 2020, 1:02 PM   by Rich Brome   updated May 19, 2020, 3:28 PM

Boost Mobile is the first US carrier to launch the LG Stylo 6, an update to the popular Stylo 5 series. Compared to the 5 series, the Stylo 6 has a larger display, larger battery, more storage, and more cameras. It's about the same width and thickness as the 5, but taller. This, plus a modern all-screen design, allow an increase in screen size from 6.2 to 6.8 inches. It also has a 4,000 mAh battery and 64 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel rear camera has been joined by a depth camera and 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. The front camera, which sits in a small screen notch, has been upgraded to 13 megapixel. The Stylo 6 is powered by Android 10 running on a MediaTek Helio P35 processor with 3 GB of RAM. Other features are similar to the Stylo 5 series, including a pop-out stylus, full-HD display resolution, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. Boost is selling the LG Stylo 6 for $180, starting today. The FCC has also approved a different variant of the Stylo 6 that seems designed for T-Mobile's network. The Stylo 5 series was offered by all major US carriers and most prepaid brands.


T-Mobile Launches Triple-Band "Layer Cake" 5G in NYC

May 5, 2020, 1:53 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has launched enhanced 5G service in New York City that uses three very different frequency bands to provide a unique blend of broad coverage and high speeds, according to a tweet from Neville Ray, the company's President of Technology. The network includes band 71 (600 MHz) for broad 5G coverage, although with speeds only marginally faster than 4G. This is the same band T-Mobile has deployed for "nationwide" 5G coverage. It also includes mmWave 5G, which offers the highest speeds but with coverage limited to the densest areas of the city. Finally, it includes band 41 (2.5 GHz), which offers something in-between. Band 41 is the new addition to the company's 5G network in NYC. Band 41 was owned by Sprint, so the recent merger of the two companies made today's launch possible. Of T-Mobile's current phone lineup, only the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra can access all three bands.


T-Mobile Successfully Tests Full Suite of 5G SA Tech

May 4, 2020, 11:42 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has successfully tested a variety of 5G SA (stand-alone) technologies on a production network, using hardware from multiple vendors on both the network and device ends. The successful tests pave the way for T-Mobile to launch 5G SA later this year. In a world first, T-Mobile used a commercial 5G smartphone from OnePlus to test a low-band 5G SA data session, a VoNR voice call, and a ViNR video call, all on a production network. In another first, T-Mobile successfully tested 5G SA data between commercial modems from different vendors: MediaTek and Qualcomm. The 5G SA production network uses technology from Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco, and Qualcomm. Current 5G networks are NSA (non-stand-alone), which means they rely heavily on existing 4G networks. Currently, 5G phones connect primarily to 4G networks; data sessions that happen over 5G are orchestrated over 4G. 5G SA removes the dependence on 4G networks, marking the next step in the evolution of 5G. It will also enable lower latency and faster data speeds. VoNR will eventually allow voice calls over 5G networks, removing the last dependence on 4G. But first, an intermediate technology called "Evolved Packet System (EPS) fallback to VoLTE" will allow 5G SA to launch before VoNR is ready. It allows 5G phones to connect primarily to a 5G SA network, but fall back to 4G for voice calls. T-Mobile has successfully tested this technology with a MediaTek chipset. T-Mobile has also tested ViNR, the video-calling technology built into the 5G standard.


Carriers Team Up to Donate Phone Chargers to Hospitals

Apr 29, 2020, 12:01 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are working with iHeartMedia to donate 200,000 cell phone chargers to hospitals in major cities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. "Many patients seeking treatment for Covid-19 either forget to bring their phone charger to the hospital or don’t have one easily accessible. Losing the ability to communicate with friends and family during a pandemic can be terrifying and healthcare workers are struggling to keep up with the demand for chargers." Cities receiving the donations include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Philadelphia.


LG Phones to Come With Tubi App Preloaded in US

Apr 29, 2020, 11:57 AM   by Rich Brome

LG and Tubi announced a deal to preload the Tubi video-streaming app on LG phones. Tubi is a division of FOX Entertainment. The Tubi app offers over 20,000 movies and TV shows for free, with ads. The app is already loaded on LG phones sold by T-Mobile, and is coming soon to LG phones sold by Metro and US Cellular. Additional carriers will be announced soon. The multi-year partnership is expected to cover "tens of millions of LG mobile phones in the US and Canada".


T-Mobile Starts Expanding 5G Using Sprint Assets

Apr 21, 2020, 9:02 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is beginning to launch 5G network upgrades that utilize assets of the former Sprint network. In Philadelphia, customers can now access 5G using both low-band (band 71) and mid-band (band 41) radio spectrum, offering better mix of coverage, capacity, and speed. T-Mobile will make this upgrade next in New York City, where the company also operates a mmWave 5G network, so customers there will be able to access 5G in all three classes of radio frequencies, offering an even better experience. T-Mobile is also launching low-band 5G in Detroit, St. Louis, and Columbus, Ohio today. Finally, the Sprint-branded Samsung Galaxy S20 will gain access to T-Mobile's "nationwide" low-band 5G network later this month.


OnePlus 8 Pro Sports 30W Wireless Charging, Dual 48 MP Cameras, 5G

Apr 14, 2020, 10:50 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 14, 2020, 11:47 AM

OnePlus has revealed its new lineup for 2020 — the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro — both of which have 5G. They also manage to pack larger batteries into slightly thinner bodies compared to their predecessors. Both are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset and support sub-6 GHz 5G. A special version of the OnePlus 8 for Verizon will also support mmWave 5G. Otherwise, the OnePlus 8 differs little from the OnePlus 7T, except it's very slightly smaller, and it loses the 12 megapixel telephoto camera, replacing it with a 2 megapixel macro camera. The larger OnePlus 8 Pro combines the best of the OnePlus 8 and last year's 7T Pro, including a larger QHD display and 3x telephoto camera. But it also adds a long list of new features, such as 120 Hz screen refresh, super-fast (30W) wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, IP68 water and dust rating, faster (LPDDR5) RAM, 48-megapixel sensors in both the main camera and the 120º wide-angle camera, a unique "color filter camera", a dedicated flicker sensor for challenging indoor lighting, and video HDR. The 8 Pro also includes MEMC, a form of motion smoothing that upsamples 24fps video content for the phone's 120 Hz display, and HDR Boost, which enhances non-HDR content for the phone's HDR10+ display. The new OnePlus camera app in the 8 and 8 Pro is designed to recognize and automatically focus on dog and cat faces in addition to human faces. Both models use OLED displays with a corner hole-punch design. They also include NFC, Wi-Fi 6, Amazon Alexa, and OnePlus' signature three-position sliding ringer switch. Both models support 5G in bands 2, 5, 41, 66, and 71, for full support of all US sub-6 5G networks in the near future. They also support all current US bands for 4G networks, except band 14 for AT&T's FirstNet. Both models will be available unlocked April 29th from Amazon and direct from OnePlus.com. The OnePlus 8 starts at $699 for the version with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, which only comes in Glacial Green. $799 gets you 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage, but that version only comes in "Interstellar Glow" (shown). Both T-Mobile and Verizon will also offer the OnePlus 8 starting April 29th. T-Mobile will offer it in Interstellar Glow and Onyx Black. Verizon's version will also support mmWave 5G. It runs $800 and will come in Polar Silver and Onyx Black. The OnePlus 8 Pro will only be available unlocked for now. It starts at $899 for 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, available in frosted-glass Glacial Green or Onyx Black. The 12/256 GB version runs $999 and comes in Ultramarine Blue (shown), Glacial Green, or Onyx Black.

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Samsung Intros New A-Series Phones, Including 5G Models

Apr 8, 2020, 9:13 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 8, 2020, 10:52 AM

Samsung has a slew of new phones coming to the US in its more-affordable A-series, including one launching tomorrow for $110, and a 5G model launching this summer for $500.

  • Galaxy A01: One of Samsung's most affordable phones at $110. Specs include a 5.7-inch HD display, 13 megapixel main camera, depth camera, 3,000 mAh battery, fast charging, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Verizon will launch the A01 tomorrow, April 9th, and the FCC has also approved versions specifically designed for AT&T and T-Mobile.
  • Galaxy A51 (4G): A mid-range model selling for $400. Specs include a 6.5-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display, quad rear cameras, including a 48 megapixel main camera, 12 megapixel wide camera, plus macro and depth cameras, 32 megapixel selfie camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, in-display fingerprint reader, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, and a memory card slot. Launching tomorrow, April 9th. Verizon and Sprint will launch the A51 this week, and the version approved by the FCC for the US has excellent support for all US 4G networks.
  • Galaxy A51 5G: A 5G version of the A51, with similar specs, except a larger battery (4,500 mAh) and more RAM (6 or 8 GB). Will sell for $500.
  • Galaxy A71 5G: Similar to the A51 5G, but with a larger display (6.7-inch), better main camera (64 megapixel) and faster charging (25W instead of 15W). Will sell for $600.
  • Galaxy A21: A $250 phone with a 6.5-inch HD display, 16 megapixel main camera, wide camera, macro camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, rear fingerprint reader, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.
  • Galaxy A11: A $180 phone with a 6.4-inch HD LCD display, 13 megapixel main camera, wide camera, 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging, rear fingerprint reader, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and a memory card slot.
The phones not launching this week will launch in the US in a "staggered rollout of models across carriers, retailers", until "later this summer".


CA Regulator Insists Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Cannot Proceed in CA

Apr 2, 2020, 3:27 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 5, 2020, 11:47 AM

The California Public Utilities Commission yesterday issued an order clarifying that it has not yet granted approval for Sprint and T-Mobile to merge in California, and the merger cannot proceed in that state until it does so. The Commission is scheduled to vote on the merger on April 16th.


T-Mobile Offers Free Quibi

Apr 2, 2020, 9:11 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is offering most customers with two or more voice lines free access to Quibi, the new mobile-only premium video streaming service launching April 6th. Eligible customers get a full year of Quibi free, and can continue receiving free access after that if they opt out of T-Mobile's free Netflix offer. Quibi is normally $5/month, or $8/month without ads. T-Mobile's offer is for the $5/month plan with ads. Quibi has a number of shows lined up featuring A-list celebrities. All episodes are 10 minutes or less, and are filmed so they can be viewed in either portrait or landscape video. To be eligible for the T-Mobile offer, customers must have two or more voice lines at standard rates on a Magenta or ONE plan. First Responder, Military, and Magenta Plus 55 plans are also eligible, as are small business customers with up to 12 lines. Customers have until July 7 to opt in to the offer.


Sprint is Officially No More

Apr 1, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 1, 2020, 9:04 AM

T-Mobile has officially completed its merger with Sprint. For the moment, the merger has little effect on customers, but "Sprint" lives only as a brand of T-Mobile, not a separate company. As of today, Sprint is no longer trading under its own symbol on the stock exchange. Current Sprint customers can keep their plans for the near future. As a condition of regulatory approval, T-Mobile has committed to not raise prices for three years. But over time, the Sprint brand will be replaced by T-Mobile. The companies have been making technical preparations for the merger since it was announced. Most new phones introduced by Sprint and T-Mobile in the past year are capable of accessing both networks, ensuring a smoother transition. The companies have already announced expanded roaming for Sprint customers on the T-Mobile network, for Sprint customers with those newer phones. While all major US wireless carriers are deploying 5G in both sub-6 GHz and mmWave radio frequencies, the new T-Mobile will have the key advantage of access to mid-band frequencies in the form of Sprint's unique band 41 (2.5 GHz). 5G in this band can offer a unique balance between high speeds (like mmWave) as well as broad coverage (like other sub-6 bands). The company claims that combining the two networks into one will allow the company to offer "14 times more capacity in the next six years than T-Mobile alone has today", "average 5G speeds up to eight times faster than current LTE in just a few years", and "$43 billion in synergies for all shareholders", mostly from "reducing redundant cell sites and rapidly deploying spectrum and other technologies more efficiently." The new company announced plans to invest "$40 billion into its network, business and more over the next three years." The company also announced that Mike Sievert will replace John Legere as T-Mobile CEO effective today, one month earlier than previously announced.


T-Mobile Launches New, Cheaper Plans

Mar 23, 2020, 11:52 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is launching its cheaper T-Mobile Connect plans starting this Wednesday, March 25th, instead of waiting until its merger with Sprint closes, as originally planned. There are two plan options: $15/month (plus tax) for 2 GB of high-speed phone data, or $25/month for 5 GB of high-speed phone data. Both plans include unlimited talk and text, and include access to 5G with a compatible 5G phone. T-Mobile has also promised to automatically add a 1/2 GB of monthly data to each plan, each year for the next five years. The company also introduced new special offers for Metro customers to help them stay connected during the current pandemic. For the next two months, Metro is offering a $15 plan, half the price of the current most affordable plan. For 60 days after customers activate, it's $15/month for unlimited talk and text plus 2 GB of high-speed phone data. Also, new and current Metro customers with any voice line can also get a free 8" tablet with a new $15/month unlimited tablet data plan. Finally, Metro is offering half-off its dedicated mobile hotspot devices, and the $35/month hotspot data plan will include 20 GB — double the normal monthly data — for the next 60 days.


T-Mobile Offers Customers Extended Free Trial of YouTube Premium

Mar 23, 2020, 11:21 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile is offering customers a two-month free trial of YouTube Premium, which includes ad-free viewing, offline viewing, and YouTube Music Premium. The service is normally $12/month with a one-month free trial. The special offer is being made available via T-Mobile Tuesdays, the company's bonus/reward program. Android users can access the offer starting tomorrow with the T-Mobile Tuesdays app, and iOS users can access it by visiting t-mobiletuesdays.com.


Verizon, T-Mobile Make Progress on Temporary Extra Spectrum from FCC

Mar 19, 2020, 10:21 AM   by Rich Brome

The FCC has now granted Verizon, US Cellular, and T-Mobile permission to expand their 4G network capacity by temporarily using radio frequencies that are licensed to other companies, but had been sitting unused prior to the current pandemic. The unusual move by the FCC will help support the unprecedented number of people suddenly using wireless broadband to operate from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. T-Mobile was first to receive this special permission, and today announced that it has completed implementation, doubling the capacity of its 4G LTE network in band 71 (600 MHz). Yesterday, the FCC granted Verizon temporary use of idle spectrum in band 66 (also known as AWS-3). On Tuesday, the FCC granted similar permission to US Cellular.


Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite for US Clears FCC

Mar 18, 2020, 2:16 PM   by Rich Brome

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 Lite at the start of the year, there were no indications it would come to the US. But the FCC has just approved a variant of the S10 Lite that appears to be designed specifically for the US market. It supports all major US 4G and 3G frequency bands, including ones that typically only appear on US-specific phones. This includes full support for Sprint's unique CDMA voice network, as well as bands unique to Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It also has a model number ending in "U", which, for a Samsung phone, indicates a US-specific model. The Galaxy S10 Lite has a 6.7-inch full-HD AMOLED display, 48 megapixel main camera, wide camera, macro camera, and a 4,500 mAh battery. It also has a memory card slot, fast charging, and an in-display fingerprint reader. US launch date and pricing has not been announced.


Across US Telecom: Late Fees Waived, No Disconnects

Mar 17, 2020, 10:42 AM   by Rich Brome

At the request of the FCC Chairman, essentially all US internet and telephone providers have pledged to waive all late fees, and not disconnect any service due to inability to pay bills, for the next 60 days. This includes Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and Comcast. The Pledge is designed to help people economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and everyone needing additional connectivity as they work and study from home. Companies agreeing to the FCC's pledge are also committed to opening up to everyone their wi-fi networks that were previously reserved for paying customers. On top of the pledge, both T-Mobile and Sprint are temporarily giving unlimited data to all customers on metered data plans, as well as 20 GB of mobile hotspot data.


T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint Temporarily Closing Many Retail Locations

Mar 17, 2020, 10:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Mar 17, 2020, 10:33 AM

T-Mobile is closing 80% of its stores until at least March 31st, including all indoor mall locations, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Sprint will close 71% of its stores, including all indoor mall locations. Both closures take effect today. Verizon is also "reducing the number of Verizon stores that remain open", although it was not more specific. T-Mobile will leave at least one store open within a 30-minute drive of most customers in each market. Sprint is leaving open "its most highly critical retail stores". T-Mobile and Sprint are also reducing the hours their remaining stores are open. Most T-Mobile stores will now be open 10am – 6pm. Sprint's new temporary store hours are 11am – 6pm Mon-Sat, and 12pm – 5pm on Sundays.


LG V60 Launches Friday Starting at $800

Mar 17, 2020, 9:50 AM   by Rich Brome

US carriers have revealed launch plans for the new LG V60 ThinQ 5G flagship-class phone. T-Mobile will offer it starting March 20th for $800, or $900 in a bundle with LG's Dual Screen accessory. T-Mobile is also offering a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal where customers with two or more lines can get a second V60 for free, if both phones are purchased on a 24-month payment plan. AT&T will start taking online orders for the V60 on Friday, March 20th. The phone will cost $900, which includes a free Dual Screen accessory from LG. AT&T is also offering a BOGO deal, but it requires a new line of service. Verizon's version will be slightly pricier and ship later, reflecting that its unique variant supports mmWave 5G, which requires extra components and engineering. (Versions for other US carriers only support sub-6 5G, which is generally slower but offers broader coverage.) Verizon brands mmWave 5G as "Ultra Wideband", which is why its unique variant will be called the LG V60 ThinQ 5G UW. Verizon will sell the phone for $950, with pre-orders starting March 26th. Like AT&T, Verizon is offering a BOGO deal for customers adding a new line, and Verizon customers purchasing a V60 are eligible for a free Dual Screen from LG.


FCC Grants T-Mobile Temporary Use of Additional Radio Spectrum

Mar 15, 2020, 5:36 PM   by Rich Brome

As the US deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and more workers and students operate from home, data networks are being pushed to the limit. To address this demand, T-Mobile has requested that the government temporarily let it use radio frequency bands that are sitting unused even though the company does not own licenses to those specific radio frequencies. On Sunday, the FCC granted Special Temporary Authority to T-Mobile to do just that. The relevant spectrum is in the 600 MHz band (AKA band 71). For licensing purposes, this band is divided into smaller sub-bands as well many small geographic regions. T-Mobile owns many of these licenses, but not all. Comcast, Dish, and other companies own some of the other licenses, and some that were never claimed at auction are held by the FCC. Those licenses that are sitting unused can be now be used by T-Mobile for the next 60 days to increase its network capacity. T-Mobile's existing network equipment as well as phones with band 71 can be configured to use the new spectrum relatively quickly.


T-Mobile Temporarily Raises Data Caps in Response to COVID-19

Mar 13, 2020, 4:42 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today announced temporary plan changes to support workers and students operating from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the next 60 days, all T-Mobile and Metro customers will have unlimited and/or increased data allotments. The company is also making international calling free from the US to countries heavily impacted by the virus. All T-Mobile and Metro customers with any kind of data plan will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days. Those same customers will also soon have an additional 20 GB of mobile hotspot data. Lifeline program participants on the T-Mobile network will receive an extra 5 GB of data per month during this period. The company is also increasing the data allowance for schools and students using the EmpowerED digital learning program. While T-Mobile stores will remain open, customers who are quarantined — or who prefer to avoid the stores out of caution — can take advantage of free two-day shipping for the next 60 days.


FCC Fines Carriers for Selling Customers' Location Data

Feb 28, 2020, 2:29 PM   by Rich Brome

The FCC has announced proposed fines totaling over $200 million against the nation's top four wireless carriers for selling customers' location data to third parties for years with little regard for customers' privacy or consent. T-Mobile is being fined $91 million, AT&T: $57 million, Verizon: $48 million, and Sprint; $12 million. "The size of the proposed fines for the four wireless carriers differs based on the length of time each carrier apparently continued to sell access to its customer location information without reasonable safeguards and the number of entities to which each carrier continued to sell such access." The fines will only be finalized after the companies have a chance to respond; the FCC could ultimately settle on lower fine amounts.


LG V60 Includes 5G, Dual-Screen Accessory

Feb 26, 2020, 11:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 28, 2020, 8:55 AM

LG today announced the V60 ThinQ 5G with LG Dual Screen. Its specs are flagship-level, but not quite as top-end as past V-series phones. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular will offer the V60 "in the coming weeks". As with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Verizon's version will supports both mmWave and sub-6 5G, while other versions will only support sub-6 5G (which offers better coverage but not the fastest 5G speeds.) The V60 will be packaged with LG's Dual Screen accessory, which adds a second display identical to phone's main display, connected to the phone with a 360-degree hinge, plus a 2.1-inch monochrome outer display. The V60's is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ OLED display, 5,000 mAh battery, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, memory card slot, and Android 10. It also features two rear cameras plus a ToF depth camera. The main camera is 64 megapixel (f/1.8), while the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel (f/1.9, 117º). It can capture 8K video, as well as 4K time-lapse or 60 fps video. It has stereo speakers and 4 microphones, plus an ASMR recording mode. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint reader, 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Quick Charge 4+, IP68 water rating, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C (3.1). It will be available in blue or white. Specific launch dates and pricing will be announced by US carriers in coming weeks.


New York AG Rules out Appeal of T-Mobile+Sprint Merger Decision

Feb 16, 2020, 3:55 PM   by Rich Brome

New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement today regarding the recent court decision to allow the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint: "After a thorough analysis, New York has decided not to move forward with an appeal in this case." The merger is now expected to proceed quickly. T-Mobile claims the merger may close as soon as April 1st.


T-Mobile + Sprint Merger Can Proceed, Rules Judge

Feb 11, 2020, 9:32 AM   by Rich Brome

A multi-state anti-trust lawsuit to stop the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile has failed. New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement saying "There is no doubt that reducing the mobile market from four to three will be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation, which is why the states stepped up and led this lawsuit. ... As we review our options, including a possible appeal, Americans should continue to hold the companies to account for their promises." If the states do no not appeal, the merger is likely to be completed as soon as April 1, 2020, according to a statement from the two companies. The ruling was issued today by the Hon. Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. New York and California led the coalition of 14 state Attorneys General opposing the merger. The FCC and DoJ approved the merger last year. Some assets from Sprint — including the Boost Mobile brand and customers — will be transferred to Dish, which has promised to use them build its own new 5G network.


CAT's Latest Rugged Phone is Slightly Cheaper (Hands On)

Jan 10, 2020, 1:00 PM   by Rich Brome

CAT's latest rugged phone for the US market is the S32. It's a bit more affordable than past models at $349. It's rated IP68 for water and dust. It can withstand being submerged under 1.5 meters of water for up to 35 minutes. It also has a military rating for drop and shock. It has a 5.5-inch HD display covered in DragonTrail Pro glass that works with gloves and wet fingers. It has a 4,200 mAh battery. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio A20 processor with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, and Android 10. Features include NFC, 13 megapixel main camera, memory card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and a user-assignable shortcut key on the side. The US variant will have full support for Verizon and T-Mobile 4G LTE bands, and decent support for AT&T, including band 14 for FirstNet.

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Metro by T-Mobile Launching Nationwide 5G Dec. 6th

Dec 2, 2019, 1:36 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile will launch the first 5G service for US prepaid customers on its Metro brand this Friday, Dec. 6th, the same day the company's nationwide 5G service becomes available to T-Mobile customers. T-Mobile "launched" its nationwide 5G network today, but compatible 5G phones won't be available with either T-Mobile or Metro until Dec. 6th. Metro will offer the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G. T-Mobile will offer that phone as well as the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren. T-Mobile's new "nationwide" 5G network covers 5,000 cities and towns across the country, 200 million people, and more than 1 million square miles. It uses low frequency bands that have the same coverage as 4G service, unlike mmWave 5G that can only cover small areas.


MediaTek Details its First 5G SoC for High-End Phones

Nov 26, 2019, 12:30 PM   by Rich Brome

MediaTek has revealed that its first SoC with integrated 5G modem and high-end processor will be called the Dimensity 1000. The company revealed the first set of details on the chip in May. Now that it has a name, MediaTek has revealed additional details of the SoC. It's fabricated using the latest 7nm process and is designed for "premium and flagship" phones. The 5G modem component supports SA (stand-alone) and NSA (non-stand-alone) 5G networks, as well as DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) that allows 4G and 5G to efficiently share the same frequency band. It also supports 5G carrier aggregation, which enables downlink speeds up to 4.7 Gbps and seamless handovers as users move around. It also supports dual 5G SIMs, which MediaTek claims is a first. The processor part of the chip includes a five-core image signal processor (ISP) to power cameras up to 80 megapixel at 24fps. Its AI processor assists with camera functions, offering features like multi-frame video HDR, which MediaTek claims is another first. The chip also supports Full HD+ displays with refresh rates up to 120Hz, and 2K+ up to 90Hz. The Dimensity 1000 only supports 5G in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, not mmWave. By the end of this year, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will all offer sub-6 GHz 5G networks with broad coverage. The first devices powered by the Dimensity 1000 will ship in the US by the end of this year, which is earlier than previously announced. The new Dimensity brand will include a whole line of chips with integrated 5G.


Nevada Pulls Out of T-Mobile / Sprint Merger Suit

Nov 25, 2019, 5:53 PM   by Rich Brome

Nevada has reached a settlement with T-Mobile on the terms of its proposed merger with Sprint. This comes after Texas announced a similar settlement this morning. Colorado and Mississippi previously reached their own settlements. That leaves 14 attorneys general still suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds. As part of its deal with Nevada, T-Mobile is bound to:

  • Keep certain promises it made at the start of the month, such as a $15/month data plan with 2 GB of data, and a $25/month plan with 5 GB of data, with additional data added each year. New in the Nevada settlement is a commitment to keep these low-price plans for at least six years.
  • Provide internet access for low-income families with small children. (Another promise made earlier this month, now made legally binding.)
  • Donate $30 million to charities in Nevada chosen by the Attorney General.
  • Keep an existing call center in the state with 450 employees for at least six years.
  • Offer all current employees of both companies comparable jobs when the merger closes.
  • Meet certain 5G coverage requirements.


Texas AG Settles on T-Mobile / Sprint Merger

Nov 25, 2019, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced a settlement with T-Mobile over its proposed merger with Sprint. This removes Texas from the list of states suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds. Paxton was the only conservative attorney general participating on the suit. The settlement stipulates that Texans have access to rate plans as good or better than current plans for the next five years. The settlement also includes promises on 5G coverage, and guarantees current employees will be able to keep their jobs when the merger is executed. 15 attorneys general are still suing to stop the merger. The suit is led by New York AG Letitia James and California AG Xavier Becerra. Still signed on to the suit are the AGs for Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.


T-Mobile Baits State AGs for Merger Approval with Promises of Cheap, Free 5G Service

Nov 7, 2019, 12:39 PM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile today announced plans to offer three new programs offering 5G service for free to certain groups, or cheaply for everyone else. The company is promising to launch the programs when and if it is allowed to merge with Sprint. Although the federal government has approved the merger, over a dozen state attorneys general are suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds, claiming the move would lead to higher prices for consumers. The new programs are:

  • Connecting Heroes Initiative: Free unlimited wireless service — including 5G data, talk, and text — for all first responders in the country. This would include every public and non-profit state and local police, fire and EMS first responder agency in the US. T-Mobile is promising to offer this program for 10 years, spending "up to $7.7 billion" on it.
  • Project 10Million: In an attempt to address "the homework gap", T-Mobile will offer free mobile hotspots and 100 GB/year of free data to low-income families with children and no home internet access. The company promises to spend $700 million equipping 10 million households with free hardware, and spend $10 billion offering free service for five years.
  • T-Mobile Connect: A $15/month prepaid plan available to everyone that offers 2GB of high-speed data plus unlimited talk and text. A step-up plan would offer 5GB of data for $25/month. T-Mobile also commits to increase the data limit of each plan by 0.5 GB every year for the next five years.
The state AGs suing to stop the merger have a number of other complaints. T-Mobile's announcement today also includes a number of specific promises that address most aspects of those arguments directly.

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T-Mobile Launching 5G Nationwide on December 6

Nov 7, 2019, 11:47 AM   by Rich Brome

T-Mobile has announced December 6th as the launch date for its low-band 5G network, which will use band 71 (600 MHz). The nationwide network will cover more than 200 million Americans and more than 5,000 cities and towns across the country. Unlike mmWave 5G networks that have limited coverage and building penetration, T-Mobile's low-band 5G network uses a frequency band already used for 4G, and will thus offer the same coverage and properties as the 4G network. Sprint is pursuing a similar strategy with its 5G network, and AT&T plans to add low-band to its 5G network in the coming months. T-Mobile has also launched mmWave 5G in parts of Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. T-Mobile will offer three 5G phones. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G only supports the mmWave networks. The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren only support the new low-band network launching Dec. 6.


Big Four Carriers Join Forces to Accelerate RCS in US

Oct 24, 2019, 4:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have formed a new joint venture to accelerate the adoption of Rich Communications Services (RCS) and ensure it works seamlessly across US and global networks. The venture is called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) and "is working to develop and deploy the standards-based, interoperable messaging service starting with Android and expected in 2020." RCS is an existing open industry standard for advanced messaging, designed to replace SMS and MMS. It supports high-quality media, read receipts, typing indicator, and more. Google has been pushing RCS heavily in the past two years, but US adoption has been slow due to delayed carrier deployments.


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