T-Mobile today said it is prepared to reward its customers with music via the T-Mobile Tuesday app. On August 28, T-Mobile customers will be able to score 12 months of free Pandora Plus. Pandora Plus offers an ad-free listening experience with unlimited skips. Further, T-Mobile has partnered with Live Nation to offer customers "exclusive $25 tickets to amphitheater shows, reserved seats in sold-out sections" and more. T-Mobile says the tickets will become available 30 days before the show. The company says it will also offer fast-lane entry, lawn chairs, and other exclusive perks.
T-Mobile today said it is investing in serving its customers through a new model that bypasses voice-based systems in favor of a direct connection with real people. The Team of Experts idea includes a dedicated team that handles customer support issues with no robots, no phone menus, and no call bouncing. T-Mobile considers customer service a "pain point" that needs to be fixed. The company says the team sits together in its call centers and will work together to resolve customer problems. Customers can schedule calls, use text messaging, and access help 24 hours a day. T-Mobile's U.S.-based team will answer calls between 7am and 9pm local time, while overseas representatives will answer calls during the overnight hours. The Team of Experts is free for all T-Mobile customers to access when they need assistance with their account or device.
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.
T-Mobile today announced T-Mobile Essentials, a low-cost plan that drops many of T-Mobile's extra services and focuses on the basics. T-Mobile Essentials offers unlimited talk, text, and smartphone data for $60 per month for one line. The second line costs $30 per month, and lines three through six are $15 each. A family of four can score T-Mobile Essentials for $120 per month (before taxes and fees), or an average cost of $30 per line. These prices require autopay, otherwise each line is $5 more per month. The Essentials plan does not include mobile hotspot, international roaming, or Netflix. Subscribers to the Essentials plan will experience 480p video streaming, and may see data speeds slow down when the network is congested. The Essentials plan will be available starting August 10. The T-Mobile One and T-Mobile One Plus plans are still available. These add features, such as mobile hotspot, at a higher monthly cost.
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.
T-Mobile today added to its lineup of mid-range phones with the LG Q7+, a phone that looks like LG's Stylo 4, but is smaller and higher-end in a number of ways. The Q7+ has a 5.5-inch display, (compared to the 6.2-inch display on the Stylo 4.) LG's Q series is intended to bring the premium design of the G series — including a 2:1 display and a metal frame — to lower price points. The Q7+ is rated IP68 for water resistance. It pairs a Snapdragon 450processor with a generous 4 GB of RAM. Other features include FHD+ screen resolution, NFC, fingerprint reader, 16-megapixel camera, USB-C, fast charging, 3.5mm audio jack, and a memory card slot. T-Mobile is selling it for $350.
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.
T-Mobile today updated its Simple Global plan, expanding the number of countries in which customers can access service. T-Mobile customers have long been able to use unlimited (2G) data and texting in more than 140 countries. Beginning July 22, that number swells to more than 210 countries. The company is also making high-speed data available in those same countries for a low daily rate. Beginning August 1, T-Mobile customers can pay $5 per day for up to 512 MB of LTE data and unlimited calling between all Simple Global countries. Simple Global is included in all T-Mobile One plans.
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.
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."
T-Mobile today rolled out FamilyMode, a new service that gives parents more control over how their kids use smartphones and other connected devices. The service has two components, the FamilyMode app and the FamilyMode Home Base, an in-home box that connects to WiFi. With just the FamilyMode app, parents can manage usage time, set limits, filter apps and content, set bedtime hours, create geo-fences, and always access real-time location. The app controls phones' access to T-Mobile's cellular network independently of the Home Base. The Home Base is not required to run the service just on phones. The optional Home Base is specifically meant for in-home devices that rely on WiFi. T-Mobile says the app and Home Base together work with phones, tablets, gaming consoles, laptops, TVs, and other WiFi-connected devices. Using the FamilyMode app costs $10 per month. The Home Base can be added to manage WiFi devices for a one-time fee of $20. It will be available starting June 29.
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.
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.
T-Mobile and Sprint today officially petitioned the FCC for permission to merge. The companies filed a Public Interest Statement with the agency that makes lofty claims about why the merger a good idea. To start, the companies promise to "build a world-class nationwide 5G network" that will surpass the capacity of AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile and Sprint believe they can do this faster if combined. The two also believe prices will go down as a result. "T-Mobile and Sprint coming together ... will spur Verizon and AT&T to invest in a huge capacity increase that will drive down the price per gigabyte across the entire industry," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. He claims consumers will see a 55% drop in the price per GB. The two firms believe its future 5G network will supplant the need for wired services in the home and let millions cut the cord (and thus save money.) The New T-Mobile is committed to bringing increased broadband coverage to rural communities using its 600 MHz holdings, which will be served by 600 new stores and dedicated call centers. Sprint and T-Mobile also suggest it will offer stronger products to business and video customers. Last, the two believe the merger will create jobs. "We will create more than 3,000 direct jobs initially," said Sprint Chairman Marcelo Claure. "In just a few years, that will increase to more than 11,000 jobs. And, thousands more jobs will be created to support our 5G network build-out." This last point contradicts one of the most basic outcomes of many mergers: job reductions. Sprint and T-Mobile first proposed the merger in April. It's unclear what steps the government, and the FCC in particular, will take to review the deal.
The FCC revealed that it expects Sprint and T-Mobile to file on Monday June 18 the necessary paperwork needed for Sprint to transfer control of its spectrum licenses and other assets to T-Mobile. The FCC opened a docket ahead of the expected action. At the same time the FCC filed a protective order concerning the docket. This means much of the information shared between Sprint, T-Mobile, and the FCC will remain confidential as the agency considers whether or not to allow the transaction to take place. The companies announced their intent to merge in April. The deal requires government approval.
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.
T-Mobile and partner Nokia today said they successfully completed what they claim was the nation’s first two-way over-the-air 5G data session on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio system. This means the mobile device was able to upload information to the network as well as download information from it. The pair completed the test in a T-Mobile lab using a simulated phone and Nokia's 5G NR equipment in the 28 GHz band. "This test is a big step forward in building real 5G that will work on actual smartphones," said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile. According to T-Mobile, the companies relied on the Nokia AirScale baseband and radio, AirFrame server, and AirScale Cloud RAN with compliant software. They didn't say much about the simulated mobile device. T-Mobile and its competitors are rushing to roll out 5G services in at least some capacity by the end of the year. Each carrier is taking a slightly different approach. The goal of 5G development is to create service with 1 Gbps speeds, minimal latency, and advanced media support, such as augmented/virtual reality. T-Mobile says it will have 5G up and running in some markets by December. ”¯
The U.S. Department of Justice is exploring what impact the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile will have on smaller carriers and MVNOs. Sprint and T-Mobile separately serve the prepaid space via their own Boost Mobile and MetroPCS brands, respectively, as well as MVNO's, such as Google-run Project Fi. With reduced competition, the Justice Department is concerned that the tie-up between the two companies could lead to higher prices for prepaid consumers. Reuters says the Justice Department "has been speaking with small wireless operators that buy access to the major wireless networks at wholesale rates, and is seeking their opinions about the merger." David Glickman, CEO of MVNOs Ultra Mobile and Mint Mobile confirmed that he'd been asked similar questions about the merger by the Justice Department. 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. No one from the Justice Department or T-Mobile commented on the investigation.
ZTE has agreed to preliminary terms with the Commerce Department that will eventually allow it to get back to business. The company has effectively shut down in the wake of a Commerce Department ban that prevents the company from using U.S. components and software in its phones. The company has taken job responsibilities away from select executives, filed official letters of reprimand, and is attempting to take back bonuses paid to some execs, says the Wall Street Journal. ZTE will also have to pay a sizable fine. The deal is not final and is still under review from the Trump administration, which has used the company's plight to invigorate trade talks with China. Even if a deal is struck and ZTE resumes operations, it is facing steep challenges due to disgruntled customers. For example an Italian carrier, called Wind Tre SpA, has demanded $117 million from ZTE due to stalled construction on base stations. Moreover, T-Mobile has walked away from a distribution deal worth more than a billon dollars, according to the Journal, thanks to ZTE's inability to supply it with phones and other gear. ZTE was the fourth-largest supplier of phones in the U.S. before the ban went into effect. It's not clear if or when a deal might be fully signed and put into effect.
T-Mobile today said its 600 MHz LTE is available in some 900 cities and towns across some 32 states. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum, also known as Band 71, is being added to more and more phones. Right now Band 71 is available in six devices, with a dozen more expected to launch by the end of the year. The low-band LTE from T-Mobile competes with the 700 MHz spectrum being used by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile has said it will use Band 71 for some 5G services later this year. Further, the company said it plans to deploy LTE in Band 71 in Puerto Rico this fall. "T-Mobile’s strong commitment to Puerto Rico goes beyond hurricane recovery," said Jorge Martel, Vice President and General Manager of T-Mobile Puerto Rico. "We will continue to invest in the island’s future and in our network to expand and enhance LTE coverage."
Sales of the LG G7 ThinQ phone kicked off in the U.S. today. The phone is being sold by Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Project Fi, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. It costs $749. T-Mobile is offering a BOGO deal on the phone at launch. Features of the G7 ThinQ include a 6.1-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, dual rear cameras with portrait shooting and Google Lens, wireless charging, Boombox sound and quad DAC, and Android 8 Oreo.
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.
T-Mobile today rolled out a big BOGO deal that sees the company offering free phones across a handful of brands. T-Mobile says the BOGO deal applies to the latest flagships from top-tier device makers including Apple, Samsung, and LG. Each brand has its own eligibility requirements, but there are some rules that apply to all the BOGO offers. First, customers can't mix and match brands, but they can mix and match models from the same brand. The second phone must be of equal or lesser value than the first. Both devices need to be financed on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan. Some of the offers include money back via prepaid card rebate while others are credited monthly on customer bills. T-Mobile customers get free access to Netflix, unlimited LTE on a T-Mobile One plan, T-Mobile Tuesday promos, GoGo in-flight WiFi on some domestic flights, and free data roaming in more than 140 countries. T-Mobile's summer BOGO deals will be available starting June 1.
The personal account details of T-Mobile customers were easily accessible for an unknown time thanks to a bug in T-Mobile's web site. The site in question was a subdomain used by T-Mobile staff to access customer account information when performing customer service tasks. The subdomain, however, was not protected by a password and could be used by anyone who knew how to find it. Using T-Mobile customer phone numbers, anyone could have quickly discovered names, account numbers, addresses, tax information, account payment status, PINs, and more. Security researcher Ryan Stevenson discovered the vulnerability in April and alerted T-Mobile. T-Mobile pulled the API in question and fixed the bug. "The bug bounty program exists so that researchers can alert us to vulnerabilities, which is what happened here, and we support this type of responsible and coordinated disclosure," said T-Mobile in a statement provided to ZDNet. "The bug was patched as soon as possible and we have no evidence that any customer information was accessed." A similar bug was discovered on a different T-Mobile subdomain last year.
FreedomPop today announced the launch of Unreal Mobile, a new MVNO that it says will offer the most competitive unlimited plans available. The company is specifically targeting Sprint and T-Mobile customers ahead of the two corporations' planned merger. "Unreal Mobile is able to provide consumers [with unlimited plans that start at just $15 per month] because of the market conditions created by the proposed merger," explained FreedomPop. "Specifically, while Sprint and T-Mobile are currently working to prove to regulators that competition will flourish under consolidation, they are compelled to accept MVNO models and pricing that historically would have been seen as too competitive to their retail businesses." FreedomPop relies on VoIP and streamlined customer service to compete with Sprint-owned Boost Mobile and AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless. Unreal Mobile, which will run on FreedomPop's platform, will compete directly with Sprint and T-Mobile's postpaid businesses. The company is offering unlimited LTE-based service starting at $15 per month, which includes a VPN, mobile ad blocking, and the ability to use the Unreal phone number on tablets, phones, and computers. FreedomPop says Unreal Mobile will offer top-tier devices, flexible service, and live-agent customer service. Unreal Mobile expects to launch during the summer of 2018. It is accepting beta testers via its web site.
At least one person thinks Sprint and T-Mobile should be required to divest their respective prepaid businesses if they are allowed to merge. Peter Adderton, founder and former CEO of Boost Mobile, firmly believes the market will become less competitive — particularly in the prepaid space — if Sprint and T-Mobile are allowed to merge without any divestitures. “If this merger is approved without the divesture of Boost Mobile and/or MetroPCS, the new combined entity will hold a 40% market share in the prepaid segment — which I would argue has the effect of being a monopoly or extreme dominance in the category,” said Adderton in a press release. “This level of market domination virtually always leads to rising prices, more onerous terms and conditions and lower service quality, and young and credit-challenged prepaid subscribers simply can’t afford that.” Sprint owns and operates Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA, while T-Mobile owns and operates MetroPCS. Sprint and T-Mobile “will have significant incentive to restrict network access to competing MVNOs. If that happens, MVNOs, who already run on extremely tight margins, have little or no opportunity to make a profit, and we can expect many of them to close their doors,” argued Adderton. Boost, Virgin, and MetroPCS do not own or operate their own networks, so it’s unclear how Adderton believes such a divestiture could work. Each would have to be given spectrum and other assets to launch functioning service around the U.S. Though Adderton said “I would love to take control of it, that’s not the driver here.” Instead, he insists his goal is to ensure the wireless market remains competitive. Adderton plans to take his case to Congress as well as the public. Sprint and T-Mobile believe their proposed merger will pass regulatory scrutiny, but the government has yet to make its case.
T-Mobile today revealed launch plans for the LG G7 ThinQ. Pre-sales for the phone begin Friday, May 25, with general retail availability starting June 1. T-Mobile said the LG G7 ThinQ will cost $750. It is asking customers for a $30 down payment followed by monthly payments of $30 for 24 months. Notably, the G7 ThinQ supports T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum, on which the carrier is deploying LTE across the nation. The phone supports 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM for fast wireless performance. During the pre-sale period, T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one deal on the LG G7 ThinQ. Both phones will need to be financed on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will make the monthly payments for the second device over a two-year period. T-Mobile says it is the only carrier offering the G7 ThinQ in raspberry rose.
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.
LG today said it has commenced sales of its flagship G7 ThinQ phone in its home market of South Korea. The G7 ThinQ, announced earlier this month, is a premium metal-and-glass phone with a super bright 6.1-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, AI-assisted dual rear cameras, BoomBox speaker, and Android 8 Oreo. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have committed to selling the LG G7 ThinQ beginning later this month. So far, however, U.S. pricing for the phone has been kept a secret. LG says carriers will announce pricing closer to the actual for-sale date. Pre-orders for the G7 ThinQ in the U.S. are expected to begin on or around May 24, with a ship date of June 1.
T-Mobile recently made the LG K30 available for sale from its web site for $225, or $9 per month for 24 months. The K30 is a rebadged variant of the K10, which LG announced earlier this year. The K30 has a U-shaped metal frame and a 5.3-inch 720p display and a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor. The phone features a 13-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front camera. Photo tools include bokeh/portraits and a Low Light Noise mode that works with HDR to reduce grain and provide more contrast in low-light shots. Other features include a 2,880mAh battery and fingerprint reader; LTE with support for Band 71 (600 MHz), GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and FM radio; and a microUSB port. It ships with Android 7 Nougat.
AT&T does not plan to sell LG's new flagship phone, the G7 ThinQ, according to The Verge. Instead, the company plans to offer an exclusive phone from LG later this summer. “We offer a strong lineup of devices from LG today. And we’re planning to launch a new LG device this summer only from AT&T," said the company in a statement. AT&T competitors Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the G7 ThinQ, which will be available for preorder starting on or about May 25. T-Mobile said it will sell the G7 later this spring. AT&T did not provide a reason for skipping the G7 ThinQ.
Following T-Mobile’s lead, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular have all committed to selling the new LG G7 ThinQ phone. Verizon Wireless said it will begin accepting preorders on May 24. Verizon did not specify a ship date. Sprint said it will start taking preorders on May 25, with an expected June 1 ship date. U.S. Cellular said it will take orders for the G7 ThinQ beginning June 1. None of these carriers has indicated what the phone might cost. AT&T is the only major carrier yet to announce launch details for the G7.
T-Mobile has committed to selling LG's new flagship device, the G7 ThinQ, but the Un-carrier didn't specify pricing or availability. Instead, the company said it will offer the phone "later this spring." T-Mobile did note that the G7 ThinQ supports its 600 MHz spectrum (Band 71) for LTE.
The CEOs of T-Mobile and Sprint insist merging the two companies will only lead to good things. "Prices are going down and jobs are going up," said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, in an interview with CNN. Some worry reducing the number of national carriers from four to three might harm consumers, who could face less choice and less competition. Legere said the company has a history of offering low-price service and will keep it that way if and when the merger closes. Both CEOs claim the merger is needed to compete on a global scale in developing 5G. Building out 5G together could create thousands of jobs at Sprint/T-Mobile, says Legere. The companies hope the $26 billion merger will close during the first half of 2019, pending regulatory approval.