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.
T-Mobile and Sprint today announced plans to merge in an all-stock deal that will create a "New T-Mobile" worth $146 billion. The new company's combined radio spectrum assets will allow it to accelerate deployment of 5G technology. The new T-Mobile plans to spend "up to $40 billion" on its new combined network in the first three years, 46% more than T-Mobile and Sprint spent combined in the past three years. The new company will assume both the T-Mobile brand and most of the T-Mobile leadership. John Legere, current President and CEO of T-Mobile US, will serve as CEO of the new company, and Mike Sievert, current COO of T-Mobile, will serve as President and COO. Tim Höttges, current T-Mobile Chairman of the Board, will serve as Chairman of the Board for the new company. Current Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will serve on the board. Following closing, the company will be headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., with a "second headquarters" in Overland Park, Kan. The combined company will have lower costs and greater economies of scale, expected to result in run rate cost synergies of $6+ billion. The transaction is expected to close no later than the first half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals
T-Mobile and Sprint are once again weighing a merger between the two businesses and may make an announcement as soon as Sunday, according to multiple reports. Unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times all suggest the two companies, which have flirted with one another for years, are back at the table hammering out a deal. T-Mobile and Sprint were in merger discussions as recently as last year, but called off the talks when they couldn't agree which firm would take control of the combined entity. It's unclear what has changed since then, though the regulatory environment in the U.S. will likely pose less of an obstacle than before. The deal, which would see T-Mobile take control of 40% of Sprint along with voting control, may be valued at about $26 billion and would create the third-largest wireless provider in the country with about 127 million connections. The combined company might be more competitive with industry leaders AT&T and Verizon Wireless than either could be on its own. Neither T-Mobile nor Sprint commented on the matter.
Motorola's g-series phones have a long-held reputation for value and quality. With the 2018 incarnation, Moto is trying harder than ever to bring high-end features and design to a low price point. For $250, you get a metal body, curved glass back, full-HD screen with 2:1 ratio, dual camera with portrait mode and object recognition, USB-C, fast charging, a fingerprint reader, an ultrasonic sensor that lights up the screen as you approach. It also has much better support for U.S. LTE networks than most unlocked phones, including Verizon, Sprint, and newer bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile. How does it stack up in person? Here are our first impressions.
Motorola today announced four new affordable Android phones coming to the U.S. market before mid-year. Spread across the Moto e5 and Moto g6 series, all four new phones share the company's evolved design language that debuted with the Moto X4 last year. They also all sport a fingerprint reader, a clean version of Android 8 Oreo, Moto Actions gesture shortcuts, a water-repellent coating, front cameras with an LED flash, 3.5mm audio jacks, and memory card slots. They have Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series processors supporting Cat. 6 LTE, and excellent support for all major US networks, including Sprint, Verizon, and band 66.
- Moto g6: The highest-end model of the group, it has a curved glass back, metal frame, and a 5.7-inch full-HD display with 2:1 ratio. It's powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor with either 3 or 4 GB of RAM, and 32 or 64 GB of storage. The 3,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via the USB-C port. The 12-megapixel camera (f/1.8) is aided by a 5-megapixel camera for depth sensing, to create portrait effects. The camera app includes object, landmark, and text recognition, as well as slow-motion and time-lapse modes. An ultrasonic system detects when you approach the phone and lights up the display to show the time and notifications. It will be sold unlocked for $249, and via carriers.
- Moto g6 Play: This more affordable model (at $199) has a rounded polycarbonate back and metal frame. The 5.7-inch display with 2:1 ratio is 720p HD resolution. It's powered by a Snapdragon 427 processor with either 2 or 3 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of storage. The 4,000 mAh battery supports fast charging via micro-USB. The main camera is 13-megapixel camera with PDAF, while the front camera is 8-megapixel. Like the g6, it will be sold unlocked and via carriers. It supports all AT&T bands, include LTE 14, 29, and 30.
- Moto e5 Plus: A larger version of the Moto g6 Play. It has the same design and features, except the battery steps up to 5,000 mAh, the display size is bumped to 6 inches, and it adds laser focusing to the camera. The processor is a Snapdragon 435 and there is just one configuration with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It will be available in the U.S. exclusively from carriers.
- Moto e5 Play: A lower-end model, similar to e-series models of years past. Its plastic shells pops off to reveal a removable (2,800 mAh) battery. Its 5.2-inch display has HD resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Snapdragon 427 processor is accompanied by 2 of RAM and 16 GB of storage. (However at least one variant will have a Snapdragon 425 processor that only supports Cat. 4 LTE.) The cameras are 8 megapixel (rear) and 5 megapixel (front), and it can record 1080p video. Like the other models, it has dual-band Wi-Fi, a fingerprint reader, and gesture shortcuts. It will also be available exclusively from carriers.
T-Mobile today made a significant commitment to support members of the U.S. military and their families. First, the company is offering major discounts for military members. The first line in a family plan will see a discount of 20%, with each subsequent line available for half the normal price. For example, the T-Mobile One Military plan will cost $55 for the first line, $25 for the second line, and then $10 for lines three through six. The plan includes all the normal T-Mobile benefits, such as Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays, Simple Global, Mobile Without Borders, Scam ID, and Carrier Freedom. Beyond the reduced service rates, T-Mobile is offering military members 50% off the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ (via monthly bill credits). T-Mobile has committing to hiring 10,000 military veterans and spouses over the next few years. Finally, T-Mobile says it will spend $500 million to boost LTE coverage in and around military communities, while also laying the groundwork in those communities for 5G. The T-Mobile One Military plan and associated benefits will be available starting April 22.
T-Mobile today agreed to pay the FCC a fine of $40 million to settle two separate violations. First, the FCC concluded that T-Mobile failed to connect calls to customers served by three rural phone companies in Wisconsin. Moreover, the FCC found that the problems persisted even though T-Mobile claimed to have resolved the issues. "It is a basic tenet of the nation's phone system that calls be completed to the called party, without a reduction in the call quality — even when the calls pass through intermediate providers," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "The FCC is committed to ensuring that phone calls to all Americans, including rural Americans, go through." T-Mobile was also hammered for injecting false ring tones into certain calls. It admitted to doing so on hundreds of millions of calls, which violate FCC rules. This settlement marks the sixth for T-Mobile with respect to rural calls. The company did not offer comment on the settlement.
MetroPCS today rolled out a new offer that will give consumers two months of service for free when they meet certain conditions. In order to qualify, new customers will need to port in at least one phone number and select the $50 Unlimited LTE plan, the $60 Unlimited LTE with 10 GB of hotspot data plan, or the $100 4 lines of Unlimited LTE plan. After customers make two on-time monthly payments, they'll be given a $100 prepaid MasterCard, which is enough to cover two months of the $50 Unlimited LTE plan. Further, MetroPCS says new customers can score free phones from LG, Motorola, and Samsung. MetroPCS is owned and operated by T-Mobile. Customers will have to pay a $10 activation fee per new line, as well as sales taxes on new phones. Customers who exceed 35 GB of data per month may see data slowed when the network is congested. Video streams are limited to 480p resolution.
T-Mobile today said its iPhone customers can use the new Apple Business Chat feature to converse directly with T-Mobile customer service representatives. Apple Business Chat is a tool added via iOS 11.3, which Apple distributed to iOS devices last month. Moving forward, T-Mobile customers can message live T-Mobile customer service personnel from iMessage on their iPhone. T-Mobile says subscribers will be able to change their rate plan, change their address, buy a new phone, ask questions, make payments, check their balance, and more — all via chat. The service supports sending screenshots to customer service reps for troubleshooting purposes. Because iMessage is available on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, customers can reach out to T-Mobile from whichever device they have on hand. iMessage is the native messaging application on iOS devices. Customers don't need to perform any updates to take advantage of Apple Business Chat. T-Mobile says more features like this are in the works.
ZTE made the Tempo Go available for purchase from its online store. The Tempo Go is a version of the Tempo X that runs the Android Go Oreo platform. Android Go is Google's slimmed-down version of Android for ultra low-cost devices with RAM of 1 GB of less. The Tempo Go has a 5-inch display with 854 by 480 pixels and it is powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera, microUSB, 3.5mm headset jack, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 2,200mAh battery. The Tempo Go is sold unlocked with support for the LTE 4G networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone costs $80.
People in the U.S. who own the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ can expect to see Android 8 Oreo reach their phone over the coming days. Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and not AT&T are all pushing the system upgrade to their customers. Oreo includes notification dots, picture-in-picture, and autofill. The update brings the S8/S8+ in line with the user experience seen on the newer S9/S9+, which includes updated emoji. It also packs the February 2018 security patch from Google. The update weighs in at a little over 1.5 GB and can be downloaded over WiFi. Samsung has not yet said when it will update the unlocked model of the S8/S8+ to Oreo.
T-Mobile is offering customers a chance to access MLB.tv free for a third year in a row. T-Mobile announced that baseball fans will be able to watch every regular season Major League Baseball game on their smartphones through 2018. T-Mobile has partnered with MLB and is providing customers with a free year of MLB.tv and MLB At Bat Premium. T-Mobile customers can stream every out-of-market regular season game to their Apple or Google smartphone and tablet via the MLB.tv app. At Bat Premium is a mobile sports app for watching home and away broadcasts, and it also includes player stats, highlights, and other information. T-Mobile One customers don't need to worry about streaming on their plan thanks to unlimited data. T-Mobile says games will be streamed in standard definition by default, but can be viewed in HD if customers wish. T-Mobile customers will need to redeem the free subscription via the T-Mobile Tuesdays application between March 27 and April 2, and then sign up for MLB.tv Premium no later than April 2. On March 27, T-Mobile Tuesdays is also offering 25% off purchases made at MLBShop.com and 10 cents off per gallon of gas at Shell stations. T-Mobile has made similar offerings to customers the last two years.
T-Mobile today said it plans to expand its support for Rich Communications Services during the second quarter of the year by adopting the GSMA Universal Profile. This will allow T-Mobile customers to take advantage of RCS-based features, such as video chat and large file transfers, with the native Android Messages texting app on their handset. The GSMA Universal Profile, for example, will let people send files as big as 100MB via messaging in addition to audio notes and more. T-Mobile is working with Google and other carriers around the world to ensure its RCS service is compatible with those used by competing networks, such as Sprint in the U.S., which adopted Google's RCS standard several years ago. This means people will be able to send rich messages to one another without downloading or installing a third-party messaging application, such as WhatsApp. T-Mobile said its customers can expect to see an update to the Android Messaging app arrive during the second quarter of the year. Moreover, the company intends to bring RCS Business Messaging to its network down the road. This will let businesses chat directly with customers for actions such as taking restaurant reservations or setting appointments. T-Mobile already offers RCS service to its own customers and has since 2015. AT&T and Verizon support their own RCS-like messaging services and have not announced plans to support the GSMA Universal Profile for RCS.
Huawei said that its Honor View10 smartphone is available in the U.S. starting today. The phone will be up for preorder between March 12 and March 22, with shipments starting March 22. The View10 has a unibody aluminum chassis with smooth edges and curved glass. The display measures 5.99 inches and adopts the 2:1 aspect ratio with full HD+ resolution. The phone is powered by Huawei's top-of-the-line Kirin 970 processor with 8 cores, 6 GB of memory, and 128 GB of storage. The View10 includes a dual-camera array on the rear. The main camera has a full-color, 16-megapixel sensor and the secondary camera has a monochrome, 20-megapixel sensor. They can tap into PDAF and the Kirin 970's neural processing unit for sharp focus and portrait photos with blurred backgrounds. Other features include a 13-megapixel selfie camera, fingerprint sensor, NFC, dual SIM cards, 3,750mAh battery, 4K video capture, aptX HD, Microsoft Translate, muted notifications during gaming, screen recording, face unlock, and 3.5mm headphone jack. The Honor View10 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with Huawei's EMUI 8 user interface on board. It includes U.S. LTE Bands 2, 4, 5, 7 12, and 17, which gives it average support for AT&T and T-Mobile. Missing are newer bands such as T-Mobile's 66/71. The View10 is being sold in blue and black, unlocked, for $499. Honor is selling the phone from its own web site. The company didn't say if other online retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy, or B&H, will also sell the phone.
Huawei recently began selling the Mate 10 SE via Amazon and other online retailers. The phone carries over most specs from the Honor 7X, which means it includes an aluminum unibody chassis with 2.5D curved glass and a 5.9-inch 2:1 aspect ratio display. It is powered by Huawei's Kirin 659 processor and has dual cameras, a fingerprint reader, a 3,340mAh battery, and Cat 6 LTE. It runs Android 7 Nougat with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 user interface on board. The one significant change under the hood concerns memory and storage. Where the Honor 7X had 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, the Mate 10 SE has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The improvement in RAM should give the Mate 10 SE an edge in performance over the Honor 7X. On the exterior, the Mate 10 SE loses the Honor branding in favor of Huawei's, and the dual-camera array is encircled in a single frame rather than two. Amazon is selling the Mate 10 SE in gray and gold for $230 (about $30 more than the Honor 7X). It is unlocked and compatible with AT&T/T-Mobile and their prepaid brands.
All four major carriers in the U.S., AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, are building a "multi-factor authentication" method that will rely on peoples' cell phones to gain account access. The system, which has been in development since last September, is expected to launch before the end of the year. The goal is to cut back on identity theft and fraud enabled by weak or exposed passwords. The carriers said it will employ a "cryptographically verified phone number" that assesses data including device IP, SIM card, account, and how long customers have been with the carrier. "In addition, advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities will be used to help assess risk and protect customers," said the carriers in a statement. How this will be used by people on a day-to-day basis is still unknown. The group expects to provide more information later this year.
T-Mobile Is Building 5G in 30 Markets This Year, Will Launch In New York City In the First Quarter of 2019
T-Mobile today provided more details concerning its forthcoming 5G network. It will be building 5G across 30 cities in the U.S. this year. It will start with New York City in the 600 MHz and mmWave spectrum bands. Other named cities include Dallas, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The company has been fortifying its LTE 4G network with technologies such as carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, License Assisted Access, and FD-MIMO with 64 antennas (32 transmit, 32 receive). The company is not going to cap its LTE network in any form, continuing to use it for the foreseeable future. All these technologies have helped the company prepare for 5G. T-Mobile says 5G and 4G are going to coexist and live together. T-Mobile reiterated that it will first use its 600 MHz spectrum for 5G, though it is also eyeing the 3.5 GHz mid-band and 28 GHz mmWave spectrum. The FCC expects to auction off 28GHz later this year. T-Mobile didn't specify what mmWave spectrum it will us for its 5G network. T-Mobile sees 5G encompassing fixed broadband (routers), mobile service (phones, AR/VR, wearables, drones), and IoT (sensors, industrial automation). It will cover every inch of the U.S. with some 5G service by 2020 with equipment from Nokia and Ericsson. The company is already deploying 5G NR-capable hardware in its base stations. T-Mobile expects to debut the first 5G smartphones and other products during the first quarter of 2019.
The Google Phone app for Pixel and Nexus devices now offers Google-powered voicemail transcription for T-Mobile USA users. Google's app will transcribe incoming voicemails and drop the text in the voicemail tab of the app itself. T-Mobile customers who use a Pixel or Nexus can then scan the text without dialing for their voicemails. Google has offered voicemail transcription to its Google Voice customers for years. The company hasn't said if or when the transcription feature might expand to other carriers. Verizon is the only carrier that sells the device directly to consumers. Google sells an unlocked version, compatible with T-Mobile, from its own web store. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
MediaTek announced the Helio P60 system-on-a-chip, a processor that adopts artificial intelligence and other advanced features for mid-range devices. The P60 relies on a big.LITTLE architecture with four ARM A73 processors at 2 GH and four ARM A53 processors at 2 GHz. MediaTek says the chip pushes speeds up by 70% and power efficiency by 25% when compared to the P30. It includes an ARM Mali-G72 GPU clocked at 800 MHz for a 12% improvement in mobile gaming. The MediaTek P60 introduce a multi-core AI processing unit that includes facial, object, and scene recognition for security and camera apps. Developers can tap into the MediaTek NeuroPilot AI SDK and Neural Network API to take advantage of these features. MediaTek says the P60 supports dual-camera configurations of up to 20 megapixel and 16 megapixel pairings, or a single camera up to 32 megapixels. The tri-core image signal processor can handle bokeh effects, noise reduction, and support HDR viewing and recording. The P60 is paired with MediaTek's Cat 7 LTE 4G WorldMode Modem with support for dual SIMs, HPUE, and band 71 (for T-Mobile). MediaTek expects to see handsets powered by the Helio P60 reach the market before the end of the second quarter.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency will commence an auction for 28 GHz airwaves as soon as November. Pai expects the spectrum in question will be used for 5G. As soon as the auction for 28 GHz spectrum is finished, the FCC will move forward with another auction for 24 GHz spectrum for the same purposes. Pai is seeking public input on the idea. "To set the foundation for these auctions, the FCC will ask for public input this spring on the right procedures for these auctions," said Pai in remarks made at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. In order for the auctions to proceed, Pai says Congress will need to pass legislation by May 13 concerning upfront payments to be made by potential bidders. The agency is already looking at the use of 6 GHz spectrum for 5G based on feedback provided by the public last year. Future 5G networks will likely be deployed on low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum. For example, T-Mobile expects to launch 5G using its 600 MHz spectrum (low) holdings, while Sprint is looking at its 2.5 GHz spectrum (mid) for 5G. Further, the FCC says it has already changed some rules to help speed up 5G deployment. "We want to remove outdated rules and make it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure," said Pai. Relaxing rules governing how cell sites are deployed will let carriers put small cells where they need to in order to densify their networks. The FCC Chairman also spent time espousing the value of his open internet order, which removes net neutrality rules. He called the "light-touch regulation" one of the major pillars to his approach to 5G.
All four major carriers in the U.S. plan to sell the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ beginning in March. Preorders for the phones kick off March 2 and the handset is expected to be available in stores on March 16. Samsung itself is selling the unlocked version via its web site. The S9 costs $720 and the S9+ costs $840. Customers can apply for financing from Samsung to break down the cost of the phone over 24 months. Samsung is offering app to $350 off the price with a qualifying trade-in. Pricing from U.S. carriers varies significantly.
- AT&T: AT&T is asking subscribers to its AT&T Next plans to pay $26.34 per month for 30 months for the S9 (total: $790), or $30.50 per month for 30 months for the S9+ (total: $915). AT&T says business customers can get a $150 activation credit with they by the S9 or S9+ on an installment plan. The devices support Band 14, and thus the AT&T-run FirstNet public safety network. AT&T's prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, plans to sell the Galaxy S9 and S9+ at full cost.
- Sprint: Sprint is selling the S9 for $33.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $792). The Galaxy S9+ will be $38.00 per month with $0 down on a Sprint Flex lease (total: $912).
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile is asking customers to pay $30 per month for 24 months for the S9 with $0 down (total: $720), and $30 per month for 24 months for the S9+ with $120 down (total: $840) For a limited time, postpaid customers can get up to $360 off either phone with a qualifying trade-in when the S9 or S9+ is purchased on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile's prepaid brand, MetroPCS, will sell the Galaxy S9 starting March 16 for full price.
- Verizon Wireless: Last, Verizon Wireless is charging $33.33 per month for 24 months for the S9 (total: $799) and $38.74 per month for 24 months for the S9+ (total: $930). Customers who switch to Verizon, port in their line, and trade in an old phone may get up to $500 in bill credits towards the purchase of a Galaxy S9 or S9+.
T-Moble says it has attained download speeds of 1.3 Gbps using LTE-LAA technology from Nokia. The result was reached in a lab using Nokia's commercial Nokia AirScale Micro RRH platform. The companies paired licensed and unlicensed bands using five-channel carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and LAA on 14 antenna layers. LTE-LAA is a stepping stone between today's 4G and future 5G networks. T-Mobile says it plans to deploy LTE-LAA in small cell configurations in high-traffic urban locations to help densify its network, boost speeds, and improve capacity. T-Mobile didn't say what markets might gain access to this network technology, nor what devices might support it.
T-Mobile has a new promotion targeting Apple products. First, T-Mobile is offering a $200 rebate to those who purchase an iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus, 7, or 7 Plus. The rebate is being offered in addition to the value of a trade-in. People who trade a device in at T-Mobile stores will be given instant credit for the trade, though T-Mobile will accept trades sent via mail. Further, T-Mobile is offering a buy-one, get-one deal on iPhones. Customers who buy two iPhones and port-in or activate a new line of service on at least one device can receive the second device for free (via monthly bill credits). Customers will have to pay tax on purchases at the point of sale. People who cancel service will be responsible for paying the balance of any devices on their account. Last, T-Mobile is offering a deal on the Apple Watch 3. Those who buy one Apple Watch 3 can snag a second for half price ($215). These promotions kick off on February 23 and will be available for a limited time.
Sprint expects to deploy voice over LTE across its network starting this fall. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless already offer VoLTE across the bulk of their footprints, making Spring the last major carrier to deploy the upgraded voice technology. "For more than a year we’ve been testing VoLTE and preseeding our customer base with VoLTE-capable devices in preparation for our commercial deployment starting this fall," said Sprint to Fierce Wireless. "Our network today offers a great HD Voice experience on a very efficient 1x platform, and our goal with VoLTE is to match this same high-quality experience that our customers have today." VoLTE allows devices to connect voice calls over carriers' data networks, rather than legacy voice networks, and delivers as much as three times the clarity. Sprint didn't say which devices support VoLTE, nor did it say if its VoLTE service will be compatible with those of other network operators. AT&T and Verizon, for example, allow some customers on some devices to connect VoLTE calls across carriers, though typically VoLTE calls are limited to intra-carrier connections.
T-Mobile today announced new ways for its postpaid and prepaid customers to save some green. First, T-Mobile has a buy-one, get-one offer on deck for LG handsets. Postpaid customers who buy the G6, V30, or V30+ on a T-Mobile equipment installment plan can snag a second LG phone (of equal or lesser value) for free via monthly bill credits. This BOGO offer is available to new and current customers. Second, prepaid customers who switch from another carrier and port their number to MetroPCS will receive a $150 instant rebate that can be used toward the price of any phone. T-Mobile says the devices such as the Samsung J7 Prime, LG Stylo 3 Plus, ZTE Blade ZMAX, or LG K20 would all be free thanks to the rebate. New customers will have to sign up for MetroPCS' Unlimited LTE plan. Third, existing MetroPCS customers can score a $50 instant rebate when they add a line to an existing Unlimited LTE plan ($60/mo). The $50 rebate can be applied to a phone priced $79 and higher. Last, MetroPCS is still running its four lines for $100 deal. New or existing customers who port in at least one line can get up to four lines of unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for $100. These deals will be available for a limited time.
T-Mobile today announced a buy-one, get-one deal for service plans. Subscribers to a T-Mobile One family plan (minimum two lines) can add a third line of service at full price and get a fourth line of service for free. The fourth line is free after monthly bill credits. Without auto-pay, each line will carry an additional $5 monthly fee. The free line is available as long as subscribers maintain at least three paid lines. T-Mobile says the BOGO line deal can be combined with its BOGO deals on smartphones, which let people score free or reduced-cost handsets when two are purchased at the same time. The company is offering up to half off an Apple Watch when purchased with another at full price (Digits plan required). Last, T-Mobile is offering discounts on select accessories, such as Beats headphones. The BOGO deal on service lines and discounted Apple Watch deal kick off on February 10 and will be available for a limited time.
A new bipartisan act proposed by Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania aims to ensure the licensed and unlicensed spectrum needed for 5G is available. The Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum, or AIRWAVES Act, explicitly suggests the government free up high-band spectrum via auction in order to lay the groundwork for 5G. Part of the act requires that 10% of the proceeds of spectrum sales go toward the development wireless broadband in rural areas. “The bipartisan AIRWAVES Act is the kind of bill that will make a difference in the lives of Internet users," said Lance. "The internet is the lifeblood of the American economy. To compete in the 21st century we must have a robust spectrum pipeline so we can win the race to 5G. We also have to close the connectivity divide and bring reliable internet service to a larger segment of Americans — especially those in unserved areas." The 3GPP 5G NR specification includes support for low-band spectrum (600 MHz), mid-band spectrum (3.5 GHz), and high-band spectrum (50 GHz). While some U.S. operators (T-Mobile) have 600 MHz spectrum holdings, the 3.5 GHz and 50 GHz bands are not generally available. The FCC will need to open them up and auction them off to jumpstart true 5G deployments.
T-Mobile has agreed to purchase mmWave spectrum in Ohio that it has earmarked for 5G. Specifically, it is looking at 1150 MHz of LMDS spectrum. LMDS spectrum falls in the 28 GHz to 31 GHz range. "The requested spectrum assignments will allow T-Mobile to deploy the 27,500 to 28,350 MHz portion of the licenses for next generational 5G mobile services in accordance with recent technologies that can leverage millimeter wave bands for fixed and mobile wireless communications," said the company in its filings with the FCC. T-Mobile would also use some of the LMDS spectrum for microwave backhaul. The move is attention-grabbing mostly because to-date T-Mobile has said it will deploy 5G in its existing 600 MHz footprint. Last year, T-Mobile eschewed the idea of mmWave spectrum when it first announced its plans for 5G. Many of the benefits of the 5G NR spec will be found in mmWave spectrum. The company has little spectrum in the mmWave bands, particularly when compared to competitors AT&T and Verizon. The terms of T-Mobile's purchase of LMDS spectrum were not disclosed.
OnePlus and Honor today made red versions of their most recent devices available to U.S. consumers. The OnePlus 5T Lava Red Limited Edition phone (pictured) will be sold from OnePlus' web site starting February 6. Anyone who preorders the handset before February 9 will receive free upgraded shipping. The OnePlus 5T Lava Red is sold with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. It costs $559. Huawei's Honor brand is also bringing a red phone to the U.S. The Honor 7X in red is available from the Honor web store starting today. It costs $199. Both phones are sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile. Supplies are limited.
T-Mobile won't be swapping its magenta duds for green, but the company has committed to moving its business to 100% renewable energy by 2021. The company already buys power from the wind-driven Red Forks Wind Power Project in Oklahoma, which went online late last year. Today, T-Mobile said it will buy 160 MWs from Infinity Renewables’ Solomon Forks Wind Project in Kansas starting in 2019. Together, these two projects will provide T-Mobile with 320 MWs of power, or enough to cover 60% of its energy needs nationwide. In order to reach its goal of 100% renewable power by 2021, T-Mobile will buy wind capacity each year to account for every unit of electricity it consumes. To cement its commitment to renewable power, T-Mobile has joined the RE100 climate group. Major businesses including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook already belong to RE100. T-Mobile will reports its electric consumption to RE100 each year as it transitions to low-carbon power sources.
AT&T today said that like its competitors T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, it will offer customers the opportunity to use their mobile devices during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at no extra cost. Specifically, AT&T will waive the $10 fee normally charged for the AT&T International Day Pass. The Pass gives AT&T customers access to their data, calling, and messaging plan from more than 100 countries around the world for $10 per day. Data consumed when roaming comes out of customers' normal monthly data buckets. Americans who travel to South Korea to attend the games won't have to pay the $10 daily fee from February 1 through March 20.
Americans traveling to South Korea to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be able to roam for free if they subscribe to T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile says its customers can take advantage of free unlimited high-speed data, unlimited calls within South Korea and back to the U.S., as well as free texting while attending the games. The service will be made available automatically to T-Mobile customers visiting South Korea between February 7 and March 20. T-Mobile customers will need to be on a post-paid plan to roam in South Korea at no cost. No other actions are required. Verizon says its customers can roam in South Korea for free during the games, too, but its subscribers will have to jump through some hoops. To start, Verizon customers will have to enroll in the Verizon Up rewards program by January 28 and then sign up for the company's Travel Pass service. Verizon Up provides access to rewards, such as event tickets, though it also opens Verizon customers up to more targeted advertising based on location and browsing habits. Travel Pass normally costs $10 per day when roaming, but Verizon will waive the fee for those who sign up for Verizon Up and register with TravelPass before they leave for South Korea. Verizon is offering customers 500 MB of high-speed data per day while in South Korea. Verizon customers will need to have a world phone in order to roam in Korea.