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SoftBank to Close Sprint Acquisition July 10

Jul 8, 2013, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

SoftBank today said that it expects to close its equity acquisition of Sprint Nextel on Wednesday, July 10. The deal received approval from the Federal Communications Commission last week, and Sprint shareholders at the end of June. The deal now has all the approvals necessary to move forward. SoftBank first proposed the 70% equity acquisition in October 2012.

Sprint Looking to Acquire Clearwire

Dec 11, 2012, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint Nextel is seeking to purchase the remaining shares of Clearwire that it does not already own, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources familiar with Sprint's plans, the Journal says Sprint believes the acquisition could help it resolve control issues regarding Clearwire, in which it holds a significant stake. Sprint also wants Clearwire's vast spectrum holdings to supplement its future network plans. Sprint's pending partial acquisition by Japan's Softbank may complicate its attempt to take ownership of Clearwire, however, and the talks may fall through. Earlier this year, AT&T warned the FCC that it should weigh carefully any transaction that gives Softbank control over so much U.S. spectrum.

Sprint Charging $10 Fee to Nextel Subs Who Don't Upgrade

Nov 28, 2012, 3:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint Nextel has begun notifying its iDEN Nextel customers that they will be charged an extra $10 per month beginning January 1, 2013. Sprint has already announced plans to shut down its iDEN network no later than June 30, 2013. Despite this looming shut-off date, some Nextel subscribers have yet to transition to CDMA-based devices and services. The new fee will be added to all remaining Nextel iDEN and PowerSource lines of service for each month the service remains active until the June 30 shut-off date. Sprint confirmed to Phone Scoop that the price increase does not apply to customers and/or devices using Sprint's nationwide CDMA network. Sprint spokesperson Mark Bonavia said to Phone Scoop in an email, "Customers that migrate prior to January will likely find a price plan comparable to what they have now. They are also eligible to receive a variety of very attractive device offers." According to Sprint, its CDMA-based DirectConnect service offers three times the service footprint that its iDEN PTT service does. Sprint hopes to refarm the 800MHz spectrum used by its iDEN network for enhanced CDMA voice services.

Sprint to Drop 'Nextel' Name, Says No Lay-Offs Planned

Nov 6, 2012, 11:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has revealed via filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is not planning to lay off any employees as part of its financing deal with Japan's Softbank. Softbank announced last month its intent to purchase a 70% stake in Sprint. Sprint does not expect that there will be any material changes for its existing employee base as the transaction takes place. Also in the SEC filings, Sprint said it intends to officially drop "Nextel" from its legal name (Sprint Nextel Corporation), and will use just "Sprint" (Sprint Corporation) moving forward. Sprint and Softbank expect the transaction to close by the middle of 2013.

Sprint Offers PTT to Android Phones Via New App

Oct 24, 2012, 10:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 24, 2012, 10:26 AM

Sprint today announced a new application for Android smartphones that enables push-to-talk functionality. The app, called Sprint Direct Connect Now, brings PTT calling features to devices such as the Kyocera Rise and LG Optimus Elite. Some of the capabilities the app offers include the ability to: interact with other Nextel Direct Connect and Sprint Direct Connect devices; connect with up to 21 participants in Group Connect; call alerts; use touch screen controls without the PTT button; interact with the native address book; and set up Direct Connect favorites. The application is available to the Kyocera Rise first, with availability for LG Optimus Elite and other devices to follow. The app is a free download from the Google Play Store, but requires users to subscribe to a Direct Connect plan in order to use the service.

Sprint No Longer Selling iDEN-Based Phones

Jun 6, 2012, 1:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 6, 2012, 1:18 PM

Mobile phones that work on Sprint's iDEN-based Nextel network are no longer available from Sprint's web site. iDEN phones are also no longer available from Boost Mobile's web site. Boost Mobile is a prepaid provider that sold iDEN devices that ran on Sprint's iDEN network. Phone Scoop called several local Sprint stores and was told by each that iDEN-based phones are no longer available. When asked if Sprint still offers push-to-talk services, Sprint representatives told Phone Scoop that PTT now works on a selection of devices that use new technology. Last month, Sprint announced that it would eventually cease selling iDEN devices ahead of a June 30, 2013, planned shut down of the entire iDEN network. Sprint's DirectConnect service uses CDMA-based technology to permit walkie-talkie calls.

Sprint to Kill iDEN Network June 2013, Stop iDEN Phone Sales

May 29, 2012, 10:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 29, 2012, 10:42 AM

Sprint today said that it is preparing to stop offering cellular service on its iDEN network as soon as June 30, 2013. In an update the company provided today on its Network Vision project, Sprint said it plans to shut down its iDEN network by next summer at the earliest. It has been in the process of deactivating iDEN cell towers since early this year. Between now and June, 2013, Sprint will notify its business and government customers regarding the iDEN network shutdown and the options that are available to them. Sprint already offers a CDMA-based, iDEN-replacement push-to-talk service called DirectConnect. A number of phones are already available that offer this service. Sprint will send reminder notices to iDEN customers on a regular basis during the next year ahead of the iDEN network shut down. Sprint said that it has already discontinued selling iDEN devices in some channels and will discontinue selling all iDEN devices through all channels and brands carrying iDEN Nextel products over the next several months. Sprint said it will continue to support customers with iDEN devices during the network transition and their switch from iDEN to CDMA-based services.

Carriers and Federal Gov Kick Off Emergency Alerts

May 14, 2012, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service, a joint effort between U.S. wireless network operators and the federal government, officially launches this month. The WEA will deliver text message warnings to cell phone users based on a number of potential hazards, including tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, dust storms, extreme winds, blizzards, and ice storms. The messages are delivered based on location, so even those who are traveling will receive alerts for where they are, not where they live, if there's danger. Carriers participating in the program include AT&T, Cellcom, Cricket, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. "These text alerts will be very brief, under 90 characters," said National Weather Service spokeswoman Susan Buchanan in an interview with USA Today. They "are intended to prompt people to immediately seek additional information through the wide range of weather alert communications available to them, such as the Internet, television, radio or NOAA Weather Radio." The alerts are not sent via the traditional SMS pipes, and are instead delivered through a system that is not affected by congestion. The WAE can also deliver both AMBER Alerts and Presidential Alerts. Wireless subscribers can opt out of AMBER and Weather Alerts but not Presidential Alerts.

Sprint, CWA Ask FCC to Stop the Clock for Verizon Review

Apr 24, 2012, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A number of organizations have formally requested that the Federal Communications Commission stop the clock on its 180 day review of Verizon Wireless's proposed AWS spectrum purchases. Signees of the request include Sprint Nextel, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Rural Carriers Association, DirecTV, FairPoint Communications, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Communication Workers of America. The group argues that the deal represents considerable change and consolidation in the industry requiring more detailed review of the details. The groups ask that the shot clock be delayed so they may have "a meaningful opportunity for review of the relevant materials and the preparation of insightful comment on these transformative arrangements." Verizon is hoping to purchase 122 AWS spectrum licenses from a consortium of cable companies.

New York State Sues Sprint Over Tax Fraud

Apr 19, 2012, 10:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 19, 2012, 12:54 PM

The New York State attorney general filed a lawsuit against Sprint Nextel today, alleging that the company deliberately failed to bill customers for $100 million worth of taxes over a seven-year period. The lawsuit is the first to be filed with New York's new False Claims Act. The state is seeking three times the amount of uncollected taxes plus unspecified penalties. New York also accused Sprint of purposely refusing to collect the taxes in order to lower the monthly bill for its services when compared to rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Sprint responded, "This complaint is without merit and Sprint categorically denies the complaint's allegations. We have collected and paid over to New York every penny of sales taxes on mobile wireless services that we believe our customers owe under New York state law. With this lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office is claiming New York consumers, who already pay some of the highest wireless taxes in the country, should pay even more."

FCC Reveals Sprint-Bound LG Windows Phone

Apr 2, 2012, 6:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission's web site reveal information about an unannounced device from LG. According to the documents, the LG LS831 supports CDMA in the EMSR band (800MHz), which only Sprint uses. One of the documents is also called the "Sprint Nextel Waiver", further earmarking the LS831 for Sprint. The device also supports CDMA in the 1900MHz band, as well as Bluetooth. Photos that accompany the FCC documents show a Windows Phone device (based on button configuration and labels) and LG branding, and the draft user manual refers to Windows Phone controls and user interface elements, such as the Start button. The images also reveal that the LG LS831 has a 5-megapixel camera, user-facing camera, headphone jack, and microUSB port. Neither LG nor Sprint has announced this device. Sprint hasn't brought a Windows Phone device to market since the HTC Arrive in early 2011.

Elevate Signs MVNO Agreement with Sprint

Feb 7, 2012, 9:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Elevate today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell mobile voice and data services under its own brand using Sprint's network. The company will offer both post-paid and pre-paid services and will sell devices such as Android smartphones. The company, which operates in 22 markets around the country, offers home internet and home automation products. Moving forward, it will also sell Sprint-powered wireless services to its existing customer base separately and in bundles.

Nextel Site Shows Timing of iDEN Network Tower Reductions

Feb 6, 2012, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint Nextel has published a web site that allows customers to see approximately when iDEN services will be reduced in their local market. Using the tool, for example, Nextel shows that it will reduce the number of iDEN cell towers in Seattle in mid-April, while San Francisco's towers will be reduced in late-April, New York City's towers will be reduced in late-May, and Miami's towers will be reduced in mid-June. According to the site, iDEN service will not be discontinued entirely with these tower reductions and Sprint's CDMA coverage will not change due to these actions. Sprint is in the middle of its Network Vision project, which will have it refarming some of its 800MHz iDEN spectrum for use with its CDMA voice network.

Sprint Signs MVNE Agreement with Simplexity

Feb 6, 2012, 9:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and Simplexity MVNO today announced that they have signed a multi-year agreement giving Simplexity the rights to resell Sprint's network products and services. Simplexity is a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) and this deal will allow it to act as the go-between company that interfaces with Sprint's wholesale and MVNO partners. Simplexity provides the back-end products and services that allow MVNOs to launch using Sprint's network. Simplexity has a similar agreement in place with LightSquared.

Ting Launches 'Mobile Service That Makes Sense' on Sprint

Feb 3, 2012, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A company called Ting has this week launched its cellular phone service using Sprint's CDMA and WiMax networks. Ting, which is operated by Tucows, provides inexpensive, no-contract access to mobile services. Potential customers will need to buy a Ting-branded phone from Ting, which range from the Samsung Reclaim for $45 to the Motorola Photon for $545. Phone prices are subsidized only slightly. Voice minutes, messages, and data can be each be ordered separately so that customers get the services they want at the cost they need. Voice plans range from "XS" at $0 per month for zero minutes to "XXL" at $52 per month for 3,000 minutes. Text messaging plans range from $0 to $14 and data plans range from $0 to $60 per month, depending on amounts. Users must pay $6 per handset per month at a bare minimum to keep the service active. The service includes voicemail, picture and video messaging, three-way calling, caller ID, tethering, hotspot at no extra cost. Ting is available anywhere Sprint services is provided.

Sprint Will Bail on LightSquared If No FCC Nod by March

Jan 31, 2012, 3:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 31, 2012, 3:43 PM

Sprint has extended the deadline it gave to LightSquared to win FCC approval by six more weeks. Sprint struck a deal with LightSquared in October that would have the two companies share wireless spectrum, network construction, and equipment costs. At the time, Sprint gave LightSquared until the end of the year to gain government approval for its planned Long Term Evolution 4G network. At the end of December, when the FCC hadn't made a decision, Sprint gave LightSquared a 30-day reprieve. Today, Sprint is giving LightSquared six more weeks, unti March, to gain the approval it needs from the FCC to begin operations. LightSquared has been at odds with the GPS industry over interference issues. If LightSquared doesn't get approval by March, Sprint will terminate its agreement with the company.

Kyocera DuraPlus Brings Durability to Sprint

Jan 31, 2012, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced the upcoming availability of the Kyocera DuraPlus, a candybar-style ruggedized push-to-talk phone. The DuraPlus meets military standard 810G for protection from dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, humidity, blowing rain, and water immersion. This Direct Connect-capable handset also boasts an LED flashlight with a dedicated power button, and Group Connect, TeamDC, Nextmail, and One-Touch Direct Connect. The DuraPlus does not have a camera, but supports Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, includes a 2.5mm headset jack, has a power-efficient display, and a flat bottom so that it can stand up when placed on a level surface. Pricing and exact availability will be announced closer to launch.

AT&T and Sprint Tussle About Roaming Rules

Jan 25, 2012, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 25, 2012, 8:46 AM

AT&T has accused Sprint of taking advantage of changes to the Home Market Rule to avoid building out its network in markets where it owns spectrum and instead roam on the networks of its competitors. The Home Market Rule was put in place to enable rural carriers to compete on a more level playing field. The rule says, as explained by AT&T, "If a carrier owned spectrum, it was good public policy to require them to build out that spectrum and therefore they should not be able to demand roaming from other carriers in those home markets." The FCC abolished the rule in 2010. Sprint recently announced that it will rely on roaming agreements to cover large portions of Kansas and Oklahoma rather than invest money building its own network in those regions, even though it owns spectrum there. Sprint responded to AT&T, claiming that its Network Vision program has doubled the amount of investment it is making in its network. In an email, Sprint spokesperson John Taylor said, "It's disappointing, but not surprising, that AT&T wants to challenge a consumer's right to access email, the Internet and other mobile broadband services wherever they may travel in the U.S. Along with Verizon Wireless, AT&T is the only other wireless carrier in America which opposes the FCC's pro-consumer data roaming decision from last year." The rules are going to be reviewed by the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later this year.

Sprint Pushing Maintenance Updates to Android Phones

Jan 19, 2012, 5:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 19, 2012, 5:17 PM

Sprint has begun distributing system updates to the HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Epic 4G, and HTC EVO Design 4G smartphones. The updates remove Carrier IQ's software, as well as fixes bugs, boosts performance, and resolves security issues. The updates are being distributed over the course of the next 10 days.

HTC to Wipe Carrier IQ from Sprint Phones

Jan 17, 2012, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC is preparing to release updated software that will remove Carrier IQ's software from its Android smartphones sold by Sprint. In a statement provided to The Verge, HTC said, "HTC can confirm that we're working with Sprint to provide maintenance releases that will remove Carrier IQ and provide security enhancements and bug fixes beginning in January." Sprint had requested that its device partners make such updates available. Carrier IQ came under fire last year when it was discovered on customer handsets.

Board Says LightSquared's Network 'Would Cause Harm'

Jan 13, 2012, 7:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LightSquared's proposed LTE 4G network "would cause harmful inference to many GPS receivers," said the Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing national executive committee in a letter addressed to the Commerce Department. The conclusion was drawn after two rounds of testing conducted over the course of the last year by the U.S. government, and a separate round of testing by the Federal Aviation Administration. "Based upon this testing and analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS," the group said in the letter. The advisory board has no legal standing to block LightSquared's network from operating, but the results would be weighed heavily by the Federal Communications Commission and other law-making agencies. LightSquared accused the board of ethics violations and bias, claiming board members are too close to the GPS industry to make fair decisions. LightSquared has signed wholesale agreements with dozens of companies, including Sprint, that hope to re-sell LightSquared's LTE 4G mobile broadband to their own customers.

LightSquared Alleges Conflict of Interest in GPS Board

Jan 13, 2012, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LightSquared is asking NASA Inspector General Paul Martin to investigate the possibility that there is a conflict of interest within the government board overseeing the approval process of LightSquared's network. According to LightSquared, Bradford Parkinson is the vice chairman of the National Space-Based Position, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board. Parkinson is also a director for Trimble Navigation. Trimble is a manufacturer of GPS equipment and in March 2011 formed the Coalition to Save Our GPS, which opposes LightSquared's Long Term Evolution 4G network plans. LightSquared is accusing Parkinson of violating a federal law regarding conflict of interest as well as ethics regulations. LightSquared needs government approval to runs its network, but has so far failed to earn it based on what it says is interference caused by the GPS industry. LightSquared has until the end of the month to garner FCC approval before a deal it has in place with Sprint expires.

Lenovo Hopes to Crack U.S. Smartphone Market

Jan 10, 2012, 6:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo today indicated that it wants to sell smartphones in the U.S., according to an interview with Reuters. David Schmoock, Lenovo's North American chief, said, "I will spend time over the next couple of years building out the relationship with the mobile providers — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. You have to build out that network first, then that allows you to put products on the shelf." Schmook doesn't see Lenovo hitting U.S. retail stores imminently, but he is working to make it happen. Lenovo recently announced a new Android-based smartphone called LePhone 2 that will be sold in its home market of China.

Sprint's LTE to Launch On 1900MHz Only

Jan 10, 2012, 2:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

All of the Long Term Evolution 4G devices released by Sprint this year will use only its 1900MHz spectrum, said Sprint spokesperson David Owen in an interview with Phone Scoop. Right now, Sprint doesn't have access to Clearwire's spectrum nor LightSquared's spectrum for LTE services, so it will repurpose its 1900MHz spectrum assets to handle both its current CDMA voice/data network and future LTE data network. Sprint plans to launch the LTE network, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and LG Viper at approximately the same time, but couldn't commit to a specific date. Sprint believes its LTE roll-out will be complete by the end of 2013, though Owen wouldn't say how Clearwire and LightSquared's spectrum and LTE networks will play a role in that final 4G picture. Clearwire will not, however, expand its WiMax network beyond what it already covers and will eventually transition to LTE. Owen said that Sprint's goal is to offer smartphones and mobile hotspots that provide good battery life and fast internet speeds, no matter what network technology is being used. The new tri-network (CDMA, WiMAX, LTE) mobile hotspot offers that for data-hungry customers. Owen said that tri-network phones are cost prohibitive, so it will offer CDMA/WiMax and CDMA/LTE devices at the same time as it completes its transition from WiMax to LTE 4G networking technologies.

Leap Would Expand Sprint Wholesale Deal to Include LTE

Jan 7, 2012, 9:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Leap Wireless CEO Doug Hutcheson said that the company is interesting in extending its existing 3G wholesale agreement with Sprint to include Long Term Evolution 4G. "We're very willing to look at that - we don't see a single strategy of only doing it ourselves," said Hutcheson. Leap currently resells Sprint's 3G services under the Cricket brand in markets where it doesn't provide its own coverage. Including LTE in their wholesale deal could save Leap Wireless a considerable amount of money, as it would otherwise have to acquire more spectrum to expand its own LTE footprint. Leap Wireless launched its first LTE market in Tucson, Ariz., last month.

Sprint Merges Consumer and Business Sales Units

Jan 7, 2012, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint on Friday said that it was undertaking a minor restructuring in order to streamline its operations. Moving forward, consumer sales and business sales will be combined into one unit headed by Chief Sales Officer Paget Alves. Sprint is also consolidating the company's marketing functions under Chief Marketing Officer Bill Malloy. As a result of the business unit consolidations, four executives will leave the company in February.

Sprint: We Don't Throttle Smartphone Users

Jan 6, 2012, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today issued a statement seeking to clarify statements made on Thursday by CEO Dan Hesse regarding mobile broadband use. Sprint insisted that it does not throttle the data speeds of its post-paid smartphone users when they are using its network. It explained, "Sprint does have terms and conditions which prohibit certain types of data use that may impair other customers' usage or harm or interfere with Sprint's network. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was referring to Sprint’s right to terminate service of data abusers who violate Sprint’s terms and conditions. Customers who abuse our network by violating the terms and conditions will be contacted by Sprint in an effort to have the customer change their usage to comply with their subscriber agreement. Customers who do not change their usage and remain in violation of the terms and conditions may be subject to actions reserved by Sprint, including but not limited to termination. Consistent with our advertising, engaging in such uses will not result in throttling for customers on unlimited data-included plans for phones."

Sprint to Stop Sending LightSquared Money for Now

Jan 5, 2012, 6:53 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint will not give LightSquared any more cash until the company's problems with the Federal Communications Commission are resolved, said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse today at an investor conference. LightSquared hopes to launch a Long Term Evolution 4G mobile broadband network across much of the U.S. using L-band satellite spectrum. It is still awaiting government approval, and tests have shown that its network interferes with nearby GPS signals. The company demanded the FCC allow it to commence operations, but the FCC has yet to make a decision. "The companies have agreed to realigning our deployment timeline to coincide with potential FCC actions," said spokesperson Scott Sloat in an e-mail sent to Bloomberg. Sprint has given LightSquared until the end of January to score FCC approval before it backs out of the network-leasing deal the companies struck in 2011.

Sprint Throttles Top 1% of Users, Still Markets 'Unlimited'

Jan 5, 2012, 6:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint throttles the data speeds of its top 1% of users, despite the fact that it markets its service as "truly unlimited." Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, speaking at an investor conference today, said, "For those that want to abuse [unlimited data], we can knock them off." Sprint ceased offering unlimited data to mobile broadband devices and tablets last year, but still says that unlimited data is available to smartphones users. Mr. Hesse didn't say what the throttling threshold is, nor how slow it dials down mobile data speeds. Phone Scoop has reached out to Sprint for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

LightSquared Wins 30-Day Reprieve on FCC Decision

Jan 2, 2012, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint has given LightSquared a 30-day grace period to score approval from the Federal Communications Commission to operate its Long Term Evolution network in the L-Band spectrum. Earlier this year, Sprint said LightSquared would give it a 20MHz channel of L-Band spectrum in the 1600MHz band that Sprint would use for its own LTE network. However, Sprint had the option to back out of the deal with LightSquared if the U.S. government did not approve LightSquared's L-Band spectrum use by the end of the year. The FCC has not made a final ruling on the matter, and LightSquared still faces opposition from the GPS, aviation, and military industries. Sprint has extended the December 31 deadline to January 30, giving LightSquared a bit more time to gain the necessary approval from the FCC to operate its planned LTE network. The deal with Sprint will save LightSquared about $13 billion between now and 2020.

Sprint's First LTE-Ready Cluster Built in Kankakee

Dec 29, 2011, 2:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint announced this week that it has built its first cluster of multi-modal base stations that are LTE-ready. This cluster of base stations has been deployed in Kankakee, Ill., and follows the single multi-modal base station put up in Branchburg, N.J., earlier this year. Though this cluster of base stations is capable of powering Sprint's forthcoming Long Term Evolution-based network in the Kankakee area, Sprint said to Phone Scoop in an email that "the cluster in Kankakee is not yet passing LTE traffic." The company has completed work on its back-office systems to support the new base stations, has eliminated most technical risks of the program, and validated its rapid LTE deployment schedule. Sprint said that it is on track to deploy its first LTE devices and services by the middle of 2012. Sprint also noted that it has met a number of milestones towards improving the performance of its CDMA-EVDO 3G network. Sprint says it has improved data speeds, boosted signal strength, and reduced the number of dropped calls across much of its 3G footprint. The Network Vision project should be complete by 2013.

Sprint, Sanyo, Kyocera, Palm All Settle Patent Dispute

Dec 15, 2011, 11:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Digital Technology Licensing today said that Sprint Nextel, Kyocera, Sanyo, and Palm have all settled a patent infringement lawsuit over a cell phone patent owned by Digital Technology. The patent in question refers to how cell phones talk to base stations, as well as some Bluetooth functionality. All four companies have agreed to license the technology from Digital Technology for undisclosed sums. Digital Technology Licensing originally filed the lawsuit in 2007.

FTC Sets Investigative Sights on Carrier IQ

Dec 14, 2011, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 15, 2011, 8:23 AM

The Federal Trade Commission has decided to investigate allegations that software company Carrier IQ logged user activity without their knowledge or consent and shared that information with wireless network operators, reports the Washington Post. Citing anonymous government officials, the Post says the FTC is looking to see if Carrier IQ violated consumer privacy laws. Carrier IQ confirmed that its senior executives have met with government officials over the matter, which exploded several weeks ago when Carrier IQ's software was discovered by a researcher logging keystrokes. Carrier IQ denies that its software logs keystrokes or monitors text messages. The software is used in handsets sold by AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA, but not Verizon Wireless. Carrier IQ has since contradicted the Washington Post's story, claiming that it met with the FTC and FCC voluntarily to discuss the issue.

Clearwire Banks Another $734 Million

Dec 14, 2011, 8:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Clearwire says that its recent stock offering has brought in a total of $734 million in new capital for the WiMax network operator. The stock offering itself captured $402.5 million. Clearwire received an additional $331.4 million in proceeds from Sprint's exercise of preemptive right to purchase 173.6 million shares of Class B Common Stock. The funds will be used to run the business as well as help it build out its planned TDD-Long Term Evolution 4G network.

Sprint and C Spire Let Up on AT&T Lawsuits

Dec 13, 2011, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and C Spire Wireless have agreed to postpone their lawsuits against AT&T now that the Department of Justice, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA have stayed the DOJ's lawsuit. The judge overseeing the lawsuits approved the joint filing today, putting to rest the Sprint and C Spire lawsuits for the time being. The judge has also approved the DOJ and AT&T's request to cancel the trial originally scheduled to commence February 13. AT&T needs to file a new plan regarding T-Mobile USA no later than January 12, which will be followed by a hearing January 18.

Dish Eying T-Mobile Tie-Up

Dec 12, 2011, 9:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Dish Networks' CEO Joseph Clayton said that Dish would consider forming a business partnership with T-Mobile USA if AT&T's attempt to acquire the network operator falls through. Clayton said that Dish would look to merge its own spectrum assets with those of T-Mobile USA in order to make an entity capable of competing with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. "We're not interested in making money on selling our spectrum,” said Clayton in the interview with Bloomberg. "We want to use it to create a national wireless network, video, voice and data. We've got expertise in satellite-TV, and we will in satellite broadband. The voice part, we'll need some help with." Clayton also said that Dish would consider buying any divested assets if AT&T is eventually allowed to purchase T-Mobile. Last, Dish would also consider partnering with Sprint and Clearwire if things don't work out with T-Mobile.

PrepaYd Wireless Launches with $40 Unlimited Plan

Dec 6, 2011, 12:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A new wireless service provider called PrepaYd Wireless launched today and offers an unlimited talk, text (SMS only), and 3G web data "Power" plan for $40 per month. The company also offers an unlimited talk and text "Advantage" plan for $35 per month. To get unlimited picture messaging and instant messaging, users must choose the $45-per-month "Ultimate" plan. The company is offering a free feature phone to new customers while supplies last, and also sells devices such as HTC Arrive, LG Optimus S, LG Remarq, and the Samsung Replenish for prices ranging between $75 and $399. PrepaYd's service runs on the Sprint network, and is available across most of Sprint's CDMA footprint. PrepaYd Wireless's parent company, PrepaYd, runs a debit card business and targets the underbanked, which it believes gives it a unique position in the prepaid mobile market. PrepaYd phones and services are available directly from its web site.

Sprint Now Says No LTE Gear Until Second Half of 2012

Dec 5, 2011, 7:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Dec 5, 2011, 8:28 PM

Sprint will not debut any Long Term Evolution 4G end-user equipment until some time during the second half of 2012, said the company's chief financial officer, Joseph Euteneuer, in a webcast today. The company had previously said that devices would ship closer to the middle of 2012. Euteneuer was sure to say that the delay in LTE-equipped products, such as smartphones and mobile hotspots, has nothing to do with the timeliness of the LTE network launch itself. Euteneuer also noted that the company has deployed its first multi-modal base station (part of the Network Vision project), which will be able to handle Sprint's various network technologies and spectrum allotments. Euteneuer provided some clarification on Sprint's recently announced deal with Clearwire. Sprint will make payments to Clearwire if it reaches certain LTE build-out goals over the next few years. According to Euteneuer, Clearwire's goals only include regions of the country seeing the highest demand for mobile broadband services. "We are asking them to build out initially to only a portion of what they cover," he said. "It is not the full network that they have to date." Sprint is in the middle of a wide-reaching network transition across technologies and spectrum that will last until well into 2013 before it is complete.

Clearwire to Offer Stock in Bid to Raise Capital

Dec 5, 2011, 7:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Clearwire today announced plans to raise approximately $300 million from a public offering of Class A Common stock. Clearwire said that it plans to use any funds raised through the offering for general corporate purposes, as well as to help build its planned Long Term Evolution 4G mobile data network alongside its existing WiMax network. The funds will also be used to help operate and maintain both networks. The offering is being underwritten by J.P. Morgan, BofA, Merrill Lynch, and Jefferies & Company. Clearwire recently announced that it will receive up to $1.6 billion from Sprint over the next few years as the two companies transition from WiMax to Long Term Evolution 4G. Clearwire has struggled to find funding for the last 12 months, and through most of 2011 ceased new market rollouts and reduced its product offerings.

Sprint Boosts Parental Controls

Dec 5, 2011, 9:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today announced Sprint Mobile Controls, a new set of tools that parents can use to manage their childrens' cell phones and cell phone usage. The new usage controls provides parents with an in-depth new dashboard that lets them easily see where, when, and how the cell phones on their plan are being used. Parents will be able to see who their children have been texting and how often text messages are being sent; set limits on when the phone can/can't be used; block/allow select phone numbers; and view apps that are being downloaded and used. Parents can also choose to set up alerts, allow overrides for emergencies, and set watch lists. Sprint Mobile Controls is first available to Android smartphones and costs $4.99 per month per line. Sprint said that it plans to add support for BlackBerry and other operating systems soon.

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