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FCC Chairman confirms plan to limit buying power of AT&T, Verizon

Posted by wicked April - 17 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Leading up to this article, there was a lot of speculation about the FCC’s position in their upcoming spectrum auction. A call to action from several smaller carriers asked that the regulatory body limit the purchasing power of the two largest domestic carriers, Verizon and AT&T. In a move that could limit the FCC’s income from the auction, Chairman Tom Wheeler has confirmed he wants to limit the power AT&T and Verizon have.

In a letter to 78 House members today, Wheeler said he was proceeding with the limitations in the spirit of “equity and openness”. He went on to say the FCC wants to “deliver to consumers, regardless of their zip code, greater wireless competition, improved services and lower costs.” Wheelers letter was in response to a note form those House members who urged him to allow free and open commerce in the next auction, which would help reach revenue goals set forth by Congress.

Wheelers plan is to “reserve a modest amount of this low-band spectrum in each market for providers that, as a result of the historical accident of previous spectrum assignments, lack such low-band capacity”. The upcoming auction is for the 600MHz spectrum band, which would improve the coverage area of those who purchased it. Wheeler wants to reserve about one-fourth of the overall spectrum for those who have less than 30% of the spectrum per market:

Today, most of this low-band spectrum is in the hands of just two providers. The Incentive Auction offers the opportunity, possibly the last for years to come, to make low-band spectrum available to any mobile wireless provider, in any market, that is willing and able to compete at auction.

As we’ve reported prior to this announcement, Wheeler’s actions may have an adverse effect on Sprint and T-Mobile merging. By allocating spectrum for those who aren’t AT&T or Verizon, the FCC is leveling the playing field a bit without carriers uniting to face the duopoly held by the nation’s two largest carriers. The FCC will vote on his proposal in May.

Source: The Hill

Sprint hopes to attract the 5-year-old consumers with the WeGo

Posted by wicked April - 17 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Sprint-WeGo-kids-phone

Apparently, the cell phone industry is now trying their best to tap into the emerging market of… 5-year-olds? On Friday, Sprint introduced the WeGo, which is a cellphone that is designed for kids from the age of 5 to 12.

The design of the phone is straightforward. There is one button on the front for making calls, two buttons on the side for scrolling up or down through approved contacts, and a “ring on a string” which the child can pull if they feel like they are in trouble. Once the child pulls this string, the phone sounds an alarm and immediately sends the parent a text. When the parent calls the child back, the phone’s microphone and camera are immediately activated.

If your 5-year-old is in a car that is going above the speed limit? The parents of the child will know automatically! An accelerometer in the phone can even let you know if he’s gotten out of bed in time for school. It also allows a parent to set up “geofences” in multiple locations and get text alerts when your child enters or leaves one.

Creepy.

The phone costs $120 plus $10 a month for 1,000 minutes of talking and 1,000 texts. Because there’s no keyboard or keypad on the device, the text messages are limited to 50 preset phrases like “I’m at home,” “I need a ride,” or “Call me, please.”

This is not the first time that children have been targeted specifically by carriers. Several years ago, Verizon introduced the Firefly Mobile. Later, Verizon offered the LG Migo, a similarly basic and colorful handset.








Aio Wireless to Take on Sprint’s Framily Plans, Intros New Group Plan Discounts

Posted by Tim-o-tato April - 16 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off
Aio Wireless to Take on Sprint’s Framily Plans, Intros New Group Plan Discounts


Sprint’s Framily plans give groups of people the opportunity to save money per month on their wireless bills – when more people join a group, the less their bills will be. You have probably seen the silly commercials on TV that Sprint has released, so let’s go ahead and cut to the chase. AT&T’s subsidiary, Aio Wireless has introduced their own form of group rates, but sadly, they don’t have an awesome name like Sprint does with Framily.

Group Save Discounts allow up to five additional lines on an account, with each additional line on top of the primary account bringing in a monthly discount. The first eligible line has no monthly discount, but the second brings $10 a month in savings. The third line will nab you a $20 month discount, with the fourth and fifth eligible lines each bringing $30 in monthly savings. 

The maximum monthly discount is $90 for the entire plan, as long as you have five lines attached to the account. The only way this differs from Framily is the pricing of the plans themselves, and the amount of additional lines you can have on the plan.

At the end of the day, the only real noticeable difference is the actual service you get with your phone on AT&T’s Aio Wireless network versus Sprint’s.

Via: Aio Wireless

Aio Wireless to Take on Sprint’s Framily Plans, Intros New Group Plan Discounts is a post from: Droid Life

Major smartphone OEMs and wireless carriers agree to support anti-theft measures

Posted by wicked April - 16 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

smartphone theft

Like with any other valuable object, smartphones are often the target of thieves. Many lawmakers and even carriers and device manufacturers have questioned how to implement features on devices that would cut down on theft, but until now there hasn’t been much of a united stance in making that happen.

On Tuesday, a group of wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers voluntarily agreed to start including anti-theft measures on smartphones next year. The list of companies that have pledged support include major US carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, as well as big smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, but also including OEMs like HTC, Motorola, and Nokia. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but it’s a ton of names, regardless.

This voluntary agreement means that all companies on the list will start shipping devices with security and anti-theft measures preloaded beginning July in 2015. Since the major US carriers are on board, that likely means that even if the manufacturer of a certain phone isn’t in compliance, the carrier is going to enforce it to be allowed on their network. These new features will allow users to remotely wipe and deactivate a phone, and keep it deactivated until they regain possession of the device.

Some lawmakers still have a bit of criticism over this agree, however. As it stands, the security measures will be forced onto the devices, but nothing forces the consumers from turning the feature on. If those features aren’t turned on, the devices will still be just as easy to steal as they have been in the past. Many lawmakers want these features to be mandatory and automatically turned on to ensure that they can be more effective.

However you look at the situation, this is still a step in the right direction towards cutting down on stolen devices.

source: Recode

Come comment on this article: Major smartphone OEMs and wireless carriers agree to support anti-theft measures

New FCC spectrum auction may stop a T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Posted by wicked April - 15 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

The demand for spectrum from mobile service providers is at an all-time high, and only promises to increase. To satisfy the wants of consumers and carriers alike, the FCC has decided to take some spectrum earmarked for TV and auction it to carriers. In addition to the added spectrum, the FCC may implement a few rules about purchases for the upcoming auction that could signal their intent to thwart a Sprint/T-Mobile merger.


The proposed merger between the number three and four US carriers is likely going to hit a stonewall within the FCC. They prefer a four carrier system, even though the merger would still place the newly formed company third place to AT&T and Verizon. Though Sprint’s CEO was joined by parent company Softbank’s CEO in discussions with the FCC on the benefits of such a merger, it’s believed the FCC was unmoved by their overtures.

The upcoming spectrum auction is for the 600MHz band, which has penetrative properties mobile carriers have never seen. The lower the spectrum MHz rating, the more spread it can have, essentially increasing the range of a network (but not the strength — that’s where higher MHz bands come in). The FCC is limiting the amount carriers can purchase in this auction, according to Bloomberg, which could be a response to prior outcry. The discussions have reportedly been taking place behind closed doors within the FCC, and no official announcement has been made yet.

Limiting the amount of spectrum each carrier can purchase could be a move to satisfy both Sprint and T-Mobile, who have complained raucously about the buying power AT&T and Verizon have compared to them. What isn’t yet known is whether or not these limitations will be equal. It would be the largest auction since 2008, where the FCC raised $19 billion — most (about 80%) coming from AT&T and Verizon. If the FCC essentially turned the tables and gave Sprint and T-Mobile the upper hand, it would improve their network coverage, and quiet the talk of how limited their options are when compared to the other two carriers.

Source: Bloomberg
Via: Phone Arena

Android 4.4.3 for the Nexus 5 may be coming today, according to Sprint

Posted by wicked April - 14 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Nexus 5 Android 4.4 KitKat Hands On

Sprint has updated its support page for the Nexus 5 with a rather interesting entry.

The KTU48F build, slated to begin rolling out today, consists of two features:

  • Enable Sprint Spark band 26 and band 41
  • Misc Android updates

There’s speculation that we’re looking at the rumored Android 4.4.3 update here, though without further clarification on what “Misc Android updates” means, we can’t really tell for sure.

Over the past few weeks, test builds of Android 4.4.3 surfaced online, hinting that Google is readying a maintenance update. Rumor has it that the update will mostly include bug fixes, so don’t expect anything spectacular. An issue causing processor spikes on the Nexus 5 is said to be on the fix list.

If and when Sprint begins rolling out KTU48F, other carriers may follow suit, and the unlocked versions of Nexus devices that Google sells from the Play Store can’t be far behind.

As for the other entry on the list, Sprint Spark is a technology that combines multiple bands for faster and more stable LTE connections. Having it active on the Nexus 5 means your data connection could become better, though your location may have a lot to do with that.








Analyst says Sprint and T-Mobile have to merge for both to live

Posted by wicked April - 12 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

t-mobile sprint

A new report from analyst firm New Street Research says that T-Mobile and Sprint will have to merge lest one of them is forced to fold.

According to the report neither Sprint nor T-Mobile can last for too long, saying that both lack the revenue needed to cover fixed costs. The firm also doubts if either carrier can gain enough new revenue, saying both need to raise an additional $10 billion in the next 18 months to stay competitive. “Both companies aren’t independently viable at the same time,” the report says. “We show that there simply isn’t enough revenue in the industry for four carriers to cover their fixed costs unless there is a significant shift in market share.” Remaining competitive, according to the analyst firm, would include buying more spectrum for both carriers.

New Street Research also makes an argument that in other countries such as Greece, the Netherlands, and Austria, consumer prices dropped when the wireless market consolidated to fewer competing carriers. The argument seems to echo Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son’s comments that Sprint would start a “massive price war” if it was allowed to merge with T-Mobile.

The biggest obstacles to that merger, as New Street points out, and most of us know by now, are the FTC and FCC. Neither government agency wants to see the U.S. carrier market shrink to three carriers. And their arguments make sense. From its current position T-Mobile has been able to shake up the industry with its Un-carrier plans. There is a legitimate fear that a combined Sprint/T-Mobile wouldn’t make the moves the current T-Mobile is making.

Maybe if one carrier was on the verge of failing the government agencies would be more receptive to the idea of a merger, but by then it may be too late. New Street says that at that point the merged carrier wouldn’t be able to challenge the AT&T and Verizon duopoly.

The New Street report is fairly depressing in that it makes a fairly reasonable argument for a Sprint/T-Mobile merger. It’s hard to see that merger being great for us as users. Sure, there’s promises of a “massive price war,” and the examples from other countries hint that maybe it would be a good thing, but there’s always a risk that promises won’t be kept and that the U.S. will prove the exception to the rule.

For now we’ll just have to hope that at least one of them can pull in the revenue needed to live and compete against AT&T and Verizon. The question is, which one would you like to see survive if one of them has to fail?








Carriers block Samsung Galaxy S5 Download Booster feature

Posted by wicked April - 11 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

samsung galaxy s5 download booster screenshot

When Samsung first announced the Galaxy S5 one of the big software features it touted was Download Booster, a feature that uses both Wi-Fi and LTE to make downloading files faster, but as with so many things, most U.S. carriers block the feature on their versions of the phone.

AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all block the Download Booster on their models of the Galaxy S5. T-Mobile is the only big four carrier that supports the feature. U.S. Cellular also allows the feature, for those who live in the regional carrier’s service area.

Presumably the feature is turned off so it doesn’t put a strain on LTE networks. Verizon doesn’t give a reason as to why it blocks the feature on the Galaxy S5, but does confirm it’s “not currently supported” in the Q&A section of its product page. For its part, Sprint omitted any mention of the feature from its user manual for the Galaxy S5.

Unfortunately, it isn’t the least bit surprising that carriers have blocked the feature. U.S. carriers have a history of blocking features in smartphones. AT&T notably blocked FaceTime over cellular on the iPhone 4S, and later blocked video chat in Hangouts for Android, though it reversed course on both over time.

There’s an argument to be made that the feature was turned off so users don’t accidentally use too much of their limited data plans. There are ways around that by making the feature opt-in, or warning users about it, but three of the major carriers chose to just remove it instead.

The good news is if the lack of the Download Booster feature bothers you, it’s relatively easy to switch to T-Mobile so you can use it.

Does the lack of Download Booster on the Galaxy S5? Would it make you switch to a carrier that supports it?








LG G3 Headed to Sprint Seen in UAProf, Sports 5.5″ UHD Display and 3GB of RAM

Posted by Tim-o-tato April - 11 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off
LG G3 Headed to Sprint Seen in UAProf, Sports 5.5″ UHD Display and 3GB of RAM


Thanks to a UA Profile (UAProf) taken from Sprint’s own servers, it appears that the LG G3, the OEM’s upcoming flagship device, has had its specs outed just a tad early. As we can see from the huge amount of text, the device’s specs are pretty much all known, including its display size, processor, amount of RAM, rear-facing camera resolution, and more. 

According to the UAProf, the G3 is set to come packed with a 5.5″ UHD display (2560 x 1440), a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 3GB of RAM, a 13MP rear-facing camera (capable of shooting stills at 4160×3120), a 2.1MP front-facing camera, 4G LTE connectivity, a microSD slot, Bluetooth 4.0, and will come running Android 4.4.2. The only thing iffy is the Snapdragon 800, however, it might still not be too late for LG to throw a Snapdragon 801 or higher into this device for mass production.

We still don’t have a date set for when LG plans on announcing its Galaxy S5 and M8 killer, but given that we are already near mid-April, we might not have too long to wait. Many folks here claim the G2 was the most underrated device of 2013, and if the G3 does indeed come toting a UHD display and that same 13MP with OIS built-in, then there is no doubt that this phone will be on every Android lover’s radar.

Below is a screenshot taken from the UAProf. If you would like to examine it yourself, open it in a new tab and the font should be large enough for you to read.

Via: My LG Phones | Sprint

LG G3 Headed to Sprint Seen in UAProf, Sports 5.5″ UHD Display and 3GB of RAM is a post from: Droid Life

Analyst: T-Mobile and Sprint must merge, or one will fail

Posted by wicked April - 11 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

The proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile is an interesting Catch 22, according to analysts from New Street Research. Both carriers acknowledge they can’t compete with the likes of Verizon and AT&T separately, as their buying power for spectrum is just overwhelming. Together, T-Mobile and Sprint would still represent the number three carrier in the US, but the FCC is likely reluctant to let it happen.


New analysis from New Street suggests that without a merger, one of the carriers will fail. In a statement to investors, New Street paints a dim outlook for a quad-carrier existence:

Our analysis shows that neither Sprint nor TMUS [T-Mobile] have enough revenue to cover their fixed costs and it is highly unlikely that both will capture enough new revenue to do so. Both companies aren’t independently viable at the same time. We show that there simply isn’t enough revenue in the industry for four carriers to cover their fixed costs unless there is a significant shift in market share.

They note that to remain competitive, both companies need to raise about $10 billion in the next 18 months. Given market saturation in North America, that’s simply unlikely to happen, according to them. New Street also suggests consolidation lends itself to lower pricing, a sentiment we’ve heard from Softbank’s CEO. To back that up, New Street points to other markets — specifically Greece and Netherlands — where carrier consolidation led to a 15-40% price drop for consumers.

New Street went on to note “If the companies are only permitted to merge when one has faltered or failed, the combined company will be less well-positioned to compete against the two well-funded incumbents.” The FCC doesn’t seem to feel the same way, and are on record as being against any less than four carriers stateside.

If New Street is right, the two carriers need to merge — something the FCC is unlikely to allow. If the FCC doesn’t allow them to merge, New Street thinks one will fail, which leads to customers fleeing the carrier, and eventually an auction of their spectrum, etc. That would defeat the FCC’s purpose of fair comeptition, as it would only drive customers to Verizon or AT&T, strengthening their position. A true Catch 22 — if New Street is right.

Via: Fierce Wireless

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