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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

T-Mobile vows to completely end overage charges on its network

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

t-mobile phone store JeepersMedia

In T-Mobile’s never-ending quest to shake up the U.S. cellular service industry, the uncarrier has now announced plans to end overage charges on all of its plans starting May 1st. This means that instead of charging additional fees when you go over your allotted data, they simply throttle the speed of the connection.

While this sounds like a pretty awesome move, it’s really not all that new for the company. Most of T-Mobile’s existing Simple Choice plans are already completely free of overage charges and other ‘surprises’ on the bill.

So what’s the real change here? Basically T-Mobile is killing overages for all of its subscribers across the board, including those still locked into legacy T-Mobile plans. Although this isn’t nearly as ‘exciting’ as last week’s announcements related to a new Simple Starter plan and better tablet pricing, it’s still nice to see T-Mobile continuing to poke the stick at the bear (Verizon and AT&T).

Speaking of provoking the other carriers, T-Mobile’s John Legere has now created a new petition on calling for the end of overage fees on all U.S. Carriers. Obviously T-Mobile is using this more as free PR and advertising than anything, though we’re sure there are plenty of folks that agree with the sentiment of ending data overages.

What do you think of T-Mobile’s continued uncarrier efforts? Is this a solid way to shake up the industry, or do you feel it’s really nothing but gimmicks and PR stunts?

T-Mobile ends overage charges with latest Uncarrier announcement

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

T-Mobile had promised a series of quick announcements, and well, the latest has arrived this morning. The carrier has announced plans to abolish overages for customers. And as we’ve seen T-Mobile do in the past — they are continuing to taunt the other carriers. In this case they are challenging other carriers to follow the same path and also do away with consumer overages.

John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile has said overage fees are “flat out wrong” and mentioned how they are getting rid of overages because it is the right thing to do.

“Today I’m laying down a challenge to AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to join T-Mobile in ending these outrageous overage penalties for all consumers – because it’s the right thing to do.”

And just in case it wasn’t a strong enough move for him to challenge other carriers, Legere also put forth a petition urging customers to get on board and help in “putting this challenge to all the major national carriers.”

This will go into effect in May for bills arriving in June and will be for all plans including Simple Choice, Simple Starter or “an older plan.” Simply put, T-Mobile has said they are “abolishing overages for good.”

Looking back to last week and we saw T-Mobile announce a new “Simple Starter Plan.” That plan offers unlimited talk and text with 500MB of LTE data for $40 per month. Keeping with what we’ve been seeing from the Uncarrier — that plan is contract free.

The other news dealt with tablets. Specifically with carrier connected tablets as opposed to WiFi only models. T-Mobile announced they would be selling LTE capable tablets for the price of WiFi only tablets. They also announced a free data offer and those taking advantage will be able to get 1.2GB of data (per month) for free through the end of the year.

SOURCE: Business Wire,

Ditch your BlackBerry, T-Mobile and Samsung will give you $200

Posted by wicked April - 13 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

T-Mobile Globe International

As it turns out, the story of the fallout between BlackBerry and T-Mobile will have at least one more chapter, and it includes a new character. T-Mobile and Samsung have teamed up to offer current T-Mobile BlackBerry users up to $200 to swap to a new Samsung handset.

Current T-Mobile BlackBerry customers simply need trade in their BlackBerry for a new Samsung smartphone to receive a gift card worth up to $200. This goes for JUMP! customers as well, if you are eligible for a JUMP! upgrade, you will also receive a gift card for the upgrade.

If you are a T-Mobile BlackBerry user that is looking to upgrade, but Samsung is not the phone manufacturer you have in mind for your next handset, no worries, T-Mobile will still hand over a $100 gift card for your choice. If you needed some proof that T-Mobile is in this to win, you will have until the end of the year to trade in on this offer.

T-Mobile BlackBerry Samsung

Finally, for those T-Mobile BlackBerry users that are committed to their device, T-Mobile wants you to know that they’ve got your back. You can still expect the same services and contracts, just understand that you will not be able to purchase a new BlackBerry from T-Mobile, possibly ever.

For Samsung fans, this opportunity could not have come at a better time, sales of the new flagship Samsung device, the Galaxy S5, began just the other day. T-Mobile is currently selling the Galaxy S5 for $660 full retail, or $0 down and $27.50/month for 24 months.

We’re all curious, how many of you have an eligible T-Mobile BlackBerry device that they are looking to trade in for a new Samsung smartphone? No need to JUMP! up now, just share your thoughts in the comments below.

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?

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

Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5

Posted by Kellex April - 11 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off
Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is now available across the nation, with all major carriers participating in the April 11 global launch. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile should all have the device in store, but if not, are guaranteed to have it available online. Some are running special deals, like Verizon’s BOGO (buy one, get one free) special or AT&T’s $50 discount off of Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo devices should you pick up the GS5.

We’ve linked directly to all of the major carrier stores below, along with the current offers from Best Buy and Amazon. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spot to pick up Samsung’s 2014 flagship phone. 

  • Verizon:  $199 (2-year contract) | $25.22 (Edge) | $599 (full retail)
  • AT&T:  $199 (2-year contract) | $32.50 (Next) | $649 (full retail)
    • Deal:  Get $50 off Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo
    • Store Link
  • T-Mobile:  $27.50 (monthly) | $660 (full retail)
    • Deal:  They’ll pay your early termination fees to leave another carrier
    • Store Link
  • Sprint:  $199 (2-year contract) | $27.09 (monthly) | $649 (full retail)
  • US Cellular:  $199 (2-year contract) | $660 (full retail)
  • Best Buy:  AT&T, Verizon and Sprint – $199 (2-year contract)
    • Deal:  Trade in phone, receive up to $200 store credit
    • Store Link
  • Amazon:  AT&T and Sprint – $189 (2-year contract)

Where to Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a post from: Droid Life

T-Mobile covering ETF fees for Galaxy S5 switchers

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

As we mentioned earlier in the day, the Galaxy S5 and new Gear devices arrived in 125 countries today. That includes the US, and also, T-Mobile. But along with the carrier simply launching the new phone and wearables — they are once again going after switchers.

This offer isn’t new for the release of the Galaxy S5, but T-Mobile is offering a reminder about how they are willing to pay another carrier ETF for those who switch. This is called Contract Freedom and was first introduced back in January. The key though, T-Mobile will pay “every penny of you and your family’s early termination fees (ETFs) when you make the switch, trade in your devices and upgrade.”

T-Mobile has the Samsung Galaxy S5 available from today, and priced at $0 down with 24 monthly payments of $27.50. Or for a total retail price of $660. The Galaxy S5 is available online and in retail stores. Along with the smartphone, the carrier also has the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit.

The Gear 2 is $299 and the Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit are both $199. T-Mobile will have the Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit will be available online and in retail stores. The Gear 2 will be available online.

We have some Galaxy S5 coverage sitting in the Story Timeline below, and otherwise, make sure to keep an eye on the Galaxy S5 tag for more coverage to come.

SOURCE: T-Mobile