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printed July 21, 2017
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Verizon's Video Optimization Tests Have Customers Crying Foul

Today, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 12:47 PM

Verizon Wireless is throttling the speeds of Netflix and YouTube, according to customer complaints voiced on Reddit. Verizon's customers claim they are seeing Netflix and YouTube streams capped at 10Mbps, and some suggest the capped speeds are leading to degraded video quality. The issue is impacting customers who have limited and unlimited data plans. When asked for comment, Verizon told Ars Technica, "We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network. The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected." Verizon's statement doesn't necessarily reflect what its customers say is going on. If Verizon is indeed throttling the speeds of video apps, doing say may be a violation of the FCC's net neutrality rules that expressly forbid internet providers from throttling content.


Coral Blue Galaxy S8 and S8+ Go On Sale In US July 21

Wednesday, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today said the Coral Blue variant of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets will become available to U.S. buyers starting July 21. According to Samsung, carrier-specific versions for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will be available at Best Buy stores, while the unlocked version will be available at Best Buy and Samsung.com. Customers looking to save some money can take advantage of a promotion at Best Buy stores between July 21 and July 29 that offers up to $400 off the cost of the handset with a carrier activation. Samsung said consumers can save up to $150 of the price of either handset when purchasing the phone directly from Samsung, as well as take advantage of Samsung's trade-on promo. Details concerning the promotions are available from Samsung's web site. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are already available in black, silver, and gray.


Verizon Selling the Ultra-Rugged Sonim XP5

Jul 13, 2017, 12:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the Sonim XP5 to its roster of rugged handsets. The XP5 is a bar-style feature phone that includes push-to-talk service (with a dedicated PTT button) for the working set. It meets mil-spec ratings for protection against physical abuse and carries an IP69 rating for protection against water, including jet sprays. Sonim says the phone can sit in 6.5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The phone has a 2.5-inch QVGA screen with a proprietary operating system. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera, extra-loud 104dB front speakers, a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor with 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, and support for HD Voice. The Sonim XP5 is available from Verizon Wireless for $336, or $14 per month on a payment plan.


Verizon Passes VoLTE Call Over Its Cat M1 Network

Jun 30, 2017, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it completed the first test call using VoLTE on its Cat M1 network. The achievement is worth noting because Verizon's Cat M1 network is reserved for machine-to-machine and IoT applications. Adding voice call capability to M2M and IoT gear opens up new doors for device makers, service providers, and app developers who will be able to connect with customers and end users in a new way. For example, the new technology will make it possible to voice-enable alarm panels or medical devices which can in turn allow people to reach out to and speak with people to gain entry to protected spaces or seek help. Verizon used Ericsson's network infrastructure and Qualcomm's modems to make the VoLTE Cat M1 call a reality. The company didn't immediately say if or when it might deploy voice-calling capability on its M2M/IoT network.


LG Intros the X charge, an Xfinity Mobile Exclusive

Jun 29, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 30, 2017, 7:13 AM

LG today announced the X charge, a smartphone that puts a priority on battery life. Similar to last year's X power, the X charge has an enormous battery with a capacity of 4,500mAh. LG claims the battery can push the phone through an "entire weekend" on a single charge. The power cell is embedded within the phone, but it supports rapid charging. Other features include a 5.5-inch 720 display, 1.5 GHz octa-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle selfie camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and LED flash. LG says the X charge also includes Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi, and LTE 4G. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with LG's software features, such as Gesture Shot. The LG X charge reaches Xfinity Mobile stores on June 30. The phone costs $180, or $7.50 per month. Xfinity Mobile is owned and operated by Comcast and runs on Verizon's network.


Motorola Z2 Play Hits Verizon Stores Today

Jun 29, 2017, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless began selling the Motorola Moto Z2 Play handset today. The Moto Z2 Play, announced earlier this month, has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. The Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera uses phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus and has an f/1.7 lens. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola's rapid TurboPower charger. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless is charging $408 for the Moto Z2 Play, or $17 per month on a payment plan. It comes in gray or gold. Moto Mods, such as the battery pack, projector, and speakers, cost extra. Motorola will sell an unlocked version of the phone with more color and storage options later this summer. For now, the Moto Z2 Play is only available from Verizon.


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Jun 27, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


Verizon to Let Prepaid Customers Manage their Accounts Through My Verizon App

Jun 26, 2017, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its prepaid customers will soon have access to the My Verizon account management tool. Beginning June 28, prepaid customers can download and use My Verizon to pay bills, set up auto-pay, add data, and perform other account-related tasks. The app was previously reserved for Verizon's postpaid customers. My Verizon is free to download and will be available to customers of Verizon's $40, $50, $60, and unlimited prepaid plans.


Motorola's Moto E4 Hits Verizon Prepaid June 22

Jun 22, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 22, 2017, 10:23 AM

Motorola today said its recently announced Moto E4 smartphone will go on sale June 22 in the U.S. The handset will be sold by Verizon Wireless Prepaid online for $70. Motorola also plans to sell an unlocked version the phone for $130 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Fry’s, Motorola.com, and New Egg. The company expects to offer the phone through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which will allow people to purchase the handset at a lower cost as long as they agree to view ads on the lock screen. The Moto E4 will reach Boost Mobile, Sprint, Flash Wireless, Jet.com, Republic Wireless, Target, and Ting in July. Motorola said the Moto E4 Plus won't reach the U.S. until later this summer.


Meet the LG Exalt, Verizon's First LTE-Only Flip Phone

Jun 15, 2017, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently added the LG Exalt LTE to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Exalt LTE has the distinction of being Verizon's first 4G LTE basic phone, according to the carrier. The handset includes LTE and UMTS/GSM radios, but the Exalt LTE does not support Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network. That makes it unique among Verizon flip phones. In addition to LTE, the Exalt includes WiFi and a high-quality speaker for HD voice calls over either LTE or WiFi. The Exalt LTE has a 3.0-inch display with 400 by 240 pixels, a 1,470mAh battery, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Exalt LTE packs 8 GB of internal storage and supports microSD memory cards up to 32 GB. Verizon didn't say what operating system the Exalt LTE runs, nor what processor might be power the phone. The LG Exalt LTE is available online only for $168 at full retail or $7 per month for 24 months.


Verizon Closes Yahoo Acquisition, Launches Oath

Jun 13, 2017, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said it has finalized its purchase of Yahoo. Now that the deal is complete, Verizon is merging its Yahoo and AOL assets into a new media company called Oath. Oath encompasses some 50 brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Makers, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and many more. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a former Google exec, has resigned effective today. Yahoo's properties will be managed by Tim Armstrong, who already oversees Verizon's AOL business unit. The $4.8 billion deal was first announced in July 2016. The process suffered a major blow when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. The two companies later agreed to drop the sale price by $350 million, with the final price tag landing at about $4.48 billion. Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses at Verizon, presided over the acquisition. Armstrong will report to her. The company is expected to shed as many as 2,100 jobs as it integrates AOL and Yahoo's properties. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.


BlackBerry Says CDMA Version of KEYone Now At Best Buy

Jun 13, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.


Verizon Rehashes Prepaid Plans

Jun 2, 2017, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 2, 2017, 10:36 AM

Verizon Wireless today announced new options for its prepaid service. Beginning June 6, Verizon prepaid customers can select from four main plans: 3 GB for $40 per month, 7 GB for $50, 10 GB for $60, or unlimited for $80. All these plans include unlimited talk and text, international text to more than 200 countries,unlimited calling from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico, mobile hotspot, and carryover data. Users who exceed their monthly allotment will be throttled down to 2G speeds for the remainder of the billing period. Video is capped at 480p standard definition, and Verizon will prioritize its postpaid customers when the network is congested. For a limited time, Verizon is offering a $100 credit to customers who port their number from a competing carrier. Verizon prepaid offers phones such as the iPhone 7, Galaxy S8, and Pixel.


Motorola Moto Z2 Play Is Thinner, Lighter Than the Original

Jun 1, 2017, 8:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 1, 2017, 8:55 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Play, a second take on the company's popular mid-range flagship. Like the original, the Z2 Play has a 5.5-inch full HD display and supports Moto Mods. At 5.9mm thick, the phone is a full millimeter thinner than its predecessor. In order to achieve this, Motorola cut the battery capacity from 3,510mAh to 3,000mAh. Despite the significant drop in capacity, Motorola claims total battery life is unaffected. Thanks to TurboPower, just 15 minutes of charging stuffs 8 hours of life into the battery. Another significant change is found in the fingerprint sensor, which now doubles as a trackpad for on-screen navigation. In terms of specs, the Moto Z2 Play is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 12-megapixel camera now relies on phase-detect and laser-assisted autofocus with dual focus pixels and an f/1.7 lens for better low-light performance. The front camera has a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor with front-facing flash and f/2.2 lens. The phone relies on USB-C but still packs a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Moto Display and Moto Voice. Verizon Wireless will be the only carrier to sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray or gold later this summer. The phone will cost $499. Motorola will offer the Moto Z2 Play directly to consumers through its Moto Maker web site with the option to improve RAM to 4 GB and storage to 64 GB. Motorola will sell the Moto Z2 Play in gray, gold, blue, and black.


T-Mobile Goes After Verizon Customers with Latest Promo

May 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile hopes its new "Get Out of the Red" deal will tempt Verizon customers to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is offering to pay the remaining balance on Verizon subscribers' handsets and allow them to use those same handsets on T-Mobile's network. Lots of caveats apply. In order to qualify for the deal, Verizon customers must be in good standing with Big Red and come to T-Mobile with an Apple iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL. These phones have the proper radios to support T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is working to add other devices to the list. Verizon customers will need to port their number to T-Mobile, sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, buy a new T-Mobile SIM card, and sign up for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance plan for $15 per month. Once all these criteria are met, T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on the Verizon iPhone or Pixel, whatever that may be. T-Mobile says customers will be reimbursed for their Verizon iPhone/Pixel balances within 15 to 30 days via prepaid MasterCard. T-Mobile is pitching the idea as an easier way to switch carriers as it doesn't require people to backup or transfer content from one phone to another. The offer works with Verizon handsets because by law Verizon's LTE phones must be unlocked. AT&T and Sprint customers cannot take advantage of this offer precisely because their phones are carrier locked. T-Mobile's Get Out of the Red promotion will be available starting May 31. T-Mobile is, however, throwing a bone to AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile said it will pay off the remaining handset balance and/or early termination fee for AT&T/Sprint customers who port a number to T-Mobile and finance a new device on T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. Last, T-Mobile customers who already have two T-Mobile One plans will be able add two additional lines of service for the price of one. This promo requires autopay.


Verizon to Sell Asus' ZenFone AR Project Tango Phone

May 18, 2017, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 18, 2017, 12:53 PM

Verizon Wireless will be the first U.S. carrier to offer a Project Tango smartphone to its customers. The forthcoming Asus ZenFone AR will arrive later this summer, according to Google executive Johnny Lee. The ZenFone AR is significantly smaller than the first Project Tango handset, which was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The ZenFone AR will also be compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Asus first announced the ZenFone AR in January. It sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a vapor cooling system. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. The exact availability is not yet known.

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Verizon Nixes LG Watch Sport

May 17, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has cancelled plans to sell the LG Watch Sport wearable. The device, announced earlier this year, was meant to reach Verizon's network this spring with LTE support. Verizon did not say why it chose to drop the device, though it is offering those who preordered the smartwatch $100 off other connected wearables. The Watch Sport is a circular, fitness-focused smartwatch that can track workouts and health data, such as distance covered and heart rate. It is still available from AT&T. Verizon is focusing on the Watch24 wearable, which is Verizon-branded smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.


Verizon's Wear24 Android Wear Watch Now Available

May 11, 2017, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is available online and in stores. Verizon announced the device earlier this year. The Wear24 costs $349 at full retail, or $299 with a two-year agreement. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels, NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing service plan for $5 per month or as a stand-alone device on Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan. For a limited time, Verizon will provide a $100 Visa gift card to those who trade in any old Android Wear smartwatch.


Verizon Outbids AT&T for Straight Path

May 11, 2017, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications has won a bidding war for Straight Path Communications. AT&T announced plans to acquire Straight path for $1.6 billion last month. Straight Path has significant spectrum holdings in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave bands, which will be put to use by some 5G technologies down the road. Once the AT&T deal was announced, Verizon entered its own offer for the spectrum company. Verizon and AT&T have traded bids over the last few weeks. Straight Path this week said it has received an offer of $3.1 billion from a large communications company. While it didn't name Verizon specifically, Straight Path said it will terminate the agreement it had with AT&T. Verizon will pay AT&T a $38 million cancellation fee on behalf of Straight Path. Straight Path didn't indicate when it expects the new agreement to close.


Comcast, Charter to Develop Wireless Products Together

May 8, 2017, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Comcast and Charter Communications today announced plans to work together on future wireless initiatives. Both companies already acts as MVNOs and resell service from Verizon Wireless. Moving forward, Comcast and Charter will collaborate on creating common wireless platforms, developing technical standards, managing device logistics, and exploring emerging wireless technology by sharing resources. The companies believe they can achieve certain efficiencies working together, as well as bring more choice and better products to their respective wireless customers. Comcast and Charter say any MVNO agreements made with wireless carriers down the road will be national in scale, rather than the regional agreements in place today. The companies will test this relationship for a period of one year before committing to a longer arrangement.


Verizon Debuts $80 Unlimited Plan for Prepaid Service

Apr 25, 2017, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 25, 2017, 3:56 PM

Verizon Wireless today added an unlimited data option to its series of prepaid plans. According to Verizon's web site, the new $80 plan includes unlimited high-speed service without a contract, though video is capped at 480p and prepaid customers may see slower speeds when the network is congested. Moreover, the plan does not include mobile hotspot or tethering, nor did Verizon say just how fast its unlimited prepaid LTE service is. The plan also includes unlimited talk and text in the U.S., unlimited messaging from the U.S. to 200 countries, and unlimited talk to Canada and Mexico. For those who don't need unlimited service, Verizon's other prepaid plans include 2 GB for $40 per month, 5 GB for $50 per month, or 10 GB for $70 per month. These plans all include carryover data, but will throttle customers who exceed their monthly data bucket. The new $80 unlimited prepaid plan is available starting today.


Lenovo Says Bug Preventing Moto G Plus from Making 911 Calls On Verizon

Apr 20, 2017, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Lenovo issued a notice this week warning that the Moto G5 Plus may not be able to connect 911 calls via VoLTE on Verizon's wireless network. The company has identified the bug and expects to issue a software patch in the next week or so. Until then, Lenovo suggests owners of the Moto G5 Plus disable VoLTE calling. This will enable the G5 Plus to make regular cellular calls to 911, though Lenovo reminds people that this will prevent Verizon customers from using voice and data at the same time.


Verizon-Branded Wear24 Smartwatch Streets May 11

Apr 17, 2017, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch will go on sale May 11. Verizon announced the device earlier this year, but did not have availability details at the time. The Wear24 costs $349, but Verizon will cut $50 from the price for those willing to sign two-year agreements. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels. The Wear24 also includes NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing plan for $5 per month. Otherwise, the Wear24 requires Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan, which provides unlimited talk and text, and up to 1 GB of LTE data per month.


Comcast Details Mobile Phone Service as Xfinity Mobile

Apr 6, 2017, 8:30 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 6, 2017, 9:07 AM

Comcast today revealed details of its forthcoming Xfinity Mobile phone service. The company will use Verizon's 4G LTE network for the service, using an existing MVNO agreement. The service will also automatically, seamlessly leverage 16 million Xfinity wi-fi hotspots for free data, capacity, and coverage. The service will initially be available only to customers who use at least one other Comcast Xfinity product, but will be billed separately. Comcast's main goal is customer loyalty. Plans include unlimited data, ranging from $45 to $65 per line, depending on the Xfinity home services the customer uses. Unlimited LTE data is throttled to slower speeds after 20 GB. For metered data, customers can create their own plan at $12/GB of LTE data. Texting and voice are unlimited. A new mobile app will let users monitor usage and change data plans on the fly. Customers can switch from metered to unlimited at any time via the app, even in the middle of a billing period, and the change will be retroactive without penalty. Customer service will be available via text messaging. The company will offer a range of phones, including the Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and LG X Power. Phones will be available for full price or on an installment plan. The company is launching a large trial of Xfinity Mobile today, open to all Comcast employees. It will launch for consumers in the coming weeks.


Verizon to Test AppFlash Search Tool On Some Android Phones

Mar 30, 2017, 5:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 31, 2017, 10:51 AM

Verizon Wireless is prepared to roll out a new search tool on select Android handsets over the next few weeks. The tool, called Appflash, was developed by Evie. AppFlash will serve as the device's default launcher, or essential home screen experience. Much like the Google Now launcher, AppFlash will take over the left home screen of select Android devices where it will present a search tool for seeking out movies, music, restaurants, apps, as well as on-device content. AppFlash will offer recommendations based on user preferences, which it will learn over time. In order for it to do that, AppFlash will collect quite a bit of user data. According to the company's privacy policy, AppFlash will collect "your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them." The app also looks at what apps are installed on the device, location data, and contacts. Verizon insists the information is used to improve the AppFlash user experience, but it may also be shared with "the Verizon family of companies," including AOL for advertising purposes. Verizon insists the tool requires an explicit opt-in before it can be used, and that users can prevent AppFlash from collecting location and contact information. AppFlash users will be able to opt-out of certain targeted advertisements, but they won't be able to stop the app from collating basic data points once they give the initial green light. Verizon spokesperson Scott Charlston told Phone Scoop that AppFlash requires only about 20 MB of storage and is being tested in a limited commercial trial rolling out to certain new phones. AppFlash will be preinstalled on these phones before they ship, but end users can disable AppFlash and use the launcher of their choice. Verizon said the LG K20 V is the first phone to ship with AppFlash on board.


Verizon's HTC 10 Scores Android 7 Nougat

Mar 30, 2017, 3:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless recently began pushing the Android 7 Nougat update to its variant of the HTC 10 smartphone. The update includes split-screen multitasking, Data Saver, simplified settings, faster app switching, and direct replies from notifications. It also includes the latest security patches. Verizon says the update is rolling out via WiFi over the next few weeks.


Verizon Launches Cat M1 LTE Specifically for Internet of Things

Mar 30, 2017, 1:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has created what it says is the first nationwide LTE Category M1 network for IoT devices and services. The Cat M1 network relies on a new class of LTE chipset designed specifically for low-power use cases, such as sensors. The chipset requires less power in order to extend battery life for devices such as water/electric meters and other asset trackers. The Cat M1 network runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network, but is managed separately in a virtualized cloud environment that's built with business customers in mind. Because IoT devices typically have low bandwidth requirements, Verizon created new service plans so businesses can manage their Cat M1 devices. Verizon says plans start at $2 per month per device, and businesses will be able to further save when activating devices and service plans in bulk. Verizon is collaborating with a number of companies to make its Cat M1 service possible, including Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, and Qualcomm. Verizon hopes the low-cost plans with power-efficient devices will convince more companies to deploy IoT equipment. Verizon didn't say if or when Cat M1 might apply to consumer-grade equipment and services.


Galaxy S8 to Cost $750, S8+ to Cost $850: Carriers Share Launch Details

Mar 29, 2017, 11:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 29, 2017, 3:29 PM

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones will cost $750 and $850, respectively. The phones share almost all features other than size and both ship with 64 GB of internal storage. All carriers are bundling in the new Gear VR with controller at no added cost ($129 value), and will upgrade the bundle to include a 256 GB memory card and Harmon Kardon headphones for $99. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be available for preorder starting March 30 and should reach stores April 21.

  • AT&T: AT&T is offering a buy-one, get-one deal with the S8 and S8+. Monthly prices range from $28 to $36, depending on the length of the installment plan. Further, AT&T is selling the Gear S3 for $50 with an S8/S8+ purchase, provided the customer signs a two-year agreement. Last, AT&T is offering either the Galaxy Tab E or Gear S2 for 99 cents with a service agreement.
  • T-Mobile: The S8 will cost $30 month on a T-Mobile installment plan, and the S8+ will cost $30 per month, too, with a $130 down payment. T-Mobile says MetroPCS customers will have access to the Galaxy S8 when it reaches stores April 21.
  • Sprint: Sprint plans to lease the phones. The S8 will cost $31.25 per month for 18 months while the S8+ will cost $35.42 per month for 18 months. Customers will be able to upgrade to a newer Samsung phone after making 12 payments. People who preorder the phones from Sprint will be entered into a sweepstakes that includes prizes such as television sets. Sprint says Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will offer the phone on April 21.
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon is offering the S8/S8+ for as low as $15 per month with an eligible (flagship-level) trade-in. Without a trade-in, the S8 will cost $30 per month and the S8+ will cost $35 per month for 24 months.
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have 5.8- and 6.2-inch screens, respectively, Snapdragon 835 processors, 12-megapixel cameras, and Samsung's Bixby voice interface.


FCC Relaxes Rules Governing 800 MHz Spectrum

Mar 24, 2017, 9:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC this week made it easier for carriers to add LTE to their 800 MHz spectrum holdings. Rules concerning the 800 MHz band (CDMA Band Class 0, LTE Band 5) have been in place since 1981 and limit how much power carriers can use to transmit wireless signals across those airwaves. The effect has stymied wide-scale LTE deployments in the 800 MHz band. By relaxing the outdated regulations, the FCC is essentially making it possible for companies that have 800 MHz spectrum to repurpose it for LTE. Specifically, the Commission plans to allow 800 MHz licensees to transmit the same amount of power across the spectrum band, putting it in line with how other, similar spectrum bands are treated. The FCC will demand that carriers take care to prevent interference with public safety's use of 800 MHz spectrum, but the Commission will also eliminate what it calls unnecessary rules and burdens related to application filings and other red tape. Verizon Wireless, which will benefit most from the change, lauded the decision. "The FCC's unanimous adoption today of Cellular Service Reform rules is a big win for wireless consumers," said the company. "Today's order enables Verizon to accelerate the conversion of 850 MHz spectrum from 3G and put it to use for 4G LTE. The upside for consumers is big: Verizon Wireless will be able to provide 4G LTE coverage on cellular spectrum to 20%-30% more of the US geography and also increase peak 4G LTE speeds by as much as 40%." The change also benefits AT&T, though to a lesser degree.


LG K20 V Hits Verizon Today for $170

Mar 23, 2017, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the low-cost LG K20 V to its lineup of Android smartphones. The K20 V features a metal frame and rear-mounted fingerprint reader for security. The phone has a 5.3-inch 720p display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera. It can record video up to 720p HD. Other features include a 2,800mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The phone is available in stores and online today. The full retail price is $168, but Verizon is asking for just $99 with a two-year activation.


Verizon Wants You To Rattle Along with Its New Hum Devices

Mar 22, 2017, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced a revamp of its Hum line of connected car devices. Moving forward, consumers can choose one of three new options to keep their car in touch with Verizon's network. The HumX is the top-tier product and includes an OBD-II device as well as a Bluetooth speaker. The ODB-II unit provides WiFi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices, and also hooks into the car's diagnostics to monitor support functions. It can deliver roadside assistance and connect people to emergency services when needed. The Bluetooth speaker supports HD voice calls. The existing Hum product is being rebranded as the Hum+ and will continue to be available for monitoring auto health and diagnostics, driving history, speed alerts, location, and more. Last, Verizon is rolling out a free Android and iOS mobile app that provides an introductory level of Hum service. The app includes safety score calculations based on driver behaviors (cornering, braking, accelerating), in addition to voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. The Hum mobile app is free, but the Hum+ and HumX require hardware and monthly service fees. All three launch March 23.


Verizon Bundling Free TV with LG G6

Mar 16, 2017, 9:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless' launch plans for the LG G6 include a free LG television set. To start, Verizon is asking $28 per month for 24 months, or about $672 in total for the LG G6. For a limited time, customers can get a free LG 43-inch Smart TV when activating an LG G6 on a new Verizon Unlimited service plan. In order to get the TV, customers need to remain with Verizon for at least six months and then submit a claim. The TV will be shipped 8 to 10 weeks after the claim is made. Verizon Wireless is also offering up to $200 on select trade-ins. The trade-ins must be in good, working condition and are limited to the Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus and SE; the HTC 10; the LG G4, G5, V10, or V20; or the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or 5, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, S7, and S7 edge. Last, LG G6 buyers qualify for a free Google Home from LG. Preorders begin March 17 and Verizon will begin shipping the LG G6 on March 30.


Verizon Zero-Rates Its Fios Mobile Video App

Mar 9, 2017, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said the company's Fios home internet and television customers can stream an unlimited amount of live and recorded shows over LTE without impacting their monthly data allotment. Specifically, Fios customers can use the Fios Mobile app on their smartphones and tablets to watch 140 channels of live television, movies, and stored DVR content. The app provides access to on-demand programming, as well as premium channels (subscription required). Customers can watch live television on their mobile device anywhere Verizon offers LTE service. The Fios Mobile app can be used to remotely managed DVR recordings, view TV listings, and act as a set-top box remote control. Verizon says customers will need to download the latest version of the Fios Mobile App to take advantage of the zero-rated video streaming. Verizon didn't say if the quality of the content is standard or high definition. The Verizon Fios Mobile app is free from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.


Verizon Pushing Nougat to Moto Z Droid Play

Mar 8, 2017, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is distributing the Android 7 Nougat system update to the Moto Z Droid Play handset. Nougat includes several marquee features, such as native split-screen multitasking and more granular control over the home screen experience. The Moto Z Droid Play smartphone scores a number of new features with the improved OS. Some include fast app switching, bundled notifications, expanded emoji selection, data saver, and improved doze mode. Nougat users will also enjoy greater control over notifications, the Quick Settings panel, and the main settings tools. Android 7 Nougat is free to download over WiFi. The update is being rolled out over the next few days.


Verizon's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Earn Android 7 Nougat

Mar 6, 2017, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made Android 7 Nougat available to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Android 7 brings native split-screen multitasking, and myriad other features to the year-old Galaxy devices. Some of the new tools include: better battery management software; photo effects previews; more ways to customize the always-on display; Samsung Pass for additional fingerprint-based security; performance mode for adjusting processor output; a revised keyboard with more language options; and more control over mobile hotspot connections. Notably, the update also removes Verizon's go90 mobile video application. Verizon recommends users download the operating system update via WiFi. Android 7 Nougat is rolling out the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge over the next few days.


Verizon to Reward Those Who Pair Wireless and FiOS Service

Feb 28, 2017, 4:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon will give up to $500 to people who combine Verizon Wireless with Verizon FiOS service. People new to both companies will receive a $250 gift card and another $250 in the form of bill credits when switching to Verizon Unlimited and signing up for FiOS TV, internet, and phone service. People who already have either Verizon Wireless or Verizon FiOS will receive $250 in gift cards or bill credits for joining the other. Verizon says the offer will be available for a limited time.


Samsung Talks Up 5G Ecosystem, Verizon Teases 5G Phone

Feb 26, 2017, 4:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today revealed a number of 5G-related projects it is working on, including a home router, a base station, core network infrastructure, and a mobile chipset. The 5G Home Router is of particular interest, as Samsung said it would serve as an in-home replacement for fiber-to-the-home for broadband service. The router would sit in a window and communicate with a nearby 5G Radio Base Station and deliver 1 Gbps speeds to the home. Samsung likened the setup to today's LTE small cells, which have helped carriers densify their networks in urban areas. Verizon Wireless personnel joined Samsung on stage during the presentation and mentioned that the company hopes to see a phone able to use Samsung's 5G in-home gear by this time next year. Verizon is already planning to trial its own fixed 5G service in 11 markets in the new few weeks. Samsung went on to say that it will use 3GPP Release 16 specs for now while the ITU continues its work on the 5G standard. Samsung hopes to be able to upgrade its equipment along the way until the 5G standard is ratified.


More Carriers and Phone Makers Agree to Adopt Google's RCS-Based 'Android Messages' Service

Feb 24, 2017, 7:40 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said more wireless network operators and handset manufacturers will use Android Messages, its RCS-based messaging service, as the default SMS/MMS tool on their phones. (Android Messages was previously known as Google Messenger.) Some of the features of RCS, which is a global standard, include group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, advanced calling features, and read receipts. It has been improved lately with more interactive tools, such as the ability to check into flights. Google says a number of brands plan to use RCS in order to enhance their own services and help spur adoption. Some of the brands include Walgreens, Baskin-Robbins, FICO, Gamestop, Sonic, Subway, and Time. Moving forward, the Android Messages app with RCS will be preloaded by LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, ZTE, Micromax, HMD Global, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, Lanix, LeEco, Lava, Kyocera, MyPhone, QMobile, Symphony, and Wiko, along with Google's own Pixel and Android One devices. Further, Google was already working with carriers Sprint, Rogers, and Telenor, and today added Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Globe. Notably absent fro the list of phone makers is Samsung, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have also yet to commit. Phones with Android Messages on board will still be able to interact with Samsung handsets and those running on non-Sprint networks of course, but will lose the advanced features available via RCS. Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon haven't said if or when they might adopt Google's Android Messages, though T-Mobile and Verizon already use their own RCS-like messaging platforms.


Verizon to Test 5G In 11 Cities By Mid-Year

Feb 22, 2017, 9:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said it plans to trial 5G technology in 11 U.S. markets later this year. This "pre-commercial service" will be offered to a very limited number of customers and not necessarily made available to consumers. The tests will involve the 5GTF spec Verizon developed past year. The trial markets include Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, Brockton, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Verizon competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are each testing their own variants of potential 5G technologies. The actual 5G spec has yet to be defined by the International Telecommunications Union, but carriers and telecom equipment makers around the world are hoping their technologies will be included in the final standard.

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Verizon to Pay $350M Less for Yahoo After Privacy Breach

Feb 21, 2017, 8:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon and Yahoo today said they've amended the terms of their acquisition, first announced in July 2016, which will see the sale price drop by $350 million. The deal has been in jeopardy since December when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. According to Yahoo, an outside party was able to steal names, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords, and some security questions/answers of users back in August 2013. Verizon had originally agreed to pay $4.8 billion for Yahoo's core internet business and customer base. The total sale price is now closer to $4.48 billion. Moreover, the two companies agreed to terms with respect to any investigations over Yahoo's security breaches. The remaining Yahoo business that exists after the transaction will be held accountable for 50% of any cash liabilities from non-SEC or third-party investigations and all the liabilities of SEC and shareholder lawsuits. "The amended terms of the agreement provide a fair and favorable outcome for shareholders. It provides protections for both sides and delivers a clear path to close the transaction in the second quarter," said Marni Walden, Verizon executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses.


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