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printed March 29, 2015
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FCC Chair Floats 3.5GHz Sharing Proposal

Friday, 4:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The FCC is moving forward with plans to free up a portion of the 3.5GHz band for wireless broadband use. The agency has been exploring the idea of sharing the airwaves with the incumbent users, including the military, and wants to make 150MHz of the spectrum available for wireless purposes. Chairman Tom Wheeler today circulated a draft Report and Order proposing to create a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The idea is to use a three-tiered sharing paradigm. In a segment called General Authorized Access, any FCC-certified device would be able to access the spectrum as long as it doesn't cause interference. In the Priority Access tier, users would have to acquire "short-duration licenses" at auction. Any service provided in the Priority Access would have to protect GAA users. Existing government users would stand at the top of the three tiers. They use the spectrum for satellite and radar, and will be protected from the two lower tiers. The tiers will be managed by something called the Spectrum Access System, which uses cloud computing technology to visualize and control what entities are using the spectrum in which locations. "I look forward to my fellow Commissioners' feedback on the draft Report and Order," said Wheeler. "I think it provides a peek of the future, and that future is very exciting indeed."


Vine Improves Video Quality to 720p HD

Friday, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Vine today announced new support for higher-resolution video. Since launch, the video-sharing service has uploaded videos with a maximum resolution of 480p. An update to its mobile application will record and upload videos in 720p HD. The update will hit the iOS version of Vine in the coming days, with the Android version to follow at some point down the road. Vine is owned by Twitter and lets people record 6-second videos that are then played back in loops. Earlier this week, Twitter released an app called Periscope, which lets people broadcast live video from their smartphones.

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US Cellular Accepting Preorders for Galaxy S6

Friday, 10:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular has begun accepting preorders on its web site for the Samsung Galaxy S6. U.S. Cellular wants $199.99 for the 32 GB S6 or $299.99 for the S6 Edge, each with a two-year contract. Customers who prefer to pay over time can score the S6 for $34 per month or the S6 Edge for $39.50 per month. The 64GB models of the S6 and S6 Edge cost $299.99 and $399.99 with a two year contract, respectively, or $38.50 and $44 per month. U.S. Cellular is offering the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in black or white, but not the gold color being sold by the big four carriers. U.S. Cellular didn't specify shipping dates.


HTC's Design Chief Departs After One Year at the Helm

Friday, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Jonah Becker, HTC's VP of Industrial Design, announced he is departing the company. Becker joined One & Co., a design firm bought by HTC, 17 years ago. He succeeded Scott Croyle, who himself left HTC a year ago. "It's been an amazing journey with One & Co and HTC, but it's time for a new adventure," said Becker through his personal Twitter account. Of his departure HTC said, "We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office." Becker's departure comes just a week after HTC announced a change at the executive leadership level. Long-time CEO Peter Chou switched roles to run the company's Future Development Lab. Cher Wang, who helped found HTC, has assumed the role of CEO. HTC is on the cusp of releasing its 2015 flagship smartphone, the One M9, which Becker played a large role in designing.


Review: ZTE Warp Sync for Boost Mobile

Thursday, 7:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

This Android phone for Boost Mobile covers the basics in a plain, but usable package. Budget shoppers who prefer pre-paid services might enjoy its stick-to-the-basics approach.

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Verizon Not Yet Saying when Galaxy S6 Goes On Sale

Thursday, 3:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon was the last of the major carriers today to announce pricing and availability details for its version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The company will begin taking pre-orders for the phones on April 1, but Verizon did not provide a shipping or in-store date. The 32GB Galaxy S6 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, $24.99 per month with an Edge plan, or $599 at full retail. The 64GB model will cost $299.99 with a contract, $29.16 per month, or $699. The 128GB model will cost $399.99 with a contract, $33.33 per month, or $799. Verizon is offering the S6 Edge with similar pricing breakdowns. The 32GB model starts at $299.99 with a contract, $29.14 per month, and $699; the 64GB model runs $399.99, $33.33, and $799; and the 128GB model runs $499.99, $37.49, and $899. (All on-contract prices reflect a $50 mail-in rebate.) Both the GS6 and GS6 Edge will include VoLTE and HD Voice, as well as simultaneous voice and data access.


Sprint Will Be First to Sell HTC One M9 In Stores On March 27

Thursday, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.


Verizon Kicking Off HTC One M9 Preorders April 1

Thursday, 2:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.


Sprint Hopes 600MHz Auction Permits Joint Bidding

Thursday, 12:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently suggested the company might participate in the forthcoming auction for 600MHz spectrum if it is allowed to bid jointly with smaller carriers. Claure made the remarks during a roundtable discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association's Global Expo in Atlanta. "Hopefully the rules of the auction will allow us to participate," said Marcelo, noting the incentive auction will be a "great opportunity for us to lobby together to potentially form a coalition to go after this spectrum together." The 600MHz low-band spectrum is valued highly because of its propagation characteristics. Sprint said CCA members operate regional networks in areas it doesn't provide coverage, and vice versa. Allowing them to bid together would be advantageous to all involved and might let them actually win the licenses. The FCC hasn't finalized the rules for the auction yet, but it is scheduled to begin early next year. Surely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already own vast sums of low-band spectrum, will oppose any rules that might limit their participation or prevent them from competing for the licenses.


Sprint Offering Galaxy S6 and Service For $80 Per Month

Thursday, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint is hoping to attract customers to its network with a combined promotion that includes the Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Sprint Unlimited Plus service plan for $80 per month. The plan includes the 32GB GS6 for "free" after a $20-per-month credit with a 24-month lease; unlimited talk, text, and data; international value roaming; and annual upgrades. Customers who want the 64GB or 128GB models can get them for $85 and $90 per month, respectively, with the same service plan. Families interested in the Galaxy S6 can score four of them with unlimited talk and text, and 20GB of shared data for a total monthly price of $200 per month. Annual upgrades would cost another $10 per line per month. Customers looking for the Galaxy S6 Edge can snag one for $85 per month ($5 per month after $20-per-month lease credit) with the Sprint Unlimited plan. Customers not interested in contracts or leases can pay full price for the Galaxy S6 ($649.99) and pair it with a Boost Mobile plan. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge go on sale in Sprint stores April 10, with pre-orders beginning March 27.


Amazon Offering Unlimited Cloud Storage for $60 Per Year

Thursday, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today debuted two new cloud storage plans that should appeal to consumers looking to store backups of important files online. The Unlimited Everything Plan offers an unlimited amount of online storage for photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive. It costs $59.99 per year. For customers interested in spending less, Amazon is also offering an Unlimited Photos Plan, which lets people store an infinite number of photos in addition to 5GB of additional storage for videos, documents, and other files. The Unlimited Photos Plan costs $11.99 per year. Amazon is offering a free three-month trial of both plans beginning today. Prime members and Fire device owners, who already have access to unlimited photo storage, can choose to sign up for the Unlimited Everything Plan to store videos and files in addition to their pictures.


T-Mobile Asking $780 for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Thursday, 8:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile was the first carrier today to reveal pricing information for its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. T-Mobile listed the full retail prices at $679.92 and $779.76, respectively, for the two handsets. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge share nearly all specs and features, but the S6 Edge has a display that's curved on two sides. Customers can pre-order the phones beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific on March 27. The S6 will go for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $28.33, while the S6 Edge will require 24 monthly payments of $32.49. T-Mobile customers who order before April 12th can also receive a one-year Netflix subscription at no cost.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Lands In Carrier Stores April 10

Thursday, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the general availability details for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The devices can be pre-ordered beginning Friday, March 27 and should reach most carrier stores on April 10. Samsung said the black, white, and gold models will be sold in the U.S. in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular all plan to sell the GS6 and GS6 Edge. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will only offer the Galaxy S6. In addition to carrier stores, the two phones will be available at Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon, Costco, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart. Some carrier stores will have the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge on display beginning tomorrow, even if sales don't commence until April 10. Samsung said carriers will announce individual pricing details later. The devices include 5.1-inch quad HD screens, 16-megapixel cameras, fingerprint readers, and multi-standard wireless charging.


Google's Keep App Scores Labels In Latest Update

Thursday, 7:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week pushed out an update to its Keep application for Android devices. The note-taking app adds labels, which users can take advantage of to organize their notes or make them easier to search. The app also adds scheduled reminders (daily, weekly, monthly) for recurring tasks or events. Google Keep is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Twitter's Periscope App Powers Live Video Streaming

Thursday, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter today released a new application for the iPhone called Periscope. The app lets people broadcast live video to their Twitter followers. When Periscope users choose to publish live video, their followers are notified and can view the stream, comment on the video, and send feedback in the form of hearts. Periscope saves broadcasts for up to 24 hours for replay, and permits people to share live video privately if they wish. Periscope will suggest who to follow based on the user's Twitter network, as the app allows people to follow/unfollow other Periscope users at will. Users can easily act on or ignore incoming notifications when others in their network begin streaming live video. The feedback mechanism, which uses hearts, tells Periscope streamers how much love their video receives. Periscope is battling a third-party app called Meerkat, which similarly offers live video feeds via Twitter. Periscope is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Twitter didn't indicate if it will release a version for Android devices.


AT&T, T-Mobile Share HTC One M9 Pricing Details

Thursday, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.


HTC to Sell One M9 March 27 for $649, Carriers April 10

Thursday, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.


Motorola Found to Infringe on MMS Patent

Wednesday, 6:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A Delaware jury today said Motorola violated a patent held by Intellectual Ventures. The patent pertains to how multimedia messages function on mobile devices. The jury cleared Motorola of violating a second patent related to wireless bandwidth. Damages will be decided later. The two companies faced off in court last year over these same patents, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. Today's decision comes after the case was tried again. Intellectual Ventures is taking Motorola to trial over yet another patent later this week. Intellectual Ventures is a patent-holding firm with some 17,000 patents in its portfolio.

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