Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup, Essential Products, born out of his incubator Playground Global, may be on the sales block. The startup, which raised about $300 million from Amazon, Tencent Holdings, Redpoint Ventures and Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), ceased development of a new smartphone, say sources, and hired Credit Suisse Group to advise on its sale. Reportedly, Essence has already piqued the interest of one potential buyer. The original Essential smartphone, manufactured by Foxconn, debuted last August. Continue reading Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson announced last Thursday that the company plans to introduce the AT&T Watch live TV service in the coming weeks. The streaming service will offer a sports-free, skinny bundle of channels to general consumers for $15-per-month and for free to AT&T Wireless subscribers. “At this price point,” explains TechCrunch, “the service would be one of the lowest on the market — less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.” Continue reading AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Sprint is currently developing AI-powered software to help call center representatives better handle customer service. Sprint plans to use data related to customer calls to create “interaction assistants” that provide employees with best next steps. This effort is part of the company’s digital transformation project, which involves a partnership with Adobe Systems Inc. “Our focus has been about evolving and really becoming a digital company across all facets,” said Sprint CIO Scott Rice. Data has “become core across all our infrastructure and we really are changing our mindset.”

Continue reading Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

For 5G to take off, manufacturers have to produce devices that integrate the technology. To that end, Qualcomm has partnered with 19 device makers, all of which will be relying on the chipmaker’s new Snapdragon X50 5G-compatible modem in at least one of their devices. Qualcomm has inked additional partnerships with global carriers, which will also be using the X50 modem for their 5G trials. All four major U.S. networks will begin their rollout of 5G networks by the end of this year, with full nationwide coverage by 2020. Continue reading Qualcomm Inks Partnerships With 5G Device Makers, Carriers

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Verizon Teams With Samsung to Deploy 5G Wireless This Year

Verizon Communications has selected Samsung Electronics to be a major supplier of network equipment as the telecom readies the first commercial launch of its 5G wireless service in Sacramento, California later this year. Verizon will first offer high-speed Internet over its wireless network in California before expanding to other U.S. markets. Verizon began its 5G trials in 11 U.S. markets last year. AT&T also just announced that it plans to roll out commercial 5G service in late 2018, while Sprint and T-Mobile are expected to introduce 5G technology in late 2019 or 2020. Continue reading Verizon Teams With Samsung to Deploy 5G Wireless This Year

T-Mobile Buys Layer3, Prepares to Debut Streaming Service

T-Mobile US is buying Layer3 TV, a streaming pay-TV distributor, to launch its own pay-TV streaming service. In doing so, T-Mobile, the third largest wireless carrier (by subscribers) in the U.S., joins a growing host of other companies, such as Sony, Dish and YouTube, that aim to lure cord-cutters to their streaming services. Some of those efforts have been successful; AT&T, for example, now has one million subscribers to its DirecTV Now streaming service, which debuted last year and is priced as little as $35 per month. Continue reading T-Mobile Buys Layer3, Prepares to Debut Streaming Service

Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

In late 2018, Verizon Communications will begin to sell 5G home broadband services in three to five cities, first in Sacramento, California. All these cities are expected to be outside the Northeast U.S. region where it has a landline business and also offers its FiOS high-speed fiber-optic Internet service. To access the 5G signal, customers will have a box in their windows to convert it to Wi-Fi inside the house. If Verizon succeeds, it could compete in cities where most users have access to only one broadband provider. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

After nine months of merger talks, SoftBank has reportedly suspended its plans to combine Sprint with T-Mobile US. This marks the second time in three years that Sprint has backed out of negotiations. According to those familiar with the matter, directors of SoftBank Group Corp. (Sprint’s parent company) met in Tokyo and opted to suspend the merger plans. Insiders indicate that the news came as a surprise to T-Mobile officials. While discussions could be revisited in the future, the same insiders note that the two sides could not agree on the valuation of Sprint’s shares, and SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son had concerns about relinquishing too much control. Continue reading SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

Mobile Companies Offer TV, Video and Music to Slow Churn

AT&T and T-Mobile are luring in new subscribers and holding on to existing ones by offering popular television content, including “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things.” T-Mobile, which now has an exclusive deal with Netflix, is offering free access to the streaming video service for subscribers who buy its unlimited family plan. AT&T expanded its HBO promotion to a larger circle of subscribers. In April, it offered free HBO to its Unlimited Plus Choice subscribers, and now expanded that to anyone with an Unlimited Choice plan. Continue reading Mobile Companies Offer TV, Video and Music to Slow Churn

Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Essential Products, the smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, has amassed $300 million from several investors, including China’s Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The company, which plans to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, also stated that Best Buy and Amazon will be its first partners for distributing the new $699 titanium-encased Essential phone. What Essential did not reveal was the date the phone will launch. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

Apple’s current Watch requires wireless connection to an iPhone to function, but the tech giant is on track to release a new version that connects directly to mobile networks, according to sources. This new smartwatch, at least a few of which will be released by the end of 2017, is made possible by LTE modems supplied by Intel, which has waged a persistent effort to get its technology into more Apple mobile devices. Up until now, Qualcomm has been Apple’s primary modem supplier for its mobile devices. Continue reading Apple to Release Standalone, Upgraded Watch in September

T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

The results of the government’s wireless airwaves auction are in, and T-Mobile ended up as the biggest spender at $8 billion, followed by Dish at $6.2 billion and Comcast at $1.7 billion. The FCC auction, which began last year, generated $19.8 billion in bids. While the companies have yet to announce their plans for the spectrum, Comcast recently indicated that it would offer cell service to its Internet subscribers. Conclusion of the auction also means that companies will be able to resume deal discussions by April 27, now that bidding collusion is no longer a concern. Continue reading T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

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