FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

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

YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

YouTube has spent more than a year creating YouTube Go, a site that has been customized to accommodate the limitations and needs of millions of new users from Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. These new users, online for the first time, bring different devices, connectivity and ideas about what the Internet is to them. YouTube has sent designers, engineers and researchers to those countries to plan a strategy. The challenges are balanced by the chance to engage more than one billion people of every socioeconomic level. Continue reading YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

Comcast Plans to Launch its Own Wireless Service Next Year

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts confirmed yesterday that the company plans to launch a wireless cell service by mid-2017. Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference, Roberts said the company would leverage its 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots and use airwaves leased from Verizon to handle much of the traffic. “Comcast has a deal with Verizon dating back to 2011 that allows the cable company to sell wireless service using the telecom carrier’s network at set terms and pricing,” explains The Wall Street Journal. Since “Comcast is essentially renting Verizon’s network,” it will not need to invest in major infrastructure. Continue reading Comcast Plans to Launch its Own Wireless Service Next Year

Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phablets Due to Battery Fires

On the eve of Apple’s expected new iPhone unveiling September 7, Samsung announced on Friday that it is recalling its Galaxy Note7 due to a problem with the battery cell that could lead to overheating. The world’s biggest maker of smartphones plans to replace 2.5 million phones shipped to consumers and stores. Reports first appeared online when users posted images and videos of charred phones that had reportedly exploded, often while charging. Manufacturing the replacement phones will take two weeks, according to Samsung, although it has yet to say how much the recall will cost the company. Continue reading Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note7 Phablets Due to Battery Fires

Gartner: Overall Spending on CE Devices Projected to Decline

Market research firm Gartner is forecasting a decline for CE device spending in 2016. While end-user sales are expected to inch up less than 2 percent this year, overall spending on devices like PCs, tablets and mobile devices will decline, according to the researcher. This decrease, the first since Gartner started tracking the market in 2010, is largely due to the falling price of phones. In markets like China, consumers are opting for basic models of smartphones rather than upgrading to higher-end devices. Continue reading Gartner: Overall Spending on CE Devices Projected to Decline

Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Two recent reports document the trend of U.S. households to use only cell phones and, globally, for mobile networks to be the dominant means of accessing the Internet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s report shows 47 percent of U.S. homes now only use mobile phones. The annual survey of the International Telecommunications Union reveals that there are 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions globally, and more than 95 percent of the earth’s inhabitants are within reach of a mobile network signal. Continue reading Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Tech Leaders Envision a Globally Connected Future with VR

Oculus chief executive Palmer Luckey and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are “ground zero” for the 3D immersive technology, but the big-name fan base is growing, including SpaceX/Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Facebook board member Mark Andreessen, who not long ago was skeptical about funding a virtual reality company. What they all believe is that VR will be a truly paradigm-shifting technology that will connect everyone in the world, for a growing range of activities from video games to business meetings. Continue reading Tech Leaders Envision a Globally Connected Future with VR

Apple, Samsung Tackle SIM Card Standardized for All Carriers

The SIM card, that bit of plastic in a mobile device that stores phone number and carrier information, is heading towards a standardization that will make it readable by all carriers. Apple and Samsung are working closely with mobile industry association GSMA, which represents 800 carriers globally, to do just that. The proposed new SIM card would make it easy for users to jump between carriers without changing hardware, and make phone purchases independent of carriers. Continue reading Apple, Samsung Tackle SIM Card Standardized for All Carriers

Zuckerberg Pushes Potential of Internet.org at Telecom Confab

At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg explained to a packed crowd why he believes Internet.org will eventually help carriers convince consumers to increase spending on mobile content. The Facebook-backed service, currently available in countries such as Paraguay and Zambia, is designed to offer those in emerging markets free access to the social network and some other online applications. For many new users, this would represent their first time surfing the Internet. Continue reading Zuckerberg Pushes Potential of Internet.org at Telecom Confab

Google Plans to Release Modular Mobile Phone in Puerto Rico

Google wants to redefine the way mobile devices are designed, built and sold. The Ara Smartphone, expected to release later this year in Puerto Rico, is a unique mobile device with replaceable components. Owners of the Ara will have the option to purchase additional hardware from a store, to enhance and upgrade their mobile devices rather than having to buy an entirely new phone every couple of years. A growing number of developers are reportedly working on a wide range of Ara modules. Continue reading Google Plans to Release Modular Mobile Phone in Puerto Rico

FreedomPop Targets Affordable Alternative to Cellular Plans

Los Angeles-based FreedomPop wants to make Wi-Fi hotspots more accessible to mobile phone users by eliminating the process by which users typically have to accept terms and conditions or enter a password in order to connect. Users of the new service would pay $5 monthly in exchange for automatic and seamless access to about 9 million hotspots (and growing). With its new Wi-Fi service, FreedomPop hopes to provide customers with an alternative to costly service plans from cellular carriers. Continue reading FreedomPop Targets Affordable Alternative to Cellular Plans

AT&T to Pay $105 Million to Settle Accusations of ‘Cramming’

AT&T will pay $105 million to settle accusations that it billed hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus third-party charges to its wireless subscribers. The settlement is the latest in a number of similar moves by regulators to curtail mobile “cramming” — the practice of charging fees for third-party services that subscribers did not order. A similar case against T-Mobile is still pending. The AT&T settlement marks the largest to-date against a specific carrier for cramming. Continue reading AT&T to Pay $105 Million to Settle Accusations of ‘Cramming’

Google Developing Messaging App to Compete with WhatsApp

Google is playing catch-up in the world of mobile messaging apps in emerging markets overseas. Facebook closed on the $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition earlier this week, and reportedly, Google may have a similar app in the works. The company plans to test its app in India and other emerging markets, which is where tech companies are now looking for growth. A messaging app from Google could help the brand find a foothold in these markets and eventually generate revenue. Continue reading Google Developing Messaging App to Compete with WhatsApp

Shift to Mobile Devices Makes Hotels Rethink Entertainment

LodgeNet, which provides television services to hotels, has revamped its video-on-demand and Internet programs after claiming bankruptcy. Hotel video-on-demand programs have been shifting as an increasing amount of travelers have started bringing their entertainment with them. Hotels are now trying to find new ways to keep cable and Internet packages without losing profits and customers. Continue reading Shift to Mobile Devices Makes Hotels Rethink Entertainment

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