As Softbank’s deep pockets have suddenly opened up a new challenger to Verizon & AT&T, it’s only natural for Sprint & Softbank to make an official statement confirming the major news. In a press release unveiled this morning, Softbank announced it will acquire Sprint Nextel for a whopping $20.1 billion ($12.1 billion in cash consideration & $8 billion in capital). The major highlight of this is the deal is the fact this will give Softbank a 70% stake of Sprint and 30% ownership, effectively giving it full control over the Now Network. The hope of this deal is Softbank will effectively give Sprint a better platform to use in rolling out not just its LTE network, but an LTE network with a significantly better structure than its competitors. Here’s Sprint CEO Dan Heese:
“This is a transformative transaction for Sprint that creates immediate value for our stockholders, while providing an opportunity to participate in the future growth of a stronger, better capitalized Sprint going forward. Our management team is excited to work with SoftBank to learn from their successful deployment of LTE in Japan as we build out our advanced LTE network, improve the customer experience and continue the turnaround of our operations.”
Of course all of this will be pending regulatory approval– so hopefully we won’t see some sort of mishap like we’d seen before. Hit the break for the full presser.
Following the lead of MetroPCS, Verizon Wireless is set on bringing voice over LTE (VoLTE) to its customers by late 2013 or 2014. According to Nicola Palmer, VP of network and CTO for Verizon Wireless, Verizon will begin a formal consumer trial at some point within the next year, with a subsequent formal rollout shortly after. Verizon is quick to point out the benefits of its testing of voice over LTE too. As opposed to using an old-school 3G voice-based network, voice over LTE has voice calls broken into data bits and transmitted across the LTE network— similar to an email transmission or song streaming over the internet. The hope is this technology will be more efficient than traditional wireless voice services, allowing for clearer calls and other services that can be linked to it. In addition, this feature will finally allow for Verizon customers to surf the internet while on a call using their cellular device.
While VoLTE is exciting news, this may possibly bring not just confusion to the average customer of how this works— but it will likely end traditional cellular minutes as we know it. Because VoLTE does not utilize a traditional voice network to transmit voice over an LTE network, mobile users are actually using 4G data packets to make and receive phone calls. This means that if you’re on one of Verizon’s Data Share plans, you’ll need to pay special attention to how many phone calls you make as it will certainly contribute to your overall monthly data usage and thus— those unlimited minutes would likely be well you know, useless.
The good thing is while we have our fair share of concerns with Verizon’s intentions, we have at least a year to see Verizon work out its various kinks and issues. This means we should see much more clarity as we near its release hopefully around this time next year.
Sprint has announced the addition of four new devices to its 4G LTE portfolio. They indicate the devices will be available for customers to order sometime this fall. The devices include:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 able to access both Sprint’s 3G and 4G LTE networks, the 10.1-inch tablet boasts a 1.5GHz dual-core processor running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich;
- LG Optimus G running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor running a 4.7-inch HD display;
- LG Mach, an entry level QWERTY slider device capable of full HD video recording and playback;
- Plug-in-Connect, a tri-mode USB device that users can plug into their computers to enjoy broadband wireless connectivity.
Buyers of these new devices will have to sign up for a Sprint Everything Data plan. Hit the break to read the full press release from Sprint about these new options for their customers.
AT&T has long been praised for its lengthy return policy for new devices and service contracts, but that’s all coming to an end. The company has revealed a new policy via its official website, shrinking the return window from 30 to 14 days.
“AT&T has updated its device return policy. Consumer customers will have 14 days to return a device for any reason and cancel service without paying an Early Termination Fee. While this begins on October 7, AT&T customers will continue to have the option to update their voice and data plans at any time.”
The new policy goes into effect beginning today, meaning from this point forward subscribers will have just two weeks to decide if they are satisfied with both their smartphone/tablet and AT&T’s service. The carrier has also confirmed that purchases made on or before October 6th will still fall under the old 30-day schedule. For more on the specifics, head past the break.
Everything Everywhere has just revealed its plans to launch the United Kingdom’s first 4G LTE network on October 30th. The carrier’s CEO, Olaf Swantee, also announced that the new network will cover ten major UK cities at launch, including London, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool.
Details remain scarce, as pricing hasn’t been determined just yet. However, this news arrives on the same day as the company released its first slew of LTE-capable devices. And, just yesterday the carrier made it known that it would be offering the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE. Read on for the carrier’s full statement.
Several UK mobile network providers, the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom, and other government officials have announced a deal that will accelerate the rollout of 4G LTE services throughout the UK. The settlement means carriers like O2 and Vodafone will likely be able to start deploying their 4G LTE networks in early 2013, about six months earlier than originally thought.
UK carrier EE was previously granted permission to use some of their existing 1800 MHz spectrum for 4G LTE network purposes and they were expected to start that rollout this fall. However, other UK carriers like O2 and Vodafone had been threatening to launch legal action claiming the permission to use the spectrum for 4G services was improper and that EE was being given an unfair advantage. Ofcom has now agreed to accelerate the approval process for 4G LTE services for other carriers after a planned January action of old analog television spectrum occurs in January 2013.
With the agreement, EE is anticipated to announce the imminent launch of their 4G LTE network. They have indicated they have plans to deploy the service to 16 UK cities before the end of the year and to 98% of the UK by 2014. Other carriers will be behind with their deployments which should now occur sometime in early 2013, but with the agreement the head start that EE gets will not be as great.
The settlement means the UK will be able to start to catch back up to other countries that already have 4G LTE services well established. As Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive notes, consumers are the big winners as they will not have to wait for “a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.”
Over the weekend we reported on some listings in the FCC database for Samsung Galaxy Note II devices for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Missing from the list were Sprint and U.S. Cellular versions despite a previous announcement that these carriers would also get the device. Potential Sprint buyers of the device can catch a little breath as they continue their wait as filings for the Sprint version have now surfaced at the FCC. Going by model number SPH-L900, the Samsung device includes Sprint compatible radio bands.
In addition to the Sprint version of the Galaxy Note II, two other Samsung devices surfaced, both of them 4G LTE compatible 10.1-inch tablets. The devices have model numbers SPH-P500 and SPH-i915 and are believed to be Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 models for Sprint and Verizon.
In a joint announcement issued by AT&T and Samsung, the two shared information on some devices slated to be available “in the coming months” for AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The devices include three smartphones powered by Android and one tablet device.
Headlining the list of forthcoming devices is the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the eagerly awaited for successor to the Samsung Galaxy Note. Unveiled earlier this month, the “phablet” device will sport a 5.5-inch screen and a quad-core Exynos processor to power Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Samsung’s S-Pen apps.
Today Sprint announced some new cities being added to their 4G LTE network. The locations include:
- Lawrence, KS
- Topeka, KS
- Wichita, KS
- Waukegan-Lake County, IL
- Barnstable-Hyannis/Mid-Cape, MA
The additions are part of Sprint’s goal to reach over 100 cities in the upcoming months with LTE coverage and they join 19 locations Sprint has already launched.
Along with the 4G additions, Sprint also announced upgrades to their 3G network in parts of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Hit the break for the full press release.
Those of you lucky individuals who own the HTC One X smartphone can now have something to look forward to. While you still may not know of Jelly Bean’s exact arrival, at least HTC is giving the owners an idea of when the update is due to arrive. The manufacturer has confirmed the update will be pushed to the unlocked Tegra 3 models by October, followed by the carrier-branded models (i.e. the One XL or Snapdragon-powered One X models) receiving the update hopefully by roughly Christmas if all goes well.
The HTC Jelly Bean news doesn’t stop there either. You remember how we told you about that supercharged HTC One X+ that’s on the way? Well that device along with the special One XL arriving on EE’s brand-spankin’ new 4G LTE network will come with Jelly Bean shipped out of the box. And before you ask— there’s no news of when One S owners will get Jelly Bean, but if or when we hear news, we’ll be sure to share it with you.