New laws for unlocking phones go into effect February 11th

Unlocked_DeviceSIM unlocking phones is something that comes up in the legal world every so often, with the most recent event making it completely legal to unlock your device. Like any other law, though, the fine print changes, and on February 11th there will be some slightly tweaked rules to go by when getting your smart device unlocked to use on other networks.

Most of the rules generally stay the same, but some of the details have been altered to keep up with the changing landscape of buying phones. When purchasing a subsidized phone, if you sign a 2-year contract for your device and it’s paid off, your carrier is still legally obligated to unlock the phone for you. This now extends to installment plans, too. Prepaid phones are similar, but the carrier has up to a year to unlock the device. Read more

FTC rules that throttled data plans no longer count as unlimited data

tracfoneThe FTC has ruled against TracFone in a case involving their “unlimited data,” forcing the prepaid company to pay out $40 million to customers that were mislead about just how unlimited TracFone’s data actually is. Like tons of other carriers, TracFone offers an unlimited data plan that’s throttled after a certain cap is hit. The FTC isn’t particularly fond of those kinds of plans, which they’ve mentioned in the past.

According to the FTC, data speeds were slowed down between 1 and 3 GB and were sometimes completely cut off once customers hit the 5 GB limit. The FTC might have been more lenient if TracFone wasn’t cutting data off completely and just sticking to throttling, but it’s a tough call knowing that the FTC dislikes throttled data plans anyway. Read more

AT&T Brings Back Rollover – for Data

For years, AT&T offered rollover minutes on its mobile plans, going back all the way to the days of AirTouch and Cingular Wireless. (Remember Cingular?! They were awesome. I loved that orange jumping jack guy.) But with minutes ceasing to be valuable currency in the mobile space in recent years, Rollover disappeared.

Now AT&T, taking its cues from GSM rival T-Mobile,  is resurrecting the Rollover concept, but in a form more fitting these modern times. AT&T Mobile Share customers will now be automatically enrolled in a monthly Rollover of data, and it rolls over across an entire shared account. It’s a nice bone to throw customers concerned about overages and should assuage billing fears associated with said overages.

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Carriers recommend Samsung devices more than Apple and its iPhone

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The role of an employee in a carrier’s retail store is quite easy. They are there to sell a device. So they have some options as to what devices are the best for a particular consumer. New research conducted by Kantar Worldpanel shows that United States carriers are more inclined to recommend a Samsung device rather than an iPhone from Apple. Read more

U.S. Senate reports that companies are cramming customer bills with obscene charges

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A new study conducted by the United States Senate Commerce Committee found that owners of mobile phones have been wrongly overcharged with bills. This is from cramming, which is the application of unauthorized charges masked by services such as ringtones. The report published by Congress shows that carriers in the United States are keeping roughly 30-40% of revenue. And the carriers are not even the ones doing the actual cramming. In many cases, it is a third party running these services. This is all at the literal expense of customers. Read more

LG says additional LG G3 colors to be available starting in August

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From the beginning, LG has planned to have at least five colors available for their newest flagship, the LG G3. The standard Metallic Black and Silk White have been available through AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile while the Shine Gold color has thus far been an exclusive to Sprint, which also has black available. However, there have been no signs of Moon Violet or Burgundy Red being available internationally or with any of the U.S. carriers. LG has issued a statement indicating these additional colors will start to hit the market in August: Read more

Variant of Galaxy Note 4 coming to all major carriers

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We have some information today regarding the Samsung SM-N910 (possibly a variant for the Galaxy Note 4, as the Galaxy Note 4 is the SM-N900).

We were already pretty sure that the phone would be coming to AT&T, but now we know it’ll be coming to Sprint, US Cellular, Verizon, T-Mobile and Bell Canada. All carriers should have the 32GB capacity available at launch.

Stay tuned, as there’s certainly more to come.

Source: @evleaks 1 / @evleaks 2

One year later and finally some progress on legally unlocking cell phones

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About this time last year, an small uproar was sweeping over the Internet thanks to action taken by the Library of Congress to make unlocking cell phones illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Library of Congress ruling took effect on January 26, 2013 and any cell phone purchased after that date cannot be unlocked, at least not legally. In response, an online petition was created on the White House web site and in a matter of days surpassed the 100,000 signature threshold triggering a response. President Obama responded as hoped, agreeing with the petition that consumers should have the freedom to unlock their devices. Read more