FCC concerned about prepaid customer migration to new networks
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has temporarily stopped an informal 180-day approval clock on the AT&T purchase of Alltel's retail operations. The FCC claims to have no information on how AT&T will migrate the Alltel customer base to its network "despite several Commission staff follow-up conversations about the importance of transitioning prepaid customers."
Leftovers of Verizon acquisition cover six states, includes spectrum licenses
AT&T has made an agreement with Atlantic Tele-Network Incorporated to acquire its rural wireless business. The purchase of Alltel will cost AT&T $780 million, but it will net the carrier a number of wireless properties, retail locations, network equipment, an extra 585,000 existing subscribers, and also wireless licenses.
Walmart to carry four U Prepaid phones
Regional wireless providers US Cellular and Alltel have teamed up with Walmart on an upcoming launch of a new no-contract service. Called U Prepaid, it will be available in nearly 500 Walmart stores in 18 states. The service will focus on offering simple and easy-to-understand service plans.
Some vestigial Alltel service areas still exist
Verizon has stopped activating Alltel phones on its network, effective yesterday. Alltel customers who haven't already moved their legacy phones over to Verizon's wireless service won't be able to do so. Anyone with an inactive Alltel phone will have to buy a Verizon phone, although they may get one free on a contract.
HTC Evo Design 4G linked to Kingdom
Sprint's HTC Evo Design 4G has had more of its details firmed up in a leak of a ROM update utility (RUU) on Wednesday. Known to be the Kingdom, it should have the 540x960 display of higher-end HTC phones but a a four-inch display that should produce a much sharper image. What Android and Me saw was almost a sequel to the Droid Incredible 2 as it had a faster 1.2GHz single-core Snapdragon and Android 2.3.4, but it would go to a lower resolution five-megapixel camera and keep the 768MB of RAM.
LG Optimus Black coming to most US CDMA carriers
LG's Optimus Black is now known to be coming to virtually every US CDMA carrier after FCC listings gave its plans away. A core LS855 model is headed to Sprint, while AS855, US855, and VM855 should reach Alltel, US Cellular, and Virgin. In every case, the chief updates are the expected switchovers to CDMA and EVDO for phone calls and 3G.
AT&T begins transitioning former Alltel customers
Following its buyout of rural Verizon and Alltel assets, AT&T has announced it will begin offering cellphone service to residents of Montana. The region was previously served by Alltel and those 150,000 subscribers will get a rebranded service. They will also get the choice to buy AT&T's portfolio of services and devices, including the iPhone 4.
HTC Merge for Alltel up for pre-order March 28
Alltel confirmed it would become the first carrier to use the HTC Merge and has given out its first launch details. Pre-orders should start March 28 for the Android slider, which will ship for $125 on a contract. Alltel hasn't said whether the phone will come customized for the network.
HTC Merge official for North America in spring
HTC chose the unusual timing of a Friday after Mobile world Congress to formally launch the Merge. The long in progress Android 2.2 slider is HTC's first Android phone to have both CDMA and GSM, giving it the option both of reaching many carriers in North America and of letting CDMA subscribers roam in other parts of the world. A 3.8-inch, 480x800 screen and a five-megapixel camera with 720p video put it safely in the mid-range of the phone mix.
Samsung Gem now available at Alltel Wireless
The Samsung Gem Android phone has now been claimed by provider Alltel. The device ships with Android 2.1 and sports a 3.2-inch touchscreen along with a relatively quick 800MHz procssor. A 3.2-megapixel camera on the back keeps in line with the budget focus, although the Wi-Fi carries hotspot support for sharing.
Verizon may allow legacy data plans with iPhone
Electronista has received word from those pre-ordering Verizon iPhones that they may have the opportunity to use a different cellphone plan. Those who pre-ordered the device are told that, while Apple's device normally requires the $30 or $45 data plans, they can keep the deprecated 150MB plan. Customers would only need to call a number afterwards, the message said.
Verizon launch still questionable
Despite a number of early rumors tying HTC's Merge handset to Verizon, the device has resurfaced with Alltel branding. Sources have told Droid-Life the smartphone is in the late stages of testing on Alltel's network, with a launch expected in the next month if the trials are completed successfully.
Mid-range smartphone runs Android 2.2
Renders, photos and ROM sheets posted on Russian and Chinese blogs purport to show the HTC Bee, a new mid-range Android phone running "Froyo" v2.2, as well as its specifications. The Bee, which according to PocketNow.com could be headed for Alltel or its parent company Verizon in the US, uses a 528Mhz Qualcomm processor with 384MB of RAM and a five-megapixel camera with flash, but has only a 3.2-inch, 240x320 resolution screen, according to the ROM report from the same blogs.
Buyout will leave branding intact
Alltel Wireless has announced that it will retain its branding and service in select markets throughout six states. Atlantic Tele-Network has purchased the Alltel assets that Verizon was required to divest as part of its larger Alltel buyout initiated last year.
FCC says ATT buyout of Verizon space competitive
The FCC today greenlit AT&T's nearly $2.4 billion buyout of some Verizon wireless spectrum. A unanimous vote by all five commissioners ruled that the buyout, prompted by an FCC requirement that Verizon sell 79 of its frequency holdings after acquiring Alltel, didn't pose a competitive risk. It argued in turn that there were "public interest benefits" to AT&T taking over the discarded frequencies.
ATT could expand rural coverage soon
The FCC is on the verge of approving AT&T's proposed buyout of rural frequencies from Verizon, leaks from within the deal said today. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has reportedly already passed a request that the other four commissioners approve the deal before they formally vote on the deal in the next few weeks. AT&T would be paying almost $2.4 billion for airwaves that Verizon has to abandon for its acquisition of Alltel to remain intact.
Forrester sees Amazon, Barnes leading
A new Customer Experience Index published this week by Forrester has given Apple the lead in computers but still well behind others in service. As a company, Apple has reached an overall rank of 35th in shopper satisfaction and is significantly ahead of Windows PC builders: its closest rival is HP, at a distant 62nd place. Further down are Toshiba at 71st place followed by Acer (79th), HP's sub-brand Compaq (89th) and Dell (97th).
AT&T adds a high 2m total customers
AT&T today provided results for what it says is one of the best summer quarters in its history. The company says it activated 3.2 million iPhones, the most ever in its history and a steep jump from 2.4 million in the spring. It comes despite the iPhone 3GS having launched the previous quarter and points to increasing demand for the phone between July and September.
LG AX310 clamshell arrives at Alltel
Alltel Wireless on Thursday announced it is now offering LG's clamshell AX310 handset to subscribers. The entry-level phone has voice-activated calling, a speakerphone and Bluetooth support. Separate controls allow users to record voice memos.
Alltel gets QWERTY Freeform from Samsung
Samsung's Freeform handset has been added to the Alltel Wireless lineup. The entry level device has a 2.2-inch color display and a QWERTY keyboard, as well as customizable navigation keys that can take users to their favorite applications. Music playback capability is built-in, and users can send data wirelessly or hook up compatible wireless headsets or headphones through stereo Bluetooth.
HTC Snap reaches Alltel
Wireless provider Alltel on Tuesday announced it is now offering the HTC Snap handset. The four-band GSM device uses EVDO Rev. A networks for 3G data access as well as its built-in Wi-Fi connection. Users interface through Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard and a four-row QWERTY keyboard. Microsoft Outlook Mobile is preloaded onto the device, and an Inner Circle feature highlights and prioritizes messages from favorite contacts from any of their saved contact info that includes e-mail accounts.
JD Power on call quality
In most regions of the US, Verizon has the best cellular call quality, claims JD Power and Associates. Between January and June of 2009, the marketing data firm conducted a survey of 25,512 cellular subscribers, polling them on topics such as interference, dropped calls and voice distortion. Verizon is said to rank first in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, southeast and southwest regions, doing particular well in terms of minimizing drops, failed initial connections and failed or delayed text and voice messages.
Alltel gets Gling, Tour
Wireless provider Alltel announced on Thursday that it will soon offer the Samsung Glint and BlackBerry Tour handsets, with the Glint making its debut at any provider. The basic clamshell sports a VGA camera that has a night shot mode, a web browser, and Bluetooth 2.0. There is SMS, MMS and picture messaging functionality, and Alltel will offer the handset in pink or blue.
JD Power Cell Support Rank
JD Power gave a rare three-way tie for the top spot in customer support among US cellular carriers this week. Alltel, T-Mobile USA and Verizon all earned the top spot with each receiving a 747-point score out of 1,000 and a full five-star rating. Each scored well in different areas. Alltel fared best with retail support, while T-Mobile was best in getting customers to live phone help and Verizon was the most efficient at solving problems.
BB Tour at Bell, Alltel
After today's earlier news of the BlackBerry Tour smartphone coming to Verizon, two more sources have reported the device will soon be offered at another US provider, Alltel, as well as Canada's Bell. While no specifics are known about the Alltel release other than the photos that reveal Alltel branding on the phone, the Bell release of the new BlackBerry has been supported with more specific pricing details.
LG Tritan at Alltel
Alltel this morning picked up the LG Tritan. Also known as the AX840, the handset has a T-Mobile G1-like design with a 3-inch touchscreen display that slides out to reveal the QWERTY keyboard for messaging. Although not a smartphone, it still has 3G over EVDO Revision A as well as a 3-megapixel camera and true GPS for use with Alltel's Navigator app.
Alltel one year contracts
Alltel Wireless has announced that it will soon offer one-year service contracts for new or renewing subscribers in certain areas. The company claims the phone prices will remain level with the two-year pricing. If true, the carrier would diverge from many of its peers that typically place considerably higher price tags on handsets that are acquired with a shorter contract.
ATT Class Action Cleared
A federal District of Washington court yesterday rejected (PDF) objections to a class action lawsuit that accuses the carrier of abusive behavior in transition customers to its service. The plaintiffs can now bring their complaints, which center on what they claim are unfair practices in moving customers to its network in 2004 when it was still called Cingular; those from the then-smaller, separate AT&T were allegedly not only pulled off a network that was "dismantled" in favor of a poorer Cingular network but were forced to move to more expensive cellphone plans, replace phones and to pay early termination fees if they didn't want to remain on the network.
Moto QA4 Evoke at Cricket
Cricket gained one of its highest-end phones yet today with the addition of the Motorola QA4 Evoke to its roster. It becomes the unlimited-only carrier's first capacitive touchscreen phone and, like the stock model, has a gesture-driven interface that lets users swipe between home screens that control apps, calling, music and other features. A 2-megapixel camera, GPS and a microSDHC slot round out the device.
ATT May Buy Alltel Assets
(Update at end with official information) AT&T is nearing buying up most of the markets Verizon has to shed from Alltel as part of its buyout, purported sources said on Friday. Of the 24 areas that won't be rolled into Verizon's network, AT&T is believed to be buying 18 and would leave the remaining six for smaller carriers as well as private equity firms. It's not known how close a deal may be.
Verizon requests extension
Verizon has asked the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau for a 60-day extension to complete divesting the markets it currently shares with Alltel, with which it recently merged. The wireless provider is citing the poor state of the economy as one reason for the request, as well as the sheer size of its assets, with each marketing area containing about 200 pages worth of assets that need to be auctioned off. When the Verizon merger with Alltel was approved, it was under the condition that it divests from 105 markets where Verizon and Alltel services overlap.
Alltel Pearl Flip 8230
Alltel Wireless on Thursday announced it will soon be offering the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8230 smartphone on its network. The clamshell handset has a dual LCD display, with the larger, internal display's resolution set at 240x320 pixels. Once opened up, the familiar design remains with a SureType keyboard and access to driving directions and other mapping over GPS, which replaces the Wi-Fi from the Pearl Flip 8220 on T-Mobile.
Evoke QA4 now at Alltel
Alltel Wireless on Thursday announced it is now offering the new Motorola Evoke QA4 touchscreen handset that was released and tested at the recent CTIA Wireless show. The slider handset has a 2.8-inch capacitive touch display that hides a 12-button keypad and is a first for Motorola. The phone also has a 2-megapixel camera and a GPS receiver that can be used with the Alltel Navigation service. The provider's TV on Demand service can also be accessed from the Evoke QA4.
Finesse at MetroPCS
Samsung's Finesse handset is now available for purchase on the MetroPCS website. The smartphone is the carrier's second-most expensive handset behind the BlackBerry Curve 8330 in red and is basically a re-branded version of the Samsung Delve offered by Alltel. While it resembles the Instinct, it lacks the touch buttons for call and menu functions.
Bell to get Motorola Hint
First spotted last winter, Motorola's Hint QA30 slider phone with a full QWERTY keyboard is due to be offered exclusively in Canada by provider Bell Mobility starting on April 9th, says a Thursday MobileSyrup note. Pricing will be nearly $330 CAD (about $266) for the handset without a contract, or $280 ($226), $180 ($145) and $130 ($105) when purchased with 1-year, 2-year and 3-year contracts, respectively.
JD Power call quality rise
The call quality among various wireless voice network providers has held steady over the last 18 months while the gap between the best performing networks and the worst is disappearing, says a recent JD Power and Associates report, though Verizon is still at the top of the list. On average, its customers have reported just 15 problems per 100 (PP100) calls as related to voice quality, the ability to make connections and the number of drops.
Alltel nabs Motorola VE465
Carrier Alltel Wireless has adopted a new Motorola phone for sale, the VE465. Though not intended as a high-end device, the phone does sport RAZR-like styling in a clamshell design, and EVDO support for faster downloads through the likes of Alltel's Music Connect service. Bluetooth A2DP support is built-in as well, along with GPS navigation.
Alltel is set to release the LG Banter, a slider handset that appears to offer the same features as the Rumor 2 but with slightly reworked cosmetics. The messaging phone offers a QWERTY keyboard, but with an additional fourth row of keys. Other specs include a two-inch screen, 1.3-megapixel camera, microSD card slot and interchangeable face and back plates.
Palm Treo Pro at Alltel
Alltel today claimed a small victory on Thursday with the official launch of its version of the Palm Treo Pro. Beating the Sprint edition by over a week, Alltel's model is now the first Windows Mobile device to use Internet Explorer Mobile 6 and should provide much more representative views of websites, including through Flash and Silverlight support. The carrier doesn't mention any network-specific features, however, beyond supporting faster 3G over EVDO Revision A.
Treo Pro Sprint March 15th
Sprint today at last confirmed a more definitive release date for the Palm Treo Pro on its network. The Windows Mobile smartphone was delayed last month for unknown reasons but is now set to launch with the US carrier on March 15th, when it should sell for $200 on any two-year contract with both voice and data after both online and mail-in rebates. Sprint's version gives access to the company's online music store, TV streaming and navigation services.
Alltel gets Palm Treo Pro
A Monday BGR report has Alltel releasing its version of the Palm Treo Pro smartphone this Thursday, March 5th. Alltel, the first US carrier to offer the phone following the delayed Spring version, will reportedly sell the Pro for $199 with a two-year contract and a $125 rebate. The handset includes 3G data network access over EVDO as well as Wi-Fi capabilities and GPS mapping.
T-Mobile tops J.D. Power
Wireless provider T-Mobile topped the rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study – Volume 1, scoring 755 out of a possible 1,000 points and edging out competitors Verizon Wireless, at 749, and Alltel, which scored 744 points. The survey asked customers to rate their experiences when dealing with T-Mobile via a phone call with either a live rep or an Automated Response System, in person at a retail location and via the Web.
ATT May Get Verizon Assets
AT&T may end up acquiring some of the resources Verizon has to auction off to complete its buyout of Alltel, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The iPhone-carrying provider is reportedly one of the stronger bidders for the estimated $3 billion in cellular coverage, spectrum and other assets that the US government has determined should be sold to competitors to maintain a level playing field. AT&T could gain as many as 2.1 million new subscribers if it purchased all the assets.
Moto Q4 2008 Results
Motorola on Tuesday reported further trouble for its recent fall quarter with both an immediate financial hit as well as ongoing drops in its phone shipments. The company says it posted a net loss of $3.6 billion during the three-month period ended in December and pins much of the responsibility on its Mobile Device group, whose losses ave only deepened year-over-year from $388 million in late 2007 to $595 million. Motorola blames drop on the economy and points to its 7,000 job cuts and a just-announced suspension of its usual cash dividend to shareholders as steps taken to rescue its business.
Verizon swallows Alltel
Verizon has announced the completion of its move to acquire Alltel Wireless, cleared by the Federal Trade Commission early last month. Verizon is paying approximately $5.9 billion for Alltel's equity, though it will still have to deal with the latter's $22.2 billion in debt. The purchase should make Verizon the largest cellular carrier in the US, bringing in 12.9 million customers for a total of over 83.7 million; by contrast, AT&T has only 74.9 million. Potential coverage is said to be 290 million people.
Verizon Alltel Clears FTC
The US Federal Trade Commission today approved Verizon's buyout of Alltel and put the resulting company at the top of the US cellular market. The ratification follows earlier clearance by the FCC and Justice Department and finds no antitrust concerns over monopoly status following earlier conditions that required Verizon trade off a small portion of its cellular network to smaller carriers. Verizon hasn't said when it expects to formally roll Alltel into its lineup.
Moto Hint QA30
(Updated with Alltel launch info) Motorola today leapt into the growing field of non-smartphone messaging hardware and released the Hint QA30. The handset has the recent squat, wide-aspect design of devices like the LG Lotus to make room for a full QWERTY keyboard. Rather than cater to full mobile apps, though, the Hint is designed for social networking with e-mail, SMS and text-heavy social sites like Facebook. Motorola claims a more advanced web browser than on most simpler devices with quick scrolling and zooming for navigating pages.
Moto Atila and QA30 spied
A couple of Monday reports have brought an update and a few photos of two new Motorola handsets, the previously previewed Atila and QA30. The former is billed as an iPhone competitor thanks to its 2.8-inch, 240x320 touchscreen and 3G data network support. The quad-band handset will reportedly use Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro. Photos of the Atila were revealed in a Hong Kong-based cellphone forum, though it should be noted that a custom iPhone-like interface is a third-party add-on that will not make it to the standard, production version of the handset.
HTC Touch Pro at Verizon
Verizon today became the late entry among carriers with its own version of the HTC Touch Pro. Similar to the versions from Alltel and Sprint, the touchscreen QWERTY slider phone adds a customized front end with a special Verizon portal for third-party apps, VZ Navigator for the phone's built-in GPS and support for tethering on an appropriate data plan.
Alltel launches Perks app
Alltel Wireless on Thursday announced the launch of Alltel Perks, a content delivery application that allows the carrier's customers to receive customized content that includes sports scores, weather information, discounts, trivia and more on their handsets. Once the application is downloaded from the Alltel store, it will deliver content to the phone's screen when the phone is idling. Coupons or discount offers from local merchants and restaurants will be sent to users' handsets, which can then be ignored or explored further by clicking a View button.