Wireless company said to overcharge for wiretaps, pen registers for three years
AT&T's budget wireless brand Cricket Communications has agreed to pay back more than $2.1 million in charges stemming from government-related wiretaps and pen registers. In a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, the company is settling in order to bring an end to the allegations that it overcharged the government for services and facilities tied to electronic surveillance for three years.
Aio Wireless rolled into relaunched Cricket, 3,000 stores refurbished
AT&T has relaunched its Cricket prepaid brand nationally, rolling its existing Aio Wireless brand and services into the prepaid carrier. The new Cricket will provide customers with nation-wide access to AT&T's HPSA+ and 4G LTE network, rather than its previous smaller CDMA network, with customers having a new selection of price plans and devices to use on the service.
Retailer diversifies as game sales switch to downloads
US-based game retailer GameStop is planning to add 23 Simply Mac locations this year, and as many as 400 Spring Mobile and Cricket locations, says the Star-Telegram. The company bought out Simply Mac and Spring Mobile last year in an attempt to diversify its revenue. Simply Mac is an authorized Apple reseller, whereas Spring Mobile sells AT&T products; Cricket is based on the AT&T network. The expansion is expected to cost up to $140 million, based on a mix of buying existing outlets and constructing new ones. GameStop says it expects to add 200 to 250 Spring locations and 100 to 150 Cricket outlets.
$1.3 billion paid for first US regional carrier to offer the iPhone
The Federal Communications Commission has approved the buyout of Leap Wireless by AT&T, a $1.3 billion cash deal that will see America's largest carrier acquire Leap's PCS and AWS band spectrum, which it will use for LTE expansion, as well as Leap's 4.6 million customers. Leap was the first independent regional carrier to offer a prepaid iPhone in 2012, and as a concession in the acquisition deal, AT&T will continue the option, as well as offer GSM iPhone support and migration to Cricket users.
Sprint, T-Mobile lowest-scoring amongst contract carriers
AT&T has earned first place in a customer care survey of major full service mobile phone networks in the United States, narrowly beating out Verizon, with MetroPCS heading up the non-contract list. The study by J.D. Power also states that the overall level of satisfaction with customer care from carriers has also increased to its highest level since 2009.
Merger gives AT&T large spectrum block, may draw regulator concern
AT&T and prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless have entered into an agreement for AT&T to acquire Leap for $15 per share in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire all of Leap's stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores, debt and approximately five million subscribers. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap's 700 Mhz "A Block" spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.
Carrier likely under pressure from T-Mobile
US prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless has launched new, cheaper monthly plans. An added family bundle includes two smartphone plans for $40 each, versus the $50 per phone the carrier would normally charge. Significantly Cricket has also lowered the base cost for its iPhone plans to $50 per month, which gets subscribers unlimited calling and texts, plus 1GB of unthrottled data. Previously the same plan was $55.
Cricket becomes first US prepaid carrier to announce iPhone 5
Cricket has announced that it will start selling the iPhone 5 on September 28th. That makes it the first US prepaid carrier to say it will get the phone, although it will get the hardware a full week after national post-paid iPhone carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Cricket hasn't provided any other information, but will likely use the same pricing scheme it did for the iPhone 4S, charging $500 for a 16GB phone plus a $55 monthly fee for unlimited service. There is no word yet on when other US prepaids, namely Virgin Mobile, will get the 5.
Deal intended to expand Verizon's LTE footprint
Prepaid wireless dealer Leap Wireless, operating under the Cricket brand, has finalized an expected deal to sell $120 million of AWS and PCS spectrum to Verizon Wireless in assorted markets across the US. Leap acquires 12 MHz of 700 MHz A-block spectrum in Chicago from Verizon as part of the deal. After dealing with interference issues related to the 700 MHz A-block license, the additional spectrum Leap has acquired will supplement the 10 MHz that Leap owns and operates in Chicago.
The first HTC handset at Cricket will also mark the debut of Android 4.0 on the network
HTC's One V handset is due to arrive at Cricket on September 2. As the smallest member of the One range, the phone will be the first HTC phone available at Cricket and also the first to bring Android 4.0 to its customers. The phone will cost $270 and not require any form of contract.
Internal website suggests free 8GB SD card for selected handsets
A second leak for RadioShack's contract-less mobile network has surfaced, suggesting that the Cricket-powered service will launch on September 5. An image sent to Engadget shows an internal-only web page, complete with RadioShack No Contract Wireless branding and company confidentiality warnings to the viewer.
RadioShack MVNO based on Cricket, use HTC One V
RadioShack may be launching a contract-less mobile service in the future. Leaked screenshots from the company received by Engadget allegedly show a product listing entitled "HTC One V No-Contract Phone for RadioShack Mobile" based on Cricket. If true, the move would see the electronics retailer becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in an already crowded carrier marketplace.
Android 2.3 phone comes to prepaid carrier
The Huawei Ascend D is now available on prepaid wireless carrier Cricket. Customers interested in the Ascend Q can purchase t for $120 with an instant $20 web discount. The Ascend Q requires a prepaid contract of at least $55 per month, or $65 per month with Cricket's Muve Music service.
Apple takes first step into US prepaid market
Cricket Wireless will start carrying the iPhone on June 22nd, the carrier has announced. The move will make it the first mainland US carrier to offer the iPhone as a prepaid device instead of on contract. An 8GB iPhone 4 will cost $400, while a 16GB iPhone 4S will be $500. A $55 monthly fee will get people "unlimited" voice, texting, and data, though data is throttled after reaching 2.3GB.
AT&T doubles data caps for GoPhone plans
AT&T has changed up its GoPhone prepaid data plan offerings on Wednesday. It has at least doubled the data in all three tiers, with the new packages going into effect on April 22. Customers will then get 50MB of data for $5, 200MB for $15, and 1GB for $25 per month.
ZTE N910 with LTE gets FCC approval
Chinese maker ZTE has successfully run its upcoming N910 LTE smartphone through the FCC. Introduced before last month's Mobile World Congress, the phone should sport a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch, 480x800 touchscreen, and Android 4.0. In FCC form, it received AWS Band IV and PCS Band II LTE support, meaning it will likely show up at smaller carriers such as Cricket or MetroPCS.
Cricket parent Leap wholesales Clearwire LTE
Cricket's parent company Leap on Wednesday struck a deal with Clearwire to use its upcoming LTE network. The five-year pact will let Cricket users run on Clearwire's 4G in addition to the network Cricket itself plans to build. The expansion would give extra capacity where it was needed to help cope with demand, Leap chief Doug Hutcheson said.
Smaller carriers cry foul
AT&T and Verizon have reportedly lobbied to deregulate spectrum auctions and reduce the Federal Communication Commission's role in managing spectrum allocation between carriers. The companies are accused of pushing legislators to add a special provision to the JOBS Act (PDF) that would bar the FCC from excluding a company from bidding.
Android 3.2 phone sports entry-level features
LG has leaked information on its upcoming Optimus 2 smartphone through its own US website. The 3.2-inch, 320x480 touchscreen phone will run Android 2.3. It would get a speed up but still stay modest, with an 800MHz processor instead of the original's 600MHz.
Cricket gets into LTE in Tucson
Cricket became the next US carrier to switch on LTE on Wednesday with a launch in Tucson. Its 4G network is estimated to run about five to ten times faster than its EVDO-based 3G. In an unusual step, Cricket keeps the 5GB cap the same and bases price on speed: a $50 plan provides a more 3G-like 3Mbps, while subscribers need to pay $60 to get 6Mbps.
Cricket gets flagship Mercury smartphone for $250
Cricket on Monday revealed it will soon carry the Huawei Mercury. Now the most powerful handset offered by the carrier, the mid-range Android phone gets a single-core 1.4GHz processor and a four-inch, 854x480 touchscreen display. There is 2GB of built-in storage along with a microSD memory card slot, and an eight-megapixel rear camera along with a VGA front camera.
ATT makes no progress on T-Mo asset sale offers
AT&T isn't making any progress in its attempts to sell T-Mobile assets to rescue its attempted buyout of T-Mobile, insiders uncovered Sunday. Discussions with smaller carriers have reportedly "gone cold," the Wall Street Journal heard. Among other problems, attempts to sell assets to Leap for its Cricket service fell as doubts existed that even this could salvage AT&T's proposed T-Mobile merger.
Wi-Fi model needs separate modem to access network
Prepaid carrier Cricket has entered tablets for the first time by offering the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to its wireless subscribers. The company is reselling the Wi-Fi model, but not the 3G version. This means that Cricket's users cannot directly connect the tablet to the company's 3G network, but must use a hotspot or a smartphone instead.
ATT may talk to DT for frequency deal
AT&T has raised the idea with T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom of a network joint venture if the now doubtful T-Mobile merger isn't approved, insiders divulged Wednesday. The two are purportedly in early talks that the Wall Street Journal understood would see them share parts of each other's network, even as they ran separate competitive businesses. The deal is considered a "back burner" option but was gaining momentum as resistance grew to the merger.
Exchange gives Cricket LTE access to Chicago
Verizon and Leap, the owner of Cricket, have asked the FCC to approve an exchange of LTE and EVDO spectrum. Once completed, the deal would let Leap offer LTE service in Chicago. Verizon, in return would get locations that service areas including Spokane, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Fresno.
Initial avaiability shuns US market
Huawei has made it official that it will soon begin shipping its new Android-based Honor smartphone in December. The vendor has incorporated a proprietary UI, Huawei Android Platform 5.1 (HAP 5.1), to run on top of Android 2.3.5. Its standout is a high-capacity, 1,930mAh battery pack that's said to last as long as three days, far longer than most modern smartphones.
First LTE smartphones expected in mid 2012
Cricket CEO Doug Hutcheson has proclaimed that the company is preparing to begin its LTE network deployment. In a conference call outlining quarterly financial information, he noted that the company is ready to launch its first LTE trial market "shortly."
Android phone offers slide-out QWERTY keyboard
Cricket has launched a new Android smartphone. Focused on frequent texting from its younger users and their unlimited messaging plans, the Transfix takes on a sliding QWERTY keyboard form factor. It runs Android 2.3 on top of a modest but capable 800MHz processor and a 3.2-inch, 320x480 main display.
Cricket expected to launch phone in November
The Huawei Honor has reached the FCC in a filing. Documents included in the post have revealed that the phone should hit the streets in the US first through Cricket, where it will be branded the Glory. The prepaid wireless carrier is expected to start selling the phone in November.
Cricket adds ZTE Score and hits big retailers
Cricket made a big push to get prominence as a US cell carrier Thursday by unveiling a new Android smartphone as part of a larger push. The ZTE Score fits in the current entry level with a 3.5-inch, 320x480 capacitive touchscreen, a 600MHz processor, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It carries a partly customized Android 2.3 but claims Cricket's Muve Music as its real advantage, with unlimited song and ringtone downloads when using the $55 combined data, text, and voice smartphone plan.
LVL tries carpet bomb lawsuit to make profit
Largely unknown patent holder LVL Patent Group late last week quietly sued much of the US cellphone business and beyond for alleged patent violations (below). It claims that the iPhone, many Android devices, Symbian, and basic feature phones as well as their carriers violate one or more of a group of four generic patents, including data transaction servers and devices for entering transactions. Most of the patents were issued in or before 2000, but one of the device patents was only live on September 13, two days before the lawsuit was filed.
ATT may sell assets to MetroPCS and Leap
AT&T is now talking directly with MetroPCS and Cricket's parent company Leap in an attempt to save its now seriously threatened buyout of T-Mobile, a pair of sources divulged Monday. The carrier is hoping to sell customer bases and wireless spectrum licenses to its smaller sometime-competitors in hopes of reaching a settlement, Bloomberg said. Bank of America is being tapped specifically to help negotiate the deal.
Handset to feature Cricket's Muve Music service
Cricket Wireless has announced that it is set to launch Samsung's Vitality handset, which will be the company's first Android device to offer Muve Music service. The introduction confirms earlier rumors pointing to a new handset that is nearly identical to the Admire handset offered through competing carrier MetroPCS.
Samsung Vitality with Muve Music due at Cricket
A new Samsung phone, the Vitality, has shown up in a computer-based Cricket training manual and has been shared online by Engadget. It's a near-twin to MetroPCS' Admire, sharing the same 800MHz CPU, 3.5-inch 320x480 touchscreen and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It will run on Android 2.3.
FCC wants more info on ATT LTE needs
The FCC on Wednesday asked AT&T for evidence to justify its view that its $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile was necessary for its LTE network. Following an inadvertent leak by AT&T's lawyers that revealed it only needed $3.8 billion to reach its touted 95 to 97 percent coverage of the US population, agency officials wanted to know what the T-Mobile merger would do that the much cheaper proposal would not. Concerns exist that AT&T is using rural 4G expansion as a pretext for an ultimate goal of eliminating a major competitor.
Cricket launches successor to Ascend smartphone
Wireless provider Cricket has formally unwrapped the Huawei Ascend II smartphone. It will replace the carrier's lowest-priced Android handset, the original Ascend, which was also its best-selling smartphone. The new device has some marked improvements, including a faster 600MHz processor, a five-megapixel camera and Android 2.3
1.4GHz processor, upgradable to Android 4.0
Huawei announced it will supply prepaid carrier Cricket with the Huawei Glory (M886), Huawei's first high-end Android phone. The Glory is a candybar form smartphone that will run Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread), and upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich when it becomes available. It centers on a four-inch, 854x480 TFT LCD screen that a hands-on preview by PCMag noted was exceptionally bright and easy to see outdoors. The Glory uses a 1.4-GHz Qualcomm MSM8655T Snapdragon processor and a heavy duty, 1,900mAh battery. The phone has 2GB of RAM, an expansion slot, and an eight megapixel camera with LED flash.
FCC asks Verizon and other carriers on ATT T-Mo
The FCC on Monday sent out a request (PDF) to carriers asking them for information to help its investigation into the AT&T and T-Mobile deal. Verizon, Sprint, and regional carriers like Cellular South and US Cellular were all asked to provide responses to the deal and supporting evidence. Each got the same nine questions relating to coverage, cell site ownership, expansion, relationships with AT&T, their future spectrum plans, billing, and competitive reports.
Follow New York into state-level review
California has become the second major state to formally move towards investigating AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission began preparing a proposal for assessing the $39 billion deal. Its move might raise challenges to the deal beyond what the Department of Justice and FCC will offer as part of their formal investigations.
Visual Interactive sues Apple, US carriers
Non-contributing patent holder Visual Interactive Phone Concepts has sued Apple, AT&T, and US Cellular for allegedly violating two patents for video phones. The three Michigan-based lawsuits claim that the three companies violate the patents, both describing a "videophone interactive mailbox facility system," but through questionable means. Apple was accused of violating the patent simply for making a video-capable phone in the iPhone and offering services like the App Store, iTunes, and the iBookstore; AT&T and US Cellular were both targeted for having music and video services as well as content stores that happened to be on video phones.
Leap says ATT T-Mobile would concentrate power
Cricket's parent company Leap Wireless provided its own objection on Tuesday to AT&T's proposed buyout of T-Mobile. The carrier suggested that letting the deal go through would lead to "alarming concentration" by putting too much power in the hands of two carriers, AT&T and Verizon. A merger would only hurt customers, it said.
$55 plan includes unlimited talk, text, Web, music
Cricket Communications today announced that its Muve Music plan is now available in all its markets nationwide. The $55 monthly wireless plan includes unlimited calling, text messaging, and mobile Web. Previously, the plan was only available in thirteen of its major markets.
LG Optimus A to arrive soon at AT&T
LG's Optimus One handset will soon arrive at AT&T,
according to a leaked image at PocketNow. It may be called the Optimus A and joins other variants of the same device already on offer for a long time at Sprint (LG Optimus S), T-Mobile (Optimus T), Verizon (Vortex) and Cricket (Optimus C). The phone is an entry-level Android device with a 600MHz processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera and a 3.2-inch touchscreen.
Sprint said near LightSquared, Clearwire deals
Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin claimed on Thursday that Sprint would have its deal with LightSquared and a new deal with Clearwire could be ready in weeks. He expected the deal, which would let LightSquared lease access to all of Sprint's cell sites for an LTE-based 4G network, would be done within a month. Clearwire's deal would focus on getting new wholesale pricing and would probably follow afterwards.
New York Attorney General to check ATT T-Mobile
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Tuesday that his office would investigate AT&T's buyout of T-Mobile. He promised a "thorough review" and stressed that it was important to have low-cost service that might be at risk after AT&T bought out the usually more affordable smaller carrier. New York also had its state-specific issues, as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse were limited in their competitive choices, a fact AT&T largely sidestepped in its merger presentation.
Bargain CDMA carrier will supplement own network
Leap Wireless, parent company of no-contract carrier Cricket, has reached an agreement with wholesale wireless broadband provider LightSquared to provide roaming LTE 4G access. The deal will allow Cricket to serve customers in a broader footprint, as well as strengthen wireless service in areas served by Cricket's own LTE network. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. [via Engadget]
Verizon says no takeover of Sprint imminent
Verizon's wireless chief Dan Mead in a talk downplayed speculation that his network might buy Sprint as a response to the AT&T buyout of T-Mobile. He argued that Verizon wanted to be profitable first rather than try for more market share. He added to Reuters that Verizon wouldn't stand in the way of the merger, in part because Verizon officials "don't need them" at Sprint but also because he thought the Department of Justice and FCC might force AT&T to give up too many cell sites or privileges to make it worthwhile.
Cricket offers LG Optimus C for $130
Contract-free provider Cricket is now offering its own version of LG's Optimus One smartphone. Called the Optimus C, it comes technically identical to the original, so it gets a 600MHz CPU, 3.2-inch, 480x320 touchscreen and a 3.2-megapixel camera. The Android 2.2 OS gets some slight tweaks to tailor it to Cricket.
FCC pressed by carriers for data roaming
An informal coalition of smaller US carriers has pushed for the FCC to require data roaming agreements with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, and carriers in the Rural Cellular Association have argued that they need a guarantee their subscribers can run data on these networks, not just voice, when they can't be on their native networks. They asked the FCC to "promptly move forward" and were hoping to get it on the FCC's meeting agendas as soon as April, Politico said.
Device not hard-locked to single network
The CDMA version of the iPhone 4 can be made to work on unsupported carriers, evidence has uncovered. While the device is only officially intended for Verizon at the moment, one person claims to have got it working on budget carrier Cricket Wireless. Likely preventing widespread switching is the need to jailbreak an iPhone, install third-party MMS software and then find someone from Cricket willing to perform a flash.