BlackBerry Leap heads to FCC for possible US launch
The BlackBerry Leap has made its way to the FCC, with regulatory listings hinting at availability of the smartphone in the United States later than in Europe. Crackberry notes that the short-term confidentiality agreement in the filing expires on May 4, long after the European launch in April, and though it isn't definitive, it certainly suggests the smartphone will go on sale in the US either on that date or shortly after.
BlackBerry Leap shipping soon with 8MP rear camera, 5-inch 720p display
BlackBerry used its Mobile World Congress media event to launch a new mid-ranged smartphone, as well as teasing another future device, The BlackBerry Leap is aimed at "young mobile professionals" and has a five-inch 1280x720-resolution display, while a second unnamed device is a slider-style smartphone with a keyboard hidden behind the screen.
The new Leap works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone
Acer has introduced an updated version of its fitness tracker, now known as the Liquid Leap+. The device offers all of the typical fitness features, in a water-resistant package that retails for less than $90. The company has upgraded the Leap Manager utility to work with all major smartphone platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Like other fitness trackers, the Leap+ allows users to monitor their daily activity, exercise routines and sleep cycles, or access basic notifications from their paired phones.
Newspaper app for motion controller initially free to users
The New York Times is releasing an app that will allow users of the Leap Motion Controller to read articles with gestures. Details of the app come at the same time as reports that the controller manufacturer is starting to ship the device to customers that pre-ordered, ahead of its expected delayed ship date of July 22nd.
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.
CEO talks 'living up to expectations'
The shipping date for the Leap Motion 3D Motion Controller has been delayed from May 13th until July 22, says the company's CEO. Michael Buckwald revealed the information during a conference call earlier today. "There’s nothing catastrophically wrong," he explained, "we’re very proud of the product … if we’d tried very hard we would have been able to ship the product [on the original date] but we wouldn’t have had the time to do the iteration and testing that we would want to do otherwise."
Best Buy opens orders for May 19th delivery
The Leap Motion Controller will start shipping to customers on May 13th, Leap has announced. The accessory works with Windows and Mac computers, and lets users control software using 3D hand and figure gestures. Leap opened up pre-orders for the Controller in May 2012, with a $70 pricetag; as of today's announcement, new orders will cost $80.
Huawei phones initial offerings, more to follow
Partially confirming previous leaks, Electronics retailer RadioShack and Leap Wireless International's Cricket-branded network have teamed up to launch a wireless service able to be purchased at RadioShack, or in-store kiosks at Target. The pay-as-you-go plans will initially sell two Huawei Technologies phones.
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.
Verizon uses 700MHz as bargaining chip
Verizon has said it would put up some of its 700MHz wireless spectrum up for sale if it's cleared to go ahead with its cable company spectrum deal. The move would give up sections of the A and B blocks of 700MHz space it runs in Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Its plan wouldn't directly affect the existing LTE network, which runs on the C block.
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.
T-Mobile, Leap, two others share spectrum in deal
Wireless providers T-Mobile USA and Leap on Monday revealed they will exchange spectrum in some US markets in order to improve coverage. Part of the deal is Cook Inlet, a joint venture that T-Mobile has a non-controlling majority stake in, as well as Savary Island Wireless, in which Leap has a similar stake. According to Leap CEO Doug Hutchenson, the deal will help the carrier bump up its offerings in markets served by T-Mobile and paves the way for Leap to offer LTE.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Strategy aims to salvage crumbling deal
Just days after a rumor suggested AT&T may be planning to divest nearly half of T-Mobile's assets in a frantic effort to salvage the proposed acquisition, fresh reports shed more light on the shifting strategy. Unnamed sources have told the New York Times that AT&T has engaged in deep negotiations with Leap Wireless, which would purchase the majority of the spectrum and customer accounts that may need to be shed from T-Mobile to assuage regulators' concerns.
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.
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.
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.
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]
Cricket tiers data plans, prices Zio, Curve 8530
Cricket on Tuesday revamped pricing for its data plans, introducing three tiered plans rather than one all-encompassing option. All plans are now capped but are tiered with more bandwidth than other carriers. An entry 2.5GB plan costs $40 per month; 5GB is available for $50 per month, and 7.5GB is on offer for $60 per month. Rather than charge overage fees, Cricket will throttle down the download speed for those that surpass their caps.
Mysterious Nokia handset gets approved by FCC
The FCC has recently tested an unnamed Nokia handset for approval in the US, though very little information about the device is known. The handset, codenamed QTKRM-658 by the FCC, will support T-Mobile's 1,700 and 2,100MHz 3G bands and confirms it as the only possible carrier.
Cricket intros all-inclusive plans, adds Internet
Leap Wireless, the company behind Cricket's cellphone services, on Wednesday announced it will soon offer two new, all-inclusive nationwide Cricket monthly plans that for the first time include taxes and other fees as part of the actual price. A $40 per month plan will include unlimited minutes throughout the continental US, access to the provider's premium extended calling area and both domestic and international text and picture messaging. A $45 plan adds 'unlimited' mobile web access and directory assistance.
Verizon roaming agreements
Verizon indicated in a letter that it would make a compromise on roaming service agreements with smaller wireless providers by allowing them to use its network in areas where they lack network coverage but own wireless airwaves, according to a Wednesday report. While there is no current law requirement to this end, Verizon is pre-empting an upcoming regulatory change. Current roaming regulations put smaller providers at a disadvantage, which is why the government is eyeing a rule change.
Virgin $50 unlimited plan
Virgin Mobile on Thursday announced a new $50 Totally Unlimited Calling plan that would give subscribers unlimited and roaming-free calling throughout the USA. Virgin spokespeople are confirming the move comes in response to similar offers from competitors, including T-Mobile and Boost Mobile. Other contract-free providers, including MetroPCS and Leap, also offer unlimited plans that range from $35 to $50, though they are only offered in certain specific markets.
700MHz Bidder Slip
Some additional bidders in the FCC's auction for the 700MHz band have been revealed, according to filings and public revelations. In addition to confirmed bids by cable provider Cox and open access advocate Google, Leap Wireless (which owns the cellular provider Cricket) has submitted an SEC filing indicating that it use a subsidiary to participate in the auction. A partly-connected firm known as Denali Spectrum License will also join in, Leap notes.