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Verizon Is Re-tooling It’s Unlocked Phones Policy

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon is strengthening it’s security protocols to protect its phones.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier announced that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase — in line with the rest of the industry.

Verizon said it is doing this to deter criminals from stealing phones, often on route to retail stores or from the stores themselves. Unlocked phones make attractive targets because they can be resold on the black market or used overseas with different carriers. That’s particularly the case for iPhones, which are a top target for thieves because of their high resale value.

“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”

For consumers, there’s little immediate impact because the phone gets unlocked immediately through a software update. But the policy change in the spring could be a hassle for customers who buy a new phone and then go overseas. One way of saving on international roaming fees is to buy a SIM card from a local carrier. If you have a locked phone, you’ll need to contact Verizon to unlock the device before switching out your SIM card — assuming the carrier will make the exception.

The policy change underscores how the issue of phone theft remains prevalent despite the CTIA wireless trade group, the carriers and phone makers banding together to add antitheft tools to phones in 2015. A study conducted by fraud and theft data provider Recipero in 2016 found that 5 percent of devices offered for sale or trade-in at retail were reported lost or stolen, while 4 percent of warranty claims were made on lost or stolen phones.

Verizon wouldn’t say how long the locked period would be, adding only that it would provide an update ahead of when it rolls out the policy. It also declined to provide a specific timeline. The wait period is in place to deter scammers from signing up for service using stolen identities to get a new phone and immediately turning around and selling the device.

The move may elicit a backlash from people concerned that this isn’t a consumer-friendly action. But Verizon’s policy to sell entirely unlocked phones — which it has done ever since it began selling 4G LTE devices — was the most generous in the industry. That’s largely because of a deal with the Federal Communications Commission requiring it to unlock phones as part of its acquisition of a block of 700 megahertz spectrum, which it uses to power its LTE network.

AT&T requires you to pay off your phone and be active on your service for at least 60 days. Even then, there’s a 14-day wait after you make your request. Sprint also requires that you have paid off your phone and wait 50 days, although the phone is automatically unlocked. T-Mobile has the same paid device requirement and a 40-day wait period, but will offer to temporarily unlock the device sooner for travel.

Even after the change, Verizon will continue to unlock the phone regardless of whether it’s paid off or not. The company will also still accept unlocked phones from other carriers.

Sprint Showing Signs Of Improvement, Beats Earnings Estimate

February 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp reported quarterly revenue on Friday that beat analyst projections, as the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier raised its free cash flow outlook for the 2017 fiscal year.

Shares rose 3.7 percent to $5.29 in early trading, a day after sliding 5.7 percent to their lowest in a year and a half.

The company has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs and mortgaging a portion of its airwaves and equipment, but industry analysts have raised concerns about how it can adequately fund network improvements after merger talks with rival T-Mobile US Inc ended last year.

Sprint now expects $2.5 billion to $2.7 billion in operating income, up from its previous estimate of $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion. It expects adjusted free cash flow of $500 million to $700 million, compared to previous estimates of breaking even.

“We think recent weakness in shares is reflective of lowered investor expectations, while in-line to slightly better financial results could provide some near-term relief,” said Matthew Niknam, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, in a research note.

On the post-earnings conference call, Sprint Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said Sprint would launch a mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019.

The company is also looking for ways to reduce the number of executives at the top, he said. Sprint cut costs by about $260 million in the quarter, excluding $100 million of hurricane-related charges.

Claure said “becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of (SoftBank Group Corp) could be a possibility” but that the decision would be up to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son. Japan’s SoftBank owns a majority of Sprint and has been increasing its stake.

For the quarter, Sprint reported net additions of 184,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill, compared to additions of 368,000 a year earlier.

Net operating revenue in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 was $8.24 billion, down from $8.55 billion a year earlier.

 

FCC Updates Cellphone Alerts, Requires Greater Location Accuracy

January 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The Federal Communications Commission will require emergency alerts sent to mobile devices during a crisis to be more geographically precise.

The agency approved an item ensuring that when wireless providers send messages through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, the alerts are more targeted to individuals affected by the natural disaster or crisis in question.

In some cases, authorities have been reluctant to issue alerts because the messages were being broadcast over a wider area than necessary. These officials said they didn’t want to warn people for no reason or inundate them with irrelevant alerts.

“Overbroad alerting can cause public confusion, lead some to opt out of receiving alerts altogether, and, in many instances, complicate rescue efforts by unnecessarily causing traffic congestion and overloading call centers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

The system update arrives as the nation’s emergency alert setup receives increased scrutiny. Earlier this month, an official in Hawaii mistakenly warned millions of people about an incoming ballistic missile, causing widespread panic. The false alert wasn’t corrected for 38 minutes.

At Tuesday’s meeting, FCC officials also presented preliminary results of an investigation that points to a mix of human error and poorly designed interfaces as the cause of the incident. The person responsible for the alert misinterpreted instructions and thought the alert was real. The FCC’s inquiry is still ongoing.

The commission’s effort to make the wireless emergency alerts more geographically precise began before the Hawaii mishap. The FCC considered the item at the urging of California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who told the commission that some local authorities in their state were reluctant to send out alerts during last year’s deadly wildfires.

The FCC also adopted updates to the system in 2016 that require carriers to let messages be sent in multiple languages. It also increased the character limit for messages from 90 to 360. And messages will be able to support hyperlinks and multimedia. Those changes won’t take effect until May 2019.

Qualcomm Debuts The Snapdragon 845

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has just wrapped up the second Snapdragon technology event keynote and a small part of the keynote was the three year effort called the Snapdragon 845.

Alex Katouzian, a senior vice president and general manager of mobile for Qualcomm Technologies,  took the stage and announced the Snapdragon 845. He had a sample in his hand and didn’t really go into any details about the chip. Katouzian did mention that a SoC is a three year journey where the infrastructure partners play a big role. Of course, we want to know a bit more about CPU, GPU, DSP, Camera, AI and transistor count / battery life, but we were assured that we will be able to learn some of it tomorrow.

He did mention that they had six pillars when they designed the 845 SoC. They paid a lot of detail and attention to the camera and share performance and AI performance that can touch every app on the phone. VR, multimedia, and overall performance play a big role in the whole 845 SoC design as well as security and connectivity. These six pillars play a big role in shaping up the Snapdragon 845.

The chip is manufactured by Samsung, obviously its second generation 10nm design, but this is also something that we will have to wait for until tomorrow. The main announcer and the excellent host Cristiano Amon, an executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies and president of QCT, had the Samsung fab guy on the stage. Dr. ES Joung the President and General manager of the foundry business at Samsung Electronics took the stage, which gave us a good indication which company is behind the chip.

Courtesy-Fud

Texting Turns 25 Years Old

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Texting celebrated a milestone birthday this past Sunday, ICYMI.

The first text message was sent on Dec. 3, 1992, by British engineer Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis, an executive at British telecom Vodafone, who was attending his company’s holiday party in Newbury, England.

Typed out on a PC, it was sent to Jarvis’s Orbitel 901, a mobile phone that would take up most of your laptop backpack, and read: Merry Christmas. But Jarvis didn’t send a reply because there was no way to send a text from a phone in those days.

Although Papworth is credited with sending the first text message, he’s not the so-called father of SMS. That honor (or blame) falls on Matti Makkonen, who initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference.

But texting didn’t take off over night. First it had to be incorporated into the then-budding GSM standard. Makkonen feels the technology actually was launched in 1994 when Nokia unveiled its 2010 mobile phone, the first device that let people easily write messages.

Today, about 97 percent of smartphone owners use text messaging, according to Pew Research, and along the way, a new set of sub-languages based on abbreviations and keyboard-based imagery has evolved. More than 561 billion text messages were sent worldwide in June 2014, about 18.7 billion texts sent every day, according researcher TextRequest.

Texting has become so popular that most Americans would rather type it than say it. US smartphone users are sending and receiving five times as many texts compared with the number of phone calls each day, according to the International Smartphone Mobility Report by mobile data tracking firm Infomate.

Apple’s iOS 11.2 Adds Apple Pay Cash

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s new iOS 11.2 software update became available on Saturday, adding Apple Pay Cash and faster wireless charging to supported iPhones.

For anyone with an iPhone 6 or later, the update’s Apple Pay Cash feature opens up the ability to send cash to friends and family over iMessage. While I didn’t see the feature immediately turned on after updating my own iPhone to iOS 11.2, when it does appear it should work similarly to Paypal’s Venmo service.

Anyone with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X can look forward to faster wireless charging, with the update release specifically noting improvements when using third-party chargers. That’s pretty much every Qi wireless charger currently out, as Apple’s own AirPower charging mat is planned for a 2018 release.

Other improvements and fixes listed by Apple include:

  • Improves video camera stabilization
  • Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
  • Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
  • Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
  • Improves stability in Calendar
  • Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
  • Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
  • Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
  • Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
  • Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
  • Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store and Music
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

Qualcomm To Go 10nm With 845 Processor

October 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm’s flagship SoCs are the leading-edge process and Fudzilla can now confirm that Snapdragon 845 SoC, likely to be presented this year, will be made on a 10nm FinFET manufacturing process.

Our sources believe that Samsung fabs are behind the SoC, and as some of you know, it is simply too early for 7nm. We expect to see 7nm solutions from everyone by the end of  next year. You know that Apple is pushing fabs to get the latest and greatest manufacturing process and A11 is also 10nm, so that is as good as it gets, at least in late 2017/early 2018.

Traditionally, Qualcomm announces its flagship chips in the latter part of the year and by that time, it is ready to ship it to its customers. Samsung S8 was the first with the Snapdragon 835 and we expect to see the upcoming Galaxy S9 featuring the Snapdragon 845 SoC. Of course, there is no confirmation on the 845 name, but media colleagues decided to use it and we are just playing along.

Samsung, of course, will have its own Exynos version of the Galaxy S9 phone with an updated successor to the 8895 possibly called Exynos 8900. Samsung did say that its 7 nanometer process is the first time that the company will use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and we can expect to see production in the second half of next year.

The Snapdragon 845 will feature an updated Kryo cores as well as a better Adreno GPU. The company has had quite some time to do a lot of optimisations on the 10nm process and we can expect decent gains in performance compared to the Snapdragon 835. The Adreno GPU will offer further optimisations for the VR, AR and XR as well as slightly faster clocks and gains. 

It will serve as a reminder that Nvidia’s flagship Volta chip is on 12nm and hasn’t even got to 10nm yet, while the mobile phone industry is getting ready for 7nm next year and the second generation 10nm this year. 

Courtesy-Fud

The Nokia 3310 Finally Arrives On US Shores

October 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

If you’ve been pining for the uber-popular Nokia 3310 throwback phone, pine no longer. It’s coming to the US on Oct. 29. The catch: The $60 phone will only work with 3G networks. That makes it fine for calls, games of Snake and the occasional email or Facebook update, but not for just about everything else you’d want to do on a phone.

And that’s how it’s supposed to be. The reboot of 2000’s OG Nokia 3310 is pure nostalgia, as well as a little practicality for those seeking a cheap phone with monthlong battery life to make calls on. The modern 3310 has a similar boxy design to the original, plus a few very necessary upgrades like a color screen, a 2-megapixel camera, MicroSD card support and a mini web browser.

Originally, the new Nokia 3310 wouldn’t work in the US, but Nokia brand name licensor HMD Global has tweaked the innards to make a US variation possible.

You can preorder the Nokia 3310 3G on bestbuy.com. The phone comes in four colors: azure, charcoal, red and yellow.

 

Xiaomi Regaining Momentum, Shipped Over 10M Phones In September

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi has a new record to boast about.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun announced on Chinese social media the company shipped more than 10 million phones in September alone, saying demand is so high that supply for some models remains tight.

“We have good news to share: More than 10 million Xiaomi phones were shipped in September, marking the first time in our history we have crossed 10 million units in a single month! This means our business has achieved a new level,” said Lei Jun.

Xiaomi isn’t a household name in the US (yet), but it years ago was the top-selling smartphone brand in China, which made it the fourth biggest smartphone company in the world. It’s dipped in Chinese popularity since then, but has found success in the growing India market.

The revelation comes just weeks after Xiaomi announced two new phones, the Mi Mix 2, a bezel-less phone with a ceramic back that is the company’s most expensive phone to date, and the Mi A1, a budget Android One phone created for developing markets such as India.

There’s still some catching up to do if the company wants to reclaim its top spot in its homeland, however. Huawei, a fellow Chinese phone manufacturer, globally outsold Apple in June and July, during which time it was second only to Samsung in sales. Huawei has shipped 73 million devices from January to June this year, an average of 12 million phones every month.

Still, 10 million in one month is nothing to scoff at, and a sign that Xiaomi is back on track after losing momentum in 2016. Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, called Xiaomi’s newest achievement a “phenomenal comeback.”

“This is driven by strong demand for Xiaomi’s phones in China and especially India (where demand is estimated to grow by almost 400 percent), as well as its expansion to new markets such as Russia, the Middle East and Latin America,” said Shah.

“These have helped Xiaomi to double its global smartphone market share to the highest ever — from four percent in September 2016 to nearly nine percent in September 2017 — though how long the momentum will last remains to be seen,” he added.

Vulnerabilities In Mobile Devices On The Rise

September 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Zimperium has found that mobile vulnerabilities have had a rocket up them this year have already surpassed the total of flaws uncovered throughout the whole of 2016. 

This is based on its own networks and systems and customer experience, but it could be viewed as a snapshot of the whole landscape. Zimperium thinks so.

“The report contains high-level statistics aggregated from Zimperium customers around the world. Each enterprise customer operates its own mobile threat defence environment and independently manages compliance and remediation policies based on corporate procedures and preferences,” explains the firm.

“Every environment contains detailed forensics on each threat and attack, enabling security teams to perform detailed analysis on which device was attacked, where it was attacked (if configured) and what processes were running on the device at the time of the attack.”

The big news is the big uptick in mobile malware of course, but there are some other things here too, like for example the fact that one in five iOS users is running out of date software, and that enterprise customers are using VPNs to circumvent whatever protection their employers may have laid out for them.

“Cyber criminals are more likely to take the path of least resistance and enterprise data is most vulnerable via mobile devices since most of time spent is away from secure networks, on public Wi-Fi and on apps that IT and security do not control or administer,” explains the firm in its report.

“Since 2016 there have been over 600 common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) registered for Android and 300 for iOS [2]. So far in 2017, there are more CVEs registered for Android and iOS than in all of 2016. The increase indicates the Android and iOS mobile operating systems are still maturing.”

We have had some doozies of CVEs this year, including Hummingwhale, which made itself very well known on Android devices earlier this year. 

Courtesy-TheInq

T-Mobile, Sprint Edge Closer To Merger

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

 T-Mobile US Inc is has moved closer to agreeing on tentative terms to merge with Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk to be agreed since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

The progress toward a deal also indicates that T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns.

The latest development in the talks between T-Mobile and Sprint comes as the telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom and the rest of T-Mobile shareholders will own the majority, the sources said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son met with Trump late last year and said in February that the Japanese firm should benefit from Trump’s promised deregulation.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Talks Heat Up

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile and Sprint are a hot topic in the world of wireless.

The nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers are in active discussions for a merger, according to a person familiar with the talks. It could take anywhere between three and five weeks before the deal might be made official, although there’s no guarantee it will go through. CNBC’s David Faber was the first to report on the talks.

A merger would mark the culmination of years of flirting between T-Mobile and Sprint. The combined company would have a shot at shaking up the industry, sizable enough to compete with larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T. But opponents of a deal say the presence of four carriers has resulted in stiffer competition, lower prices and better deals for consumers.

Both companies have made their impact felt on the industry over the last few years. T-Mobile eliminated contracts and phone subsidies and last year led the push to bring unlimited plans back to the industry in a bigger way. Sprint introduced the concept of a phone leasing plan and this year began offering a year of its service for free.

They’ve tried to merge before. Sprint’s parent, Japanese carrier SoftBank, tried to strike a deal with T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom back in 2014, but dropped its attempt when the government signaled that it favored four national competitors. But with a more business-friendly White House in place, the companies are attempting to get together again.

Under the proposed deal, Deutsche Telekom would be the majority shareholder, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere would run the company with his management team. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son would have a minority stake in the combined company.

Wall Street analysts and industry players have long called for the two to combine in an effort to challenge Verizon and AT&T. A combination would mean a heftier customer base and could lead to more retail outlets across the country and greater oomph in bargaining for network equipment at a lower price.

Amazon Is Developing It’s Own ‘Smart Glasses’

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is busy developing its first wearable device – a pair of ‘smart glasses’, the Financial Times reported earlier this week.

The device, designed like a regular pair of spectacles, will allow Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa to be summoned anytime at all places, the report said, citing people familiar with the plans.

There would be a bone-conduction audio system in the device to allow the wearer to hear Alexa without inserting headphones into his or her ears, according to the report.

Amazon was not immediately available to comment on the report outside regular business hours.

Earlier this year, Alphabet Inc re-introduced its own wearable glass headset, Google Glass, after discontinuing its production last year.

Nokia Set To Enjoy Benefits Of Smartphone Patents

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia will additional income from the current quarter after a ruling by an arbitration court on payments from South Korea’s LG Electronics for using its smartphone patents.

The Finnish company said it would also get a one-off payment, although it did not disclose any of the sums involved. The companies had started the arbitration in 2015.

“We believe that this award confirms the quality of Nokia’s patent portfolio. We continue to see potential for additional licensing opportunities,” said Nokia Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona in a statement.

 The ruling was made by the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Nokia has recently signed deals with larger phone makers Samsung Electronics and Apple, as well as China’s Xiaomi Technology.

Nokia’s patent unit had sales of 616 million euros (541.47 million pounds) in the first half of the year — just 6 percent of the group’s total revenue. However, licensing payments are highly profitable while Nokia’s core business, telecom networks, is suffering an industry-wide slump.

“Nokia has been quicker than expected to clinch deals in the patent side… The next interesting scalp will be Huawei,” said analyst Mikael Rautanen from research firm Inderes, with an “accumulate” rating on the stock.

He said, however, that the revenue of the LG deal will be clearly smaller than that from the Apple agreement, which he estimated to bring around 250 million euros ($298 million)annually.

Nokia sold its once-dominant phone business to Microsoft in 2014 but retained its patent catalog covering technology that reduces the need for hardware components in a phone, conserves battery life and increases radio reception, among other features.

LG has a global market share of around 4 percent in smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.

Qualcomm Develops New Chipset For Autonomous Cars

September 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has introduced a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) chipset and reference design that aims to bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems necessary for fully autonomous vehicles.

Ford, Audi, the PSA Group and SAIC are all endorsing the new chipset which means that it will get out there. 

Qualcomm says that the 9150 C-V2X chipset will be available for commercial sampling in the second half of 2018, and is based on specs from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This is a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations.

Qualcomm’s C-V2X reference design will feature the 9150 C-V2X chipset, an application processor running the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) V2X stack, as well as a Hardware Security Module (HSM). C-V2X technology encompasses two transmission modes: direct communications and network-based communications. It’s key for both safety features and for implementing autonomous driving capabilities.

Its direct communications capabilities improve a vehicle’s situational awareness by detecting and exchanging information using low latency transmissions. Relying on the globally harmonized 5.9 GHz ITS band, the 9150 C-V2X chipset can relay information on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) scenarios without the need for a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), cellular subscription or network assistance. On top of that, C-V2X network-based communications – designed for 4G and emerging 5G wireless networks – supports telematics, connected infotainment and a growing number of advanced informational safety use cases.

Courtesy-Fud

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