There’s a 5G version of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+ headed for Verizon

Posted by | 5g, galaxy note 10, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, Verizon | No Comments

The 5G iPhone isn’t expected until roughly this time next year. But when it comes to the next-gen cellular technology, Samsung has already been there and done that. Back in the February, the company announced an everything and the kitchen sink version of the Galaxy S10, sporting 5G — its first device to do so. The model was finally made available last month.

At this afternoon’s Unpacked event in Brooklyn, the Note got its own 5G version — though the device got a little less time in the spotlight. That’s due, in part, to the 5G model is otherwise very little daylight between it and the standard Note 10+. Well, that and pricing, of course.

The device launches August 23 as a Verizon exclusive, running $1,300 to the standard version’s $1,100. The carrier partnership means there’s also a $36 a month for 36 months licensing model here.

Other details, including how the product’s battery will last with 5G switched on, are still TBD. Thankfully the Note 10+ has a pretty beefy 4,300mAh battery as a base. The devices also feature Samsung’s standard vapor chamber cooling system, which will hopefully address some of 5G’s overheating issues.

As with the other versions, pre-orders open at midnight tonight, and all will be available in stores on the 23. The exclusivity is limited. T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T are all getting their hands on the 5G handset, likely before end of year. 

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Verizon reports a big boost in wireless subscribers

Posted by | Earnings, Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

Verizon reported its second quarter earnings this morning, and while revenue fell short of analyst predictions, the company had strong profits and subscriber growth.

Verizon reported consolidated revenue of $32.1 billion in Q2, down 0.4% year-over-year and lower than analyst estimates of $32.4 billion. However, it also reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.23, compared to analyst predictions of $1.20 (which was Verizon’s EPS a year ago).

The company saw significant growth in wireless subscribers, with a total net addition of 451,000 subscribers, including 420,000 net adds on the smartphone side and 245,000 on the phone side (compared to a net addition of 199,000 phone subscribers in Q2 2018).

Meanwhile, the Fios internet business saw 34,000 net additions, with revenue growing 1.9% year-over-year.

Breaking it down by business unit, Verizon Consumer revenue was $22.0 billion (flat year-over-year), Verizon Business revenue came in at $7.8 billion (down 1.1%) and Verizon Media (which owns TechCrunch) saw revenue of $1.8 billion, down 2.9%.

The earnings release also points to the carrier’s rollout of 5G, with a statement from CEO Hans Vestberg: “Verizon made history this quarter by becoming the first carrier in the world to launch 5G mobility. We are focused on optimizing our next-generation networks and enhancing the customer experience while we head into the second half of the year with great momentum.”

In an interview with CNBC, Vestberg predicted that half of the United States will have functioning 5G by 2020.

As of 11:16 am Eastern, Verizon shares were up 1.14% since the start of trading.

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Hear Hans Vestberg talk about the 5G opportunity at Disrupt SF 2019

Posted by | Disrupt SF 2019, events, hans vestberg, Media, Mobile, TC, TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019, Verizon | No Comments

The promise of 5G is staggering. With its ultra-high bandwidth and low latency, it has the potential to alter how consumers interact with technology. However, questions remain around its deployment, use cases and marketing.

We’re excited to have Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg sit down for a fireside chat at Disrupt SF to talk about the telecom’s 5G efforts. Vestberg took over Verizon on the eve of 5G.

Here’s the thing: Hans Vestberg is my boss. (Technically, he’s my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.) TechCrunch is owned by Verizon, operating under the Verizon Media Group, yet we remain editorially independent. Verizon doesn’t tell us what to write or not to write. Likewise, nothing is off-limits for this interview.

Verizon and other telecoms began rolling out the next-generation network to their subscribers this year. And the company has announced plans to launch 5G in at least 30 U.S. cities by the end of this year, even though there are limited hardware options and few marketable use cases.

How will consumers use 5G? When should startups begin building for 5G? How will Verizon educate consumers about real 5G versus fake 5G? We have questions, and we hope Vestberg has answers.

Vestberg became CEO of Verizon in August 2018, succeeding Lowell McAdam. Vestberg joined Verizon in 2017 as its CTO and VP of Network and Technology. Previously, he worked at Ericsson for 25 years, six of which he spent as CEO until he was ousted in 2016 following poor financial results.

Under McAdam, Verizon looked to media companies for additional channels for growth, notably acquiring Aol and Yahoo and merging the two into an ad-serving giant called Oath. Earlier this year Oath was renamed Verizon Media. Its future remains in question as rumors persist about Verizon wanting to spin out the division en masse or by dumping various brands like Huffpo or even TechCrunch.

Vestberg is joining Disrupt SF’s long list of speakers that includes other chief executives, such as Sebastian Thrun, Evan Spiegel, Rachel Haurwitz and many more. The three-day conference is shaping up to feature a fantastic speaker lineup covering all aspects of the startup world.

Tickets to the show, which runs October 2 to October 4 in SF, are available now.

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Denver and Providence are next up for Verizon’s 5G rollout

Posted by | 5g, Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

There’s going to be a point in the not so distant future when the addition of new 5G cities won’t be news. After several years of hype, however, we’re still not quite there. The 5G picture is set to be quite different by year’s end, but for now, the big network war is one of inches.

Verizon (our boss’s boss’s boss) is flipping the switch in Denver today. The mile-high city is going ultra wideband this week, followed by Providence, Rhode Island on Monday July 1.

As for the devices that can actually access those speeds — that, too, is fairly limited. The list currently includes the LG V50, the Moto Z (plus 5G mod) and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. That scant three puts the company in contention for most 5G handsets at the moment.

The addition of Providence and Denver brings the list up to four, along with Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon is promising a full 30 cities by year’s end. The carrier says subscribers can expect spreads to top out at around 1.5 Gbps, with average download speeds at around 450 Mbps.

Coverage will be consented in specific neighborhoods from the sound of it, meaning handsets will likely jump back and forth between 5G and LTE. Here are the specifics on that,

In Denver, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service will initially be concentrated in areas of Highlands, South of 37th between Tejon and Navajo Streets. Coverage can also be found throughout LoDo and around Coors Field. Businesses and consumers will also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Central Business District around popular landmarks like the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Sculpture Park, and outside Paramount Theatre. Areas of Capitol Hill and Northern Sections of The Denver Tech Center will also have Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service.
In Providence, Verizon business and consumer customers will initially see 5G Ultra Wideband service in parts of College Hill, Federal Hill, Mt. Hope, and around landmarks like Brown University (Erickson Athletic Complex, Wriston Quadrangle), Rhode Island School of Design and Providence College.

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Verizon gets FCC approval for a 60 day network lockdown on new phones

Posted by | FCC, Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

Verizon (disclosure: the company that owns the company that owns TC) celebrated an FCC victory this week, as the agency approved a request for a temporary network lockdown on new phones.

The carrier request the feature in February as part of a “safety check period.” The ruling presents a kind of temporary waiver on an FCC dating back to 2008. As the agency auctioned off the C block of the 700MHz spectrum to the carrier, it put a ruling in place requiring it to keep unlocked devices open to all compatible carriers.

This year Verizon argued successfully that this presents a security loophole and that a two-month waiting period would effectively help it implement a kind of fraud safety check. The company argued back in February that offering all phones unlocked upon sale has led to theft that impacts customers at a rate of around 7,000 a month.

“As a result of this activity, these customers have to deal with the inconvenience and hassle of identity theft, and Verizon sustains financial losses,” the company wrote. “While we actively work with law enforcement to stop this growing trend, it’s time that we take a stand to protect our customers.”

The FCC agreed. “This limited waiver will not undermine the underlying policy objectives of the handset unlocking rule and will, in fact, better serve the public interest,” the ruling reads. “The locking rule was adopted to enable consumers to migrate from one service provider to another on compatible networks. Allowing handsets to be locked for 60 days will not interfere significantly with this policy objective.”

Verizon says the waiting period is set to go into effect “very soon.”

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A year after outcry, carriers are finally stopping sale of location data, letters to FCC show

Posted by | AT&T, FCC, Government, Mobile, privacy, sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

Reports emerged a year ago that all the major cellular carriers in the U.S. were selling location data to third-party companies, which in turn sold them to pretty much anyone willing to pay. New letters published by the FCC show that despite a year of scrutiny and anger, the carriers have only recently put an end to this practice.

We already knew that the carriers, like many large companies, simply could not be trusted. In January it was clear that promises to immediately “shut down,” “terminate” or “take steps to stop” the location-selling side business were, shall we say, on the empty side. Kind of like their assurances that these services were closely monitored — no one seems to have bothered actually checking whether the third-party resellers were obtaining the required consent before sharing location data.

Similarly, the carriers took their time shutting down the arrangements they had in place, and communication on the process has been infrequent and inadequate.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has been particularly frustrated by the foot-dragging and lack of communication on this issue (by companies and the commission).

“The FCC has been totally silent about press reports that for a few hundred dollars shady middlemen can sell your location within a few hundred meters based on your wireless phone data. That’s unacceptable,” she wrote in a statement posted today.

To provide a bit of closure, she decided to publish letters (PDF) from the major carriers explaining their current positions. Fortunately it’s good news. Here’s the gist:

T-Mobile swiftly made promises last May, and in June of 2018, CEO John Legere said in a tweet that he “personally evaluated this issue,” and pledged that the company “will not sell customer location data to shady middlemen.”

That seems to have been before “T-Mobile undertook an evaluation last summer of whether to retain or restructure its location aggregator program… Ultimately, we decided to terminate it.” That phased termination took place over the next half a year, finishing only in March of 2019.

AT&T immediately suspended access to location data by the offending company, Securus, but continued providing it to others. One hopes they at least began auditing properly. Almost a year later, the company said in its letter to Commissioner Rosenworcel that “in light of the press report to which you refer… we decided in January 2019 to accelerate our phase-out of these services. As of March 29, 2019, AT&T stopped sharing any AT&T customer location data with location aggregators and LBS providers.”

Sprint said shortly after the initial reports that it was in the “process of terminating its current contracts with data aggregators to whom we provide location data.” That process sure seems to have been a long one:

As of May 31, 2019, Sprint will no longer contract with any location aggregators to provide LBS. Sprint anticipates that after May 31. 2019, it may provide LBS services directly to customers like those described above [i.e. roadside assistance], but there are no firm plans at this time.

Verizon (the parent company of TechCrunch) managed to kill its contracts with all-purpose aggregators LocationSmart and Zumigo in November of 2018… except for a specific use case through the former to provide roadside assistance services during the winter. That agreement ended in March.

It’s taken some time, but the carriers seem to have finally followed through on shutting down the programs through which they resold customer location data. All took care to mention at some point the practical and helpful use cases of such programs, but failed to detail the apparent lack of oversight with which they were conducted. The responsibility to properly vet customers and collect mobile user consent seems to have been fully ceded to the resellers, who as last year’s reports showed, did nothing of the kind.

Location data is obviously valuable to consumers and many services can and should be able to request it — from those consumers. No one is arguing otherwise. But this important data was clearly being irresponsibly handled by the carriers, and it is probably right that the location aggregation business gets a hard stop and not a band-aid. We’ll likely see new businesses and arrangements appearing soon — but you can be sure that these too will require close monitoring to make sure the carriers don’t allow them to get out of hand… again.

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Samsung’s 5G phone hits Verizon, Sprint getting two 5G devices this month

Posted by | hardware, HTC, LG, Mobile, Samsung, smartphones, sprint, TC, Verizon | No Comments

With 5G, when it rains, it pours. A few hours after Verizon officially started selling the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Sprint announced that it will be offering two 5G devices for its network by the end of the month.

For now, it still feels like manufacturers are putting the cart before the horse here. There’s little question that 5G will become ubiquitous in the next few years, but actual opportunities to access the technology are still pretty scarce.

Among U.S. carriers, Verizon (our parent company’s parent company) has been the most aggressive. Fitting then, that the company is first to market with the Galaxy S10 5G. Of course, all of these devices will default to 4G when there’s no 5G to be found, which is going to be the case more often than not for a while.

Verizon’s 5G is currently available in select markets, including Chicago and Minneapolis. That number is set to balloon to 20 locales before year’s end, including, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Washington, DC.

Sprint, meanwhile, has promised to flip on 5G in nine markets “in the coming weeks.” The list includes parts of Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City, and then locations in Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.

To celebrate, the network will be offering two 5G devices this month. The LG V50 ThinQ and HTC 5G Hub will hit Sprint stores on May 31.

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Verizon flips on 5G for phones in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis

Posted by | 5g, Mobile, Verizon | No Comments

Verizon (which owns the company that owns TechCrunch) announced today that it has activated its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in parts of Minneapolis and Chicago. The news is the first step for the carrier’s plan to bring the technology to north of 30 U.S. cities at some point this year.

It’s all still baby steps, of course. While the roll out has started a week ahead of schedule, it’s only available in “parts” of the two Midwestern cities, according to the company. Those in the right spots, however, can expect top speeds of up to 1Gbps, per Verizon’s press materials.

Here are the areas that will get coverage:

In Chicago, 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. Customers also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America.

The other big rub here is the extremely limited availability of 5G handsets at present. The phones were seemingly all over the place at Mobile World Congress back in February, but actually getting your hands on one is another question entirely. Currently the Moto Z3 is the only phone that can access those speeds on Verizon, when paired with the 5G Moto Mod.

It’s important to temper expectations in all of this. Full coverage — especially for those outside of major cities — is going to take a while. And even for those who are in big cities, chances are it’s going to take a while to get it. That’s going to be coupled with limited availability of 5G options (Apple, for one, isn’t expected to go 5G until 2020 at the earliest) and some high-price premiums on already expensive flagship devices.

That said, the long-promised era of 5G is, indeed, finally dawning.

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HMD Nokia phones are coming to Verizon, Cricket and Rogers

Posted by | cricket, hardware, hmd, Mobile, Nokia, Verizon | No Comments

The North American market can be a tough one to crack for a number of reasons, not the least of which is consumers’ continued reliance on carriers. Without their distribution channels, most handset makers just can’t get a foothold here. In a meeting earlier this week, HMD told me that North America is going to be its primary focus for 2019, a push that starts with a trio of carrier deals.

This morning, the Finnish smartphone maker announced that it will be bringing its Nokia-branded Android handsets to a trio of key carriers — Verizon and Cricket in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada. The U.S. devices are arriving this month, with Rogers’ arriving “very soon” through its Chatr brand.

Cricket users will get access to the Nokia 3.1 Plus, which focuses primarily on its 3,500mAh battery, which the company optimistically puts at two days of life. It’s a budget device, of course, priced at $160, sporting a 5.99-inch screen, a middling Snapdragon 439 and dual rear-facing cameras.

Verizon users will get access to the Nokia 2 V, which sports an even larger 4,000mAh battery and a 5.5-inch screen. That one will be available through Verizon stores on January 30. Rogers, meanwhile, will be getting the Nokia 2.1.

HMD’s already had pretty solid growth in its first few years of existence, bucking the trend of an otherwise stagnate mobile market. That growth comes thanks in part to its out of the gate brand recognition from acquiring Nokia IP, some buzzy early retro handsets, a focus on budget devices and its continued commitment to the oft-neglected feature phone market.

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Apple expands its reach with free Apple Music on Verizon Wireless

Posted by | apple music, Gadgets, music streaming services, Verizon, verizon wireless | No Comments

Verizon Wireless is now offering free access to Apple Music. The music streaming service is available on select Verizon Wireless plans starting on January 17, 2019. Previously, Verizon and Apple offered a free six-month trial to the streaming service.

The partnership comes as Apple is clearly looking for partners to help extend the reach of Apple’s services. Just last week, at CES 2019, multiple consumer electronic companies announced compatibility and support for several of Apple’s services, including Airplay 2, HomeKit and iTunes video streaming services. This Verizon partnership further demonstrates Apple’s willingness to piggyback on another company to reach new users.

Verizon Wireless is America’s largest wireless carriers, though it’s unclear how many users will have access to this service. The free Apple Music offer is only available to Verizon subscribers on select plans. Starting January 17, Apple Music will be included in Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans. For other users, a six-month trial is still available.

Wireless carriers have long looked to offering outside services to its subscribers to prop up their offerings. T-Mobile offers free Netflix and limited access to GoGo. Sprint gives subscribers free Hulu and Tidal. Sprint lets users on some plans pick from free HBO, Cinemax, Showtime or other services. Verizon is the first to offer free Apple Music.

Partnering with wireless carriers is a proven strategy to supercharge growth. Previously, Spotify used similar methods to introduce its service to customers. Others, such as Dropbox, followed. It’s a smart move: Go where there are already customers. Wireless carriers offer service companies access to a huge range of customers from various demographic groups.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Apple discloses the source of Apple Music subscribers in quarterly reports. This deal will likely result in a massive increase of subscribers who are not paying for the service through traditional means.

Disclosure: TechCrunch is a Verizon Media company.

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