Back in August, Verizon turned heads when it said it would begin to use "Network Optimization" for those few customers still on the old unlimited data plans. In layman's terms, it meant that Verizon intended to throttle the speed of the top 5% of unlimited data users on LTE networks, something that's already in place on the carrier's aging 3G system. But today, the very first day that the policy was set to go into practice, the company seems to have backed down.
Update, 9-4-13: a Verizon Wireless spokesman reached out to say that the wireless provider hasn't been fined by the FCC, and that the landline services provider (providers of home Internet and cable services) is the one being fined. Verizon and Verizon Wireless are technically separate companies. The headline and story text have been altered to reflect this.
There are a lot of good reasons not to like Verizon. But the Federal Communications Commission has taken particular exception to at least one of Verizon's practices from way back in 2006.
In some emergency situations it might not be practical or possible to make a voice call to 911, but starting today, you might have another option. It took a bit of wrangling with wireless carriers, but the FCC's deadline for having the necessary wireless infrastructure in place is today. That doesn't mean everyone will be able to text 911 yet, but the pieces are in place.
The US mobile market is weird in that almost all the phones floating around here are locked to one carrier or another. You can usually request an unlock code from the carrier if you are not under contract or still paying off the device, but Sprint is different. It claims it doesn't have any mechanism to unlock phones for use on other US carriers right now, but that's going to change next year.
The big news in the wireless business this week has been AT&T's upcoming purchase of Leap Wireless, which the FCC approved yesterday. The deal has been in the works since July of last year. That leaves AT&T in an interesting spot, since it now owns the CDMA-based Cricket Wireless, which directly competes with the budget-focused Aio sub-brand. Apparently AT&T prefers the more established brand, because the company said it will combine the assets of both under the "Cricket" name.
Netflix now covers the first 5GB of mobile app streaming for AT&T customers at no cost to you.
Beats Music: no data charge, no worries - only on AT&T.
Amazon Prime Members now get free Instant Video streaming on AT&T.
When put in the right light - that is, the light AT&T wants you to see it in - the company's new "Sponsored Data" program doesn't sound all that bad. In fact, it actually sounds pretty good, in theory.
We're all spending a lot on mobile data, but are we getting our money's worth? That's the question the FCC hopes to help answer with the new FCC Speed Test app. It's exclusive to Android right now and provides you (and the FCC) with data on mobile network performance.
Unlike most speed testing apps, this is not just a run-on-demand service. You can trigger a test whenever you want, but the app is configured to run occasional tests in the background to get a picture of your network speeds over time.
We've all been there: for 20 minutes during takeoff and landing, the cabin of an American airliner becomes a virtual Faraday cage as every passenger is told to turn off everything with a battery, from the latest Android superphones to the humble Game Boy. This practice has been heavily criticized in the last few years, and there's finally some real movement towards tossing it out the window. The Wall Street Journal reports that a Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel has recommended approving electronic devices for use during takeoff and landing, including WiFi data access.
If you keep up with American politics, live with someone who does, or work in a place that keeps the television glued to whichever cable news network best fits the politics of the company, then you've probably heard that the federal government shut its doors today. This is the direct result of our politicians failing to cooperate long enough to pass a budget, and now many federal employees have been made to take forced unpaid vacation time.
Motorola has a more economical alternative to the flagship X on the way, referred to in a previous FCC filing and a few Republic Wireless documents as the "Motorola DVX." A revised Permissive Change filing with the Federal Communications Commission has revealed a few more photos of the device itself, including the assembled front and rear. According to Reddit user Danrant, the update is for compatibility with advanced hearing aids.
The DVX is a dead ringer for the Moto X, looking basically identical to the slightly older phone in the filing documents except for a speaker module flipped to the left side on the rear panel.