According to Bloomberg, the US Department of Justice has just announced that it will submit a deferment request for the Sprint / Softbank merger to the FCC. Telecom acquisitions in the United States require approval from both the DoJ and the FCC, with the former agency focusing largely on potential anti-trust issues. Softbank officially announced the buyout in October.
It's not exactly a big surprise that the DoJ is looking at this deal cautiously.
Better late than never, I suppose. Today Sprint announced that it's bringing new LTE service to Boston and Framingham, Mass., Austin and Bryan-College Station, TX, Fort Wayne, IN, and Western Puerto Rico. The latter is actually not the first round of 4G coverage for the territory, as PR has had coverage in a few southern cities for a while. Additionally, the carrier improved its 3G services throughout the entire island.
It's a good start for 2013 as Sprint continues its Network Vision plan, which should only ramp up this year as a variety of deals—including the Softbank acquisition, the Clearwire buyout, and spectrum purchases—finalize.
Sprint this morning announced plans to offer a new ultra-rugged Kyocera smartphone with Direct Connect "this spring." The device – dubbed Torque – offers the standard features expected from a ruggedized phone, including water resistance, dust prevention, and drop protection. That means you'll be able to drop it in the toilet, use it during a sandstorm, or throw it out of frustration without fear of shattering it into pieces.
If you want specifics, the Torque can be submerged in meter-deep water for up to 30 minutes, handle temperatures from –22 to 140 degrees for three hours, stay safe from "heavy dust" for up to six hours, and be dropped more than 20 times from a height of four feet.
There might be more appealing national networks to run your phone through, but Sprint is hoping to lure in more customers with some free money. A leaked internal Sprint doc indicates that a previously popular promotion is coming roaring back on January 18th. If you meet the qualifications to take advantage of this deal, it can mean big savings on a couple new smartphones.
Before you get too excited, you have to be opening a new account with Sprint, along with the following eligibility requirements:
IL [Independently Liable] customers activating 3-5 new handsets [read: phones only] on new lines of service
At least one line must be a port-in from another carrier
Customers must activate all phones on an Everything Share or Simply Everything Share plan
The independently liable stipulation is just referring to a line that you own, not one handled through an employer.
The official OTA update to Android 4.2 for the Sprint Galaxy Nexus has just hit Google's servers, and you can grab the build (GA02) right now. Here's a direct download link, originally found on XDA. Sextape at SXTP Developers posted yesterday indicating that a leaked version of this build would end up as the final OTA release. Here's the detailed build info:
LTE is probably like getting a glass of ice water in hell for Sprint customers after the flop that was WiMAX, so announcements of expanded 4G coverage are doubly welcome on the Now Network. Sprint let fly today that 28 new markets will be getting the four-gees in 'the coming months,' and here's the list.
Bay City, MI
Florence/Muscle Shoals, AL
Homosassa Springs, FL
Hot Springs, AR
Lake City, FL
Lake Havasu City/Kingman, AZ
The Villages, FL
This particular portion of the LTE buildout seems focused on the southland, though there are a few outliers sprinkled in there as well.
A couple of small OTA updates - both of which are primarily bug-fixers - are making their way to the Flash and Epic 4G Touch on Sprint this morning.
Flash owners, you can expect LED blink timing improvements, camera enhancements, better text input with Swype, and a tweak to the information provided in Settings > Applications > Running applications.
The list is actually shorter for the Epic 4G Touch, with only two things in the OTA: it adds Sprint's Connection Optimizer, and brings some security updates.
If you have a Motorola Photon Q, time to start the ritualistic checking for updates: a new OTA is headed out this morning. Software version 7.7.1Q-6_SPR-125_ASA-14, the first update since the ASA-10 maintenance release in October, will get your Q running the latest and greatest. And no, it's not Jelly Bean (though the Q will be getting Jelly Bean... at some point). The changelog isn't much of a log, either:
- Various fixes to improve overall device stability
But hey, bug fixes are bug fixes, and that's probably going to make someone somewhere happy.
Break out the popcorn, folks, it's time for some corporate drama. As we reported last month, LTE service provider Clearwire is looking to sell itself, with 50% stake holder Sprint Nextel the obvious choice. But while Sprint's $2.2 billion offer (plus another $800 million in staggered investments) sits on the desks of both Clearwire shareholders and the Federal Trade Commission for approval, satellite TV provider Dish Network has made another offer.
If you have Sprint's version of the LG Optimus G, you may want to head into Settings > About phone and see if the latest OTA is available on your handset. The update – which bumps the device up to build LS970ZV9 – is just a small one that brings a couple of fairly minor enhancements to the device:
Visual Voicemail update
This just started rolling out today, so don't stress if it's not yet available to you.