The Tech News Blog

June 24, 2014

Sprint Counters T-Mobile’s ‘Test Drive’ With 30-Day Free Trial

Sprint Logo Sprint is firing back at T-Mobile's new "Test Drive" promotion with a pretty sweet offer of its own.

Those interested in Sprint service can now try it out risk free for 30 days, the carrier announced on Monday.

The promotion comes just days after T-Mobile began offering a free, one-week test drive of the iPhone 5s with no cost and no commitment.

"We believe customers will be delighted with the Sprint retail experience, our customer service, and the performance of America's newest network," Sprint Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse said in a statement, "so we're guaranteeing it."

The Sprint trial offer begins on June 27 and is available to new customers, select small businesses, and existing customers who activate a new line of service. If you aren't "completely satisfied" with your Sprint service within the first 30 days, the carrier will refund the cost of your device and wave all service and activation charges.

Other major carriers typically allow you to return your phone and cancel contracts within 14 days, but usually include a $35 re-stocking fee, unless the phone is unopened.

June 20, 2014

Report: Sprint Lines Up Financing for T-Mobile Deal

Sprint Logo Sprint has reportedly garnered the support of eight banks willing to finance a merger with T-Mobile, which would unite the third- and fourth-biggest U.S. mobile carriers.

According to Reuters, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group, Deutsche Bank AG, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup Inc., as well as Japanese banks Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, have all agreed to bankroll Sprint's proposed acquisition.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters said the debt package is valued at more than $40 billion, plus a $20 billion bridge loan from Japan's Softbank, as well as the $20 billion to refinance T-Mobile's existing debt.

Sprint declined to comment on the report.

The long-rumored Sprint/T-Mobile merger made what seemed like a step forward in May, when Deutsche Telekom, which owns 67 percent of T-Mobile, agreed to sell the U.S. service provider to Softbank, which holds a majority stake in Sprint.

June 19, 2014

Take T-Mobile (and iPhone 5s) for Free ‘Test Drive’

iPhone 5S

Should you get an iPhone, Android device, or try out Windows Phone? And which carrier is the best? These questions can be hard to answer without some hands-on time with your device of choice, but T-Mobile wants to help you out with its new "Test Drive" feature.

Starting June 23, T-Mobile is teaming up with Apple to offer a free, one-week test drive of the iPhone 5s - no cost, no commitment.

Interested users can sign up for T-Mobile Test Drive at, and the carrier will send one of Apple's latest smartphones a few days later. Use it for up to seven days free of charge, and drop it off at any T-Mobile store when done.

"That's it. Absolutely no money down. No obligation. No strings attached," according to T-Mobile, which said it expects at least one million people to take a test drive.

"The way this industry forces Americans to buy wireless is completely, utterly broken. I'm here to tell you there's a better way," John Legere, T-Mobile CEO and President, said in a statement. "While the carriers ask you to buy blind, the Un-carrier gives you transparency. Our network kicks ass, and now people can experience for themselves what a data-strong network can do with T-Mobile Test Drive."

June 9, 2014

Map Reveals How Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Wouldn’t Expand Coverage

T-Mobile LTE

As you may have noticed, I'm very against the proposed merger of Sprint with T-Mobile. Just this morning, I was mulling over how it will probably cost tens of thousands of jobs, as the two companies would eliminate duplicate retail sales and support positions and shorten their joint product lines as they combine them into one.

But that's not the topic of the day. I wanted to show you this map from Mosaik Solutions, which makes awesome mobile network maps. It illustrates something I've been saying all along: that if you're looking for a merger to expand Sprint's or T-Mobile's coverage, you're out of luck, as the networks are basically duplicative. Yes, a merger means that the combined company would probably kill off Sprint's CDMA network anyway, but existing network builds still matter, as Sprint's Network Vision towers are designed to be switched over to LTE anyway, and building out into fresh new areas usually means long, expensive permitting and land acquisition processes.

June 5, 2014

Report: Sprint, T-Mobile Agree on Terms of $32B Merger

T-Mobile Logo

Sprint and T-Mobile have reportedly wrapped up negotiations on a $32 billion merger deal, though a final announcement is not expected for another few weeks.

Terms of the agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal, include Sprint paying $40 per share for T-Mobile. But as with any deal, there is still a chance the acquisition—which would combine the country's third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers—could fall through.

Sprint declined to comment on the speculation; T-Mobile did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

Just last week, reports surfaced that Deutsche Telekom, which owns 67 percent of T-Mobile, agreed to sell the U.S. operator to SoftBank, a majority Sprint stakeholder. A merger would condense the number of major wireless competitors in the U.S., but give the combined Sprint/T-Mobile an edge in competing with AT&T and Verizon.

But not everyone favors the move: When rumors of the deal first emerged, PCMag's lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, outlined six reasons why a merger would be a bad idea.

Chief among them is the companies' incompatible networks, as well as the fact that "un-carrier" T-Mobile has recently excelled, pushing rivals like AT&T and Sprint to revamp their own plans.

May 22, 2014

T-Mobile Fires Up Voice Over LTE in Seattle

T-Mobile Logo

T-Mobile is bringing the "next major advancement in LTE" to Seattle.

The mobile carrier on Thursday announced it has lit up Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service in the Emerald City for existing LG G Flex, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy Light users. What does this mean exactly? Voice over LTE (VoLTE) essentially brings voice and data onto the same radio layer for faster call setup times and LTE data speeds while on a call. T-Mobile said it's almost twice as fast as a non-VoLTE call setup.

"VoLTE calls will be carried over IP on our LTE network instead of a circuit-switched path on our 4G HSPA+ network," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, wrote in a blog post. "This is advantageous because your phone stays on our wicked fast LTE network to make a call."

To try out the new service, those with a G Flex , Galaxy Note 3 , or Light smartphone need to download a software update. Head over to your phone's "Settings" menu, then tap "General" and "About Device" to grab the update.

May 1, 2014

T-Mobile Adds Record 2.4M Customers

T-Mobile Logo

No contract? No problem! T-Mobile added 2.4 million customers during the first quarter, including 1.3 million postpaid and 465,000 pre-paid users - a new company record.

Those numbers bring T-Mobile to just around 49.1 million total customers.

"A year ago I promised that we would bring change to what I called this arrogant U.S. wireless industry. We are delivering on that promise and our results reflect the growing customer revolution that we've ignited," John Legere, T-Mobile president and CEO, said in a statement.

"We are now approaching 50 million customers, added 2.4 million net new customers in the first quarter alone, and posted our fourth quarter of consecutive service revenue growth, while once again adding more net new postpaid customers than the rest of the industry combined!" he boasted.

The company still managed to lose $151 million for the quarter, which is a bit of a reversal from the $106 million in profit it announced at the same time period last year. Nevertheless, Wall Street applauded T-Mobile's growth, sending the company's stock up 8.3 percent to $31.73 (a $2.44 increase) immediately following T-Mobile's announcement.

April 1, 2014

T-Mobile Provides Fastest LTE in U.S.

Sprint LTE

Who has the fastest LTE service in the U.S.? According to new data from OpenSignal, T-Mobile takes the crown.

The un-carrier provides average LTE speeds of 11.5 Mbps, OpenSignal said, followed by AT&T at 9.1 Mbps. Verizon came in third with 7.8 Mbps, while Sprint was last at 4.3 Mbps.

But when it comes to consistent LTE coverage - or how long a device will stay connected to LTE without dropping down to lower speeds - Verizon is the victor, providing LTE coverage about 83.2 percent of the time. AT&T is second with 70.6 percent, followed by T-Mobile at 61.1 percent and Sprint at 56.5 percent.

February 5, 2014

AT&T Ends $450 T-Mobile Poaching Promotion

Switch to AT&TLess than a month after launching a promotion to lure customers away from T-Mobile with the promise of up to $450 in cash and discounts, AT&T has abruptly ended the offer.

"We can confirm that promotion is over," an AT&T spokeswoman said in an email to PCMag. The promotion, which began on Jan. 3, was a limited-time offer, and officially ended on Jan. 31.

While it lasted, T-Mobile customers who switched to AT&T could trade in their smartphone for a credit worth up to $250, which could be used for AT&T products and services. As part of the deal, former T-Mobile customers could also nab $200 per line when they purchased an AT&T device at full retail price, or activated an existing device, and selected the carrier's early upgrade Next plan.

T-Mobile was, of course, not impressed by the move. In a statement last month, the company's outspoken CEO John Legere called the promotion "a desperate move by AT&T on the heels of what must have been a terrible Q4 and holiday for them."

He seems more pleased now that the deal has ended. Legere took to Twitter this week to poke fun at AT&T and its CEO Randall Stephenson for ending the offer so abruptly.

January 9, 2014

T-Mobile Offers to Pay Everyone Else’s Termination Fees

T-Mobile Logo

LAS VEGAS—What would it take for you to switch to T-Mobile? How about $350? In a typically bombastic press conference today, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere unveiled "Contract Freedom," a plan that will pay up to $350 in early termination fees per line for up to five lines ported over from other wireless carriers. Switchers will also need to trade in their old phones, for a credit of up to $300 more.

"Anybody who wants to switch now can," he said.

T-Mobile's ETF-paying strategy comes on the heels of an AT&T attack plan to win back customers who have switched to T-Mobile; this year the smaller carrier gained 4.4 million subscribers, Legere said. AT&T's "Switcher Promo" gives T-Mobile customers who come over to AT&T a $200 bill credit, plus up to $250 in trade-in value for their old phones.

"If AT&T customers come over to this plan and it doesn't work, they'll pay you to come back - it's beautiful," Legere said. "AT&T has given us almost like a no-fault guarantee. Come over, try the network, and these pricks will pay you back if it doesn't work."

T-Mobile's "UnCarrier" plans have been successful, Legere said. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the company added 869,000 postpaid subscribers and 112,000 prepaid subscribers, with a total of 4.4 million net new subscribers joining T-Mobile this year.

"That's a turnaround in one year. That has made us the fastest growing wireless company in the U.S. We are either going to take over this whole industry or these bastards are going to change ... I'm going to love watching the peckers scream and cry," he said. Yes, he actually said that.