Verizon No Longer Plans to Sell Unlocked iPhones

Verizon plans to stop selling unlocked smartphones as a way to deter criminals from stealing the devices, the company told CNET.

As of today, Verizon devices will be locked to the Verizon network and unlocked as soon as a customer signs up for service and activates the phone. Later in the spring, though, smartphones will remain locked until unlocked by Verizon, and Verizon has not yet shared details on how long it will keep phones locked before offering to unlock them.


Verizon previously sold all of its smartphones, iPhones included, unlocked, which means they were not tied to the Verizon network and could be used with any carrier right after purchase.

Purchasing a Verizon iPhone has long been a way to get an unlocked device right away, as Apple often does not sell its own unlocked models until several weeks to several months after a new iPhone launches.

With the iPhone X, for example, all Verizon models sold in November were unlocked and were able to be used across different cellular networks.

Going forward, the smartphones that Verizon sells will be locked to the Verizon network. Smartphones locked this way will not be compatible with other carriers until unlocked by Verizon, which is similar to how other cellular carriers in the United States operate.

According to Verizon, the new policy is aimed at preventing criminals from stealing unlocked phones that can be resold or used overseas. "We're taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud, Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon told CNET in a statement. "These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.

Verizon has not yet shared details on how its unlocking policy will work, but if it's like other carriers, such as AT&T, the company will offer to unlock a smartphone after a waiting period. AT&T requires customers to wait for 60 days, Sprint requires customers to wait for 50 days (and then automatically unlocks devices), and T-Mobile has a 40-day waiting period, but does offer temporary unlocking for customers who need to travel.

AT&T and Sprint require smartphones to be paid off before being unlocked, but CNET says Verizon will allow customers to unlock their devices regardless of whether or not they're paid off once the waiting period has expired.

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Verizon Details New BOGO Deal: Buy One iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X and Get $699 Off Second

Verizon this morning announced an offer coming for both existing customers and new customers who are switching to a Verizon line, which will go live on Monday, January 29. With the deal, if you trade in an eligible smartphone and then purchase an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, you'll get $699 off a second iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X.

The offer is available when purchasing any combination of these iPhones, as long as they are both purchased on device payment plans and a new line is activated on Verizon unlimited. Afterwards, the $699 discount on the second smartphone comes in the form of bill credits spread out over a 24 month period.


The offer allows you to get both trade-in credit and $699 to cover the cost of the second device you purchase, greatly discounting the $999 or $1,149 iPhone X, or even offering the 64GB iPhone 8 base model for free.

The smartphones eligible for trade-in cover the same devices in Verizon's current BOGO sale for Android smartphones, which can be seen on this page by clicking "See offer details."

Verizon outlined the steps you'll need to take to get the offer:
To get this offer, you need to:

- Purchase both phones on device payment
- Activate a new line on Verizon unlimited
- Trade in your phone within 30 days. You will receive the trade-in value in addition to the bill credits.
Verizon's deal is similar to one that T-Mobile began two weeks ago today, where new and existing T-Mobile customers could buy one iPhone and get up to $700 off another iPhone of equal or lesser value. One of the main differences is that T-Mobile offered the $700 discount in the form of a rebate received via prepaid MasterCard card, while Verizon's will be credited to the user's monthly bills over 24 months. T-Mobile's also included the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but Verizon's is only for Apple's 2017 line of iPhones.

For more on the latest sales, visit our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X
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AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile Tout Boosted Cellular Capacity Across Twin Cities in Anticipation of Super Bowl LII

In November, AT&T shared its plans to launch its "5G Evolution" network -- which isn't true 5G -- in select areas of Minneapolis as part of its overall plan to boost cellular coverage in the city during Super Bowl LII. This week, three of the major United States cellular carriers -- AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile -- each outlined their own plans to ensure that customers retain quality coverage in the Twin Cities on the weekend of February 4.

U.S. Bank Stadium via Darb02 / Wikimedia Commons

AT&T said its users can expect "a better mobile experience" in the city, with technology it's been working on for over a year that combines both permanent and temporary upgrades to the carrier's cellular connectivity. The company's $40 million investment in its Minneapolis wireless network boost includes coverage within the U.S. Bank Stadium (where the game will take place), as well as outside the stadium in hotels, airports, and other venues that will see increased traffic in a few weeks.

AT&T's upgrades:
  • Upgraded in-stadium Distributed Antenna System (DAS) offering "nearly 220% more LTE capacity."

  • More than 800 hidden antennas in the stadium to help manage wireless traffic.

  • DAS installed at 16 total locations in Minneapolis.

  • 10 Cell on Wheels (COWs, or temporary towers) deployed to further support reliability of AT&T's network.

  • 5G Evolution with 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and 3-way carrier aggregation in select areas on supported smartphones.

Verizon predicted a "blizzard" of data usage for the Super Bowl this year, and said it's been working for two years on preparing the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area for the event. Verizon focused on its more permanent updates, which include boosted performance in the U.S. Bank Stadium and other venues throughout the Twin Cities area.

Verizon's upgrades:
  • 24 new permanent cell sites and more than 230 permanent small cell sites.

  • Introduction of LTE Advanced features to 4G LTE network "for greater capacity and faster peak data speeds."

  • Addition of 48 percent more antennas to DAS inside stadium.

  • New neural host DAS in Mall of America to boost network capacity by 900 percent.

  • Similar system added to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport to boost network capacity by more than 1,000 percent.

T-Mobile laid out similar upgrades it's been working on for the last two years, which it said make its LTE network "the fastest in the Twin Cities." Those on T-Mobile's network can expect boosted network capacity in the U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minneapolis Convention Center, Xcel Energy Center, and locations like the Armory, Nicollet Mall, downtown St. Paul, Mall of America, and the International Airport.

T-Mobile's upgrades:
  • Boosting network capacity 30x in U.S. Bank Stadium, 35x in the convention center, and 16x in Xcel Energy Center.

  • Doubling the amount of LTE spectrum in the Twin Cities, along with carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO.

  • Deploying more than 120 small cells across Minneapolis and surrounding areas.

  • Increasing upload speeds up to 40 percent inside the stadium with Centralized Radio Access Network (C-RAN) technology.

Sprint's news on boosted Super Bowl network coverage came in a press release last month. Sprint users will get much of the same bonuses as the other carriers, with the company installing a DAS with 800 antennas inside the stadium, as well as small cells installed on lamp posts and street lights throughout Minneapolis. There will also be the "Sprint Magic Box," which Sprint described as the "world's first all-wireless small cell" to be placed in hundreds of locations across the Twin Cities to boost indoor data speeds by an average of 200 percent.

Although it won't launch in time for Super Bowl LII, T-Mobile has also provided more details on its own plans for a true 5G network, while commenting on AT&T's "#Fake5G" debut in 2017. T-Mobile said its schedule for 5G hasn't changed, and is still on track to debut nationwide by 2020. The company said it's been "encouraged" by confirmed chipset and OEM plans to launch wider support for 5G smartphones in 2019, which will initiate broad support for a "real 5G" network.


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Refreshed Five-Year Deal Between Verizon and NFL Allows for Mobile Streaming of Games on Any Carrier

Verizon and the NFL this morning announced that the carrier will no longer be the exclusive home for mobile streaming of NFL games in the United States, with anyone able to stream the games to their smartphone "regardless of mobile network" beginning next year.

The announcement comes within a new five-year deal struck between the two companies, which will see Verizon pay around $2 billion over a five-year period (via Recode).


The new deal begins January 2018 and will allow users on any U.S. wireless carrier to watch NFL games on their mobile device using the apps for Yahoo Sports, go90, and the NFL, with the company putting emphasis on Yahoo Sports as a premium destination for sports coverage.

This will start with the NFL playoffs next month, and then include national pre-season, regular season, playoff games, and the Super Bowl. Most of this coverage is described as "in-market" by Verizon, meaning that it will vary by your location and depend upon your local news channels' coverage of such events.
We’re making a commitment to fans for Verizon’s family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports,” said Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. “The NFL is a great partner for us and we are excited to take its premier content across a massive mobile scale so viewers can enjoy live football and other original NFL content where and how they want it. We believe that partnerships like this are a win for fans, but also for partners and advertisers looking for a mobile-first experience.”
Verizon's previous deal with the NFL was priced at $1 billion over the course of four years and runs through the current season, so the two companies are doubling down on their partnership with the new, expanded agreement.

Verizon says that it will remain an official sponsor of the NFL, providing "unique experiences" at events like the Super Bowl for customers enrolled in its Verizon Up rewards program. The partnership will also see Verizon continue efforts to improve stadium technology at NFL games to "improve operations" and enhance experience for customers.

Tags: NFL, Verizon

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Verizon to Lift Video Streaming Restrictions for Unlimited Plans With Extra $10/Month Payment

Verizon in August limited video quality on all of its unlimited data plans to a maximum of 720p on smartphones, but starting in November, the carrier is allowing customers to pay an additional $10 per month for higher-quality video streaming, reports CNET.

With $10/month payment per line, Verizon customers can stream video at the maximum quality available on any VZW device, up to 4K, removing all video restrictions.


Verizon currently limits customers who subscribe to its entry-level Go Unlimited plan to 480p, while customers who have the Beyond Unlimited plan have access to 720p streaming on smartphones and 1080p streaming on connected tablets.

Go Unlimited starts at $75 per month for a single line, and the plan includes unlimited LTE data that may be throttled during times of network congestion, 480p video streaming, and 600kb/s mobile hotspot streaming.

Beyond Unlimited starts at $85 for a single line and includes unlimited LTE data that's not throttled during times of network congestion until 22GB has been used, 720p video streaming, and 15GB of LTE mobile hotspot access.

Verizon plans to make the new $10 video add-on available to customers on November 3.

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Verizon Delays Streaming TV Service Until 2018

Verizon is working on a streaming television service that was originally meant to debut in 2017, but its launch date has been pushed back to 2018, reports Bloomberg. Verizon is now said to be aiming to launch its online TV service in the spring of 2018, marking yet another delay as the company struggles to find a way to compete with the many existing services on the market.

Staff shuffling, negotiations for streaming rights, and technology reboots are also said to have affected Verizon's timeline. Final deals for the service have not yet been established.
While Verizon has shared its plans with TV networks, the timing of the web-based, live TV service's introduction remains tentative and could be further postponed, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
Rumors about Verizon's streaming TV service first surfaced in March of 2017, and at that time, Verizon was said to be planning to launch it in the summer of 2017. Verizon has been working on establishing deals with TV networks and cable companies head of the service's launch.

Verizon's streaming TV option will compete with myriad other TV services available now, including DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and Hulu Live TV.

Rumors have suggested the service will offer "dozens" of channels and will be a separate offering from Verizon's teen-based go90 video app and FiOS Home TV. Verizon is said to be aiming to hit a starting price point between $20 and $35, but the company has not yet decided if it will offer a standalone service or a partnership.

Verizon sees a television platform as a way to increase revenue from advertising and to support AOL and Yahoo.

Verizon is likely to offer its TV service on a range of platforms that include the Apple TV and iOS devices, but it is not yet clear whether customers will need to have Verizon wireless phone service to sign up for a subscription.

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Verizon Lowering Cracked Screen Repair Fee to $29 for Customers Enrolled in Total Mobile Protection

Verizon today announced it is lowering its deductible for cracked screen repairs for customers signed up for its Total Mobile Protection plan. Starting on Thursday, October 19, the fee will be reduced from $49 to $29. Total Mobile Protection itself costs $11 per month for smartphones and $9 per month for tablets.


Enrolling in Total Mobile Protection is typically only allowed within 30 days of activating a new account or upgrading to a new device, but Verizon is offering an open enrollment period between tomorrow and Friday, November 17 for any existing customer with a functional device less than two years old.

Verizon said customers who need repairs have the option of bringing their device to one of its 296 carry-in locations across the United States, while technicians are also available to meet customers at home, office, school, or during travel in 152 cities. Verizon allows up to three claims per year per enrolled device.

Total Mobile Protection also includes expert technical support called Tech Coach and other perks like the potential for same- or next-day device replacements.

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T-Mobile Continues to Advertise Fastest 4G LTE Network Despite Verizon Complaint

T-Mobile plans to continue advertisements where it claims to have the fastest 4G LTE network in the United States despite complaints from Verizon and a recommendation to stop from the National Advertising Division (NAD), the company told Ars Technica in a statement today.

The National Advertising Division, which aims to review advertisements for truthfulness and accuracy to settle disputes without litigation, last week said the data T-Mobile used as proof for its fastest network claim was not sufficient.


T-Mobile used crowd-sourced data from Ookla and Open Signal to support its claim, with the data collected in early 2017 around when Verizon's unlimited data plan first rolled out. Verizon complained to the NAB and said the speed tests may have included data from Verizon customers who had been deprioritized for the first time after using over 22GB of data, making them inaccurate.

The NAD agreed that the tests may have had a bias in favor of T-Mobile and recommended T-Mobile stop all advertisements claiming to have the fastest network.

T-Mobile agreed to comply with the NAD's recommendation, but found a loophole with updated data. Instead of basing its claims on data collected earlier this year during the time that Verizon's unlimited data plan rolled out, T-Mobile now cites new OpenSignal and Ookla data on its website collected later in 2017. T-Mobile says it plans to continue on with its advertisements using the new data.
"On the fastest LTE network challenge, NAD ruled that the one month of crowd-sourced data we submitted (when Verizon launched their unlimited plan) could not be used," said T-Mobile Senior VP of corporate communications Janice Kapner. "NAD previously recognized third-party crowd-sourced data as a way to look at network performance, so we looked at the latest results, and verified what we already knew! T-Mobile is still the fastest LTE network and we'll continue to let consumers know that!"

"We did say we'd comply with NAD's recommendation, and we will, but that means we won't rely solely on the specific data we submitted. We have taken the NAD's concerns into consideration and are confident we have robust data that addresses them and proves, once again, that we have the fastest LTE network," a company spokesperson told Ars.
As T-Mobile says, the NAD recommendation only applies to data collected during the initial test cited in Verizon's complaint and not to the new data that's been collected. Verizon can submit a new complaint, though, which will require the NAD to again take a look at the data T-Mobile is using.


While T-Mobile plans to continue to say that it has the fastest LTE network, the company has agreed to modify some other claims about its coverage. The NAD looked at the following T-Mobile claims:

- T-Mobile has near-equivalent area and/or geographic coverage as Verizon
- T-Mobile covers 99% of the area covered by Verizon
- T-Mobile covers 313,312 or "311 Million and Counting" Americans with 4G LTE
- T-Mobile "covers 99% of the Americans that Verizon covers" and 99% of Verizon's customers

T-Mobile does cover 99.7 percent as many Americans as Verizon, but it does not offer 99.7 percent of the geographic coverage that Verizon offers, so the NAD recommended T-Mobile modify its advertising to make it clear that coverage comparisons are based on population. T-Mobile says it will comply with the request going forward and will remove ads featuring imagery of geographic coverage that could be confusing.


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Apple Watch Series 3: LTE Plan Prices on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell, EE, and Deutsche Telekom

Apple Watch Series 3 is available with built-in cellular capabilities, allowing you to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, stream music, get directions with Apple Maps, use Siri, and more without a paired iPhone.


The freedom comes at a cost, however, as Apple Watch Series 3 models with cellular are priced $70 higher than those with Wi-Fi and GPS only. Also, to access LTE, the watch must be added to your phone bill as an additional monthly charge.

Here's a breakdown of how much participating carriers plan to charge. Some carriers have yet to announce their plans.



Verizon


Verizon said it allow customers to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Verizon will reportedly waive its $30 activation fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Verizon's NumberShare feature.

AT&T


AT&T has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. AT&T is offering a $25 activation fee credit, and a $30 service credit for adding an Apple Watch, within three bills. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via AT&T's NumberSync feature.

T-Mobile


T-Mobile has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to a plan for $10 per month with AutoPay. T-Mobile will reportedly waive its $25 new SIM card kit fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via T-Mobile's DIGITS feature.

Sprint


Sprint has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Sprint will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The carrier has yet to specify whether its activation fee of up to $30 per line will be waived as well, but it would seem likely.

Bell (Canada)


Bell has announced that customers will be able to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $5 per month. There is a one-time $10 activation fee. Bell will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Bell's NumberShare feature.

Bell will not support the Apple Watch's cellular capabilities in Manitoba or Saskatchewan due to the carrier's lack of VoLTE in those provinces.

EE (UK)


EE has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible SIM only or pay monthly plan for £5 per month, with the watch and iPhone sharing the same phone number. The carrier hasn't confirmed if it will be offering an introductory three-month trial, or if there will be an activation fee.

Deutsche Telekom (Germany)


Deutsche Telekom has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for up to €4.95 per month, with the first six months free of charge. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Deutsche Telekom's MultiSIM feature. The carrier didn't specify if there is an activation fee.



Apple Watch Series 3 models will be available to order starting tomorrow, September 15, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. In-store availability begins September 22. LTE-enabled models start at $399 in the United States.


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T-Mobile Offered Fastest LTE Speeds in the First Half of 2017

T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest mobile network in the United States during the first half of 2017, according to a new U.S. Market Report for Mobile Broadband shared this morning by Ookla.

The carrier scored a 23.17 using Ookla's new "Speed Score" metric that combines low-end, median, and top-end performance for both upload and download speeds. Ookla says this is a comprehensive metric combining all factors that "matter to a good network experience" into a single score.

Coming in after T-Mobile was Verizon, with a Speed Score of 21.13, while AT&T came in third with a score of 20.05 and Sprint brought up the rear with a score of 15.39.


According to Ookla, T-Mobile's "tightly-spaced cell site grid" and smaller subscriber base gave it an edge over Verizon and AT&T, both of whom are dealing with higher traffic loads since their unlimited plans were introduced last year.

While Verizon has managed to deliver "consistent and reliable performance" across its network despite the unlimited plans, the rollout of AT&T's unlimited plans resulted in a "notable drop in performance."

Sprint, unsurprisingly, had the slowest mobile network with a Speed Score of 15.39, despite improvements made over the course of the last year. From June of 2016 to June of 2017, Sprint LTE speeds improved by 23.7 percent, but the carrier still can't match the big three.
T-Mobile comes out on top for overall speeds and acceptable speeds at a national level and provides the fastest service in 40% of the largest cities in the U.S. Verizon Wireless has the fastest service in many of the cities we looked at and comes in first on acceptable speeds in the top 100 CMAs, but we suspect their use of depriortization on unlimited could be bringing down their overall performance.

AT&T falls near the bottom in consistency of acceptable speeds and also saw a spoke in low end speeds in Q2 2017. The slowest carrier, Sprint, struggles with consistently providing acceptable speeds but saw big gains in the first half of the year.
While the above chart information covers the United States as a whole, Ookla also compared mobile performance data in the 100 most populated Cellular Market Areas within the country. The rankings were the same, but T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were nearly neck and neck. Across the board, users in populated cellular markets see higher speeds.


Mobile performance by carrier varies greatly from area to area, so while T-Mobile may have the best overall network speeds, AT&T or Verizon could have a significant edge depending on where a user is located. All four carriers are aggressively pursuing improved LTE speeds and network expansion through spectrum purchases, refarming legacy spectrum (like ending 3G networks), network densification, relay solutions, and other techniques.

Across all carriers in the United States, there was a 19.2 percent increase in average mobile download speeds between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with an average speed of 22.69 Mb/s.


Average mobile upload speeds didn't see quite as much improvement, coming in at 8.51 Mb/s for a four percent improvement year over year. When it comes to average mobile download speeds, the United States is ranked 44th in the world. That rank drops down to 65th for average mobile upload speed. In rural areas, performance can be significantly worse, with speeds that are 20.9 percent slower than the nation as a whole. Verizon (51.6%) and AT&T (27.3%) have far more coverage in rural areas than T-Mobile (11.5%) and Sprint (9.6%).

In addition to looking at network performance by carrier, Ookla also shared some data on LTE speeds across carriers on two popular devices: the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7. On T-Mobile and Sprint, broadband speeds were on average slightly faster for the Galaxy S7, with little difference on Verizon and AT&T networks.

Both the iPhone 7 and the S7 see higher mobile network speeds than other devices because they aggregate three component carriers to improve peak and average speeds. On T-Mobile, Samsung has an edge because the Galaxy S7 enables features like higher order modulation and 4-Layer MIMO.


Ookla's report is based on data gathered from its popular Speedtest Intelligence benchmark during the first half of 2017. More than 3 million unique devices performed more than 14 million user-initiated cellular network tests, giving the company a lot of data to work with to figure out trends during the year. For the S7 and iPhone 7 comparison tests, data from 250,278 iPhones was collected and compared to data from 134,742 Galaxy devices.

Additional test results covering minimum acceptable experience, the impact of unlimited data, fastest carriers by city, and more can be read in the full report.


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