FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T's agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers' original content.
Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.


This article, "FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Takes on T-Mobile With Revamped Loyalty Program

Verizon today announced a revamped version of its Verizon Up loyalty program with new and more frequent rewards for customers.


Verizon customers will now receive a reward credit every month after paying their bill, instead of after every $300 spent, which they can use towards things like a future smartphone purchase, Starbucks coffee, Uber rides, and "Super Tickets" for exclusive experiences like concerts and sports events.

One of the "Super Ticket" experiences is a private concert with musician Shawn Mendes for 2,000 customers in New York City on May 14.

These enhancements will make Verizon Up more competitive with T-Mobile Tuesdays, which offers a variety of free rewards and offers on a weekly basis, ranging from free tacos at Taco Bell to trips to the MLB All-Star Game.

Rewards and localized offers are available through the updated My Verizon app.

Tag: Verizon

This article, "Verizon Takes on T-Mobile With Revamped Loyalty Program" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon’s 5G Network Launches Starting in Chicago and Minneapolis

Verizon today announced it has turned on its commercial 5G network, starting in select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago. Verizon had originally targeted an April 11 launch, so the rollout is a week ahead of schedule.


Verizon customers can access the 5G network with the Moto Z3 smartphone paired with the 5G-enabled Moto Mod accessory, providing the "world's first commercial 5G mobile service with a 5G-enabled smartphone." The carrier plans to expand the network to more than 30 cities across the U.S. by the end of 2019.

Verizon says customers in Chicago and Minneapolis should expect typical download speeds of 450 Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds. Of course, speeds should improve with future upgrades.

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, according to Verizon. 5G service is also available at select Verizon stores in the city.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the downtown area, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium. 5G service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center, The Commons, and areas of Elliot Park.

The Moto Z3 retails for $240, or 24 monthly payments of $10, while the 5G Moto Mod is available for $199.99 for a limited time. Verizon postpaid customers with any unlimited plan, including Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited, can get unlimited 5G data for an additional $10 per month.

As for the first 5G-enabled iPhone, UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri recently said there is "increasing potential that Apple may not be able to ship a 5G iPhone for 2020" due to the company's legal battle with chipmaker Qualcomm and the growing possibility that Intel may not have a 5G modem ready to ship by next year.

Tags: Verizon, 5G

This article, "Verizon's 5G Network Launches Starting in Chicago and Minneapolis" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Launches ‘Just Kids’ Plan With Smart Family Parental Control Subscription Included

Verizon today announced a new cellular plan that's designed for kids, with parental controls built in that will help parents keep track of their kids' activity.


Just Kids includes Verizon's Smart Family Premium parental controls (a $9.99/month value), which lets parents keep track of where their kids are, limit screen time and time spent online, and set content filters through one app. The plan also includes 5GB of 4G LTE data, unlimited talk and text to 20 parent-approved contacts, and an automatically enabled "Safety Mode" to prevent surprise overages.
“At Verizon, we take pride in being a true partner to parents by providing them with products and services designed to meet their needs in an ever-evolving and often confusing technology landscape,” said Angie Klein, vice president of marketing at Verizon.

“With Just Kids, we’re leading the way on growing up with tech, providing parents with plan options and features that give them the peace of mind they need for safe and responsible phone usage.”
The new plan is also part of Verizon's mix-and-match system, allowing users to choose a different plan for each family member, including Above Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Go Unlimited, and Just Kids. To get Just Kids, at least one line on the account needs to be on one of the Unlimited plans, and then you can add Just Kids at $55/month with two lines, $45/month with three lines, or $35/month with four lines.


Verizon updated its Smart Family app in the spring of 2018 as a rebranding of its previous "FamilyBase" parental controls product. Besides location tracking and content filters, parents using the app can also check the battery status of their kids' phones, look at a summary of their text and call activity, and more.

Tag: Verizon

This article, "Verizon Launches 'Just Kids' Plan With Smart Family Parental Control Subscription Included" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Launches Free Version of Call Filter Service for Blocking Spam Calls

Verizon, one of the four major cellular carriers in the United States, today announced the launch of a new free version of its Call Filter service that will identify, filter, and block incoming spam phone calls.

Verizon has offered its Call Filter service for some time now, but prior to today, all of the filtering technology required a $2.99 per month fee.


As of today, the spam detection, filtering, and number reporting features of the service are free, but there continues to be a $2.99 per month fee for Caller ID, a personal spam list, a personal block list, a risk meter, and spam lookup functionality.


For Verizon customers, the free call filtering option will provide alerts when an incoming call is likely a spam caller, it will report unsolicited numbers, and, if the option is selected, automatically block incoming robocalls.

All of Verizon's postpaid wireless customers with a compatible device are able to enroll, but the service is not available to prepaid customers.

Verizon says that in addition to making Call Filter free for all customers, it has made advancements towards blocking spoofed phone numbers. STIR/SHAKEN technology will verify that the phone number displayed on Caller ID is the phone number that has actually placed the call.

Verizon says this new call authentication standard will be deployed on the Verizon network in conjunction with other major carriers in the coming months.
"Far too frequently, customers tell me they want relief from the bombardment of bothersome robocalls," said Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon's consumer unit. "I'm confident that our new, free version of Call Filter and STIR/SHAKEN will put a big dent in the problem."
Verizon customers that want to sign up for the Call Filter service can do so through the Verizon website. The Call Filter app for iOS will need to be downloaded to unlock the full functionality.

Tag: Verizon

This article, "Verizon Launches Free Version of Call Filter Service for Blocking Spam Calls" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon-Owned Network Visible Begins Selling iPhones, Offers $40/Month Unlimited Data Up to 5 Mbps

Verizon-owned network Visible today announced it has started selling iPhones with zero-percent-interest financing in partnership with Affirm.


The available models include the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone SE, with device payments ranging from $10 to $60 per month.

Visible also supports Android devices now, starting with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. The network previously operated on a bring-your-own-iPhone basis.

Last, the network has launched a new Visible Protect plan with access to AppleCare. Available in select markets, starting at $10 per month, the plan provides protection against accidental damage, loss, theft, and out-of-warranty hardware failure, with the option for same-day service for new iPhone devices.

Verizon quietly launched Visible in May 2018 as a digital, app-based carrier that offers unlimited text, talk, and data with speeds up to 5 Mbps for $40 per month, inclusive of taxes and fees. The mobile virtual network operator relies on Verizon's nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States.


This article, "Verizon-Owned Network Visible Begins Selling iPhones, Offers $40/Month Unlimited Data Up to 5 Mbps" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Reportedly Adding Apple Music as Free Perk on Select Unlimited Data Plans

Verizon subscribers with an iPhone or Android smartphone and a Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited data plan will soon have unlimited access to Apple Music at no additional cost, according to documentation obtained by 9to5Mac.


The report claims the Apple Music perk will not be on a trial basis, but rather will be offered on an ongoing basis. Verizon's lower-priced Go Unlimited plan with reduced data speeds will continue to offer a six-month Apple Music trial, as the Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans currently do.

The perk will be available to both new and existing subscribers starting this Thursday, January 17, the report adds. Verizon's documentation suggests there is no catch, with the Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans expected to remain priced at $50 per month and $60 per month respectively.

The perk will compete with T-Mobile's offer of free Netflix to subscribers who have two or more unlimited data lines with the carrier.


This article, "Verizon Reportedly Adding Apple Music as Free Perk on Select Unlimited Data Plans" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon App Now Allows eSIM Activation on iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR

It is now possible to use the My Verizon app to activate eSIM service on an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR in the United States.


The app was updated today to allow Verizon customers to purchase a cellular plan for the eSIM line of an iPhone without needing to visit a Verizon store. The in-app process should be more straightforward and convenient.

"My Verizon" changelog via Gabriel Lewis

Verizon and AT&T rolled out eSIM support last week, while T-Mobile is expected to offer an in-app solution for setting up eSIM later this month.

Other carriers offering eSIM service include Bell, Fido, Rogers, Virgin Mobile, and Lucky Mobile in Canada, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany, T-Mobile in Austria and Czech Republic, Hrvatski Telekom in Croatia, 3 in Denmark and Sweden, Telia in Finland and Estonia, EE in the United Kingdom, and many others.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models have both a physical SIM and an eSIM that allows for dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone.

Tags: Verizon, eSIM

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Expected to Implement eSIM Support for iPhone XR and XS on December 7

Verizon is expected to implement support for the eSIM in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR on December 7, according to an internal employee memo that was shared with MacRumors.

Apple's newest iPhones have supported eSIM functionality since the October release of iOS 12.1, but to use the feature, carriers also needed to add support. At the time iOS 12.1 was released, U.S. carriers that include Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T said that support would not be implemented until later in the year.


AT&T at the time said that there were issues with visual voicemail, while Verizon had to work out some issues that would cause performance problems when its customers activated eSIMs from other carriers.

According to the document seen by MacRumors, Verizon will be implementing dual-SIM support and it will start activating eSIMs on Friday, December 7.

"Verizon will support Dual SIM activations on physical SIMs and eSIMs on select iPhones. Please visit the training portal to learn how to activate," reads the document.

Following today's release of iOS 12.1.1, several additional carriers around the world began rolling out eSIM support, including AT&T in the United States, so it's no surprise that Verizon would will shortly after.

The eSIM, or digital SIM, is a non-physical SIM card slot that pairs with the physical SIM in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR to enable dual-SIM dual-standby, a feature that lets iPhone users have two phone numbers available at once.

With dual-SIM support, iPhone users are supposed to be able to swap between the two phone numbers readily, alleviating the need for a second phone or SIM swapping for work and travel.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR
Tags: Verizon, eSIM

Discuss this article in our forums

Verizon Launches New ‘My Numbers’ Feature for Adding Up to 5 Numbers to a Single Smartphone

Verizon today announced the launch of a new "My Numbers" feature designed to let you add up to four additional numbers to a smartphone with unlimited calling and texting, for a total of five phone numbers connected to one device.

To add additional numbers to a Verizon account, customers will need to download the My Numbers app from the iOS App Store.


From there, Verizon users can choose the number to add from the available list, and it's ready to use alongside a device's primary phone number. This will allow customers to have one phone number for business and a separate phone number for personal use on one device.

With each number, there are separate voicemail and text messaging boxes in the My Numbers app to keep content from different numbers from getting mixed up.

According to Verizon, each number added to your smartphone will cost $15 per line per month.

Verizon's "My Phone" feature is similar to what Apple is doing with dual-SIM functionality in its latest iPhones, but it's not cross-carrier.

In the U.S., carriers (including Verizon) are not yet supporting the eSIM, which means the dual-SIM feature that allows for two phone numbers to be used at once is not yet available.

Tag: Verizon

Discuss this article in our forums