Entries in Phone (9)


Vertu Launches $9,600 Android Phone

Vertu(NEW YORK) -- British-based luxury mobile phone maker Vertu has announced its first Android smartphone. And no, as was true for other Vertu phones, you probably can’t afford it.

The handmade Vertu Ti starts at $9,600, with a more expensive rose gold-trimmed model that sells for a whopping $19,900.

The hardware is only the best, including a 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video capture, and a grade 5 titanium casing. The phone is powered by a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor.

But $9,600 won’t buy you the latest version of Android; the Ti is launching with Android 4.0 software, which dates from 2011 (the current version is Android 4.2). Vertu says it has put its own spin on design with a “uniquely tailored” user interface.

In an interview with the BBC, Chief Executive Perry Oosting explained the company’s choice to join the Android community, saying, “You need to be part of an ecosystem.” Vertu previously made high-quality Nokia phones. The phones will only be available through selected high-end retailers.

Though this is not Vertu’s most expensive phone to date, the company claims it is definitely the most powerful.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


A Facebook Phone? Company Testing Voice Apps Now

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is building a phone right in front of our faces. Maybe not a real phone, but all the apps and features you'd expect one to have.

Facebook has just added a voice message feature to its Messenger app for iOS and Android. Within the app you can now send a recording to your friends. If you've downloaded the new update you can tap the + button next to the box where you input a message, then tap Record, speak your message and then send it off.

But that's only the start of the voice capabilities Facebook is thinking about. In Canada, Facebook is testing live calls using Voice over IP (VoIP) calling similar to Skype. If you have the iPhone app and live in Canada you can tap the "i" button in the corner of the app and tap "Free Call." You can then make a free call to a Facebook friend who is using the same app. You can't call landline or cellphone numbers.

The system can work over 3G and 4G cellular networks, but it's cheaper if you use Wi-Fi. If you are on a cellular network it will eat at your data plan.

Facebook didn't make a big announcement about the services, but it's a very big move for the social networking company. While Facebook declined to comment on whether it would come to the U.S. or if they could charge for the service, it is a step into voice calling for the company. Not only could that be ultimately disruptive for cellular carriers that offer monthly calling packages, it represents an alternative revenue stream for Facebook.

This is just one of many mobile announcements Facebook has made in the past few months. It upgraded both its iPhone and Android apps to make them faster and it released is new Poke app, which destroys messages 10 seconds or less after you look at them.

In addition to its main app and its Poke app, Facebook also has a Facebook Camera app. You'll also recall that Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012.

Rumors of a Facebook branded phone have swirled around for quite a while now. The New York Times and AllThingsD both reported that the company had internal plans to build its own hardware. However, Mark Zuckerberg denied the rumor in July.

"There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren't really taking, that aren't really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn't make much sense for us to do," he said on an earnings call.

That might make sense, but with all of its apps and now voice features, it sure looks like Facebook is transforming our phones into Facebook phones or it's building its own right in front of our faces.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook: New Mobile Products Coming, No Facebook Phone

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Facebook’s earnings call was full of revenue generating strategies, including an increase in sponsored stories, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s upcoming mobile products and integration.

“We will develop new products, particularly in mobile,” Sandberg said as she was listing other product and revenue plans.

Facebook’s earnings barely matched analysts’ expectations Thursday, and its stock dropped to an all-time low of $25.50 per share in after-hours trading.

Zuckerberg jumped in later to discuss mobile app products. “We want to support an ecosystem where other apps can build on top of Facebook,” he said. Zuckerberg pointed to the forthcoming Facebook integration coming to Apple’s iOS 6 for the iPhone and iPad.

Zuckerberg also shot down rumors about a Facebook smartphone.  "There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren’t really taking, that aren’t really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn’t make much sense for us to do,” he said.

Rumors of a dedicated Facebook phone based on Android have sprung up over the last couple of months.

Facebook has been criticized on Wall Street for not having a strong enough revenue-generating mobile strategy.  It has recently launched a dedicated Facebook camera app and acquired mobile app companies, including Instagram and Glancee. The Instagram deal has not yet closed, Zuckerberg said on the call.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FCC, Senate Committee Target Fraudulent Phone Charges

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Got a landline? Then you might want to review your latest bill for mysterious third-party fees.

One day after the Federal Communications Commission voted to get the public's opinion on new rules intended to target these unauthorized hidden charges, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the $2 billion a year practice known as "cramming."

"It refers to what we call mysterious charges that appear on American phone bills for services that people don't want and don't use and didn't ask for," committee chairman Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Wednesday.

The telephone industry had promised to make changes but when the committee reexamined the issue, it found the problem of third-party billing to be worse. It is now considering an outright ban.

"Consumers don't know that their phone bill can be used like a credit card," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday. "From the beginning, third-party charges on phone bills have been an open invitation to fraud and deceit. It's been a scam."

Cramming has been going on for at least 10 years and the committee said today that phone companies have been slow to deal with it because they make so much money from it -- major phone companies make $650 million from third party charges.

"Oh yeah, they make money," Rockefeller said Wednesday.

The illegal charges, which can range from a few dollars to almost $20 a month, can appear under generic descriptions such as minute use fee, activation, member fee or Web hosting. About 15 million to 20 million households are overcharged for their telephone landlines by third-party companies and just 5 percent realize they are victims, the FCC said.

"It is infuriating to me that it is legal for companies to, without authorization, charge our businesses and skew our profit and loss statements and in effect take money out of the hands of hardworking, deserving men and women," said Susan Eppley, whose group of fast food restaurants in Georgia was victimized by crammers.

The FCC's proposed rules include high fines against companies that charge consumers excess fees and requiring landline phone companies to put third-party charges in a separate section of a phone bill.

Walter McCormick, a spokesman for the U.S. Telecom Association, said that third-party billing remained a problem but that "the industry has taken significant steps."  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dem. Senators Call for US Probe of Allegations against News Corp.

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called Wednesday for a probe of the wiretapping allegations against News Corp. in the phone hacking scandal.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro, the two Senators say that it is important to find out if any U.S. citizens were “victimized.”

“The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims,” the letter states. “It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized.”

The Senators also reference the allegations that News Corp. employees may have illegal accessed the phone records of victims the September 11th attacks.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

Dear Attorney General Holder and Chairman Schapiro:

We write to request that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate whether News Corporation, a U.S.-based corporation, has violated United States law - specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (15 U.S.C. §§78dd-1, et seq.)  

As you know, senior officials of News Corporation subsidiaries have recently been arrested on allegations that they bribed members of London’s Metropolitan Police to gain access to private information.  If these allegations are true, they may constitute a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments intended to influence any act or decision of a foreign official.  

There have also been allegations that News Corporation employees may have illegally accessed the phone records of victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001.  We urge you to investigate whether any United States citizens had their privacy violated by this alleged hacking.  

The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims.  It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized.    


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

John D. Rockefeller, IV
United States Senator

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Your Phone Bill too High? You Could Be a Victim of Cramming

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- If you open your phone bill and notice that you've been charged more than you expected, you could be a victim of cramming -- third party fees that have not been authorized by landline customers.

A new Senate report shows that these third party fees amount to a billion dollar industry, with telephone companies raking in over $2 billion each year from the estimated 300 million charges they place on their customers' bills.

Specifically, top companies like AT&T, Qwest and Verizon were found to have profited about $600 million from their cramming practices over the past five years.

The report says the practice hurts consumers, small businesses, non-profits, corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions, and that telephone companies do little when they receive complaints.  It also finds that companies' efforts to fight cramming have largely failed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Customer Takes Out Ads to Show Anger with Time Warner Cable

NHL Images/NHLI via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When comedian Eugene Mirman was left without home Internet and telephone services for weeks because his provider missed appointments to repair and install his service, he channeled his anger into full-page newspaper ads.

Mirman published a humorous letter spelling out his grievances with Time Warner Cable and his vengeful fantasy in two weekly newspapers in New York last week, the New York Press and Greenpoint Gazette.

Mirman said Time Warner failed to show up to install cable, Internet, and phone service as scheduled on April 23.  When he called the company, he was told that the appointment was entered incorrectly and moved to May 4, without his knowledge.

His ad read, in part: "No big deal, why would a company check with someone to see if they are home on a Wednesday afternoon?  Of course they are.  Everyone is…It would be a waste of resources to call and talk to him.  Did Stalin ever call people before he arrested them and sent them to die in Siberian work camps?  No!  Why should Time Warner Cable have a policy that is any different than Stalin's?"

His appointment was later changed to May 10, then to May 12 and finally May 16.

"Why does your company act like a controlling, abusive husband on an episode of Law and Order?" he wrote in the ad.

He also told Time Warner: "To give you an idea of how much I dislike your company, I have come up with plagues I hope God smites your board of directors with."

Mirman said he often works from home which made his need for in-home telecommunications especially acute.  He also said that other telecommunications options are limited in his neighborhood in Brooklyn.

The comedian is a regular on the HBO comedy Flight of the Conchords, and voices a character in a new animated series on Fox called Bob's Burgers.

Mirman said the company's attitude and "sheer indifference" was what prompted his resolve to get the company's attention -- to the point of spending $1,100 for the two advertisements.

Mirman said he has not yet received an official response from the company, but a post in Time Warner Cable's blog acknowledged his advertisement and mentioned steps the company is taking to improve its service.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Verizon to Reportedly Unveil Tiered Pricing

Photo Courtesy - Verizon Wireless(BASKING RIDGE, N.J.) -- Verizon Wireless is ready to roll out a cheaper data plan for smart phones.

Verizon will reportedly offer a limited data plan for $15 a month beginning next week, in addition to its current $30 a month unlimited plan.

Rival AT&T switched to a tiered pricing scheme this summer.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Verizon Wireless Admits Billing Errors, Will Refund Customers

Image Courtesy - Verizon Wireless(BASKING RIDGE, N.J.) -- Verizon Wireless is beginning one of the largest-ever customer refunds by any telecommunications company in a move that could cost Verizon $90 million after complaints about web and data use overcharges.

About 15 million customers will receive refunds or credits of $2 to $6, the company said in a statement, adding that some customers will be issued larger amounts.

The FCC said that it is investigating the case.

"We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers,” said Michele Ellison, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief. “But questions remain as to why it took Verizon two years to reimburse its customers and why greater disclosure and other corrective actions did not come much, much sooner.”

Ellison said that additional penalties against Verizon are still possible.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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