Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–September 15, 2014

cell phone update

Options Abound for Selling Used Mobile Phones
Apple’s latest iPhones begin shipping later this month, a move bound to inspire many fans of the popular smartphone to ditch their current models in favor of the bigger, sleeker iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. It’s a ritual familiar by now to most smartphone users. Every couple of years, new models boasting more features and improvements compel users to trade up. Often that means turning in your older phones for a credit from your carrier. But selling your phone online or to companies that buy back used models can often offer a better return than your wireless provider. Here are some ways to cash in on that soon-to-be mobile relic. Story by Alex Veiga for the Associated Press.

The iPhone 6 Plus is the Must-Have iPhone
The new iPhone 6 Plus is the hot new iPhone. Pre-orders for Apple’s largest iPhone ever sold out quickly. There’s now a backlog of several weeks–at minimum–to get the phone into consumers’ hands. Apple on Friday, Sept. 19, will release two new iPhone models: the iPhone 6, with a 4.7-inch screen, up from 4 inches for the current iPhone 5s and 5c; and the iPhone 6 Plus, boasting a 5.5-inch screen. The larger iPhone boasts an improved camera, better resolution and a stronger battery. Story by Jefferson Graham for USA Today.

FCC May Expand Net Neutrality to Cell Phones
The Federal Communications Commission is eyeing an expansion of its net-neutrality rules to cover cell-phone service. In a speech, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that Internet access on smartphones is a “key component” of the investment and innovation that net-neutrality regulations are intended to protect. In 2010, the FCC enacted net-neutrality regulations that barred home broadband providers like Comcast from blocking or “unreasonably” discriminating against any Internet traffic. But the rules were much weaker for Internet service on smartphones. Wireless providers like Verizon and AT&T couldn’t outright block websites, but they were free to speed up or slow down certain services or exempt others from monthly data caps. A federal court struck the rules down earlier this year, and the FCC is now trying to come up with new regulations that can survive future court challenges. Story by Brendan Sasso for the National Journal.

Eagles Ban Cell Phones at Van Andel Arena Concert: Extreme or Admirable?
Turns out the Hotel California has a very strict cell phone policy. Monday night, while classic rock act the Eagles performed to a sold-out crowd at Van Andel Arena, I watched a band delight 11,500 fans with nearly three hours of hits. I also watched a woman sitting behind me get tossed out of the building after being warned multiple times to turn off her smartphone. The policy was dictated by the band and its management, not the venue, and is enforced every night of the tour. Pre-show announcements over the public-address system and on video screens asked people not to take photos, text, tweet, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or check the score of the Detroit Lions’ Monday Night Football game. Story by John Serba for MLive.

Tehran Unfetters Cellphones, and the Pictures Start Flowing
Last week, the Iranian government unexpectedly granted 3G and 4G licenses to the Islamic republic’s two principal mobile operators, which are rushing to roll out high-speed connections to their tens of millions of subscribers. While Iranians willing to flout the law have long used illegal software to gain access to banned Internet sites like YouTube and Twitter, until now, Iran’s main cellphone operators had been ordered to reduce Internet speeds to a sub-snail’s pace, effectively making it impossible to use the sites, make video calls or send images. While Iran’s Internet access is still slow compared with that in many countries, it does now allow users to watch and send videos, something that previously was possible only for those with nearly infinite patience and determination. Story by Thomas Erdbrink for The New York Times.

Americans Lost $8.6 Billion in Phone Fraud Last Year
Americans lost an estimated $8.6 billion in phone fraud over the last 12 months, with an average loss of $489 per victim. The online survey, conducted by the Harris Poll for Truecaller, showed that phone fraud affected 17.6 million people. Mobile phones seemed to be at a higher risk for fraud than a home phone or landline, making up for 49% of the loss responses. Men proved to be much more likely to fall victim to fraud than women, representing 71% of the victims in the survey. Story by Lynn Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Should FM Chips on Cellphones Be Mandated?
Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan believes the company is close to getting support from more carriers for the concept of activating FM chips in cellphones. “We think we’re getting closer,” to that, Smulyan told attendees at the Radio Show during a discussion with radio group leaders. Some 25 models now come preloaded with the NextRadio app, that includes some models that work for HTC and Nokia customers too. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey said of the NextRadio app, “If we can have FM on every cellphone we will have more consumption of our medium.” Story by Leslie Stimson for Radio World.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.