Want to unlock your phone? Fix the DMCA

This week, a new federal mandate kicked in that makes it illegal for you to unlock a phone that you bought locked from a carrier. The rule states that unauthorized unlocking of a phone you bought -- even if you paid full price for it, minus a carrier subsidy -- is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Specifically, it violates a portion of the law enacted in 2000 that makes it illegal to bypass technology designed to restrict access to a certain product. And that provision has bedeviled consumers, researchers, and lawyers for 12 years -- it's … Read more

Unmanned X-47B aircraft completes sea trial

We now know that the pilotless X-47B aircraft has its sea legs.

The prototype X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System(PDF) this week completed its first at-sea tests as it gets ready to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier sometime in 2013, a first in naval aviation history.

That eventual flight will be the big moment for the X-47B. But the test phase that just ended is no small potatoes. It's a tricky thing for any aircraft to maneuver around the hectic, cramped, and crowded space of a carrier flight deck. In the test phase that just … Read more

Verizon responds to AT&T, adds 29 LTE markets

Verizon has added 29 new LTE markets to its service.

The company announced today that Selma, Ala., and Port Angeles, Wash., are among the many markets getting access to its LTE service today. With those cities added, Verizon now offers its LTE service in 470 markets across the U.S. Verizon said today that it's also expanding its LTE availability in 36 existing markets, bringing its total coverage to more than 250 million people.

Verizon's announcement comes just a couple of days after AT&T announced that it has brought its LTE network to five cities, bringing … Read more

Sprint's 4G LTE network reaches 49 markets

Sprint announced 4G LTE coverage today in six new areas, bringing the total to 49 markets.

Effective immediately, subscribers in parts of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and California will find the faster data speeds awaiting them.

Reaching 49 markets in total, Indianapolis/Carmel, Ind.; Santa Rosa/Petaluma, Calif.; Vallejo/Fairfield, Calif.; York/Hanover, Pa.; and Franklin County, Pa. are the newest members of the club. Parts of southern Puerto Rico, including Ponce, Coamo, and Guayama are also seeing 4G LTE coverage today. In addition to these new cities, Sprint is also celebrating expanded LTE coverage in Chicago.

After having just launched the … Read more

AT&T yet again the worst-rated carrier in U.S.

More bad news for AT&T.

Consumer Reports has released its annual carrier ratings. And just as it had in the last two years, AT&T landed in last place, far behind the top major carrier in the roundup, Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless fared somewhat well in the study, earning relatively strong marks on voice and data. The only bright spot in AT&T's review was its 4G LTE network, which actually beat out its chief competitor in this year's study.

Sprint and T-Mobile USA landed between Verizon and AT&T.

For its part, … Read more

Carrier-bound X-47B drone passes remote-control test

How do you drive a jet-powered drone around the deck of an aircraft carrier? If you've ever guided a remote-control toy car around your kitchen floor, you'll have an idea.

Northrop Grumman said today that it has done its first shore-based tests of a wireless handheld controller that can steer its X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle, a key step toward getting the UAV ready for flight tests on an aircraft carrier in 2013.

In the trial run, which took place earlier this month, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy used the project's Control Display Unit to roll … Read more

RIM: Over 50 carriers testing BlackBerry 10 now

Research In Motion said today that more than 50 carriers are testing its BlackBerry 10 platform, a critical step to getting its next-generation smartphones in the market next year.

RIM reiterated the company's target of releasing its two BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the first quarter of next year.

Carriers need to test the platform and RIM's products before certifying it for use on their networks, a process known as "Lab Entry." The process, which could take anywhere from a week to several weeks and varies depending on carrier partner, is mandatory for any mobile operating system, … Read more

Using a tablet SIM to turn a smartphone into a data-only device

Why do wireless carriers have to make everything so complicated? Wireless subscribers should be able to subscribe to the service they want and need and not be forced to take services they don't want or need.

This seems like a simple enough concept, and yet customers who want a smartphone but only want to pay for voice services can't get it. And customers who want to forgo voice service for data-only services are also not able to get what they want. In this edition of Ask Maggie, I offer some advice and explanation to a reader on this … Read more

Huawei caught up in legal mess over cell equipment sales to Iran

Huawei, the embattled Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, has been caught in a convoluted tale over Iranian cellular sales.

Earlier this year, Huawei purchased cellular antenna equipment from a U.S.-based company, called Andrew LLC, and then through a partner in Iran, attempted to sell those products to a carrier in the Middle Eastern country, Reuters is reporting today, citing documents it obtained from unidentified sources. The carrier apparently cancelled the sale for fear of violating U.S. sanctions.

CNET has contacted Huawei for comment on the Reuters report. We will of course update this story when we have more … Read more

Verizon may offer Google Play carrier billing

Verizon Wireless is set to become the next wireless provider to offer carrier billing for Google Play purchases, according to unconfirmed reports. An internal Verizon screenshot obtained by Droid Life shows that the feature will be enabled later this week, specifically on October 18.

It it follows through, Verizon would be the last major U.S. carrier to adopt the billing strategy for apps, games, and other content. With that in mind, it appears that Big Red is going to employ a somewhat different tactic from the other players.

As evidenced in the photo, Verizon will put a $25 cap … Read more