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Will Apple SIM Kill SIM Cards?

At their most recent conference, Apple announced that their new iPads would come with something called an Apple SIM. It wasn’t talked about a lot other than to say it would allow users to switch between carriers for services. However, that one sentence seems to have generated not only a little confusion, but also a lot of speculation about whether or not Apple’s new card will kill the SIM card as we all know it.

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Verizon Gains Millenicom Customers

millenicom

Mobile internet customers using the popular Millenicom service got a nasty shock late last week, as the company announced suddenly that Verizon was taking control of their entire customer base and they would take no further part in customer accounts or internet service. A couple days later, most of Millenicom’s employees were laid off and the company is no longer responding to chat, email or phone calls.

To add to the confusion about the sudden announcement, Verizon is also staying mum about exactly what sorts of offers they will have for former Millenicom customers or exactly what happened. Consumers report that Verizon customer service reps don’t have any information yet and were unable to help alleviate the confusion.

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TPO Raising Funds to Expand to US

tpo Logo

The U.S. prepaid market might soon get a new competitor, according to Reuters. The People’s Operator (TPO), a prepaid and postpaid mobile phone service company, has announced plans to list its shares in London in order to raise enough funds to expand across the pond. TPO offers both pay-as-you-go and contract plans at competitive rates and is expected to utilize Sprint’s network here in the U.S.

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State Wireless Taxes Compared

money

Taxes on wireless transactions are a pain for prepaid and postpaid customers alike. But have you ever wondered how your state compares to others as far as tax goes?

Yeah, me neither. It’s not something I ever really thought about until I saw this report. The Tax Foundation did as study comparing this year’s wireless state and local taxes, and some of the figures were a little surprising. While these tax rates are mostly relevant for postpaid, prepaid customers still pay a percentage of these taxes so I thought I might take a sec and share.

To start, these are the top five states with the highest state-local wireless tax:

  1. Washington State (18.6%)
  2. Nebraska (18.48%)

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Prepaid Plans Gain Popularity in the U.S.

phone

If you read this blog, then I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you probably have a prepaid phone or at the very least, you’re interested in prepaid phones. Now, it might be because you don’t use your phone very much or because you want a smaller bill. But whatever the reason, you most certainly aren’t alone. A recent report released by NPD Group shows that prepaid phones are gaining ground over the postpaid market.

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Smartphone Privacy Debate

phone security

 

If you’ve been watching smartphone/telecommunication news at all, then you are probably aware of the huge debate going on right now over smartphone privacy and encryption policies. And if you weren’t aware, well, now you are.

On Prepaid Reviews we mostly focus on new and emerging companies, phones and policies in the prepaid market as well as giving reviews (duh), tips and guides for prepaid users. However, occasionally something like this comes along that really has the potential to change the mobile phone industry, and it’s something worth keeping tabs on.

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Call Germany For Free Today Only

Flag_map_of_Germany

Today and today only DeutschlandAnrufen.com is running a deal where all landline calls to Germany are free. This deal is in honor of Germany National Day and has been extended to all Germans living abroad and anyone who has friends in Germany. Call times are not limited in any way in honor of this holiday, but free calls can only be made to German landlines, not mobile phones.

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5th Largest Smartphone Vendor Headed to US

The Xiaomi RedMi, one of the most popular phones in the world, according to Strategy Analytics’ Country Share Tracker in Q2 2014
The Xiaomi RedMi, one of the most popular phones in the world, according to Strategy Analytics’ Country Share Tracker in Q2 2014

With all the excitement over Apple and Samsung devices, it is easy to remember that they aren’t the only ones who make fantastic phones. The popular Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi is rumored to have plans to extend their products to the U.S. and it might just give pause to the other smartphone vendor giants.

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RingPlus Changes Free Service, Plans

ringplus logo

Sprint MVNO RingPlus has made some pretty big changes in the last couple of weeks. Known for their ad-supported free voice service, RingPlus announced yesterday that they will be discontinuing the free service for some–but not all–customers. They have also tweaked nearly all of their plans, added two new plans and WiFi calling to their service profile. RingPlus also debuted a new “Matching Magic” plan that adds minutes for every minute you use. Like we said, a lot of changes. We’ll take things one at a time and try and get you caught up on your RingPlus news for the week.

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Moto X Pre-Ordering Starts Today

Moto X

Motorola’s new flagship phone, the second generation Moto X goes on pre-order today, Sept. 16. The phone is available on-contract through AT&T or unlocked (called the Pure Edition) which is meant for any carrier and comes with no contract. The Pure Edition version will cost $499 and on contract, it will be around $100.

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Global MVNO to Carry iPhone 6, 6 Plus

Truphone_Logo

The MVNO Truphone has announced that it will offer the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on Sept. 26. While I am certain that all of the major MVNOs will carry the iPhone 6 eventually, Truphone’s announcement today is the first MVNO to confirm that they willl carry the new Apple product.

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Solavei Gearing Up For Phase 2

solavei-logo

Solavei, the T-Mobile MVNO that declared chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer, has been undergoing changes behind the curtain and announced yesterday that they plan to launch their ‘phase 2′ services for growth and restructuring on Oct. 1.

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Cross-Network VoLTE in the Works

can you hear me now

Only a few months after several of the main carriers launched their own VoLTE service for making and receiving calls using 4G networks, AT&T is reportedly working towards VoLTE cross-network compatibility. Currently, users with 4G ready phones can only make VoLTE calls to others on the same network. If they can get the kinks worked out, then you might soon be able to make VoLTE calls to anyone on any network.

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New MVNO Offers WiFi Only Service

touch mobile logo

Sprint MVNO TextNow has launched a WiFi-only prepaid brand, Touch Mobile, in the U.S. and Canada. Their slogan and goal is to “get the smartphone experience without the smartphone price.” Touch Mobile is the first 100 percent data-based prepaid brand to be available in retail stores. Their store presence is expected to be launched in the next few months.

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North America Dominates Global LTE

LTEPenetrationSept4

 

A new report has been released looking at the global LTE market. The report examines each continent and determines how many LTE connections are available on that continent compared to the world. They also checked smartphone penetration and other factors. And, it turns out that if you want 4G speeds, then you should definitely live in North America.

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Motorola Offers Money For Your Old Phone

On the heels of the release of the Moto G and the information on the new Moto X, Motorola has announced that they are doing a trade-in deal. When you purchase a new Moto G or Moto X phone, you can send Motorola your old phone and they will give you money for it.

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MetroPCS Expanding Market, Making Changes

Metro-PCS-Logo

T-Mobile’s MVNO brand, MetroPCS is shaking things up again this week with a slew of changes including introducing service to 10 new markets, a solid date to close their CDMA network and double the data for some customers–no doubt in response to Boost Mobile’s new data options announced earlier this week.

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T-Mobile One Cent Prepaid SIM Sale

SIM

In case you missed their SIM sale from last month, T-Mobile has brought the prepaid penny SIM deal back! You can get up to five SIMs for one penny each until Sept. 10. There is a limit of 3 SIMS per order and no more than 5 SIMs in 30 days. Normally, SIMs from T-Mobile cost $10, so if you wanted to add more than one phone, the savings could be phenomenal.

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Phone Launch Roundup

I was going through my news feeds to decide what else to write about, and I noticed that there were several new phone launches that I hadn’t reported as I couldn’t find a date for prepaid launch. I counted a whopping eleven that have been released in the last week or so. Eleven! I guess the cell phone gods have spoken to phone manufacturers across the globe to let them know that September is the time to release new phones?

Anyway, I decided since there are so many new phones that all look so cool, I’d just lump it all into one post to keep everyone on top of what their options will be. A lot of these phones haven’t been released everywhere yet and won’t be immediately available for the prepaid market. However, most will slide to prepaid in a couple of months so it will give you something to look forward to!

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Overview of MVNO Market Analysis

Visiongain has released a new analysis of the MVNO market along with a forecast of what will happen in the next few years. I didn’t read the full report (which is 151 pages, and most of it delves into financial and investing technicalities that aren’t really relevant for non-business owners, not to mention it costs quite a pretty penny) but quite a few important bits can be garnered of their brief press release.

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Chit Chat, Solavei File Chapter 11

chit chat solavei

MVNOs are generally not the most stable kind of businesses, and this past summer saw its share of businesses closing and selling or being acquired by another company. Added to the list of companies not doing so well, both Solavei and Chit Chat have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy this summer.

While not always the kiss of death, Chapter 11 is basically a company acknowledging that they cannot pay all of their bills. It’s a last-ditch attempt to reorganize the business and get back on their feet. Currently, neither Solavei nor Chit Chat have stated intentions to close and both carriers are still signing up new customers as of today.

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Refill Your Prepaid With Bitcoins

piiko logo

Prepaid phone users all around the world now have a new way to refill their phones. Piiko is a new prepaid mobile top up service that uses bitcoins to purchase minutes. Designed by Umbrellab to help spread the use of Bitcoins, Piiko currently serves customers with select phone plans in more than 100 countries worldwide.

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CA. Requires Smartphone Kill Switches

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill yesterday which requires all smartphones sold in California to come with a ‘kill switch’ to render them useless if stolen or lost. According to a Reuters article, this new law was pushed by the high smartphone theft statistics in the golden state.

With the new law, all smartphones sold after July 2015 will be required to have the technology to be shut down remotely. The law received widespread support from law officials and lawmakers alike, in the hopes that smartphone theft will be reduced. It is estimated that more than half of all crimes committed in San Francisco, Oakland and other major California cities involve smartphone theft.

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FreedomPop, Major Carrier in Talks

freedompop logo

Nearly a month after the merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile concluded, Sprint MVNO FreedomPop is undergoing formal talks with an undisclosed ‘major carrier’ over a possible acquisition of the MVNO. Fierce Wireless reported yesterday that FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols had confirmed the acquisition talks, but declined to provide details other than that FreedomPop was seriously considering the offer.

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iPhone 5 Battery Problem

iphone 5

If you own an iPhone 5 (or know someone who does) purchased between September 2012 and January 2013, then you may need to contact Apple to get a new battery. Recently, Apple announced that a ‘small percentage’ of their iPhone 5 devices have a faulty battery which may suddenly stop holding charge for as long as it should.

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FTC Warns of New Phone Scam

This article came across my email this morning and while it’s not super relevant for prepaid phone customers (it actually deals with phone contracts), I wanted to go ahead and spread the word because everyone knows someone on a phone contract.

The FTC has sent out a warning to consumers of a practice called ‘credit muling’ with cell phone and wireless contracts. The scam involves paying a victim cash to open up a wireless contract (or two, or five) and telling them that they can cancel the contract within the allotted time–usually a couple of weeks to a month. The scammer then takes the devices, unlocks them, sells them (for quite a pretty penny) and disappears.

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Incorrect Brightspot Throttling Reported

brightspot_logo

HowardForums users and Prepaid Phone News have both reported that Target’s MVNO, Brightspot Mobile, has been throttling users’ data incorrectly due to a glitch in the data tracking. From what it sounds like, this problem is mostly effecting the $35 plan users but might be might be effecting others as well, so I thought I would help spread the word.

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Miami Diabetes Patients Get Free Phones

The Miami-based Health Choice Network (HCN), TracFone and Microsoft have teamed up to give free prepaid Windows smartphones to some diabetes patients so they can better keep track of their appointments and health regimens. The program is only available to certain patients in Miami.

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Nokia Lumia 635 + FitBit Flex Sale

Nokia-Lumia-635-Fitbit-Bundle

Microsoft has a deal going where if you purchase a no contract Nokia Lumia 635 (for T-Mobile or AT&T) with a Fitbit Flex activity band, you can bundle them together and get a discount of $50. Depending on whether you go with AT&T or T-Mobile, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 – $180, with the T-mobile phone costing a bit more for some reason. The Fitbit flex is available in black and slate, but the slate is listed as out of stock currently.

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RadioShack Closes No-Contract Wireless

RadioShack-logo

RadioShack has quietly shut down its No-Contract Wireless brand and removed all of their phones and offers from their site. Phones from other MVNOs are still available, however. Customers who purchased a No-Contract Wireless phone in the last 30 days can get a full refund by contacting RadioShack.

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ZTE Releases Nubia 5S Mini LTE

Nubia 5S mini LTE

ZTE has released a phone in the U.S. aimed at smartphone lovers and selfie snappers. The Nubia 5S mini LTE boasts impressive camera and hardware specs and in a surprising move, ZTE is marketing the unlocked version of their phone directly to consumers who want to BYOD to any network. It is available for preorder now on Amazon for $280 and shipping is planned to start next week.

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Changes for Selectel Wireless

selectel

Selectel Wireless, a Verizon MVNO, has gone through a few changes in the last few months: a data increase for one of their more popular plans, an increase in texts on another and a ban on activating non-Verizon phones. All of the changes have already gone into effect.

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Pantech Files Bankruptcy

pantech_logo

The Korean phone maker Pantech has filed for court receivership on Tuesday, which is the South Korean equivalent of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The third largest phone maker in South Korea ended the first quarter with nearly $1 billion in debt–nearly double its current assets. If the court receivership is approved by the bank, then Pantech will have one year to restructure their business model and get back on track before closing indefinitely.

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Texting 911 Coming Soon

By the end of this year, you may be able to text 911 from your phone to reach emergency personnel from any wireless phone or app with SMS messaging capabilities. Currently, this technology is limited to specific counties and areas across 16 states, with the exception of Vermont and Maine, where capability has been launched statewide.

For a full list of areas where text-to-911 is available, click here. “Bounce back” messages will be sent if users attempt to send a message where service is not available. This isn’t really specifically for prepaid or postpaid, and will eventually be available on all phones.

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ROK Mobile Available to Everyone

Rok Mobile

California-based MVNO Rok Mobile has finally opened its service to the public.  Formerly invite-only, Rok Mobile allows users unlimited music streaming and downloading using Rok Mobile’s app and other third-party music apps like IHeartRadio and Spotify. Customers can create their own personalized music playlists and download music through Rok’s App to listen to off line but downloaded music cannot be transferred to another device or accessed once service with Rok Mobile has ended.

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T-Mobile Business MVNO Opens

harbor mobile logo

Harbor Mobile, a new MVNO aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs launched last month. They use T-Mobile’s network and offer some pretty decent competitive pricing. Harbor Mobile currently has four plans and offers a couple add-ons like additional data and international calling. The plans are:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, text, 1 GB high speed Data, unlimited slower speeds, hotspot
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, text, 3 GB high speed Data, unlimited slower speeds, hotspot
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, text, 5 GB high speed Data, unlimited slower speeds, hotspot
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, text, 5 GB high speed Data, unlimited slower speeds, 5 GB hotspot

SIM cards cost $10 and are mailed to you within a week of order. You can BYOD, but it needs to be a T-Mobile branded device or it must be unlocked and able to use GSM.

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Cellular One Closing in Wyoming, Montana

cellular one logo

Cellular One has announced that it will be shutting down services in Wyoming and Montana as of August 31, 2014. This will affect all MVNOs that use Cellular One’s service in those states as well. According to FierceWireless, Residents using Cellular One’s network will have to switch to a new carrier by August 31 to avoid service interruption. To facilitate the process, Cellular One has waived all early termination fees and is working with AT&T to allow customers to switch to that network. Customers who switch to AT&T will not have to pay any activation fees and AT&T is offering a $100 credit on the first bill for those who switch. Cellular One phones are compatible with AT&T’s network, but customers are not obligated to switch to the blue giant and may pick whichever carrier they wish.

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Get Out Of Phone Contracts With No Fee

Phone contracts suck. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. You basically sign your life away for two years and hope that the service you agree to pay for works in the areas where you need it at a price that you can afford. But there are always hidden fees and always overages and always places where you get no service when you need it. Phone contracts suck.

So we’re going to give you a couple resources to help your friends and family out of dumb phone contracts so they can enjoy phone freedom with prepaid devices. A lot of these services basically just sign over your contract to someone else and a few cost a minimal fee to list your phone, but it is still a lot cheaper than paying upwards of $250 termination fee. It should be noted that most of these sites do not actually do any transfers–they simply match you with someone else. It is your responsibility to make the transfer with your carrier.

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How to Unlock Your Postpaid Phone

Last week, President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which makes unlocking your phone from your cell carrier legal. This is great news if you are getting out of a contract and wanting to go with a cheaper prepaid option, but the move has spawned quite a bit of confusion over exactly what it means to ‘unlock’ a phone. While I am not an expert, I can hopefully answer some of those questions.

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Truphone Seeking to Lose MVNO Label

In an effort to lose the MVNO label, Truphone has joined the GSMA this week as an Associate Member under the ‘Application Developer’ category. Why are they so against the MVNO label they have operated under for so long?

Well, in a Telecoms.com article, CTO and founder of Truphone, James Tagg stated that, “the company doesn’t like to be pigeon holed into the MVNO bucket [because] the term immediately conjures in the mind…the marketplace as a technology-free company.” Fair enough. He also said that, “critics might define an MVNO as a pure branding and marketing machine that sells services to customers.” And that isn’t quite in line with where Truphone wants to be.

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Kids: Your cell phone isn’t worth it

Why is the story of a 16-year-old girl attacking her parents with knives a significant story for a prepaid cell phone blog? Because the issue stemmed from cell phone use, specifically prepaid. The girl’s father believed that she stole money from her mother’s purse to purchase more prepaid minutes, so he took the phone away. This allegedly turned her homicidal, as she wielded two kitchen knives, forcing her parents to lock themselves in their bedroom until the police showed up. Your cell phone just isn’t worth it. The girl now faces multiple felony charges.

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Small carriers band together to promote rural competition

Honestly, upon reading the headline to this press release, I was hoping for a list of companies involved. After about a half hour of Googling, I’ve got nothing, so let’s get down to the issue at hand. NextGen Mobile LLC has announced the partnership of 28 “independent mobile operators and commercial mobile license owners,” which will take on issues facing the competition in and advancement of rural wireless. This issue has become a bit more prominent recently. Rural carriers have bemoaned policies which disfavor them for larger network operators. The two recent spectrum auctions, 700 MHz and AWS-1, exacerbated the issue, as has the universal service fund cap. This is the small guy’s way of fighting back.

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Wireless shakeup in Canada

As we’ve discussed before, the wireless picture in Canada isn’t so hot. A few incumbent parties seem to be keeping the prices high for everyone. That won’t be so for much longer. A chunk — 40 percent — of the 105 megahertz spectrum up there is set to be auctioned off. The good news: Rogers, Bell Canada, and Telus won’t be eligible to bid. This, of course, has them upset, but honestly, this is the best thing Canada can do with its wireless situation.

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Mobile phone payments in 2008?

Maybe for Canada. It appears that Visa Canada is working with Royal Bank to make this a reality. According to Visa: “”mobile devices will be embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless chips that will enable users to make purchases using the Visa payWave feature just as they would with a contactless payment card.” Sweet deal, we say.

[Financial Post]

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Nokia’s prices drop, profits grow

Now, this story gives us pause to consider the markup on handsets. Nokia, the worlds No. 1 maker of handsets, announced a flurry of good news yesterday. Among it was that they now control 39 percent of the mobile market, up from 36 percent last year. The big news, to us anyway, is that their profit margin for their phones jumped to 22.6 percent, from 13 percent a year ago. That’s pretty damn significant. And they’re doing it with lower phone prices.

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Sanyo out of mobile phone business

You know, we’ve always been fans of the Sanyo Katana. Yeah, it’s basically a rip-off of the RAZR, but we saw so many damn people carrying them when it first came out — as well as a billiondy commercials for it — that we got sick of it real quick. Once we saw the Katana, we saw an alternative, and one which we thought was superior in its own way. Now, though, Sanyo is ditching the mobile phone portion of its business. No, it’s not completely folding, but rather changing ownership. Meet Kyocera, soon to be the No. 7 producer of mobile phones worldwide.

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Is your cell boosting your brain function?

The September issue of the International Journal of Neuroscience is being released in a week or so, though we didn’t know that until this morning. Our interest relates to a mobile phone study conducted that relates to the device’s effect on brain power. Until this point, most studies noted a negative effect on brain power in high-volume cell users. This one, however, takes a different tack, and one that might be a little more favorable to talkaholics.

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World mobile phone subscriptions double landlines

You should see our news feeds sometime. Okay, so they’re not really that interesting, but they do help illustrate this point. You see, while most of the news comes from American outlets, you’d be surprised at the number of news items we see about cell phones in India, Senegal, Pakistan, China, and other Eastern nations that we don’t normally associate with technology. Hell, we also get feeds from Africa. And that’s not to mention the glut of news we see from Europe — the UK and the Netherlands most frequently. Mobile phones are spreading everywhere, leading to an enormous number of worldwide subscribers: 2.68 billion.

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Joopz adds another dynamic to text messaging

So we found out about this new text messaging service called Joopz, and we think it’s compelling enough to share. See, it lets you send text messages from your computer to any mobile phone. Wait. Don’t leave! There’s more! If a reply is sent from the recipient, it sends right back to your computer. Okay, see? They do have something unique to offer. You can also send text messages en masse with their service, which has us hoping that they have some top-notch spam detectors.

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Nokia teams with Microsoft to enhance mobile entertainment

One of the factors holding back a more widespread selection of mobile entertainment programming is copyright. So many artists and corporations won’t allow their content to be used on a mobile platform because they fear piracy. Nokia has gone a long way in protecting copyrights, having developed S60, the most widely used copy protection software in the cell phone industry. Now they’re teaming with Microsoft to solidify the issue, hoping to bring more entertainment options to the mobile platform.

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