Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Smartphone market starts to slow
The global smartphone market is maturing, with growth rates projected to slow down this year as developed countries near smartphone saturation. In the United States and Western Europe, smartphone shipments are projected to rise less than 10% this year, according to the analysts at IDC. “2014 will be an enormous transition year for the smartphone market,” said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Not only will growth decline more than ever before, but the driving forces behind smartphone adoption are changing. New markets for growth bring different rules to play by and ‘premium’ will not be a major factor in the regions driving overall market growth.” Price trumps premium in the emerging markets that are currently driving smartphone adoption. “In order to reach the untapped demand within emerging markets, carriers and OEMs will need to work together to bring prices down,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “Last year we saw a total of 322.5 million smartphone units ship for under $150 and that number will continue to grow going forward. We’ve already seen numerous smartphone announcements targeting this priceband this year, with some as low as $25.” … Read more

Femtocells fuel Samsung’s relationship with Verizon
Verizon Wireless is extending its relationship with Samsung, making the company a supplier to its LTE network for the first time. This week Samsung Mobile said it will supply indoor LTE small cell solutions for Verizon, including femtocells, core network elements and a complete element management system. Verizon will use Samsung’s femtocell solution to extend its coverage in highly trafficked areas, and to offer better coverage and capacity for enterprise customers as well. Samsung says one femtocell can provide more than 60 simultaneous connections to the LTE network. “This win may not carry the same weight as a macro cell deployment, but it does serve to raise the infrastructure team’s profile and will help it emerge from under the shadow of its much better-known devices group,” blogged Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar. “Today’s enterprise win could turn into tomorrow’s metro small cell win, or possibly even a macro cell win if the operator decides that a major RAN refresh will be needed to support more advanced LTE-A features.” Meanwhile Brazilian operators are looking to small cells to increase capacity ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Games. TIM, Brazil’s second largest mobile operator, says it will deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s small cells in its 3G network over the next 3 years. The company said small cells have proven themselves as solutions that offer “good service levels for clients and low environmental impacts.” … Read more

H-block auction closes out, hits $1.5B reserve
It took just seven new rounds of bidding on Thursday for the Federal Communications Commission’s Auction 96 to come to a close, with bidding conveniently coming to a halt as the auction’s total winning bids reached the minimum reserve price agreed to before the auction by Dish Network. No new bids were placed in round 167, thus ending the H-Block auction, which began back on Jan. 22. In all, the government looks set to add $1.564 billion to its coffers, auctioning off all 176 economic area spectrum licenses in the upper 1.9 GHz band. Those licenses included 10 megahertz of spectrum each.As had been the case over the past several days, Thursday’s bidding began slowly with just one new bid in round 161 and two new bids in round 162, before exploding with eight new bids in round 163 and a dozen new bids in round 164. The day then settled down with just one new bid in round 165 and three new bids in round 166. However, the activity in round 166 included new bids on licenses covering the large markets of Chicago, San Francisco and Kansas City, Mo., with raised bids that pushed the auction exactly to the $1.564 billion offered up by Dish Network, which equated to 50 cents per-megahertz/per-potential customer covered. … Read more

Galaxy S5 makes its debut
As clients increasingly demand mobile devices with greater abilities for work and entertainment purposes, a number of providers have unveiled new offerings to address these needs. Several companies, including Samsung, LG, Nokia and Sony, have recently announced new smartphones and tablets. Samsung recently expanded its smartphone line with the addition of the Galaxy S5, which will be available this spring. The device features a 5.1-inch display and a 16 megapixel rear-facing camera. The hardware is ideal for photos due to its phase detection auto focus, real-time high dynamic range and selective focus mode. The new offering also has a mode that can recommend different capabilities to users, and a studio of editing tools. This week, LG Electronic introduced two new smartphones: the LG F70 and the LG-E985T through China Mobile. The LG F70 leverages the most up-to-date version of Android’s KitKat operating system and a 1.2 GHz Quad-Core processor, which the company noted makes it appealing to a considerable number of LTE customers. … Read more

Learning the ropes of tower safety
The steady clank–clank of metal Y-lanyards clips being fastened to a telecom tower punctuate each few steps as Brian Bourquin climbs. He reaches a point two-thirds of the way up, anchors himself with his positioning strap, and tests the sturdiness of his tie-off before trusting it with his weight. Bourquin is watched from below by more than half a dozen experienced climbers — and me. He is demonstrating a proper, safe climb and tie-off as the instructor for Safety One Training International’s basic tower safety and rescue class, and in a few minutes I’ll be making my first climb ever, other than shinnying up my parents’ TV antenna in the 1980s to retrieve errant frisbees from the roof. On a bleak, chilly winter day in Colorado, we are lucky enough to be able to climb in the relative comfort of Safety One’s warehouse in Littleton, at a temperate 60-odd degrees. The facility has a variety of mini-towers that reach the 23-foot-tall ceiling, from a basic three-sided tower frame to a monopole to a wooden telephone pole and others. A dummy strapped into a climbing harness dangles from the ceiling, a rescue prop reminiscent of MythBusters. … Read more

Hotspot 2.0 spreads, courtesy of Boingo
The connectivity burden for frequent travelers is set for some relief as public Wi-Fi services provider Boingo Wireless announced the launch of Hotspot 2.0 networks at 21 airports across the country. The network upgrade includes the addition of Passpoint-enabled features providing “instant access” for customers using Apple devices powered by the IOS 7 operating system. Boingo’s VP of corporate communications Christian Gunning explained that the upgrade will allow Passpoint-certified mobile devices to automatically be identified and authenticated to the Wi-Fi network without the need for login pages. Users only need to download the Passpoint profile to their device, which will then establish a WPA2-encrypted connection whenever they are in range of a supported hotspot. … Read more

AT&T’s LTE roaming goes abroad
AT&T broadened its international LTE roaming to 13 countries, building on an initiative it began late last year. The carrier said it now offers LTE roaming services across 15 countries. The latest expansion adds roaming services to Spain, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Guam, Hong Kong and Antigua & Barbuda. The new markets join previously launched services in Canada with Rogers and the United Kingdom. AT&T said it has agreements in place to expand international LTE roaming to more than 200 countries. To support customer usage and monitoring of their international data service, AT&T announced its International Travel App, which is available for Apple’s iOS and Google Android operating systems. The carrier said the application allows customers to track estimated data and messaging usage and set up alerts to notify them when they are approaching their plan limits. AT&T Mobility offers various plans for international data services, beginning at $30 per month for 120 megabytes, scaling up to $60 per month for 300 MB and topping out at $120 per month for 800 MB. … Read more

What’s hot at MWC ’14: OTT, WebRTC, VoLTE
As the mobile industry gears up for one of the biggest events of the year, the industry is buzzing about what new technologies and innovations are going to surface at this year’s Mobile World Congress. One key theme is indisputable – in today’s dynamic mobile ecosystem, over-the-top messaging dominance is still top-of-mind for operators feeling the OTT impact to their revenues. In fact, the hardest hit market and possibly most affected by OTT are European mobile operators, who will likely be forced to cut their workforce by 30% over the next five years, according to the UNI Europa ICTS union. In the midst of mobile operator uncertainty, new standards and technologies like Web real-time communications and voice over LTE will be hot topics at MWC as operators discover new ways to regain their footing. We’ll also see the big players like Facebook and Google continue to roll out enhanced mobile offerings to meet the needs of the mobile consumer. Mobile security is also expected to be a major theme at this year’s show as user demand for personal data protection on individual accounts increases. Business leaders will look for solutions at MWC that offer reliable security and can also be easily integrated into their existing infrastructure. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

The post #TBT: Galaxy S5 debuts; smartphone market starts to slow; what’s hot at MWC ’14 … this week in 2014 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.