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Verizon recalls 2.5 million Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots

The lithium ion battery in the hotspots can overheat

Verizon is recalling about 2.5 million Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots.

The lithium ion battery in the hotspots can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.

The firm has received 15 reports of devices overheating, including six reports of fire damage to bedding or flooring and two reports of minor burn injuries.

This recall involves Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots imported by Franklin Wireless Corp.

The recalled Jetpacks are dark navy plastic oval devices that are about 3....

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    More than 10,000 Verizon employees accepted buyout offer

    The company is moving forward with its restructuring effort as it prepares for 5G launch

    On Monday, Verizon said that more than 10,000 employees (or around 7 percent of its workforce) accepted its buyout offer, first announced in September.

    The carrier said previously that it aimed to save $10 billion by 2021 and thin out its workforce as part of its effort to prepare for the launch of its 5G network service.

    In addition to cutting costs, the buyout program was intended to give Verizon "an opportunity to find more efficiencies in the size and scope of our V Team and help expedite the building of an innovative operating model for our future," CEO Hans Vestberg said in a memo to employees in September.

    Restructuring ahead of 5G rollout

    Verizon offered 44,000 employees across all of its business segments three weeks’ pay for every year at the company, up to 60 weeks. Verizon promised earlier this fall that its cost-cutting drive wouldn’t affect sales executives or managers in "crucial company roles.”  

    The end dates for the employees who accepted the buyout offer range from the end of 2018 to June 2019.

    “For those who were accepted, the coming weeks and months will be a transition. For the entire V Team, there will be opportunities to work differently as we prepare for the great things to come at Verizon,” Vestberg said in a note to employees.

    Verizon is currently taking steps to prepare for the rollout of 5G network service.

    “These changes are well-planned and anticipated, and they will be seamless to our customers,” Vestberg said in a statement. “This is a moment in time, given our financial and operational strength, to begin to better serve customers with more agility, speed and flexibility.”

    On Monday, Verizon said that more than 10,000 employees (or around 7 percent of its workforce) accepted its buyout offer, first announced in September....
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    Verizon’s severance package offer extended to 44,000 managers

    The carrier’s cost-cutting drive could eliminate more than a quarter of its workforce

    Verizon’s voluntary severance package offering, made last month, was extended to roughly 44,000 employees, the company confirmed to The Wall Street Journal. That works out to more than a quarter of the carrier’s total workforce.

    The severance packages are part of a four-year plan to save the company $10 billion and give it "an opportunity to find more efficiencies in the size and scope of our V Team and help expedite the building of an innovative operating model for our future," CEO Hans Vestberg wrote in a memo to employees and reviewed by the Journal.

    Employees eligible for the severance packages were offered three weeks’ pay for every year at the company, up to 60 weeks.

    Verizon -- which has more than 153,000 employees -- said the cost-cutting drive won’t affect sales executives or managers in "crucial company roles.”  

    The same day the severance package offer was announced, the carrier notified about 2,500 of its IT employees that they were being transferred to Indian outsourcing giant Infosys as part of a $700 million outsourcing agreement. Employees that received this notification aren’t eligible for severance payments and will not receive their 2018 bonus if they are offered a job at Infosys and do not accept it.

    Verizon is currently rolling out the nation's first 5G wireless service in a number of cities. Last month, the carrier began inviting people in the selected cities (Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento) to sign up for the service.

    Verizon’s voluntary severance package offering, made last month, was extended to roughly 44,000 employees, the company confirmed to The Wall Street Journal...
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    Verizon is giving customers six months of free Apple Music

    The offer is valid for new and existing Verizon Unlimited plan subscribers

    Starting August 16, new and existing Verizon customers can get six months of free access to Apple Music with an unlimited plan. The deal will give customers full, ad-free access to the music streaming service's 45 million songs on any of their devices.

    In a statement, Verizon hinted that more perks will grow out of this partnership by noting that this is “just the first step.”

    "It gives our customers exactly what they want: Apple's best-in-class music streaming experience, paired with an unlimited plan tailored to them, on the network they deserve," said Angie Klein, Verizon's vice president of marketing, in a statement.

    "And now that you can mix and match our unlimited plans, every person in your family can stream worry-free on the unlimited plan they need, without paying for things they don't."

    Competing with rivals

    In June, Verizon introduced a higher tier plan with added high-speed data. Sprint and AT&T both relaunched their data offerings to include more expensive options. As ConsumerAffairs recently reported, T-Mobile took a different route by announcing a cheaper, stripped down unlimited plan that is set to launch on Friday.

    Verizon is joining other carriers that have introduced plans that allow consumers to bundle with music streaming services. Sprint has been giving away free Tidal subscriptions with its Unlimited Plus plan for some time. Prior to its partnership with Tidal, Sprint used to bundle plans with access to Spotify premium.

    Verizon will post more about the registration process for the offer on its website August 16.

    Starting August 16, new and existing Verizon customers can get six months of free access to Apple Music with an unlimited plan. The deal will give customer...
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    Verizon unveils new, pricier unlimited data plan

    Customers can get even more high-speed data

    On Thursday, Verizon released a pricer, third-tier unlimited data plan entitled “aboveunlimited.” The new plan joins “gounlimited” and “beyondlimited,” both of which vary in terms of what they offer customers.

    Unlimited data plans have experienced a great deal of evolution over the years. Last year, Verizon broke its unlimited plans into two options for customers, and it ultimately comes down to cost. Now, the company has introduced a third plan into the mix.

    “It’s very simple,” said Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon Wireless. “We’re confident people will enjoy the choice.”

    What “aboveunlimited” looks like

    The “aboveunlimited” plan appears to be designed for users who use a ton of data.

    The plan includes unlimited data for high-definition videos for up to 75 GB of data before Verizon intervenes, as well as 20 GB of mobile hotspot data at LTE speeds, five “TravelPasses” that offer one day of international data usage per month, and 500 GB of Verizon Cloud service. Prices range from $60 to $95 per line.

    With an additional unlimited plan, Verizon is now allowing customers to mix and match between three different tiers for different phone lines on family plans. Under the current system, all lines must be on the same plan. Customers are free to switch back and forth between the tiers as they see necessary, and existing customers can also make the change.

    “When I introduced the Verizon unlimited plan back in February of last year, it was a real reset of the market and a game changer,” Dunne said. “And we said at the time we would continue to evolve and expand that portfolio to broaden out the match with customers.”

    According to Dunne, “aboveunlimited” is geared towards “the person who wants it all.”

    With the announcement of the new plan, Verizon also reduced its charge per line for all three tiers of unlimited plans as a customer adds more lines. For example, with the “aboveunlimited” plan, customers will pay $90 per month per line for two lines, $70 with three lines, and $60 with four lines.

    Market trends

    Verizon didn’t enter the unlimited data market until last February, though other carriers had offered customers unlimited data for some time. When first released, Verizon only offered one unlimited plan. It later expanded to a cheaper, though more restrictive, tier in August.

    At the time of the first unlimited plan release, Verizon was struggling with losing customers. Before unlimited data, Verizon lost a net of 398,000 regular monthly phone customers -- the most it had ever lost in a quarter. In adding the unlimited plan, though one that was pricier than competitors like Sprint and T-Mobile, the company regained 109,000 monthly customers.

    However, the release of this latest unlimited plan comes at a better time for the company. Verizon reported having added 260,000 regular monthly subscribers in the first quarter.

    Despite the positive news, Verizon decided to raise prices of this latest unlimited plan at a time when other cell phone providers are looking to keep customers -- for cheaper. Last week, Sprint introduced a plan that would cost just $15 a month -- with a promise to never go up. T-Mobile offers free Netflix and AT&T throws in HBO with an unlimited plan. However, Verizon is steadfast in its belief that customers are paying for a higher quality provider.

    “There’s been a very positive, consistent trend in the performance of Verizon Wireless over the last few quarters,” Dunne said. “I think it’s fair to say objectively based on our performance since some of our competitors changed their offerings, we’ve not seen any increase in our churn... and we’ve continued to see high levels of customer engagement and satisfaction.”

    On Thursday, Verizon released a pricer, third-tier unlimited data plan entitled “aboveunlimited.” The new plan joins “gounlimited” and “beyondlimited,” bot...
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    Yahoo Messenger shutting down in July

    The company says it plans to focus on building new communications tools that better fit consumer needs

    After 20 years in operation, Yahoo Messenger will be shutting down on July 17.

    The news -- which was announced by Oath, a Verizon subsidiary that owns both Yahoo and AOL -- comes six months after AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was shut down.

    Competition from messaging apps built by Skype, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook has made it difficult for Yahoo Messenger to stay relevant. Going forward, Yahoo says it will be “focusing on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs.”

    The company is redirecting users to its new group messaging application, Squirrel.

    “There currently isn’t a replacement product available for Yahoo Messenger. We’re constantly experimenting with new services and apps, one of which is an invite-only group messaging app called Yahoo Squirrel (currently in beta),” Oath said.

    Consumers can request access to the beta version of Squirrel here.

    For the next six months, users can download their chat history from Yahoo Messenger by visiting this website, signing in with their Yahoo account, choosing a verification method, and then entering an email address where the download can be sent.

    After 20 years in operation, Yahoo Messenger will be shutting down on July 17. The news -- which was announced by Oath, a Verizon subsidiary that owns...
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    Verizon finally closes on acquisition of Yahoo

    Experts say around 2,100 employees will lose their jobs in the transition

    The long-awaited acquisition deal of Yahoo by Verizon finally reached a conclusion on Thursday after Yahoo shareholders approved the sale of the business. That means on Tuesday, Yahoo will officially become Altaba, which will take the cash from the sale and Yahoo’s holdings in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba group.

    Unfortunately, the closing of the deal isn’t going to be good news for everyone. TechCrunch reports that Verizon will cut around 15% of the staff from Yahoo and AOL after the merger closes, eliminating around 2,100 redundant jobs between the companies. The new combined entity, named Oath, will be headed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

    “Oath’s strategy is to lead the global brand space. With access to over 1 billion consumers upon close, we will be positioned to drive one of the most important platforms in the consumer brand space. Consistent with what we have said since the deal was announced, we will be aligning our global organization to the strategy,” said an AOL spokesperson.

    Long road

    Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo faced many bumps in the road on its way to finality. An initial deal was struck between the companies last July for $4.8 billion, but the waters were muddied after news broke that Yahoo had experienced two large-scale data breaches affecting over 1.5 billion user accounts.

    Verizon executives immediately backed off from the deal, saying that they needed more information about the breaches before the deal could continue. Rumors even circulated for some time that the company was seeking a $1 billion discount on its purchase.

    Pressure from shareholders mounted for both companies, and eventually Verizon settled for a price cut of around $350 million and a promise that Yahoo would share responsibility for any legal ramifications connected to the breaches.  

    After the vote on Thursday, the New York Times reports that Yahoo’s share price rose by $5.16, closing at $55.71. That’s at least some relief to the Yahoo employees who will lose their jobs in the transition, since it will increase the payouts they’ll earn on stock options.

    The long-awaited acquisition deal of Yahoo by Verizon finally reached a conclusion on Thursday after Yahoo shareholders approved the sale of the business....
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    Yahoo and Verizon said to cut merger price by $350 million

    Sources say the companies are close to closing their acquisition deal

    We recently reported that Yahoo and Verizon were making progress in closing their acquisition deal. The agreement had faced many headwinds, from multiple Yahoo data breaches to circulating rumors about Verizon asking for a huge discount on the deal.

    Despite those challenges, the companies remained in negotiations, and sources close to the situation said last week that Verizon could be asking for a $350 million discount and shared responsibility with Yahoo over any legal ramifications connected to recent data breaches.

    Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the companies will cut $350 million off the original $4.83 billion agreement and will evenly split costs connected to the breaches, according to sources. Verizon and Yahoo have not yet formally announced the revised agreement but are expected to in the near future.

    Not out of the woods yet

    Both companies are facing some pressure when it comes to cementing the deal.

    Yahoo has already made plans that it intends to follow through on if the acquisition is successful, including changing the name of its remaining business to “Altaba” and paring down its number of board positions. One source speculated that the company is also eager to sell stakes in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan Inc.

    For Verizon’s part, the deal comes with plenty of positives and negatives. Upon successfully acquiring Yahoo’s internet business, it would be able to expand its mobile media and advertising markets and take advantage of the large user base connected to the Yahoo platform. However, company shareholders are being cautious about doing business after the recent data breaches that affected over one billion Yahoo accounts.

    While these same shareholders will ultimately have to approve the revised acquisition agreement, the companies hope that the deal will close by mid-April. 

    We recently reported that Yahoo and Verizon were making progress in closing their acquisition deal. The agreement had faced many headwinds, from multiple Y...
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