Ultra Mobile adds more international calling and texting to $19 plan; Samsung to open R&D center in Silicon Valley

Quick news from around the Web.

> Scientists at Stanford University believe they will be able to improve the efficiency of lithium battery technology. Article

> T-Mobile US MVNO Ultra Mobile announced its $19 prepaid unlimited international/domestic voice and text plan includes calling and texting throughout the United States and between 10 countries including Canada, China, and Mexico. Release

> MobileIron said it will support the new Amazon Fire smartphone with its mobile enterprise platform. Article

> Fixed is a mobile app that allows users to pay for parking tickets by taking a picture of the ticket. The company raised $1.2 million in seed funding. Article

> Samsung Electronics plans to open a new $300 million research and development center in Silicon Valley by next summer. Article

> Amazon appears poised to challenge Square with its own credit card reader. Article

> AT&T and Apple are now sending out $40 checks to customers who were affected by AT&T's decision to rescind its unlimited data offer shortly after selling the iPad. Article

> Apple reportedly plans to purchase the app Swell for $30 million. The app compiles podcasts for users. Article

> NTelos Wireless announced CEO James Hyde resigned, and that Director Rodney Dir will become the company's new president and COO. Release

Wireless Tech News

> Singapore operator SingTel introduced the Huawei 5786 mobile MiFi hotspot device, enabling SingTel to claim it is the world's first mobile operator to offer commercial 300 Mbps service using LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation. Article

> The bad news is that a comprehensive request for proposals (RFP) for the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) being crafted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is not slated to go out until early 2015. But the good news is, at that point states and territories should have a much better grasp regarding their costs to participate in the network. Article

Telecom News

> AT&T has received local regulatory clearance to bring its 1 Gbps-capable fiber to the home (FTTH) to Nashville, Tenn., the latest of several cities where the telco has announced it will offer its fiber-based broadband service. Article

> Frontier has gained the FCC's approval of its pending acquisition of AT&T's local wireline network in Connecticut, clearing one of its largest regulatory hurdles to complete the $2 billion deal. Article

Cable News

> Seeking to accelerate the subscriber growth of its most valuable asset, Time Warner, Inc. is reportedly looking to expand the availability of broadband-only packages that feature access to HBO. Article

> Bright House Networks has signed an agreement with BlackArrow, Inc. to manage the execution dynamic ad insertion (DAI) into the video-on-demand products of the sixth biggest cable operator in the United States. Article

European Wireless News

> Huawei boosted its credentials as a provider of high-speed connectivity services for sports events through separate deals with FanPlay, a cloud-based digital content provider, and Vodafone. Article

> The Mayor of London is reportedly the latest politician to exploit the hyperbole surrounding "5G" by pledging to roll out a 5G network in London by 2020. Article

And finally… Microsoft is positioning its Cortana digital assistant against Apple's Siri in a new ad. Article