News Scan: Microsoft to drop Windows Phone 8 fees; NFC smartphone shipments on the rise; more

>> Microsoft to cut Windows Phone 8 licensing fees

To spur adoption of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is planning to cut the license fee it charges manufacturers to use the operating system, according to a report by PC Magazine. "We're hearing Microsoft will drop the license fee quite a bit, as far as 70 percent, which will make their product more competitive in terms of price," Infosonics CEO Joseph Ram tells the publication. Infosonics currently makes low-priced Android phones for the Latin American market, but would consider the Windows Phone 8 OS if the licensing fee comes down. Read more on the PC Magazine report.

[More on Windows Phone: Microsoft beefs up Windows Phone security | What's up with Windows Phone 8.1?]

>> NFC-enabled smartphone shipments on the rise

NFC-enabled smartphone shipments will surge fourfold over the next five years, reaching 1.2 billion units in 2018, predicts IHS Technology. As a result, the NFC penetration rate will rise to 64 percent by then. "Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of mobile payment--and NFC wireless readers are proliferating in businesses throughout the world. This strong momentum will allow the NFC cellphone market to overcome barriers, including a lack of compelling services and applications, and the sluggish progress on establishing the required infrastructure," says Don Tait, senior financial and ID market analyst at IHS. Read more on IHS's NFC-enabled smartphone forecast.

[More on NFC: Visa, MasterCard back technology for cloud-based mobile payments | Infographic: Bluetooth vs. NFC wireless technologies]

>> Wireless infrastructure market to reach $46.7B this year

The global wireless infrastructure market is forecast by Visiongain to reach $46.7 billion this year, spurred by operators deploying high-speed LTE networks. "Currently all of the technologies--GSM, 3G, 3.5G, WiMAX, Wi-Fi and LTE--continue to command a slice of the market share. However LTE will continue to grow in market share while the other technologies will lose share up to 2018," says Visiongain. Read more on Visiongain's forecast.

[More on 4G LTE: VoLTE spending on the rise | 4G LTE will account for 50% of US wireless connections by end of 2014]

>> US tablet cellular connections increase 46 percent last year

Embedded tablet cellular connections in the U.S. market reached 10.4 million units in 2013, up 46 percent year-over-year, according to the latest stats from the NPD Group. The market is being spurred by mobile carriers offering cheaper data plans. "Cellular tablet use is still in its early days and, unlike smartphones, significant tablet cellular use is the exception, rather than the norm. Still, the most important factor is that more people are beginning to try the cellular data option. If they find a compelling use case, we will see these use patterns grow aggressively," says Brad Akyuz, director of connected intelligence analysis at NPD. Read more on NPD's analysis.

[More on tablets: Tablets to fuel growth in European smart connected device market, says IDC | Tablet production to grow 25% this year, predicts IHS]

>> FCC raises more than $1.56B with H-Block spectrum auction

The Federal Communications Commission has closed its H Block spectrum auction, raising more than $1.56 billion, reports Wireless Week. The H Block includes 10 MHz of paired spectrum in the 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz bands divided into 176 licenses. This was the first major spectrum auction by the FCC in more than five years, the report notes. The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that around one-third of the potential bidders were speculators. Read more on the FCC's auction.

[More on FCC: FCC to auction 10 MHz in H block for mobile broadband use | FCC mulls lifting ban on cell phone calls during flights]