Low end of offerings begin at $200 a month, without home broadband
Following its very recent acquisition of DirecTV, AT&T has rolled out the first of its combined nationwide package of TV and wireless services from a single provider on one bill beginning August 10. The low-end offer includes HD and DVR service for up to four TV receivers, unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines, and 10GB of shareable wireless data for $200 a month.
Company redefining 'unlimited' to try to escape fine
AT&T is protesting the $100 million fine it was levied by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for improperly informing unlimited wireless customers of throttling after 5GB of data is consumed in a month. Claiming that the penalty is "an unseemly effort to coerce settlement," AT&T is demanding that the FCC retract the document, and cancel the associated fee, holding AT&T liable for misleading customers.
PCs outsold by iOS devices, AT&T/DirecTV merger, AAPL vs AMZN and more
Another interesting week at MacNN brings us plenty to talk about on Episode 25 of The MacNN Podcast, ranging from the FCC approval of the AT&T/DirecTV deal for no clear reason (but with a bunch of conditions), to our new column "My Stupid Fault." We also include a full report on Apple's fiscal Q3 and the uncalled-for drop in the stock, the results of our testing of Apple's new third-party SSD Trim support, and more.
Company must grow FTTP, provide low-income broadband, among others
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has conditionally granted approval of the transfer of control of licenses and authorizations from DirecTV to AT&T. The approval will allow AT&T to acquire DirecTV and merge the two companies into one combined entity.
Quarterly results largely positive for AT&T
AT&T achieved consolidated revenues of $33.0 billion for the last quarter, a year-on-year increase of 1.4 percent, according to the carrier's latest financial report. The earnings per share is also up to $0.69, up from $0.61 for the same period last year, with AT&T beating the $0.63 EPS expected by analysts despite meeting expectations on revenue, in what could be described as an overall positive quarterly report.
FCC claims AT&T misled consumers using grandfathered unlimited data plans
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to fine AT&T to the tune of $100 million, for "misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans." Resulting from complaints received by the agency since 2011, the carrier is being penalized for throttling the amount of data for customer accounts that have plans marketed with "unlimited data" once they reach a certain threshold for the month.
Ruggedized version of Samsung Galaxy S6 shipping June 12
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a ruggedized stablemate, exclusive to AT&T. The Galaxy S6 Active, following the same pattern as the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S5 Active, is a heavy-duty version of the flagship smartphone, one which is IP68 certified, dust proof, water resistant to a depth of 1.5 meters (five feet) for 30 minutes, and shock resistant, making it more suitable for use outside or in sporting activities.
Other carriers expected to follow AT&T's lead, eliminate money-losing subsidies
Per AT&T's recent announcement that it would end the reselling of two-year traditional contracts by third parties, Apple has now altered its AT&T option on its online store's iPhone buying page to offer only the Next program, an "installment plan" system that avoids contracts and offers the option of early upgrades, but includes a monthly payment towards the cost of the iPhone on top of the selected talk-text-data plan.
AT&T Open Internet lawsuit against FCC citing first and fifth amendments
AT&T and several trade organizations in the telecom and cable industry have publicly posted statements of issues they intend to raise as part of their lawsuits against the FCC's ruling mandating net neutrality. While the statements aren't in-depth rundowns of the arguments the organizations that oppose the ruling intend to make, they do seem rather familiar to anyone who remembers the successful Verizon lawsuit of 2012 that acted as a catalyst for the Title II reclassification for ISPs in the first place. These issues indicate AT&T and others believe the FCC's ruling on net neutrality violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended).
Default outside carrier's stores now becomes Next installment program
AT&T, one of the US' largest carriers, has opted to make a significant change to its arrangements with third-party resellers of its services, including franchises and agents such as Apple, Walmart, and others. All non-company stores will be restricted from offering any two-year contracts in the traditional format with an up-front down payment, though AT&T company stores and its own online site will continue to offer contracts. Instead, retailers will have to offer the AT&T Next option, where buyers pay the cost of the phone alongside the monthly service plan fees.
Specific details about offering eligibility, specific content not yet known
AT&T and video streaming service Hulu have signed a deal that will bring the popular video purveyor to AT&T customers through AT&T's websites and mobile applications. The offering will be through an IP- or device-locked website or app, limiting the streaming to AT&T customers.
Throttling only kicks in in congested areas, not universally
Seemingly overnight, and in response to a lawsuit, AT&T has modified its terms of service language on a website about LTE speed throttling for its heaviest users. The company now claims that users who have exceeded 5GB on LTE "may experience reduced speeds when using data services at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion." Previously, LTE users who had used more than 5GB were throttled at all times.
AT&T finalizes acquisition of Nextel Mexico for $1.88 billion
AT&T has completed its acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings. Approved by the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, overseeing the restructuring of NII Holdings, as well as Mexico's telecom regulator IFT, the transaction costs AT&T $1.88 billion and grants them the spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores, and subscribers covered by the network. This is the second Mexico-related purchase completed by the carrier, having already acquired Iusacell.
As expected, ISPs banding together under common trade group
The battle in the US court system to scuttle the new Open Internet regulation as approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun. Filed yesterday in Washington DC, trade group US Telecom has petitioned the courts on behalf of AT&T, Verizon, and a few others to block the Title II and net neutrality imposition, calling it "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."
FCC agrees with read of Title II, denies smaller companies fees from AT&T
AT&T continues to use Title II regulation as a tool to escape lawsuits and fees, while publicly deriding the mandate. In a court ruling this week, the telecommunications giant utilized its Title II status with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to escape fees from Great Lakes Comnet (GLC) and Westphalia Telephone Company (WTC) imposed for " interstate access services under an unlawful tariff."
AT&T claims new FCC ruling exempts it from FTC oversight
AT&T is utilizing the US Federal Communications Commission net neutrality and Title II to escape a federal lawsuit by another federal agency, despite having vociferously objected to the proposal and still promising to file a lawsuit to prevent its implementation. Citing its new status as a "common carrier," AT&T argued in court yesterday that since it falls under FCC jurisdiction, the Federal Trade Commission's suit about throttling unlimited data plans was improperly applied as a result, and should be tossed out.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile to pre-install Google Wallet on new smartphones
Google is preparing to compete more intensely against Apple Pay, by acquiring mobile payments technology from Softcard. At the same time, Google has struck a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to have Google Wallet pre-installed on sold devices, the same group of carriers who backed the Softcard payments system in the first place.
Launch of AT&T GigaPower in Google Fiber home tainted by privacy issues
AT&T has expanded its U-verse with GigaPower gigabit Internet service to Kansas City, the initial launch city of Google Fiber. While AT&T is trying hard to compete against Google's own service in the city, including offering a voice service that Google lacks, potential customers may feel wary about signing up, as the company is offering some plans at a lower price in exchange for an erosion of privacy.
AT&T to start selling BlackBerry Passport, Classic from February 20
BlackBerry fans in the United States will soon be able to pick up the manufacturer's latest devices on AT&T. The BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport, redesigned specifically for the carrier, will be going on sale from February 20. The Passport, complete with rounded edges, will cost $650 off-contract, $200 with a two-year agreement, or for between $21.67 and $32.50 under AT&T Next. The Classic will cost $50 on a two-year contract, $420 off-contract, or under AT&T Next's various plans, between $14 and $21 per month.
Uber adds panic button, share ride status options to app in India
Uber has made changes to its mobile app in India, in order to help with rider safety, following rape allegations against one of its drivers in the country last year. Share my ETA has been replaced by Share Status, which lets the passenger share details of the car and driver' location and appearance to others, with two taps of a button instantly sending details to five pre-selected contacts. The second, a panic button marked with SOS, will help quickly make calls to authorities in the event of an accident or another emergency.
Dish Network spends $13.3B on spectrum licenses, Verizon $10.4B
The latest spectrum auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised $44.9 billion. Of the bidders looking to acquire what has been termed AWS-3 spectrum, the FCC revealed AT&T spent more than any other carrier or organization, using $18.2 billion to acquire almost half the total number of licenses up for grabs in the auction.
AT&T wireless subscribers increase 1.9M in fourth quarter
AT&T earned consolidated revenues of $34.4 billion in the last quarter, an improvement from last quarter's $32.9 billion, and a year-on year increase of 3.8 percent -- 4.5 percent if a loss-laden sale of its Connecticut wireline properties is taken into account. Even so, it made for a total loss of $4 billion, or $0.77 per share, something the carrier warned about last week.
Plans to combine Nextel Mexico, Iusacell to improve coverage
AT&T has agreed to buy its second carrier in Mexico, a few months after purchasing Iusacell. The pending acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings will cost AT&T $1.875 billion, minus any outstanding debt, with the purchase giving AT&T a considerable foothold in the Mexican wireless market, and expanding its reach further outside the United States.
Facebook attempts to reduce number of hoaxes in News Feed
Facebook is trying to reduce the number of fake or hoax stories that appear in a users News Feed. The social network will take into account whenever a user reports a post as a "false news story," as well as whenever users delete posts linking to an article, when deciding what is shown to other users. While Facebook will stop short of blocking the content entirely, it will give the flagged hoax a "reduced distribution" in News Feed, as well as adding a notice to the top of the post warning that users "have reported that this story contains false information."
Redesigned BlackBerry Passport keeps specifications, adds round corners
BlackBerry is bringing BBM to Android Wear devices in the near future, the manufacturer has revealed. At the same time, it announced the BlackBerry Passport will be heading to AT&T with a new rounder look, after BlackBerry redesigned certain aspects of the smartphone's external appearance following requests from the carrier itself.
Mobile Share Value plans to add unused data allowance to following month
AT&T is adding a Rollover Data scheme to its price plans, allowing customers to use up unused data allowances from their plan the following month. The announcement comes in response to T-Mobile, which launched its own Data Stash rollover scheme a few weeks ago, though at first glance it appears AT&T's version is slightly limited in comparison to its competition.
Tech requires AT&T Mobile Share plan
AT&T has announced the Modio, a case that adds LTE support to otherwise Wi-Fi-only iPad models. Initially, the only version will be available for the iPad mini (all generations), but an edition for the iPad Air and Air 2 is promised down the road. AT&T has yet to set prices or launch dates for either option, however.
Plugin-free protocol facilitates communications across a billion browser installs
AT&T announced that it will be the first US carrier to launch commercial support for Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) via its AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API. The WebRTC standard, which is already enabled on more than a billion browsers across multiple platforms, allows voice and video calling between browsers without the need to install any software or plugins. The AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API is now available in an open beta program, and offers several enhancements to the basic WebRTC standard.
Looks to copy success of Beyoncé album launch on iTunes
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- whose company is now owned by Apple -- is in negotiations with a number of artists about securing more exclusives for Beats Music, sources claim. The idea is reportedly to copy the success Beyoncé and Apple had with an iTunes exclusive, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, in December of last year. Iovine is known for his connections in the music industry, which include acts like Will.i.am, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani; Minaj sometimes advertises Beats products via placements in her videos. A potential obstacle, though, is opposition from record labels, which typically don't like artists signing their own side deals.
Upgrade from 4Mbps definition in 2011 keeps 1Mbps upstream minimum
Over the objections of carriers and cable companies, the FCC on Friday voted to change the definition of the term "broadband" to require a minimum speed of 10 megabits (one megabit equals one-eighth of a megabyte) per second (Mbps) download speed -- an upgrade from the previous definition of 4Mbps -- while keeping the old definition's requirement of at least 1Mbps upload. Although the US is far behind many other countries in typical broadband speed (and US customers pay more for the slower speed that typical prices in many other places), AT&T and Verizon, along with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, argued that 4Mbps was sufficient for consumers.
AT&T increases number of markets with HD Voice enabled
AT&T has expanded its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HD Voice service into more markets. The carrier's higher-quality voice calls are now available to use in parts of the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, though customers will require a VoLTE-compatible smartphone.
US' leading carriers seeing increased competition from T-Mobile, Sprint
In the telecom industry, "churn" is the rate at which subscribers jump from one service to another, and it appears to be increasing with 4G cellphone subscribers during the present quarter. So much so that both AT&T and Verizon have indicated to investors that their margins may be "impacted" in Q4 by the loss of subscribers, and the promotional efforts it will take to lure them back from rivals such as T-Mobile and Sprint.
Replies in Comcast-TWC merger due December 23, AT&T-DirecTV by January 7, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced December 3 that it is restarting the informal "shot clocks" in the review of the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable and $48.5 billion AT&T-DirecTV proposed mergers. As the FCC is now allowing parties to review confidential information once again, it restarted the pleading cycles with new deadlines for each merger.
Kansas town to expand fiber infrastructure to cover residents, AT&T's interests affected
Chanute -- a small Kansas town with a population near 9,000 -- is seeking to expand its current municipal fiber in order to offer broadband services to its residents. To do so, the town must abide by a law from 1947 to seek permission from the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to sell bonds for the funds to build out the infrastructure. However, AT&T holds concerns over the potential effects the municipal service will have on the area, large enough that the company asked for permission to intervene into the proceedings.
Wireless company said to overcharge for wiretaps, pen registers for three years
AT&T's budget wireless brand Cricket Communications has agreed to pay back more than $2.1 million in charges stemming from government-related wiretaps and pen registers. In a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, the company is settling in order to bring an end to the allegations that it overcharged the government for services and facilities tied to electronic surveillance for three years.
AT&T claims it will adhere to fiber build, but freezing any new expansion plans
Following the US Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) demand for more information about a "frozen" fiber buildout, AT&T has responded to the call late yesterday. The company claims that the announced expansion of the gigabit network is not actually frozen -- only new, unannounced expansions have been halted in the wake of the FCC's net neutrality and Title II regulation discussion, though the announcement was seen a thinly-veiled threat against the FCC.
Wheeler believes lawsuits inevitable, regardless of result of discussion
US Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler said that there is a specific reason why the regulatory group is taking its time with the net neutrality discussion. Speaking at a meeting on Friday, the chairman said that caution was prudent, and that the agency needs to "make sure that we understand what is going on here." Referring to Verizon, AT&T, and the other major Internet providers, he added that "the big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out."
Google offers Chromebook users 1TB of cloud storage for two years
Google is giving potential Chromebook users an incentive to pick up the notebook before the end of the year. The search company is providing new Chromebook purchases worth $199 or more with 1TB of Google Drive storage for two years as a free bonus. The offer applies to purchases at retail and online stores, as well as Google Play, but must be redeemed before January 1st, 2015.
Consumers get 15GB for the price of 10GB plan, double data on select plans extended
AT&T is launching a new plan offer starting November 18, giving existing and new customers looking for a bargain in data an additional option to consider. The company's current 10GB Mobile Share Value plan is getting a 5GB boost in shared data, while maintaining the $100 per month price. The wireless carrier says that the plan will be offered for a limited time, but doesn't give a date for the end of the promotion.
Both providers have come under heavy fire for possible Wiretap Act violations
Under enormous pressure after reports showed that some wireless providers were installing "super cookies" on user's devices designed to track their online movements, AT&T has ceased the practice. The carrier released a brief statement earlier this week about how the tracking mechanism was a limited-time test, and has "been phased off" the company's wireless network. Competitor Verizon continues the practice, however, and is showing no signs of stopping.
FCC lawyer calls AT&T's anti-Title II gambit
Just days after AT&T said that it would pause new gigabit fiberoptic deployments pending resolution of the net neutrality discussion, the US Federal Communications Commission has requested information on the buildout. The FCC is demanding information on the current number of households that the carrier provides fiber to, the demographic breakdown of those locations, and proof that the AT&T investment model in fiber is unprofitable as it claims now or in the future.
CEO Stephenson says provider might hold investment on fiber builds in 100 areas
During an analyst conference on Wednesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company is considering putting a hold on its build-out of gigabit fiber networks for select cities in the US until a decision is made on net neutrality rules. The company announced in April that it would be bringing high-speed fiber to 100 cities and municipalities.
Carrier will redirect in-flight Internet efforts into international business
AT&T is giving up on its plan to launch an in-flight Wi-Fi service. Abandoning plans first announced in April, which would have put the carrier against Gogo and other similar in-flight Internet providers, AT&T did not specify why it was giving up on the service, but advised it would be concentrating more on its international business instead.
Deal gives AT&T foothold in area, may buy more assets from other companies
AT&T has declared that it will purchase Mexico-based wireless carrier Iusacell for $1.7 billion in cash. The Mexican company has a network that blankets 70 percent of the country with 3G, and uses the same GSM frequencies that AT&T uses. The deal will also see AT&T take on $700 million in debt that Iusacell holds.
Pre-orders for Timex Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch start tomorrow
Pre-orders for the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will commence in the United States through AT&T stores on November 7th, and online from November 10th. Designed for runners, the smartwatch is able to track the wearer's speed, distance, and other position-related information, includes 4GB of storage, works with Bluetooth speakers and headphones, and has its own cellular data connection rather than relying on a nearby smartphone. Including one year of AT&T data, the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will be priced at $400.
AT&T Next 24 has 30 monthly payments, upgrades from month 24
AT&T is giving its customers a third option to acquire a smartphone via the AT&T Next installment and early-upgrade scheme. The current Next 12 and Next 18 plans will be joined by Next 24, an option which will let subscribers pay nothing initially, followed by regular monthly payments for 30 months, up from the 20 and 24-month plans of the existing installment choices.
HTC Desire Eye exclusive to AT&T, discount available for RE camera
The HTC Desire Eye will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier has revealed. The smartphone, complete with a front-facing 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, will go on sale from November 7th priced at $549.99 off-contract, $149.99 with a two-year contract, $22.92 per month under AT&T Next 18, or $27.50 per month on AT&T Next 12. Customers buying the Desire EYE on-contract will also be able to acquire the RE camera at a discount, saving $50 off the $199 sticker price.
Engineers working on routing HD voice calls over LTE between different carriers
Verizon and AT&T are working together to allow Voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls to function normally between mobile phone users on different carriers. Current systems allow for the high definition calls to take place between users on the same carrier, switching to current technologies when calling another phone network, but the two major carriers aim to put an end to the loss of call quality in the future.
Curved face Android Wear smartwatch gets $5 price plan on T-Mobile
Samsung's Gear S will be going on sale in the United States at the start of next month, with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all carrying the Android Wear smartwatch. The carriers are also varying the way they host the standalone smartwatch on their network, with T-Mobile introducing a new plan specifically for wearable devices.
Mostly grandfathered plans hit by throttling, speeds cut to dial-up
The US Federal Trade Commission has launched a suit against AT&T for its admitted throttling of unlimited wireless data users. The FTC claims that AT&T has implemented the up to 90 percent slower data speeds on over 3.5 million customers a total of more than 25 million times since implementation on October 1, 2011.