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Last summer Verizon introduced their new shared data plans for contract customers
, which provide users with unlimited text and voice, but imposed low caps and steep overages on data and per device connection fees to make up for it. A little less than a year later and Verizon now says that about one third of their postpaid customers now use the shared data plans
-- or about 30% of the company's 93.2 million postpaid contract customers.
Verizon's CFO Fran Shammo this month stated Verizon is absolutely thrilled with the plans, since they nudge users to connect more devices, and thereby use more overall data:
Reiterating what he has said at previous investor conferences, Shammo noted that as more people adopt shared data plans, in general they add more devices, such as mobile hotspots and tablets. Then, he said, more consumers will use more data, which will generate more revenue for Verizon Wirelesses, since Share Everything plans are built around usage-based pricing for LTE data.
Shared data plans and AT&T and Verizon's quiet war
on unlimited wireless data plans have had their critics, who worry that the usage allotments will shrink as the overage fees soar. However, a J.D. Power and Associates study from earlier this year
suggested that shared data customers are actually more satisfied -- in part because that, for now, they're saving money over previous plans.
France was one of the first countries to impose laws that require ISPs terminate the service of users who repeatedly engage in copyright infringement. Under the rules, copyright offenders were tracked by a newly-created taxpayer-funded agency dubbed Hadopi and a hired company named Trident Media Guard (TMG). story continues..
Back in April we noted
that AT&T was imposing a new $0.61 "Mobility Administrative Fee" on all postpaid wireless subscriber bills. According to AT&T's website, the sneaky fee "helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs," though like AT&T's equally nonsensical "regulatory recovery fee," those expenses should be included in the cost of doing business, and not buried beneath the line.
Leap Wireless' Cricket brand this week launched what they're calling "Half is More
" pricing, which the company claims offers users "unlimited plans for half the price of the competition." According to a Leap/Cricket press release
, the company's new $45 Offering provides unlimited text, voice and data services. However, the company rather buries the fact that by "unlimited" they mean around 1 GB, after which you're throttled back to dial-up era speeds for the remainder of the month. "Cricket is challenging consumers and asking the question that if you can pay only half and get the same thing, why wouldn't you?" the company asks. Perhaps because you historically abuse the hell out of
the word "unlimited"?
The Wall Street Journal
this week seemed rather surprised to learn that wireless carriers are now happily selling user location data for additional profit. According to the Journal
, "carriers are coming to see subscribers as sources of data that can be mined for profit, a practice more common among providers of free online services like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc." As we've noted for some time
, this data is purchased by everyone from marketers to city planners, but is generally not as private as carriers claim
. As the Journal
notes, the data also provides governments with an additional treasure trove of data to hoover up (or for hackers to acquire), and there continues to be no real consumer privacy protections in place to protect users. Tune in tomorrow when the Journal
learns that pay TV and broadband services in the Unites States are expensive
Over the years there have been no shortage of studies showing that pirates actually buy significantly more content
from legit outlets than anybody else. That point was brought up repeatedly as the entertainment industry tried to pass rules requiring these users be kicked off the Internet.
KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh recently examined FiOS customer complaints
) about dying batteries in Verizon FiOS ONT units. The batteries generally give users about eight hours of talk time during a power outage, but let out a repeated, shrill beep when the battery is depleted (usually after a year or two).
"We don't focus on megabits, we don't focus on gigabits, we focus on activities," Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated at an investor conference last week
, clearly trying to counter some of the buzz around Google Fiber. "We go to the activity set to get a sense of what customers are actually doing and the majority of our customers fit into that 6 Mbps or less category."
Granted many Frontier customers in our forums
will tell you they're lucky if their copper and loop length supports anything more than 3 Mbps, and those who can get faster speeds may not be able to justify paying Frontier's steep price premiums.
Cablevision has spent the last few years deploying Wi-Fi to NYC metro region commuter areas, and now says they're getting close to offering service on the trains themselves. Speaking on their recent earnings conference call
, Cablevision executive Tad Smith stated the company is "in active, productive, very positive conversations with the trains" but that deploying such technology has been "complicated." The company filed a proposal with the MTA back in 2010 and originally hoped the project would be up and running within twelve months. Still, Smith says the company is "optimistic for the future" of the project, which is making slow but steady progress. Whether commuters (most of whom now have an LTE connection in their pocket) will need or use it might be something else entirely.
DirecTV is contemplating embedding an antenna into their set top boxes
in order to offer live over the air broadcasts, thereby circumventing retransmission fees. Speaking at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston, DirecTV chief financial officer Patrick Doyle stated they didn't have a timeline on the project, but that it makes financial sense due to the soaring price of retrans fees and the landscape shift that's occurring courtesy of Aereo. He also stated that whenever it does get deployed, it would only be initially made available to new customers. "Well probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there," insists Doyle.
Cash set aside for broadband development in urban areas is sitting idle thanks to EU bureaucracy, according to those overseeing the project. Its likely that the £150 million, which was set aside for upgrading infrastructure to provide 80Mbps and up speeds, will instead be used to provide public wi-fi in city centres, for other projects that dont require EU approval or, if the opposition Labour party get their way, redirected completely to provide access for rural areas. story continues..
While there has been some twitching from the corpse of LightSquared in DC, it has been fairly clear to everyone that the company has been dead for quite some time
. Now insiders tell Bloomberg
that Charlie Ergen made a $2 billion "stalking horse" bid to acquire LightSquared's assets and spectrum. One problem with such a deal -- the FCC still hasn't given their approval for use of the interference-prone spectrum, the core reason that LightSquared died in the first place. LightSquared has until May 31 to accept the bid. Dish has slowly been engaged in a series of spectrum acquisition deals to aid the company's potential launch of their own LTE network.
Sprint raised its acquisition offer for Clearwire today
, offering $3.40 per share for the 50% of Clearwire Sprint currently doesn't own. The new offer, which temporarily delayed a Clearwire shareholder offer on the deal, values Clearwire's total value at around $10.7 billion. The higher bid comes as Dish has been trying to acquire Sprint itself
and thwart a rival offer from Japanese carrier SoftBank. Dish Corporation's Charlie Ergen has consistently offered that Dish's offer is a better value, while also trying to stir up some xenophobia
-- arguing that Dish is better suited because the company "speaks English."
After taking heat from consumer groups last year for blocking Facetime video chat, AT&T made waves last week by deciding to block the new cross-platform and device video chat functionality in Google Hangouts
from running over their speedy new LTE network. As they did during the Facetime debacle, AT&T made the obscure claim that they can block any application that comes pre-loaded on a device, even if technically Hangouts doesn't come pre-loaded (AT&T's just choosing language carefully to dodge wiggle through net neutrality rule loopholes).
As we've seen with both Sprint and T-Mobile, LTE launch locations pop up well ahead of official launch markets as the companies run pre-commercial launch tests. Users now say that they're seeing T-Mobile LTE signals pop up in Detroit, Minneapolis and New York City
. Minneapolis is slated for a May launch, while both Detroit and New York City aren't officially expected to come online until June. T-Mobile previously stated they aim to cover 100 million potential customers with LTE by the middle of 2013, with 200 million potential customers covered by the end of this year.
Verizon's attempt to hang up on their copper networks in Sandy-impacted areas
has gotten more complicated after the NY Public Service Commission last week indicated hesitation at letting Verizon disconnect users state wide without first understanding the repercussions. According to regional Long Island news reports
, the PSC has granted Verizon temporary approval to pull DSL on Fire Island, NY, replacing it with Verizon's Voice Link wireless service.
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