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News tagged: AT&T


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by Karl Bode 08:21AM Tuesday Aug 26 2014
The New York Post claims that AT&T has struck a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow AT&T's $48.5 billion plan to acquire DirecTV to move forward. The report fails to specify what precise conditions the DOJ will place on the deal, though it does suggest that regulators are leaning toward approval with DOJ approval coming as soon as October.

There's no word yet on which way the FCC is leaning; the public comment period at the FCC is open until September 16.

AT&T has been making some misleading promises and volunteering their own conditions to get the deal approved. Those promises include temporary adherence to neutrality rules that don't do much, and a phantom broadband expansion promise that literally gets trotted out each time AT&T wants regulatory favors (and promptly forgotten).

AT&T's has benefited substantially from all the noise surrounding opposition to the Comcast Time Warner Cable merger, when AT&T's proposed deal may actually be worse for consumers, as in it eliminates a pay TV carrier that AT&T directly competes with.

39 comments


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by Karl Bode 06:28PM Monday Aug 25 2014
AT&T has been very interested in overseas expansion, investigating possible acquisitions of Vodafone (at least the wireless assets), European carrier EE, as well as part of Spain's Telefonica SA. Unfortunately for AT&T, it's believed that their coziness with the NSA ruffled political feathers during election season, forcing AT&T to step back earlier this year and wait. With those worries settled down, rumors have again emerged of an AT&T Vodafone bid, though the report notes AT&T's ambitions could be challenged by a counter offer from China Mobile.

9 comments


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by Karl Bode 04:21PM Thursday Aug 07 2014
Today the FCC officially opened the doors to public comment on AT&T's proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV. Users interested in providing the FCC with feedback on the potential merger can head to the FCC website and file a comment under proceeding number 14-90. AT&T has been making all manner of promises in the hopes of getting the deal approved by regulators. That includes the promise that acquiring DirecTV will result in AT&T expanding broadband service to fifteen million additional homes. I've explained how most of AT&T's promises are somewhat hollow and mirror similar, unfulfilled promises trotted out each time they look to get a deal approved (and nobody notices!).

15 comments


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by Karl Bode 02:43PM Thursday May 15 2014
Confirming rumors from earlier this month, AT&T has confirmed the company is getting very close to launching their version of higher-audio-quality voice over LTE service (VoLTE). According to an AT&T announcement, AT&T's belated VoLTE implementation will launch on May 23 "in select areas" in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and "will continue to expand on a market-by-market basis." Handset support at launch is also expected to be very limited, with VoLTE only supported on the Galaxy S4 Mini at launch, "with more devices to come." AT&T had originally stated they'd hoped to launch VoLTE before the end of 2013, though like Verizon faced delays due to interoperability issues.

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by Karl Bode 04:16PM Thursday May 01 2014
AT&T recently threatened to take their ball and go home (read: not participate in the upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction) if the government imposed rules trying to ensure that smaller competitors weren't blocked by larger carriers when it comes to grabbing valuable spectrum. After meeting with FCC officials AT&T appears to have changed their tune, now insisting that "our desire to participate in this auction and our hope for a successful auction is unchanged."

What happened? The FCC released a few more details on the spectrum auction process, making it clear that initially, nobody will be blocked from bidding on spectrum:
quote:
When the auction reaches a “trigger” point that the Commission will set in advance of the auction – largely based on meeting a price threshold – wireless providers with a dominant low-band position in a license area will be constrained from bidding on a few “reserved” spectrum blocks.
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by Karl Bode 06:40PM Wednesday Apr 09 2014
We've discussed at length how AT&T's "IP transition" is being framed as some sort of evolutionary transition toward a "glorious all-IP future," but is really largely about AT&T gutting regulations in order to hang up on POTS and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade. After Verizon used Sandy as an excuse to refuse to upgrade their own unwanted POTS and DSL customers, the FCC stepped in to mandate two small IP transition trials to help analyze what kind of problems we can expect as users are cut off from the PSTN and pushed on to wireless.
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by Karl Bode 09:14AM Thursday Mar 20 2014
Back in June of 2010, you might recall that a security hole in AT&T's website allowed two individuals to gain access to the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of 3G Apple iPads, including "dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians." A group calling itself Goatse Security at the time claimed responsibility for the "hack," which in addition to e-mail addresses resulted the group obtaining user ICC-IDs -- used to identify their specific iPad on the AT&T network.

One of those two individuals responsible for obtaining the data was Andrew Auernheimer (aka "Weev") an Internet-famous troll who was recently convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.
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by Karl Bode 12:34PM Friday Mar 14 2014
As we've frequently discussed, AT&T and Verizon are in the process of going state by state gutting consumer protections on DSL and landlines in preparation of hanging up on users they don't want to upgrade. This has been pitched by the carriers as part of the "IP transition" and states are often told by killing consumer protections they'll see better and greater networks than ever.
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by Karl Bode 02:12PM Friday Feb 28 2014
AT&T today announced that their first "IP transition" trials as the company eyes shutting down its copper networks will occur in West Delray Beach, Florida (Kings Point) and Carbon Hill, Alabama. According to an AT&T announcement, these locations will be the sites of multi-year trials with FCC oversight aimed at studying the impact of migrating away from copper networks and the PSTN.
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by Karl Bode 10:28AM Thursday Feb 20 2014
It looks like that new round of AT&T U-Verse rate hikes won't come without some small benefits. User Darknessfall See Profile directs our attention to the fact that AT&T appears to have boosted upstream speeds ever so slightly on several of the company's U-Verse broadband tiers. AT&T's Max Turbo U-verse tier (24 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up) now offers 5 Mbps upstream. The company's Max Plus (18 Mbps down, 1.5 Mbps up) now offers 2 Mbps upstream. According to this ongoing discussion thread in our forums, it's unclear if any of the company's faster tiers will also be seeing upstream boosts (I've dropped a line to check).

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by Karl Bode 12:22PM Thursday Jan 30 2014
The FCC today voted unanimously to begin conducting voluntary trials to ensure a relatively smooth and reasonable transition away from the PSTN and copper networks. The push for such trials began in earnest after Verizon refused to repair the DSL and copper POTS lines of hurricane Sandy victims, instead forcing them to instead use an inferior wireless-based product known as VoiceLink, which doesn't work with alarm systems, has numerous glitches, and doesn't provide data connectivity.
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by Karl Bode 04:21PM Wednesday Jan 29 2014
At the same time that T-Mobile is running what's actually a pretty funny bogus press release in several major papers mocking AT&T, AT&T is announcing a new promotion aimed at keeping customers from defecting to T-Mobile. According to the AT&T announcement and promotion website, AT&T is offering users a $100 credit for every new smartphone, tablet, feature phone, mobile hotspot or Wireless Home Phone line of service they add to their account. According to AT&T, the promotion runs through March 31.

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by Karl Bode 02:51PM Monday Jan 27 2014
As a sort of counter-point to former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps' claim that we should classify ISPs as common carriers to preserve net neutrality, the EFF has penned a blog post effectively arguing that the FCC really isn't going to save us from network neutrality violations because they're a broken agency in the pockets of industry. Unlock Copps, the EFF fears that giving the FCC any additional authority opens the door toward even worse rules and regulations:
quote:
In light of these threats it is tempting to reach for easy solutions.
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by Karl Bode 12:23PM Friday Jan 17 2014
As expected, the Obama Administration today outlined (pdf) a series of NSA surveillance reforms that, while featuring small improvements on very select issues, fall far short of the 47 reforms recommended by his own advisory panel, or those pushed for by privacy and civil liberty advocates. Among some of the changes Obama stated the government will take moving forward:

• The government will no longer hold on to collected "metadata" (tags on call times, participants) themselves, meaning the phone companies will hold it (raw recordings and data wasn't included in this promise).
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by Karl Bode 10:17AM Thursday Jan 16 2014
For years we've talked about how AT&T's long-festering plan to introduce a "1-800 number for mobile data" was a pretty bad idea, given it gave more power to AT&T, while giving the biggest content companies with the deepest pockets an unfair advantage over smaller content companies and startups. Last week AT&T formally introduced the idea under the moniker of "Sponsored Data," heavily playing up the benefit of having select content (ESPN, etc.) not count against a user's usage cap.
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by Karl Bode 05:06PM Monday Jan 13 2014
AT&T is planning to spend much of this year focused on deploying small cells to high traffic locations such as malls, stadiums and large urban parks, in order to ease congestion and improve wireless network performance. As Kevin Fitchard at GigaOM explains, AT&T Associate VP of Small Cells Gordon Mansfield has spent much of the past year tinkering with small cells in every possible way (from right next to a competitors' small cell, to right next to an AT&T U-Verse modem) to eliminate potential interference or technical problems. AT&T plans to install 40,000 of the devices nationwide by the end of 2015, and their small cell deployment when completed will be among the largest in the world.

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by tmpchaos 05:14PM Monday Jan 06 2014
Their press release indicates that it will be like a toll-free phone call, or like free shipping, but it will likely be more like advertising supported content.

"With the new Sponsored Data service, data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company; the customer simply enjoys their content via AT&T’s wireless data network.
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by Karl Bode 08:43AM Wednesday Dec 11 2013
AT&T last week unveiled their new mobile share value plans, aimed at getting users off contract and driving them to larger, more expensive data plans. The service was in response to T-Mobile, though AT&T continues to insist that T-Mobile is having no effect on their pricing strategies.
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by Karl Bode 08:36AM Tuesday Dec 10 2013
Last month AT&T and Verizon shareholders pressured the two companies into detailing their cooperation with the NSA, arguing that their relationship with the agency harmed consumer trust, and therefore the companies as a whole. AT&T's response to those investors? It's none of your business. In a letter sent to investors this week, AT&T stated that its dealings with the NSA were "ordinary business matters" not subject to shareholder approval, and that "protecting customer privacy is a management function" not involving shareholders. As such, AT&T says they'd prefer it if any mention of the NSA was excluded from the ballot for AT&T’s annual shareholder meeting next spring.

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by Karl Bode 12:41PM Friday Nov 29 2013
Back in April, wireless carriers and the government announced that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
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