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Some AT&T U-Verse users in our forums
say that an emergency alert warning appears to have hijacked their cable boxes, preventing them from changing the channel. Users say the alert switches them to a local channel to receive the alert, but the alert doesn't appear to deliver any information of note. Unplugging and rebooting set top boxes doesn't appear to fix the problem.
Austin news outlet KXAN says they've been forced to run an additional crawl
telling users there's no emergency. I've reached out to AT&T to ask for additional detail on why it's happening and how many subscribers it's impacting (we've seen complaints from users in Texas, North Carolina and Atlanta so far).Update
: AT&T hasn't explained the cause or scope of the issue, but did offer up this short statement:
Earlier today U-verse TV customers may have received an Emergency Alert notification. We confirmed that there is no emergency at this time and we are investigating why this occurred. We apologize for any inconvenience.
: A second statement from AT&T gets more specific:
A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) investigation indicates that a nationally syndicated radio show not affiliated with AT&T accidently sent a message over the National Emergency Alert System.
For years many of our more "serious" rural users have chosen to give their business to Verizon Wireless reseller Millenicom
, since they've continued offering larger data allotments and unlimited options (they're a "no drama
" company to quote one of our forum users). The plans were particularly popular among more rural users, whose only alternative is often very expensive and heavily capped satellite service, heavily capped LTE, or dial-up.
One thing of particular note to our readers during Apple's unveiling of new iPads
yesterday is the new Apple SIM, which Apple didn't mention at all -- yet most analysts believe has a real chance to disrupt the industry. Installed on iPads with embedded Wi-Fi and cellular radios, Apple notes
their new Apple SIM allows users to float between carriers without having to replace the SIM card.
Users in our forums
note that Verizon has started pushing out a new software update for the company's FiOS TV set top boxes that again significantly revamps what was already one of the more popular guides in the industry. Users in the thread offer up numerous images illustrating the graphical changes in IMG 1.9.7, which an insider says is being deployed currently only on Cisco and Motorola boxes starting today in New York and Pennsylvania.
ISPs have already been whining quite a bit
about the fact that the FCC wants to raise the current minimum definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up -- to something ranging from 10 to 25 Mbps. Now AT&T and Verizon are whining about the possibility that the FCC would like to make sure bandwidth caps are considered when defining the quality of a broadband connection.
In the midst of bendgate
comes the news that Apple's latest iOS 8 patch came with numerous bugs, including one that caused problems with the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, and another that disrupted cellular functionality. After Apple's forums filled with complaints
and users struggled to roll back the update
, Apple wound up pulling the patch entirely. "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update," Apple said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal
. "We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”
Back in May Verizon proclaimed
that when they did finally launch voice over LTE (VoLTE), the higher-quality voice service would arrive on a "robust" assortment of handsets. This week Verizon announced
that VoLTE, or what they're calling Advanced Calling 1.0
has launched, though for now it's only available on two phones
In a sane world, protecting the Internet marketplace from giant ISPs who've all-but purchased the government would be a bi-partisan issue
, since everybody benefits from a healthy, vibrant broadband industry. But this isn't a sane world, and net neutrality over the last decade has become a highly toxic, partisan issue with Republicans generally against neutrality rules, and Democrats generally in favor of them (even if neither side understands half of the technical issues being discussed).
Cincinnati Bell will join the 1 Gbps speed club on September 8 when the company officially begins offering 1 Gbps speeds at a 12 month promo rate of $90 a month to residential subscribers. The company's website
for their "FiOptics" service is quick to point out this "20X faster than Time Warner Cable’s fastest internet speeds for residential customers" (TWC's "Maxx" upgrades currently top out at 300 Mbps). As with most 1 Gbps announcements these days
, Cincinnati Bell has yet to mention specific deployment neighborhoods for the launch or the total number of users they'll cover; the company tells the Cincinnati Enquirer
that the focus is currently on marketing the service and "creating awareness that this is the new Cincinnati Bell."
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile's Isis NFC-based mobile payment service was already struggling, with many users either simply not interested in the idea of using their smartphone as a debit card, already using other services, or simply never having heard of it
. Now things are more complicated, with the service suddenly sharing its name with a violent iraqi uprising dominating the newswires (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS).
T-Mobile has announced that the company will be pushing MetroPCS 10 new markets across the country this fall. According to a company press release
, since acquiring the prepaid carrier, T-Mobile has taken MetroPCS from just over 6,000 points of sale in 15 metropolitan markets to nearly 11,000 points of sale in 55 metropolitan areas. This latest market expansion includes Chattanooga, Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick and Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News.
Netflix has thrown their support behind cities eager to build their own broadband without interference from incumbent ISPs and lobbyists. In a filing with the FCC
, Netflix argues that the FCC can and should over-rule states like Tennessee, North Carolina and elsewhere, which have allowed ISPs to literally write the state telecom laws prohibiting towns and cities from improving their own broadband networks -- even in cases where nobody else will.
Popular Science serves up an interesting read
about the discovery of fake "towers" that are being used to surreptitiously intercept cell phone traffic. ESD America offers a product they call the GSMK Cryptophone 500, which is essentially a Galaxy S III running modified hardware and a modified, more-secure version of Android -- which the company states purges 468 vulnerabilities from the traditional Android build.
The FCC today announced that Verizon would be settling a privacy investigation into the company's business practices with a $7.4 million fine, the largest privacy-related settlement in the agency's history. According to the FCC announcement
, Verizon failed to notify approximately two million new customers of their privacy rights -- or how to opt out of Verizon marketing -- before those users had their personal information used to market products and services to them.
For months now Netflix has claimed that the largest ISPs have intentionally let their peering points get congested so that Netflix would be forced to pay them for direct interconnection (an argument companies like Level 3 and Cogent support
). So why is Netflix paying AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast for these links if they feel they're being railroaded?
According to Netflix filings made with the government
(hat tip to Quartz
), the company was beginning to lose customers who were told by Comcast Netflix was responsible for the problems:
“For many [Comcast] subscribers, the bitrate was so poor that Netflix’s streaming video service became unusable,” he writes, then notes that Comcast reps eventually told subscribers to take their beef to Netflix. “Those customers complained to Netflix and some of them canceled their Netflix subscription on the spot, citing the unacceptable quality of Netflix’s video streams and Netflix’s inability to do anything to change the situation."
You'll recall that when Netflix started giving impacted customers warning message blaming ISPs, Verizon rather quickly threatened to file a lawsuit
, insisting they
were the ones losing customers over the fracas. The FCC launched an investigation
into whether incumbent ISPs were acting anti-competitively back in June.
On the heels of a recent RootMetrics study
that lauded Verizon as having the fastest, largest and most reliable network, the company is again receiving praise from JD Power and Associates. According to a new JD power study
(pdf), Verizon ranked highest in wireless network quality in five geographic regions (Northeast, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West), while AT&T ranked highest in one geographic region (Mid-Atlantic).
Earlier this month Moody's investment service predicted that the cable industry's broadband subscribers should pass the total number of cable industry TV customers sometime next year
. But according to the latest data from Leichtman Research Group
, that has already happened -- at least when analyzing subscriber data from the largest cable operators.
The US broadband industry has spent years now trying to argue the United States broadband market is secretly flawless, awesome and highly competitive, despite the fact that absolutely every independent source of broadband data (from Akamai
and the FCC
to the OECD
and OOkla's Net Index
) suggests we're absolutely and utterly mediocre at every metric that counts.
Thanks to napping regulators, apathy, and a poorly-informed public, the lack of competition continues to be the primary reason for our mediocrity.
After Google Fiber announced their expansion plans to Austin, AT&T rushed to announce that they too would be offering 1 Gbps service in the weird city. There were of course caveats for AT&T's service, including a bevy of fees not included in Google Fiber connections and a $30 surcharge
if you refused to have your online behavior tracked and monetized.
For much of the last year or so, rumors have surfaced that AT&T was very interested in a European expansion, and was considering acquiring (just) the wireless assets of Vodafone in a deal that could have been worth an estimated $124 billion
. However, in January AT&T issued a statement indicating
that the company had no plans to acquire Vodafone -- at least anytime during the next six months.
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