Remember how the broadband and wireless industries have been claiming that Title II net neutrality rules will chill network investment? Well that doesn't appear to be a problem when it came to the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. The auction just closed with an FCC record $44.899 billion in total bids
. While bids are confidential for now (probably until February when payment is due), most analysts believe that AT&T and Verizon grabbed the lion's share of the spectrum
, with T-Mobile and Dish also making a much more modest investment.
AT&T's fourth quarter earnings
indicate that the company's U-Verse related growth is slowing rapidly as the company shifts the lion's share of attention (and money
) toward wireless. AT&T said the company added just 73,000 U-verse TV customers in the fourth quarter, down from the 216,000 added in the third quarter and the 194,000 subscribers added during the quarter a year ago. AT&T fared much better on the broadband front, adding 405,000 net broadband users during the fourth quarter.
Hoping few would notice, AT&T's filing with the SEC last Friday
notes that the telecom giant will be taking a $10 billion hit on fourth quarter earnings. According to AT&T, $7.9 billion of that total is "related to actuarial gains and losses on pension and postemployment benefit plans." The specific nature of those losses? The company's ex-employees are living longer than company projections estimated (or as AT&T puts it, they've had to "update mortality assumptions").
Both US Senator Richard Blumenthal and Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel held a press conference this week urging customers to claim their refunds in the cramming settlements recently struck with AT&T and T-Mobile. AT&T's $105 million settlement
was struck in October, after the government showed AT&T not only ignored the scamming of its own customers, but intentionally made bills harder to read to try and obscure the cramming.
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 (plain old telephone) and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade
. The name of the game is terminating these unwanted users and pushing them users toward significantly more expensive (and capped) LTE wireless service.
According to the latest data from wireless research firm RootMetrics
, Verizon Wireless still takes the speed crown, despite significant improvements in particular by T-Mobile. The firm's latest study broke the country down into eight geographical regions, then studied the maximum upstream and downstream speeds delivered by each of the big four carriers.
After recently taking a $170 million hit for poor sales of their Fire smartphone, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices David Limp has acknowledged the company screwed up the pricing
of the device -- which initially cost $200 with a new two-year contract. Omitted from that admission is the fact that Amazon also made the device an AT&T exclusive, which only worked to compound lackluster sales.
While Amazon previously admitted their errors, this week the company made it clear that their experimentation with Fire phones is far from over. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos this week kind of backtracked on those admissions, indicating that the company is cooking up some additional Fire phone versions
Bezos said on Tuesday at Business Insider’s conference in New York that “it’s going to take several iterations” before he’ll be able to judge the Fire phone, the device that led to Amazon taking a $170 million write-down. "Ask me in some number of years,” he told interviewer Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, in which Bezos is an investor.
It's certainly possible Amazon could make headway in the smartphone market, but it would certainly be wise if for their next act they ditched the AT&T exclusive and offered a better spec'd phone with less of a heavy reliance on gimmick.
Earlier this month story continues..
AT&T responded to the President's clear support of Title II by bluffing and claiming they were freezing all fiber investment to "up to" 100 cities. If you've been around here for a while you know that AT&T's plans to deploy fiber to 100 cities was always a heavy dose of smoke and mirrors to begin with
, the company in reality repeatedly slashing their fixed-line investment projections (they had just cut fixed-line spending CAPEX by $3 billion just three days before the President's announcement).
AT&T and Verizon continue to tinker with pricing and promotions on their most expensive tiers as they try to counter T-Mobile disruption without entering into an all out price war. According to AT&T's latest announcement
, the company is bumping the data allotment of their 10 GB Mobile Share plan to 15 GB at no additional cost. The plan currently runs users $100 a month (plus assorted fees and service charges) for 10 GB of data, unlimited voice and unlimited SMS. The promotion is available to new and existing AT&T customers starting today, and is running for an unspecified "limited time."
Back in April AT&T announced that they'd be trying to shake up GoGo's dominance of the in-flight broadband market by offering a competing product of their own
. At the time, AT&T stated the company would work with Honeywell to build "an innovative air-to-ground network in the continental United States" that would launch sometime in the latter half of 2015, with the ultimate goal of "transforming in-flight connectivity."
Apparently, said transformation won't be happening.
Add AT&T to the list of companies and individuals who don't much like the FCC's "hybrid" net neutrality framework. As previously noted
, the FCC is considering leaving the last mile largely deregulated to avoid a larger legal battle, but classifying the interconnection points between ISPs and content companies under Title II.
Both Verizon and AT&T today announced that the carriers would be unveiling VoLTE interoperability in 2015 that will allow higher-audio call quality VoLTE customers on both carriers to talk to one another. Interoperability between devices and carriers, in addition to battery life concerns, have been the primary culprits in the delay of broader VoLTE deployment. According to Verizon's press announcement
, both companies have been working closely together on field trials that should result in seamless, higher-quality communications between the two networks next year:
Engineers from both companies are working through a full set of requirements, beginning with extensive testing in lab environments and then moving to field trials. This approach ensures customers will have a seamless experience making VoLTE HD Voice calls between networks and lays the foundation for interoperability of other Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calls, rich messaging, and more in the future.
After several delays Verizon officially launched VoLTE in early September
, though initially only via two devices -- a number that has since jumped to six (The Galaxy S5, LG G2, Motorola Droid Maxx, Droid Mini, and both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus).
Responding to continued pricing tweaks by Sprint and T-Mobile, AT&T has again shaken up the company's shared data plan pricing, adding larger allotments to several of the company's higher-end plans. According to an AT&T announcement
, AT&T is bumping the 2 GB allotment on the company's $40 Mobile Share Value plan to 3 GB. They're also bumping the 4 GB allotment on the company's $70 Mobile Share Value plan to 6 GB. AT&T says they've also extended their Double the Data offer on Mobile Share Value plans with allotments ranging from 15 GB to 50 GB until November 15. A breakdown of their offerings can be found below:
Earlier this week we noted that AT&T's handoff of their DSL and landline users to Frontier in Connecticut hasn't been particularly smooth
, with a lot of customers complaining about prolonged DSL and TV outages. As the week has rolled on the outages seem to have resolved, but the company's Facebook page
is littered with apologies for a wide variety of continuing issues, from DVR and VOD problems, to heavy pixelation of TV signal.
The FTC today announced they've filed a complaint against AT&T for the company's longstanding practice of promising "unlimited" data, only to significantly throttle back customer connections. According to the FTC press announcement
, an FTC inquiry found that while AT&T advertised unlimited data, the company in 2011 began throttling data speeds for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period.
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.
We've talked at length about how in many states, AT&T is refusing to upgrade their broadband networks -- while at the same time lobbying (and often writing) state laws banning anybody else from doing so either
. That's becoming a bigger problem than ever as AT&T hangs up on unwanted DSL users in many states
, yet leaves behind the laws they helped passed preventing those towns from improving their own infrastructure.
DSLReports regular Darknessfall
directs our attention to the fact that AT&T is running a new promotion
for U-Verse customers that offers users broadband, HBO, and a year of Amazon Prime for $40 per month. Like Comcast
, Verizon and others, AT&T has been offering a $40 broadband, HBO and limited TV bundle the hopes of appealing to (almost) cord cutters.
On the heels of T-Mobile's announcement last week
that they've started a heavy push toward Wi-Fi calling, AT&T says they'll also be offering Wi-Fi calling starting in 2015. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega stated last week the company will be offering it next year, but hasn't been in a rush because, they claim, their network coverage is good enough (unlike T-Mobile's, the CEO implied).
AT&T has sued Cox Communications, claiming that the cable operator has infringed on seven patents covering various DVR and modem technologies. In the complaint
(pdf, via Ars Technica
), AT&T alleges that Cox has avoided paying AT&T by "repeatedly delaying and rescheduling negotiations." "Given every opportunity, Cox has failed to provide substantial arguments for either non-infringement or invalidity of AT&T's patents," complains AT&T. "Cox’s conduct constitutes a steadfast refusal to take a license, even though Cox generates billions of dollars in revenue every year through its use of AT&T’s technologies."
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