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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.
The FTC notes that AT&T has throttled at least 3.5 million unique customers a total of more than 25 million times, often reducing their speeds 80 to 90% slower than their advertised speeds. The throttling wasn't "intelligent" and occurred no matter the congestion load, the FTC states.
The FTC complaint says AT&T violated the FTC Act by changing the terms of customers’ unlimited data plans while those customers were still under contract, and by "failing to adequately disclose the nature of the throttling program to consumers who renewed their unlimited data plans."
"AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a prepared statement. "The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited."
AT&T, like Verizon, has since eliminated unlimited plans while waging a not particularly subtle war
against grandfathered unlimited customers in the hopes of driving them to more expensive shared data options. That has not only included throttling those users, but at times preventing them from using core device functionality such as video chat services
, something this FTC complaint doesn't even address.
This is the second time in a month AT&T has fallen under hard scrutiny of the FTC, having struck a $105 million settlement
for aiding in customer scamming and cramming earlier this month.
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."
It's fairly obvious that Google Fiber's entry into the broadband market has made significant waves. While the actual deployments have been limited (with only just Kansas City significantly online just yet), the service's very presence has rekindled debate over the abysmal state of broadband competition in the United States. story continues..
AT&T has a very long history of working to prevent towns and cities from wiring themselves with broadband, even in cases where nobody else will. This history goes way back to when we used to discuss how AT&T (then SBC) and Comcast would try to ruin municipal broadband efforts by using push polls
that would ask questions implying that taxpayer funds would be used for pornography
, ban access to religious programming, or result in government rationing your TV usage
Frontier's $2 billion attempt to acquire AT&T’s local wireline, broadband and video operations in Connecticut (originally announced last December
) seemed to have been going swimmingly, recently gaining approval by the FCC
and even union leaders that had originally opposed the deal
. But the deal appears to have hit a snag in the form of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), which has denied a deal settlement
the companies reached with state officials.
PURA argues that the deal's conditions don't mean much, and the deal doesn't do enough to benefit Connecticut consumers:
But the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said in a filing Thursday that the settlement, as drafted by Connecticut's Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz, does not do enough for state residents. Instead, regulators sent the parties back to the drawing board, saying the settlement's provisions contained "merit for further discussion in an effort to rehabilitate them wherever possible."...Proposed broadband internet investments lack specifics, they said...
The deal is still expected to ultimately move forward; meetings on hammering out updated technical specifics of the deal are expected this month.
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.
Add Jacksonville to the growing list of AT&T markets where the company will selectively deploy 1 Gbps U-Verse "Gigapower" service. According to the latest AT&T announcement
, Jacksonville will join the list of planned AT&T cities, which so far includes Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Charlotte, Houston, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, and Winston-Salem and Miami. As with all the announcements, AT&T says that "specific locations of availability and pricing for the Jacksonville market will be announced at a later date." As noted previously
, these deployments will primarily focus on a very select number of high-end development communities, though AT&T's getting ample marketing mileage in their PR battle with Google Fiber. Update
: Cuppertino in Silicon Valley
is also being named as a Gigapower market.
AT&T's flurry of cities where the company will offer limited deployments of 1 Gbps speeds continues, with the announcement
that Miami will also be a GigaPower market. As with previous announcements for Dallas, San Antonio and Nashville
, the announcement lacks any meaningful detail, AT&T simply stating that "specific locations of availability and pricing for the Miami market will be announced at a later date." Before Miami locals get too excited, you might want to read why these latest announcements by AT&T are a bit of a bluff
, and will focus primarily on only a select few high-end developments, college dorms and apartments.
While Verizon's legal victory over the FCC did gut the agency's net neutrality rules, it kept some of the FCC's authority over ISPs intact -- specifically the agency's transparency rules
-- which require that ISPs be straightforward about the "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms" of their broadband services.
In a statement issued today
, the FCC "reminded" wireline and wireless ISPs alike that those rules are still intact and need to be adhered to, lest the agency lightly slap a wrist or two -- maybe.
Senator Al Franken has been a very vocal opponent of Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and now the Senator is taking aim at AT&T's attempted acquisition of DirecTV. In a letter
(pdf) to regulators concerning the merger, Franken warns to take AT&T promises like offering standalone broadband services with a grain of salt.
Though AT&T states that the increased programming negotiations leverage they'll gain from acquiring DirecTV should generate 20% cost savings for the company, AT&T wasn't able to promise lawmakers that consumers would see any price reductions if the deal is allowed to continue. When asked if any of these cost savings would be passed on to consumers, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said no, in a convoluted fashion
Antitrust panels in both the House and Senate met today to "debate" (that term is used loosely) AT&T's proposed $48 billion acquisition of DirecTV. According to statements made by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson
(pdf), the deal is about "meeting consumer demand." Stephson reiterated AT&T's position that eliminating a pay TV competitor somehow creates more competition, and that the deal would somehow expand broadband penetration.
Confirming earlier leaks, the Wall Street Journal
indicates that Amazon's new smartphone will indeed be an AT&T exclusive, and may be the first example of AT&T's controversial "Sponsored Data" idea. While the Journal doesn't discuss this, previous leaks have suggested that Amazon is offering something called "Prime Data
" for the device, which might allow users to access things like the Amazon store without impacting their usage cap.
Superficially some might find such a deal appealing, but it sets a dangerous precedent
when it comes to AT&T power over the application and content ecosystem. We should get more detail tomorrow after the official announcement.
Back in April, AT&T stated they were in advanced talks
with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to offer Gigapower over the region's core fiber ring, which was constructed with the cooperation of numerous companies. AT&T now says they've ratified an agreement with the City of Winston-Salem
to offer 1 Gbps service in parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions, with pending ratification looming for Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh.
For years DirecTV has paid billions for the exclusive, out of market rights for NFL games, allowing the company to offer every game via their costly Sunday Ticket option. The exclusive deal has historically kept the NFL in the dark ages in terms of joining other leagues (MLB) in the modern era and offering broadband game streams. story continues..
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