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by Karl Bode 02:10PM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
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.

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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.
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by Karl Bode 02:28PM Monday Oct 27 2014
Amazon's earnings last week confirmed what most analysts have been guessing for several months: Amazon's smartphone is a dud. A combination of uninteresting gimmicks and AT&T exclusivity hindered the phone out of the gate, and while Amazon isn't sharing the number of units sold, the company did say they took a $170 million charge on inventory commitments last quarter because of the device and is sitting on another $83 million in unsold phones.
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by Karl Bode 09:14AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport to London was delayed over the weekend -- because one of the plane's passenger's freaked out over another user's Wi-Fi SSID. According to Los Angeles ABC affiliate ABC7, a passenger on the flight became alarmed after seeing another traveler's hotspot named "Al-Quida Free Terror Network." A flight attendant was alerted, and the plane was diverted and held three hours under "security threat" and ultimately delayed until the next day. "After further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken," the airport said in a statement.

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by Karl Bode 09:00AM Monday Oct 27 2014
FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been talking a lot lately about raising the standard definition of broadband to at least 10 Mbps (for government-subsidized rural options) and 25 Mbps for everybody else. He's also been talking about how when you look at speeds of 25 Mbps higher there's little to no competition -- as most DSL providers struggle to offer that speed in any volume.
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by Karl Bode 12:17PM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
Last week saw Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's DSL and landline customers in Connecticut get final regulatory approval, but customers already are complaining about a sloppy handoff. According to the Middletown Press, the midnight weekend transfer of ownership of hundreds of thousands of customers didn't go particularly well, with an undetermined but significant number of customers losing DSL and TV service well into Monday afternoon.
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by Karl Bode 06:25PM Monday Oct 27 2014
The Donahue Report (via Multichannel News) notes that Comcast filed the trademark for the term "True Gig" on October 20, suggesting that a 1 Gbps offering from the company is likely in the works. Earlier this year company stated they'd offer 1 Gbps and higher services "as soon as possible" as the company looks to quickly deploy the DOCSIS 3.1 standard once it's complete. Comcast's current top offering is a 505 Mbps down, 100 Mbps up fiber/coaxial hybrid tier that runs users around $300 a month, comes with a $1,000 ETF, a $250 activation fee, and a $250 installation fee.

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by Karl Bode 12:29PM Monday Oct 27 2014
Verizon Wireless has started taking heat from privacy advocates for altering their customers' traffic and inserting unique identifiers that users have no control over. We've already explored how over the last two years Verizon has been ramping up data collection on its wireless customers via programs like Verizon Selects and their Relevant Mobile Ad department, which track your personal information and web habits for more tailored advertisements (that data's also sold to third parties).
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by Karl Bode 07:58AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
T-Mobile's latest earnings again confirm that being the pesky kid on the block is working in terms of adding new subscribers. The company added 2.3 million customers total and 1.4 million new postpaid subscribers on the quarter, though the company's expansion of its LTE network continues to drag on earnings. T-Mobile expects to add around 4.3 million to 4.7 million new customers this year as users respond to the company's more customer-friendly approach to doing business. "Despite our competitors' best efforts, the Un-carrier revolution made huge advances in the third quarter with record net new customers," CEO John Legere said in a statement. "More proof of the resurgent strength of our brand and the massive momentum behind the Un-carrier consumer movement."

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by Karl Bode 08:02AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
According to the latest data from ComScore, while traditional TV still rules the roost, Millenials are increasingly moving away from the classic definition of the boob tube. The survey of 1,159 TV watchers found that 24% of Millennials don't pay for traditional TV, and 46% time shift their content. 77% of younger folks are more likely than average to never have had traditional TV, and 67% are more likely than average to be a cord cutter. Unsurprisingly, older folk are more traditional. 84% of consumers between 35 and 54 spend the majority of their time watching traditional scripted shows on TV, a number that jumps to 90% among consumers who are 55 years or older.

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by Karl Bode 06:14PM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
At the beginning of the month the FCC announced that they were considering allowing over the top (OTT) video providers FCC-enforced access to vertically integrated programming. That sounds dull but it's a landmark shift that could potentially give Internet video companies the same rights as traditional cable operators.
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by Karl Bode 10:25AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
Broadcaster lawsuits have once again forced the FCC to delay their planned 600 MHz incentive auctions, this time until sometime in early 2016. According to an incentive auction progress report posted by the FCC, the agency states that "the court challenges to the auction rules by some broadcasters have introduced uncertainty" that requires the schedule shift.
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by Karl Bode 02:29PM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
It's pretty clear at this point that while consumers complain a lot about high cable prices, it's really not driving consumers away from traditional cable on a grand scale. While this won't be the case long term, users appear to be willing to pay a lot of money and even tolerate bi-annual rate hikes -- if they're treated relatively well.
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by Karl Bode 06:30PM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
After mocking other 1 Gbps deployments as "hype" that "confuses customers," Frontier Communications last week quietly started offering 1 Gbps service under the FiberHome brand to a few development communities in Durham. According to Frontier, the 1 Gbps service will run users $220 a month.
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by Karl Bode 04:07PM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
Sprint today announced that the company's faster Spark LTE upgrades have arrived in seventeen new markets. According to the company's announcement, the seventeen markets include Denver, Seattle, Columbus, Sacramento, Cleveland, and Minneapolis. The company's Spark upgrades combine Sprint's 2.5 GHz, 1900 MHz and 800 MHz bands for improved regional capacity and speeds Sprint promises should top out around 60 Mbps. Sprint says the Spark upgrades are now available in 46 markets across the country, and should be available to 100 million potential customers by the end of the year.

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by Karl Bode 10:38AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
For a moment there Apple's new AppleSIM -- which allows iPad users to easily compare plans and switch carriers without swapping out the SIM -- looked like it might be immensely disruptive. It becomes less impressive once you notice that Verizon isn't supporting the technology at all and AT&T is preventing it from working as intended.
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by Karl Bode 10:29AM Monday Oct 27 2014
For years there has been a concerted push by the broadband industry to try and insist that 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.

That's not to say we're not improving in some very select regions (thanks to things like Google Fiber, Verizon FiOS and DOCSIS 3.0), but overall we're quite indisputably, utterly average when it comes to broadband worldwide -- especially on price.
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by Karl Bode 08:26AM Monday Oct 27 2014
While Netflix and Verizon have sparred over poor (but now improved) streaming performance to the point of threatening lawsuits, that disagreement only appears to go so far. In a research note BTIG Research (registration required) indicates that Verizon is now offering new FiOS customers a $150 VISA prepaid gift card and a free year of Netflix service if they sign up for the FiOS triple play. It's an interesting move given the animosity many larger cable operators have had toward something they see as a competitor (while Netflix insists they're just a supplement to traditional cable and a competitor to services like HBO).
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Update: Verizon reached out to me to note that this is a trial offer currently only being made available in the New York City market, and is only running from 10/22-11/1.

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by Karl Bode 12:39PM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
Comcast today settled a decade-old lawsuit accusing the company of violating sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by gobbling up competitors, then using the firm's market power to aggressively raise rates on users in Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston. The preliminary settlement involves Comcast paying $16.67 million in cash and another $33 million in service discounts to current and former subscribers in Philadelphia and four nearby counties.

The settlement comes as Comcast works to soothe regulator worries that the company's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable will result in even more consolidated power.

Comcast Settlement 88281

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by Karl Bode 08:15AM Monday Oct 27 2014
Viacom has taken their retransmission fight with Suddenlink to a new, decidedly more mutated, level. According to the Charleston Gazette, Viacom has taken to using actors dressed up as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to shame Suddenlink at public events after the two sides couldn't come to terms on retransmission fees.
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by Karl Bode 09:43AM Thursday Oct 30 2014
Looking to better understand the recent traffic slowdowns experienced during interconnection feuds, M-Lab has released a new study (pdf) that analyzed transit and connection points between large last mile ISPs and transit operators such as Level3 and Cogent. While the report is clear not to affix specific blame for the sort of Netflix streaming issues seen by customers of Verizon and Comcast, they do clearly point out that the problems were the result of choices made by ISPs in their business relationships, and not congestion.
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by Karl Bode 08:58AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
Verizon is apparently getting into the news business, bankrolling a new technology news website called SugarString, which proclaims to cover "what millennials really care about today." Verizon's apparently hoping to take aim at websites like Wired and The Verge, hiring editors and writers to stock the website with content. However, as The Daily Dot points out, writers are being told they can't write about things like the NSA's domestic surveillance activities or net neutrality -- both things Verizon has more than a little role in:
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News of Verizon’s publishing venture and its strict rules first came to light to multiple reporters through recruiting emails sent last week by author and reporter Cole Stryker, who is now the editor-in-chief of SugarString.
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by Karl Bode 08:13AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
AT&T has been slowly expanding the partner list of companies involved in their "Sponsored Data" program, wherein partners' content won't count against a user's mobile usage cap. The program has been controversial among net neutrality advocates because the concept gives companies with money to burn a potential leg up against smaller competitors.
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by Karl Bode 08:06AM Thursday Oct 30 2014
"As an industry, we need a competitor - a serious competitor - to Netflix and Amazon," News Corporation Rupert Murdoch stated at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California. The problem? The company that drove MySpace into the ground has had problems competing with Netflix via services like Hulu, because to succeed they need to be disruptive -- and if they're truly disruptive they would ultimately cannibalize traditional TV viewers. As a result of this timidity, services like News Corp's Hulu wind up being little more than a glorified ads for traditional cable, unwilling to take the extra step to truly step into the ring with the rising Internet video services.

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by Karl Bode 04:27PM Monday Oct 27 2014
As noted recently, some politicians in Hungary thought it would be a good idea to not just tax the Internet -- but to tax the volume of traffic sent over the Internet specifically. According to the proposal, the upcoming proposal would set forth a tax of 150 forints (60 US cents) per gigabyte of data traffic, and while ISPs could get tax deductions to lessen the load, the obvious resulting price hikes would get passed on to the consumer. Said consumers took to protesting the proposal over the weekend. "This would be a double tax on us, as I have already paid a sky-high VAT when I bought the gadgets, computer and router," notes one rally attendee.

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by Karl Bode 04:25PM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
Chatter in our Bright House Networks forum indicates (and a press release confirms) that the company is preparing to bump the speeds available to most of their subscribers for free. The company's 10 Mbps customers are being bumped to 15 Mbps; 30 Mbps customers are being bumped to 35 Mbps; 60 Mbps customers are being nudged to 75 Mbps; and 90 Mbps customers will be pushed to 150 Mbps. Upstream speeds are staying the same. A Bright House representative in our forums states they should be completed by the end of December, and also confirms that the company is also working on deploying a faster 300 Mbps tier, though so far they haven't specified how much you'll pay for the service.

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by Revcb 07:26AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014

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by Revcb 07:56AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014

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by Revcb 07:50AM Thursday Oct 30 2014

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by Karl Bode 08:06AM Thursday Oct 30 2014
Apparently it's "huge telecom companies get in trouble for misleading behavior" week. On the heels of AT&T being sued by the FTC for misleading advertising and Comcast settling a class action for monopolistic over-billing comes the news that Verizon will be paying out $64 million for over-billing customers.
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