Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, has published an open letter in several newspapers calling on Congress to “pass laws governing how ISPs and internet companies do business in order to protect consumers,” reports Government Technology.
Stephenson argued that it is Congress, not the FCC or regulator commissions, who should determine the rules to ensure all internet companies and consumers are treated equally. And while this does sound awfully noble, it is not entirely without self-interest. AT&T – like many carriers – has faced regulations that other service providers, like Facebook and Google, have not been subjected to.
Stephenson also points out that the changing nature of the FCC makes it harder for companies to operate. “It is time for Congress to end the debate once and for call, by writing new laws that govern the internet and protect consumers,” he writes.
Of course, internet issues like net neutrality will only gain more attention and concern as the internet continues to assert its place in every aspect of life. Do you think an Internet Bill of Rights is necessary?
The telecommunications world has started off with a bang in 2018 with the full acceptance of AT&T’s FirstNet public safety network in the United States. Fifty states and three U.S territories have now opted in to the 25-year deployment plan.
According to GCN, “Last March FirstNet chose AT&T to build its nationwide public-safety wireless broadband network, which will be funded with $6.5 billion of government money and a planned $43 million expenditure by AT&T. The telecom giant gets access to highly desirable spectrum reserved for the system, which it can use on its commercial service when not in demand by priority users.”
You can see why FirstNet is desirable on both sides, despite initial hesitation from many states across the country. AT&T set December 28, 2017 as the deadline for states and territories to opt in. On that day, AT&T announced that all 50 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia had chosen FirstNet. However, some of the country’s big players – California, Florida, and New York – waited until the final day to announce their decision. For the territories that have yet to decide – American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands – they have been given until March to make a choice, according to FirstNet.
“We are grateful to have every state say ‘yes’ to the FirstNet solution,” said Michael Poth, FirstNet CEO. “The scale of participation by the states and territories is significant for many reasons.”
According to BGR, anyone looking for a cheap, easy, SIM-only plan on the vast AT&T network might find some great options with the carrier’s new prepaid plans.
As noticed by Fierce Telecom, AT&T’s GoPhone prepaid offerings have been rebranded to AT&T PrePaid. There is also the introduction of a new offering; $35/1GB per month. It includes unlimited talk and text in the United States on top of the 1GB of data at 128kbps of speed. If you’re not a heavy data user, this is a good option, as it is easily AT&T’s cheapest plan.
The next available plan is $45/6GB, with free roaming in the United States and Canada. 6GB is usually enough data for the average user, and the roaming perk is a rare perk in most prepaid plans. Most unlimited data plans start at $70 a month, so if you think you can keep yourself under 6GB, this plan could save you money.
Not all of the plans are great. BGR recommends steering clear of the $60/Unlimited data rate. “It’s far from unlimited: your speeds are capped at 3Mbps, and there’s a soft cap of 22GB of data per month, after which you may be subject to throttling. For that much per month, the postpaid unlimited plans from Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint offer way better service for very little extra,” BGR explains.
If you’re interested in these plans, they’re all listed on the carrier’s website under the original GoPhone title.
International roaming is a hot button issue for customers who love to travel, especially considering the vast differences between carriers. For example, T-Mobile customers have been able to roam for free in over 100 countries since 2013, while AT&T users are subject to AT&T Passport, which starts at $40 a month for 200 MB of data. According to The Verge, AT&T wants to improve this, and has recently announced its new ten dollar day pass for international roaming, which will help reduce costs for some customers.
With the new program, customers purchase the international day pass to unlock their domestic plan abroad for a 24-hours. If that customer has an unlimited calling and texting plan, that is what they would have for that day. On top of that, any data they use comes off their domestic data plan. The only catch is that if the usage abroad exceeds 50 percent of the plan for two consecutive months, privileges may be revoked.
The day pass is sold per device, so family plans will require separate passes for each mobile device, while still keeping an eye on the collective data consumption. This isn’t a great option if you’re going backpacking through Europe for the summer, but if you have a quick business trip or resort vacation abroad, customers might find the value in a day pass. Day passes become available on January 27th.
If you cross the U.S.-Canada border often for work, family, or whatever the reason, having a second phone to save on roaming fees may not be your best option. AT&T is now offering free roaming in Canada and Mexico to subscribers on a share plan of 15GB or higher. Considering how expensive roaming can get, this is a big deal for frequent travelers.
To break it down, it would be $100 a month for the 15GB plan plus $15 for the phone line, adding up to $115 a month, or $150 CAD. This is less expensive than any of Canada’s Big Three carriers’ 15GB plans. Bell and Rogers charge $155 CAD for the same, while Telus doesn’t offer a 15GB plan, but passes the $150 mark at 10GB.
“Around 20 percent of our postpaid base travels to Mexico or Canada once per year,” AT&T chief marketing officer, David Christopher, was quoted as saying in a press release. “This is a fantastic benefit for customers that will only get better.”
AT&T’s new roaming rates will begin May 20.
*Source: Mobile Syrup
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are launching parallel probes into the mobile industry’s security update practices. The agencies want to determine how manufacturers issue security updates for mobile devices, and how carriers review and release the patches.
“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” stated an FCC press release.
“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.”
In all, the FTC has contacted eight companies – Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung – to gain insight into how manufacturers determine if a vulnerability needs to be patched. It has also asked for a list of all devices offered for sale since 2013, with information on any bugs that have impacted them and any fixes that were issued.
The main concern is that delays in developing patches may be leaving devices unprotected. Older devices may never receive the necessary protection.
AT&T is preparing to jump into the streaming game, expecting to launch a new television service later this year. According to CNN, AT&T will offer TV bundles via an app that will include exclusive content.
Subscribers needn’t be an existing AT&T customer, though there will be incentives for those who double or triple up.
“We’ll be offering a more convincing value, in terms of pricing, if you’re bundling the products together, and we’ll have features that make them work better together,” AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey was quoted as saying.
There is no official launch date yet but the new service is expected to be available sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016. Competitors aren’t sure whether AT&T can pull it off, but if they can, there’s a good chance it could create another revenue stream for the telecom giant.
The results are in: T-Mobile is the top performing carrier in the United States, says OpenSignal’s recently released State of Mobile Networks report. According to the testing firm’s data, T-Mobile has increased its LTE coverage by 81 percent, bringing it in line with big players like Verizon.
“Verizon is still the operator to beat when it comes to network reliability, but T-Mobile is squaring off against the super-carrier in download speed,” states OpenSignal’s report. “Nationally both operators are averaging 4G connections of 12 Mbps, and in a speed comparison in the 11 largest U.S. cities, T-Mobile just barely edged out Verizon. AT&T and Sprint hardly even factored in the contest.”
T-Mobile was recognized with three awards: 3G latency, 3G download speed and 4G download speed. Verizon slid in second place with nods for its 4G coverage and download speeds. It was bad news for AT&T and Sprint, which fell far behind in just about every category.
To learn more, check out the full OpenSignal report.
It’s baaaaaack. Five years after scrapping it, AT&T has launched a new unlimited data plan for customers with DIRECTV or U-Verse, offering unlimited data, talk and text for $100 per month.
Couples and families can add two smartphones to the plan for $40 each, with the fourth phone added at no additional cost. AT&T is wooing television subscribers who aren’t currently wireless customers by offering $500 in credits, while wireless subscribers without a satellite package can add DIRECTV for $19.99 per month. Combining your bills will shave off another $10 per month.
It’s interesting to see AT&T utilizing its unlimited offering to boost TV subscriptions, an area that is faltering with many people choosing to cut the cord for good. AT&T says it plans to launch more integrated video and mobility plans in 2016. Stay tuned.
If AT&T has its way, collect calls will soon be a thing of the past. In a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing, the communications giant asked for the discontinuation of several legacy services, including collect calling, Busy Line Verification, Busy Line Interruption, person-to-person calling, billed to a third party and international directory assistance.
The reason is simple: there is no customer demand for the services, says AT&T. Operator assistance calls have declined 18 percent per year for several years, and traffic volumes have plummeted 93 percent since 2004.
“… On average, AT&T has experienced more than an 18.7 percent decline in the volumes of these services over the last two years,” states the filing. “These services have declined in popularity over the years due to the growth of other communication methods, including mobile phones, text messaging, email and other social media applications.”
The times, they are a changin’.