Archives for AT&T

Are rural Americans getting ripped off on home internet?

A big disparity across North America is access to reliable, fast internet connection. In the United States, tens of millions of consumers live in AT&T and Verizon serviced territories where they “can only buy slow DSL Internet from the companies, yet they often have to pay the same price as fiber customers who get some of the fastest broadband speeds,” says Ars Technica. This sad fact was unveiled by a new white paper written by broadband advocacy group, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

According to the white paper, “AT&T has been charging $60 a month to DSL customers for service between 6 and 10Mbps downstream and 0.6Mbps to 1Mbps upstream. AT&T also charges $60 a month for 50Mbps and 75Mbps download tiers and even for fiber service with symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100Mbps. These are the regular rates after first-year discounts end, before any extra fees and taxes.”

Likewise, Verizon “charges $65 a month for 100Mbps fiber service (including a $10 router charge), and $63 or $64 a month for DSL service that provides download speeds between 1.5Mbps and 15Mbps.”

More of less, if you’re living outside of fiber connected areas, where you have to use DSL service, then you are being sold a slower, less reliable product for the same price as a better product that you cannot access.

The NDIA calls this practice “tier flattening.” Tier flattening impacts “both urban and rural customers who live in areas where AT&T and Verizon haven’t upgraded networks because they face no competition, or because the upgrades wouldn’t result in higher profits.”

The NDIA points out that this practice “imposes higher rates on millions of urban households who are relegated to slow ADSL technology by AT&T’s documented ‘digital redlining’ of lower-income neighborhoods as well as Verizon’s refusal to deploy broadband upgrades in some entire cities like Baltimore and Buffalo” and “victimizes millions of underserved households in the two companies’ rural service areas.”

Although AT&T did not dispute these facts, it told Ars Technica that the white paper was “misleading.” It said, “Attempting to assess Internet service offerings by only looking at standard rates does not give a complete picture; the Internet service market is more competitive than ever and most customers make their purchases at bundled and discounted rates. The claims made in this report are completely misleading and do not reflect all options available to consumers.”

The carrier also explained that DSL service has “higher costs of maintenance and fewer subscribers.”

Whether or not you agree with the carriers’ pricing models, delivering affordable internet to underserved areas continues to be a problem. As CNET points out, “Nearly 24 million Americans do not have access to broadband with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and uploads of 3 Mbps.”

Source: $50 a month for 1Mbps: How AT&T and Verizon rip off DSL customers – arstechnica.com
Published: August 2, 2018

More cities will be revealing 5G service from AT&T

Wondering when 5G service will be coming to your city? On July 19th, AT&T announced three more cities where the company plans to launch a 5G network by the end of 2018. According to CNBC, these are Oklahoma City, Charlotte, NC, and Raleigh, NC. Previously, AT&T had promised the same to Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas.

AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Feutsch said Oklahoma City, Charlotte, and Raleigh were chosen “based on where the company already held spectrum, or airwaves that carry data, and were open to AT&T installing the necessary infrastructure.”

“We worked with the cities that embraced the technology,” Fuetsch has stated in an interview.

AT&T has also said it will be introducing six more cities to this program. Although the promise AT&T has made is to deliver 5G to the original six cities, and perhaps six more, by the end of the year, the company has declined to disclose a more specific date or month.

In order to help consumers adjust to 5G networks in late 2018 and early 2019 – when 5G-enabled smartphones aren’t likely to be available until 2019 – AT&T plans on introducing “a puck-shaped device to allow users to access the 5G network with their current phones.”

Source: AT&T reveals three more cities for 5G launch by end of year
Published: July 20, 2018

Is it time for an Internet Bill of Rights?

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 U.S has officially fully opted into FirstNet

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.”

AT&T Prepaid Plans undergo a makeover

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.

AT&T launches $10 roaming day pass

AT&TInternational 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.

AT&T Roaming Better Than Canadian Plans

AT&TIf 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

FCC, FTC to Investigate Mobile Security Updates

smartphoneThe 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 to Launch Streaming Service

AT&TAT&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.

T-Mobile is Tops According to OpenSignal

opensignalThe 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.