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’.
This week AT&T launched Wi-Fi calling on recent iPhone models running iOS 9. The U.S. carrier first needed to acquire approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before it could offer this feature. The in-demand service allows users to make calls without cell reception or even internationally if permitted by the carrier.
Wi-Fi calling isn’t exclusive to AT&T; T-Mobile and Sprint already offer Wi-Fi calling on certain devices. T-Mobile piloted the project back in 2007, without permission from the FCC. However, T-Mobile goes a step further by allowing its customers to make Wi-Fi calls to “virtually anywhere,” while AT&T has restricted calls to only the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
For AT&T users, the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 6 and 6 Plus will support Wi-Fi Calling on iOS 9. Apple’s website says enabling Wi-Fi calling is as easy as going to Settings> Phone>Wi-Fi calling, where you will then be prompted to answer a few questions.
AT&T had some harsh words for the FCC about allowing its competitors to offer Wi-Fi Calling without the same waiver of permission AT&T had to battle to receive. The waiver, for instance, allows AT&T to offer this service without being required to provide teletypewriter communications for the hearing and speech impaired.
“We are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time,” Jim Cicconi, senior executive VP of external affairs for AT&T, said.
With three major carriers already on board, it is expected Verizon Wireless will be the next to adopt the practice. Given the fact it’s the country’s largest carrier, chances are it is waiting to be granted a similar waiver from the FCC.
Verizon and AT&T will soon be setting up miniature stores inside electronic retail chain Best Buy. These stores will be in addition to the space they already occupy on the shelf.
Both carriers recently made separate announcements, stating they are planning to install mini-stores in 250 Best Buy locations within the United States this year. More specifically, Verizon said it would start by opening 100 this month.
Verizon revealed it will be referring to these shops as “Experience Stores”, and they will be operated by Best Buy employees who receive additional training. Joan Colaiuti, vice president for national distribution for Verizon Wireless, said these Experience Stores would be very similar in appearance to the company’s pre-existing Destination and Smart Stores.
AT&T will take a similar route, with Best Buy employees working at its shops. However, in addition to selling smartphones, tablets, plans and other various tech, the carrier plans to include a dedicated section for smart home offerings such as Digital Life and DirecTV.
In a move to poach sales from the four major U.S. carriers, Apple recently changed the way it sells iPhones by introducing the iPhone Upgrade Program.
The 24-month program was designed for users always wanting the latest iPhone. Customers will pay a monthly fee of $32.41 for the latest iPhone 6S, and will be allowed to trade in their device for the iPhone 7 after 12 months.
The iPhone 6S can currently be purchased from Apple for $649. The iPhone Upgrade Program will lease the latest iPhone over a 24-month period for $777.84. This price includes the Apple Care+ insurance package which usually costs $129 and offers software support, hardware repairs for two years and two incidents of accidental damage coverage.
The program may prove enticing to customers because all phones will be unlocked. “The iPhone Upgrade Program isn’t tied to a single carrier,” says Apple. “You don’t need a multiyear service contract.”
In an attempt to compete, T-Mobile CEO John Legere has introduced a limited time offer called Jump on Demand. The 18-month leasing plan for the iPhone 6S is just $20 per month. In order to purchase the phone at the end of this period, users will pay $164, making the total price of the device just $524.
Sprint has also announced a 22-month iPhone Forever program, allowing customers to upgrade to the newest iPhone whenever one becomes available. The iPhone 6S is available for just $15 per month on the condition an old iPhone is traded in. The monthly price is $22 without a trade-in.
Verizon and AT&T both have comparable installment plans, but have yet to release any promotions related to the upcoming iPhone launch.
According to the New York Times, newly disclosed NSA documents reveal AT&T willingly helped the National Security Agency (NSA) conduct surveillance on large volumes of Internet traffic in the United States. The documents revealing AT&T helped the spy agency in a broad range of classified activities – dated from 2003 to 2013 – were leaked by Edward Snowden.
The telecommunications giant reportedly provided extensive assistance to the NSA in carrying out a secret court order allowing wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations Headquarters.
AT&T demonstrated “extreme willingness” to participate in this surveillance. The company reportedly installed equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs, which far exceeds those installed by Verizon Communications Inc. Its engineers were also among the first to use newly invented NSA surveillance technologies.
One NSA document described its links with AT&T as, “a partnership, not a contractual relationship.” Another document stated AT&T’s “corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s,” or Internet service providers.
The NSA’s partnership with AT&T has been extremely important, as the United Nations is an AT&T customer. This enabled the agency to conduct surveillance of international and foreign-to-foreign Internet communications that passed through network hubs in the United States, while operating under various legal rules.
When asked for a comment, AT&T spokesman Brad Burns told Reuters: “We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence. For example, in a kidnapping situation we could provide help tracking down called numbers to assist law enforcement.”
AT&T has announced a limited time offer that will allow DirectTV customers to save $500 on their wireless bills when switching to AT&T.
This deal makes use of AT&T’s $49 billion buyout of DirectTV. Since DirectTV is now under its umbrella, AT&T is able to offer pay-TV service subscribers up to a $500 credit per line if they switch wireless service. Families of four, therefore, could be eligible for $2000 in credits.
AT&T will issue $300 in credits to the account holder for each line ported over to the company’s Next program. Additionally, AT&T will offer up to $200 if customers trade in their handsets, provided they are in “good working” order.
“This is a unique offer and unlike anything we’ve ever done – all to celebrate DirecTV now being part of the AT&T family,” says David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T Mobility. “This is another way we’re making it better when you choose TV and wireless from AT&T.”
If customers combine their wireless and U-Verse bills, AT&T will also provide a $10 monthly bill credit, for a total of $120 off annually.
This offer is only available to customers in the continental United States and ends October 4.
DATA FINE: The Federal Communications Commission wants to bring the hammer down on AT&T, saying it will fine the telecommunications giant $100 million (the largest proposed fine in FCC history) for allegedly deceiving customers about unlimited wireless data plans, The Wall Street Journal reports.
It was the advertising for the plans that got the company in trouble. The FCC says AT&T marketed plans as “unlimited” before capping data speeds after customers used 5 gigabytes of data. The capped speeds were then considerably slower, the FCC says.
AT&T claims the FCC had said the practice was legitimate and that it had been clear about the practices on its website. But the FCC isn’t having it. “Unlimited means unlimited,” Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said.
AT&T recently filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), seeking to overturn its net neutrality ruling, which was just published in the Federal Register.
AT&T joins the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, United States Telecom Association, American Cable Association, and the CTIA in their efforts to change the FCC’s decision. These associations allege the new rules are “arbitrary and capricious, and violate federal law.”
The main complaint shared by these groups is regarding the FCC’s decision to view the Internet as a telecommunications service, as opposed to a utility like phone services.
AT&T has stayed out of previous lawsuits against the FCC in regards to net neutrality. Both Comcast and Verizon have won notable lawsuits about the same issue.
All of the suits have been filed in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and will be joined into a single case. If more cases are filed in other circuits within ten days of publication in the Federal Register, a lottery will be held to determine where the case is heard.
AT&T recently announced the launch of an enhanced Internet service called U-verse with AT&T Gigapower in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, California.
This new service will provide Internet download speeds of up to 1Gbps in some residential and business areas. An upgraded residential gateway will support the latest Wi-Fi technology, meaning faster home and office Wi-Fi.
TV service will also be available to Gigapower customers, with the ability to watch and record up to five HD programs at the same time. Customers will also have the ability to record up to 900 hours of SD programs, or 330 hours of HD programs. Additionally, U-verse app users will be able to view 230 live TV channels in their home on their mobile devices, and up to 130 of those channels will be available on the go.
Internet service will cost $110 per month for 1Gbps speed, or $80 per month for 300 Mbps speed. With TV service, the 1Gbps plan is $150 per month, while the 300 Mbps will sell for $120. Voice calling can also be added to the TV and 1Gbps service for $180 per month.