Audi has announced it will outfit all of its 2016 vehicles with LTE service provided by AT&T. This agreement is an extension of AT&T’s previous deal to provide LTE connectivity to all 2014 Audi A3 cars. AT&T will provide Audi drivers with the ability to add their vehicles to their Mobile Share data plan for a monthly access fee of $10.
Additionally, AT&T will be introducing the ability for cars to connect to its Digital Life home security and automation platform. This means a vehicle equipped with AT&T Drive will be able to embed Digital Life features, allowing the driver to control their home from their car dashboard.
AT&T is proving to be a leader in the connected car space, which can in part be attributed to its development of a global GSM-based SIM card. These global SIM cards can be programmed remotely to switch to different networks in different geographic locations, and can also be used to track shipments around the globe.
AT&T has struck deals with auto makers including Nissan, BMW, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Tesla, Volvo and GM’s operations in Europe.
Hot on the heels of AT&T’s announcement about bringing its one-gigabit-per-second Internet service to Kansas City, comes news the company will also be charging its customers $29 per month to keep their browsing history private.
The “premier” service will be available for $70 per month, but would allow AT&T to track a user’s search terms and browser history in order to facilitate better ad targeting. If users wish to keep their history private, the same high-speed service will be offered without tracking for $99.
While this additional fee for privacy may seem exorbitant to some, AT&T has defended its pricing to the Wall Street Journal, saying ad targeting helps the company make more money. Therefore, any user wanting to opt out must pay a fee.
This model is similar the discounted Kindles sold by Amazon that show advertising. However, AT&T will be able to gather a far more comprehensive picture of a user’s browsing activities than other companies, since it is an Internet provider. While this information could prove lucrative for advertisers and Internet Service Providers, the lack of privacy will undoubtedly worry some users.
Months after its launch, the BlackBerry Passport – along with the Classic – will now be available at AT&T. So far, AT&T is the only U.S. carrier to offer the uniquely shaped Passport.
As of February 20, the Passport and BlackBerry Classic will be available for purchase in-store and online. The Passport will cost $200 with a two-year contract, or $650 without. The more traditionally styled BlackBerry Classic will be available for $50 on a two-year contract, or $420 without a contract.
Over the past few years, BlackBerry has been gradually shifting its focus towards business-class software and services. After the failure of last year’s BlackBerry 10 operating system, the company has been fighting to make a comeback. These two smartphones will prove critical in keeping BlackBerry in the mobile game.
BlackBerry’s Passport, which features a 4.5-inch square display and triple row of physical keys, has been redesigned for AT&T to have more rounded edges. The Classic has a more familiar design and shape, and will appeal to long-time BlackBerry fans. While the Passport is an AT&T exclusive, Verizon Wireless has said it will also carry the Classic but has yet to release details.
AT&T recently announced two major promotions just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Customers looking to buy a new Galaxy smartphone can now qualify to get a free Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 with purchase, if they are willing to sign up for a $0 down Next plan. Similarly, if you are a bigger fan of LG, the carrier is also offering a G Pad 7.0 LTE for 99 cents with any smartphone purchased on an AT&T Next plan.
In order to take advantage of this offer, customers will be required to sign a two-year contract for data, with plans starting from $14.99 per month.
AT&T will also be offering some smaller sales on gadgets running through February 19. Highlights of this sale include Plantronics Backbeat Fit headphones for $99 and the onyx Jawbone UP24 for $69.
Sprint is promising to cut bills in half for customers willing to switch from it larger rivals AT&T or Verizon. As of December 5 in Sprint stores, customers who bring in a current bill from either AT&T or Verizon will be set up with a new plan for half the price of the service portion of their bill.
Customers will also receive a gift card of up to $350 to cover the cost of early termination fees incurred by leaving their carriers. However, the promotion requires customers to turn in their existing devices and buy an unsubsidized device either up front, through installments or using Sprint’s new leasing plan.
This promotion is the latest in a string of offers introduced by new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure in an attempt to compete with AT&T and Verizon, who control about 70 percent of the market currently. The offer, therefore, does not extend to customers of T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. carrier behind Sprint.
The “cut your bill in half” event will be available for a limited time, but customers who sign up for this promotion can keep the rate for as long as they wish. Training in Sprint stores will begin on Tuesday, giving employees a couple of days to prepare for customers to start showing up with their bills and phones in hand.
AT&T mobility is keeping up with its competitors by cutting the price of its 15 GB shared data plan by $30 per month. Previously the price of its 10 GB plan, 15 GB of data is now available for $100 per month.
This offer is available for a limited time to customers on AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plans, though the company has not specified when the offer will expire. A data access fee of $15 per month for each smartphone will still apply under this plan.
The AT&T promotion comes shortly after Sprint reduced the access charge on its Family Share Pack plans from $25 to $15 per month, and cut the cost of its 12 GB and 16GB shared data plans by $10. Sprint’s promotion is available through January 15, 2015.
This past September, a separate promotion was announced by AT&T, doubling its $130 per month 15 GB plan to 30 GB. For the same price of the smaller data plans, 20, 30, 40 and 50 GB plans have also been doubled to 40, 60, 80 and 100 GB.
AT&T is adding a new program called Next 24, which will allow users to spread their smartphone payments over 30 months. The program will be available on November 9.
The Next 24 program joins the Next 12 and Next 18, which are 20-month and 24-month installment plans respectively. This new plan gets the name Next 24 because users become eligible to upgrade their device after making 24 monthly payments.
Introducing a 30-month installment plan is part of AT&T’s continuing strategy to encourage customers to sign up for plans where they pay for their own device. Equipment installment plans offer a price break on user’s wireless service bills. Conversely, a two-year contract requires customers to pay a higher service fee in exchange for a discounted smartphone.
AT&T’s push towards installment plans is influenced by T-Mobile’s move towards possibly eliminating contracts and subsidies altogether. AT&T Next plans are available to new and existing customers who are eligible for a smartphone upgrade.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced it is suing AT&T for misleading customers on “unlimited” data plans. The FTC has filed a complaint in federal court, claiming certain customers’ data was throttled up to 90 percent if they exceeded a particular amount of data use in a billing cycle.
According to the FTC, AT&T has been throttling customers on unlimited plans since 2011, and has throttled over 3.5 million customers. The speed cap can reportedly take effect after as little as 2 gigabytes of data has been used. AT&T vehemently denies these claims.
“The FTC’s allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program,” Wayne Watts, AT&T general counsel said in a statement. “It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.”
Throttling data is not illegal, and telecom carriers are not obligated to provide equal data speeds for all customers, but the FTC has taken issue with the misleading nature of allegedly “unlimited” plans. The FTC, along with the Federal Communications Commission, has also begun to investigate throttling at other wireless companies.
In an attempt to dissuade cord-cutters from abandoning cable altogether, AT&T is offering a new package combining basic cable, broadband, HBO on demand and a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime. All of this is being offered for the low price of $39 per month.
Many cable companies are working to retain customers with low-priced bundles. For example, Comcast offers “Skinny Bundles” which combine broadband and a select number of channels including HBO for $49 per month.
AT&T has what appears to be an even more enticing offer. The addition of a year’s worth of Amazon Prime is impressive on its own. A subscription normally costs $99 per year and is being slashed to $39. This price still allows customers to take full advantage of all being an Amazon Prime member has to offer. Two-day shipping, Prime Music, Kindle borrowing and access to Amazon on-demand movies are all included.
Customers will want to read the fine print of this offer, however, if they don’t wish to pay anything above the advertized $39. There are some hidden fees attached. The package locks customers into a one-year contract with AT&T, and a fee of $180 must be paid if a customer wishes to terminate their contract before their term is up. Service activation fees, equipment installation fees, monthly broadcast surcharges, charges for whole-home DVR and full HD along with other taxes and regulatory fees could all add to a customer’s bill.
A subscription could cost a customer $148 in upfront costs and result in a monthly bill of up to $66.99. At the end of the one-year subscription customers will see their bills jump to $90-100, as AT&T will begin to charge the regular fees for its service once the offer is up.
AT&T has been warning Cox Communications about its patent infringements for years, and has finally come to the decision to file a formal lawsuit in the State of Delaware.
In 2009 AT&T made it clear to Cox Communications that it was infringing upon eight of its patents. AT&T claims the company has not “provided substantial arguments for either non-infringement or invalidity of AT&T’s patents” or made “payments for its infringement by repeatedly delaying and rescheduling negotiations.”
Cox Communications is reportedly making billions of dollars through its use of AT&T’s patents, but has declined to pay. The eight patents deal with all parts of Cox’s business including TV, broadband Internet, telephone and more. AT&T’s Packet Loss Concealment patent license would cost Cox $1,500 in administrative fees and a minimum of $2,500 in annual licensing, based on royalties.
AT&T is calling Cox’s actions “willful and deliberate,” and has demanded a trial by jury. They are also asking to be awarded enhanced damages, attorney’s fees, and the cost of filing the suit.