Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile to pre-install Google Wallet on new smartphones
Google is preparing to compete more intensely against Apple Pay, by acquiring mobile payments technology from Softcard. At the same time, Google has struck a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to have Google Wallet pre-installed on sold devices, the same group of carriers who backed the Softcard payments system in the first place.
Launch of AT&T GigaPower in Google Fiber home tainted by privacy issues
AT&T has expanded its U-verse with GigaPower gigabit Internet service to Kansas City, the initial launch city of Google Fiber. While AT&T is trying hard to compete against Google's own service in the city, including offering a voice service that Google lacks, potential customers may feel wary about signing up, as the company is offering some plans at a lower price in exchange for an erosion of privacy.
AT&T to start selling BlackBerry Passport, Classic from February 20
BlackBerry fans in the United States will soon be able to pick up the manufacturer's latest devices on AT&T. The BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport, redesigned specifically for the carrier, will be going on sale from February 20. The Passport, complete with rounded edges, will cost $650 off-contract, $200 with a two-year agreement, or for between $21.67 and $32.50 under AT&T Next. The Classic will cost $50 on a two-year contract, $420 off-contract, or under AT&T Next's various plans, between $14 and $21 per month.
Uber adds panic button, share ride status options to app in India
Uber has made changes to its mobile app in India, in order to help with rider safety, following rape allegations against one of its drivers in the country last year. Share my ETA has been replaced by Share Status, which lets the passenger share details of the car and driver' location and appearance to others, with two taps of a button instantly sending details to five pre-selected contacts. The second, a panic button marked with SOS, will help quickly make calls to authorities in the event of an accident or another emergency.
Dish Network spends $13.3B on spectrum licenses, Verizon $10.4B
The latest spectrum auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised $44.9 billion. Of the bidders looking to acquire what has been termed AWS-3 spectrum, the FCC revealed AT&T spent more than any other carrier or organization, using $18.2 billion to acquire almost half the total number of licenses up for grabs in the auction.
AT&T wireless subscribers increase 1.9M in fourth quarter
AT&T earned consolidated revenues of $34.4 billion in the last quarter, an improvement from last quarter's $32.9 billion, and a year-on year increase of 3.8 percent -- 4.5 percent if a loss-laden sale of its Connecticut wireline properties is taken into account. Even so, it made for a total loss of $4 billion, or $0.77 per share, something the carrier warned about last week.
Plans to combine Nextel Mexico, Iusacell to improve coverage
AT&T has agreed to buy its second carrier in Mexico, a few months after purchasing Iusacell. The pending acquisition of Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings will cost AT&T $1.875 billion, minus any outstanding debt, with the purchase giving AT&T a considerable foothold in the Mexican wireless market, and expanding its reach further outside the United States.
Facebook attempts to reduce number of hoaxes in News Feed
Facebook is trying to reduce the number of fake or hoax stories that appear in a users News Feed. The social network will take into account whenever a user reports a post as a "false news story," as well as whenever users delete posts linking to an article, when deciding what is shown to other users. While Facebook will stop short of blocking the content entirely, it will give the flagged hoax a "reduced distribution" in News Feed, as well as adding a notice to the top of the post warning that users "have reported that this story contains false information."
Redesigned BlackBerry Passport keeps specifications, adds round corners
BlackBerry is bringing BBM to Android Wear devices in the near future, the manufacturer has revealed. At the same time, it announced the BlackBerry Passport will be heading to AT&T with a new rounder look, after BlackBerry redesigned certain aspects of the smartphone's external appearance following requests from the carrier itself.
Mobile Share Value plans to add unused data allowance to following month
AT&T is adding a Rollover Data scheme to its price plans, allowing customers to use up unused data allowances from their plan the following month. The announcement comes in response to T-Mobile, which launched its own Data Stash rollover scheme a few weeks ago, though at first glance it appears AT&T's version is slightly limited in comparison to its competition.
Tech requires AT&T Mobile Share plan
AT&T has announced the Modio, a case that adds LTE support to otherwise Wi-Fi-only iPad models. Initially, the only version will be available for the iPad mini (all generations), but an edition for the iPad Air and Air 2 is promised down the road. AT&T has yet to set prices or launch dates for either option, however.
Plugin-free protocol facilitates communications across a billion browser installs
AT&T announced that it will be the first US carrier to launch commercial support for Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) via its AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API. The WebRTC standard, which is already enabled on more than a billion browsers across multiple platforms, allows voice and video calling between browsers without the need to install any software or plugins. The AT&T Enhanced WebRTC API is now available in an open beta program, and offers several enhancements to the basic WebRTC standard.
Looks to copy success of Beyoncé album launch on iTunes
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- whose company is now owned by Apple -- is in negotiations with a number of artists about securing more exclusives for Beats Music, sources claim. The idea is reportedly to copy the success Beyoncé and Apple had with an iTunes exclusive, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, in December of last year. Iovine is known for his connections in the music industry, which include acts like Will.i.am, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani; Minaj sometimes advertises Beats products via placements in her videos. A potential obstacle, though, is opposition from record labels, which typically don't like artists signing their own side deals.
Upgrade from 4Mbps definition in 2011 keeps 1Mbps upstream minimum
Over the objections of carriers and cable companies, the FCC on Friday voted to change the definition of the term "broadband" to require a minimum speed of 10 megabits (one megabit equals one-eighth of a megabyte) per second (Mbps) download speed -- an upgrade from the previous definition of 4Mbps -- while keeping the old definition's requirement of at least 1Mbps upload. Although the US is far behind many other countries in typical broadband speed (and US customers pay more for the slower speed that typical prices in many other places), AT&T and Verizon, along with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, argued that 4Mbps was sufficient for consumers.
AT&T increases number of markets with HD Voice enabled
AT&T has expanded its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HD Voice service into more markets. The carrier's higher-quality voice calls are now available to use in parts of the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, though customers will require a VoLTE-compatible smartphone.
US' leading carriers seeing increased competition from T-Mobile, Sprint
In the telecom industry, "churn" is the rate at which subscribers jump from one service to another, and it appears to be increasing with 4G cellphone subscribers during the present quarter. So much so that both AT&T and Verizon have indicated to investors that their margins may be "impacted" in Q4 by the loss of subscribers, and the promotional efforts it will take to lure them back from rivals such as T-Mobile and Sprint.
Replies in Comcast-TWC merger due December 23, AT&T-DirecTV by January 7, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced December 3 that it is restarting the informal "shot clocks" in the review of the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable and $48.5 billion AT&T-DirecTV proposed mergers. As the FCC is now allowing parties to review confidential information once again, it restarted the pleading cycles with new deadlines for each merger.
Kansas town to expand fiber infrastructure to cover residents, AT&T's interests affected
Chanute -- a small Kansas town with a population near 9,000 -- is seeking to expand its current municipal fiber in order to offer broadband services to its residents. To do so, the town must abide by a law from 1947 to seek permission from the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to sell bonds for the funds to build out the infrastructure. However, AT&T holds concerns over the potential effects the municipal service will have on the area, large enough that the company asked for permission to intervene into the proceedings.
Wireless company said to overcharge for wiretaps, pen registers for three years
AT&T's budget wireless brand Cricket Communications has agreed to pay back more than $2.1 million in charges stemming from government-related wiretaps and pen registers. In a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, the company is settling in order to bring an end to the allegations that it overcharged the government for services and facilities tied to electronic surveillance for three years.
AT&T claims it will adhere to fiber build, but freezing any new expansion plans
Following the US Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) demand for more information about a "frozen" fiber buildout, AT&T has responded to the call late yesterday. The company claims that the announced expansion of the gigabit network is not actually frozen -- only new, unannounced expansions have been halted in the wake of the FCC's net neutrality and Title II regulation discussion, though the announcement was seen a thinly-veiled threat against the FCC.
Wheeler believes lawsuits inevitable, regardless of result of discussion
US Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler said that there is a specific reason why the regulatory group is taking its time with the net neutrality discussion. Speaking at a meeting on Friday, the chairman said that caution was prudent, and that the agency needs to "make sure that we understand what is going on here." Referring to Verizon, AT&T, and the other major Internet providers, he added that "the big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out."
Google offers Chromebook users 1TB of cloud storage for two years
Google is giving potential Chromebook users an incentive to pick up the notebook before the end of the year. The search company is providing new Chromebook purchases worth $199 or more with 1TB of Google Drive storage for two years as a free bonus. The offer applies to purchases at retail and online stores, as well as Google Play, but must be redeemed before January 1st, 2015.
Consumers get 15GB for the price of 10GB plan, double data on select plans extended
AT&T is launching a new plan offer starting November 18, giving existing and new customers looking for a bargain in data an additional option to consider. The company's current 10GB Mobile Share Value plan is getting a 5GB boost in shared data, while maintaining the $100 per month price. The wireless carrier says that the plan will be offered for a limited time, but doesn't give a date for the end of the promotion.
Both providers have come under heavy fire for possible Wiretap Act violations
Under enormous pressure after reports showed that some wireless providers were installing "super cookies" on user's devices designed to track their online movements, AT&T has ceased the practice. The carrier released a brief statement earlier this week about how the tracking mechanism was a limited-time test, and has "been phased off" the company's wireless network. Competitor Verizon continues the practice, however, and is showing no signs of stopping.
FCC lawyer calls AT&T's anti-Title II gambit
Just days after AT&T said that it would pause new gigabit fiberoptic deployments pending resolution of the net neutrality discussion, the US Federal Communications Commission has requested information on the buildout. The FCC is demanding information on the current number of households that the carrier provides fiber to, the demographic breakdown of those locations, and proof that the AT&T investment model in fiber is unprofitable as it claims now or in the future.
CEO Stephenson says provider might hold investment on fiber builds in 100 areas
During an analyst conference on Wednesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company is considering putting a hold on its build-out of gigabit fiber networks for select cities in the US until a decision is made on net neutrality rules. The company announced in April that it would be bringing high-speed fiber to 100 cities and municipalities.
Carrier will redirect in-flight Internet efforts into international business
AT&T is giving up on its plan to launch an in-flight Wi-Fi service. Abandoning plans first announced in April, which would have put the carrier against Gogo and other similar in-flight Internet providers, AT&T did not specify why it was giving up on the service, but advised it would be concentrating more on its international business instead.
Deal gives AT&T foothold in area, may buy more assets from other companies
AT&T has declared that it will purchase Mexico-based wireless carrier Iusacell for $1.7 billion in cash. The Mexican company has a network that blankets 70 percent of the country with 3G, and uses the same GSM frequencies that AT&T uses. The deal will also see AT&T take on $700 million in debt that Iusacell holds.
Pre-orders for Timex Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch start tomorrow
Pre-orders for the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will commence in the United States through AT&T stores on November 7th, and online from November 10th. Designed for runners, the smartwatch is able to track the wearer's speed, distance, and other position-related information, includes 4GB of storage, works with Bluetooth speakers and headphones, and has its own cellular data connection rather than relying on a nearby smartphone. Including one year of AT&T data, the Timex Ironman One GPS+ will be priced at $400.
AT&T Next 24 has 30 monthly payments, upgrades from month 24
AT&T is giving its customers a third option to acquire a smartphone via the AT&T Next installment and early-upgrade scheme. The current Next 12 and Next 18 plans will be joined by Next 24, an option which will let subscribers pay nothing initially, followed by regular monthly payments for 30 months, up from the 20 and 24-month plans of the existing installment choices.
HTC Desire Eye exclusive to AT&T, discount available for RE camera
The HTC Desire Eye will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier has revealed. The smartphone, complete with a front-facing 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, will go on sale from November 7th priced at $549.99 off-contract, $149.99 with a two-year contract, $22.92 per month under AT&T Next 18, or $27.50 per month on AT&T Next 12. Customers buying the Desire EYE on-contract will also be able to acquire the RE camera at a discount, saving $50 off the $199 sticker price.
Engineers working on routing HD voice calls over LTE between different carriers
Verizon and AT&T are working together to allow Voice over LTE (VoLTE) calls to function normally between mobile phone users on different carriers. Current systems allow for the high definition calls to take place between users on the same carrier, switching to current technologies when calling another phone network, but the two major carriers aim to put an end to the loss of call quality in the future.
Curved face Android Wear smartwatch gets $5 price plan on T-Mobile
Samsung's Gear S will be going on sale in the United States at the start of next month, with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all carrying the Android Wear smartwatch. The carriers are also varying the way they host the standalone smartwatch on their network, with T-Mobile introducing a new plan specifically for wearable devices.
Mostly grandfathered plans hit by throttling, speeds cut to dial-up
The US Federal Trade Commission has launched a suit against AT&T for its admitted throttling of unlimited wireless data users. The FTC claims that AT&T has implemented the up to 90 percent slower data speeds on over 3.5 million customers a total of more than 25 million times since implementation on October 1, 2011.
Legere explains how each carrier approaches the use of the iPad SIM card
In light of the news that AT&T is locking down the Apple SIM card if used in its network, T-Mobile CEO comment on the complex relationship between carriers and the SIM. Legere issued a "tweetstorm" explaining how each of the four major carriers in the United States approaches the technology differently.
Sprint, T-Mobile leave devices open
The new Apple SIM in the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 is being locked to AT&T if data subscribers choose that carrier, according to complaints. The problem is confirmed by a new Apple support document, which says that when buyers "choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to [that] network only."
Carrier pulls $33 billion in revenue, added over 2 million mobile, broadband customers
AT&T's quarterly results fell short of industry projections when the company announced $32.9 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2014. The resulting earnings per share (EPS) was $0.63, missing the projected $0.64 EPS on $33.25 billion in revenue. While the company may have missed projections, it announced that it picked up more than two million mobile and broadband customers.
Confidential programming agreements requested in early October source of the delay
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped its "180-day informal time clock" in the review of the merger proposals for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as AT&T and DirectTV. The reason for the stoppage involves the modified joint protective orders that the FCC created at the beginning of October, which content companies are now using to bar outside sources from reading confidential programming agreements.
Combined smartphone, tablet dock package going on sale in US from October 24th
The Asus PadFone X mini is heading to the United States later this month, with AT&T set to be the exclusive carrier for the device. Effectively a smaller version of the PadFone X, the PadFone X mini uses a 4.5-inch IPS smartphone at its core, with the smartphone component able to be docked inside a larger seven-inch tablet section, increasing the screen size while reusing the phone's processor and other internals.
International plans come with data, tiered voice as alternative to monthly Global plans
AT&T has launched a new option for travelers wanting to take their smartphones, tablets, or laptops with them abroad. A new set of tiered, one-time charge packages called AT&T Passport can now be added to an existing account, allowing customers to use their devices in over 150 different countries. The plans are designed to work in addition to domestic plans, while offering fixed rates and small data caps for international travel.
Procedures created to protect public interest, alleviate media firm confidentiality concerns
In the review of the proposed mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, or the proposed AT&T-DirecTV deal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) believes that reviewing the contracts and agreements made by the merger applicants and media companies is important. Last month, the FCC requested that media firms turn over information about deals with Comcast, something that the provider and media companies fought back on. However, the FCC now has plans in place to address some of their concerns in both mergers.
FTC settlement involves providing refunds to customers affected by premium SMS subscriptions
AT&T has been hit with a $105 million fine for allowing "premium" SMS subscriptions and other charges to be applied to customer accounts, a practice known as "cramming." The carrier has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the charges, with the majority of the settlement devoted to paying back affected customers.
Verizon matches AT&T data promotion, Sprint increases data cap more
AT&T's recent promotional offer to double the data caps on its Mobile Share Value plans seems to have struck a nerve with other carriers. Both Verizon and Sprint have announced their own data-doubling promotions just a few days after AT&T -- and while Verizon appears to match AT&T's allowances and prices, Sprint has opted to go further, by redoubling the caps.
Value plans now offer up to 100GB of data, only expire if changed after promotion
The never ending race for data cap superiority continues, AT&T has announced a limited-time offer that increases the data for its Mobile Share Value plans. Beginning today, AT&T is doubling the data included in the plans starting at the 15GB level. Where a 30GB plan was previously $225 a month, AT&T is now offering it for $130 until October 31.
DirecTV internal issues now resolved, all that remains is US Government approval
As part of the process towards a purchase by AT&T, DirecTV shareholders have voted nearly unanimously in favor of the acquisition. Votes representing 77 percent of all outstanding shares have been cast, with 99 percent of them in favor of proceeding with the merger. Discussion amongst US regulatory bodies is continuing, but the shareholder vote was potentially a major issue, now overcome.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon to carry 3G-enabled Gear S
Samsung has confirmed it will be releasing the Gear S smartwatch in the United States. Launched last month, the standalone smartwatch with a curved two-inch 360x480 Super AMOLED display will be heading to AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon sometime this fall, though the manufacturer has yet to confirm exactly when it will be available.
Bundle combines HBO, HBO Go with local TV channels, Internet
AT&T is following Comcast's lead, in offering a basic service aimed at cord-cutters. The bundle combines a basic television service with Internet at a relatively low cost, and while it copies Comcast in providing HBO and HBO Go under the subscription, it also unusually adds in one year of free Amazon Prime deliveries and Prime Instant Video.
Metal phone launching for $200 on contract, comes with 2.5GHz processor
AT&T and Samsung released a joint statement today, announcing that the metal Samsung Alpha would be making its way to the US carrier as an exclusive. The launch of the phone is coming on September 26, with AT&T selling with a two-year contract, as a part of the AT&T Next program and as a full-price purchase without commitment.
United Kingdom gains Note 4 one week earlier than United States
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is being made available for pre-order in the United States tomorrow, with shipments expected to start on October 17th, though AT&T plans to ship the smartphone earlier on October 14th. In the United Kingdom, pre-orders also begin tomorrow, though the stylus-equipped phablet will be on sale from October 10th.
LTE Shield tablet certified for AT&T LTE network
Pre-orders for a version of the Shield gaming tablet with LTE have opened in the United States and Europe. Coming after the Wi-Fi model's release and set to ship on September 30th for both continents, the LTE version adds cellular connectivity, with the mobile device claimed to be certified for AT&T's LTE network, though the unlocked version will also work with a number of other carriers.