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AT&T

US Appeals Court Dismisses AT&T Data Throttling Lawsuit (reuters.com) 26

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A federal appeals court in California on Monday dismissed a U.S. government lawsuit that accused ATT Inc of deception for reducing internet speeds for customers with unlimited mobile data plans once their use exceeded certain levels. The company, however, could still face a fine from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the slowdowns, also called "data throttling." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sued ATT on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the lawsuit said. The FTC said the practice was deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. ATT argued that there was an exception for common carriers, and the appeals court agreed.
AT&T

ISP Lobbyists Pushing Telecom Act Rewrite (dslreports.com) 76

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports:Telecom lobbyists are pushing hard for a rewrite of the Telecom Act, this time with a notable eye on cutting FCC funding and overall authority. AT&T donated at least $70,000 to back Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, and clearly expects him to spearhead the rewrite and make it a priority in 2017. The push is an industry backlash to a number of consumer friendly initiatives at the FCC, including new net neutrality rules, the reclassification of ISPs under Title II, new broadband privacy rules, new cable box reform and an attempt to protect municipal broadband. AT&T's Ryan donation is the largest amount AT&T has ever donated to a single candidate, though outgoing top AT&T lobbyist Jim Cicconi has also thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton.
AT&T

AT&T Says LTE Can Still Offer Speeds Up To 1 Gbps (dslreports.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes from a report via DSL Reports: ATT CTO Andre Fuetsch said at a telecom conference last week that the company's existing LTE network should be able to reach speeds of 1 Gbps before the standard ultimately gets overshadowed by faster 5G tech. The new 5G technology isn't expected to arrive until 2020 at the earliest, so LTE has a lot of time left as the predominant wireless connectivity. "There's a lot of focus on 5G -- but don't discount LTE," Fuetsch said. "LTE is still here. And LTE will be around for a long time. And LTE has also enormous potential in that, you'll be capable of supporting 1 gigabit speeds as well." 5G will help move past 1 Gbps speeds, while also providing significantly lower latency. "You'll see us sharing more about the trial activity we're doing," said Fuetsch. "Everything that's being [tested] right now is not standard, it's all sort of proprietary. But this is an important process to go through because this is how you learn and how it helps define standards."
AT&T

AT&T, Apple, Google To Work On 'Robocall' Crackdown (reuters.com) 113

Last month the FCC had pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. It had demanded the concerned companies to come up with a "concrete, actionable" plan within 30 days. Well, the companies have complied. On Friday, 30 major technology companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on automated, pre-recorded telephone calls that regulators have labeled as "scourge." Reuters adds: AT&T, Alphabet, Apple, Verizon Communications and Comcast are among the members of the "Robocall Strike Force," which will work with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on "concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions," said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who is chairing the group. The group hopes to put in place Caller ID verification standards that would help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and to consider a "Do Not Originate" list that would block spoofers from impersonating specific phone numbers from governments, banks or others.
AT&T

AT&T Is Boosting Data Plans, Dropping Overage Fees (reuters.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: ATT Inc, the No. 2 U.S wireless provider, said on Wednesday that it would roll out a new data plan that does away with overage fees and reduces data speeds for wireless customers who surpass their data allowance. Beginning Sunday, customers can choose the new Mobile Share Advantage plan and pay for extra data, if needed, or work with slower data speeds instead of paying for overages, the company said in a statement. Its current plan includes a $5 data overage charge per 300 megabytes on its 300-megabyte plan and $15 per 1 gigabyte on other plans. ATT has also revised prices and data bucket sizes. For instance, its larger 25-gigabyte plan now costs $190 per month for four smartphone lines. It previously cost $235. All the new plans include an access charge of $10 to $40 per month for each device, ATT said. The new plans will continue to have features such as unlimited text and talk and rollover data. Plans above 10 gigabytes also include unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada and no roaming charges in Mexico. Last month, Verizon introduced a new "Safety Mode" for its data plans that similarly throttles customers who exceed their monthly allotment to avoid overages. While Verizon charges customers on lower tier plans for the feature, ATT notes that it does not apply any extra charges.
AT&T

Cable Expands Broadband Domination as AT&T and Verizon Lose Customers (arstechnica.com) 104

The cable industry's grip on the U.S. broadband space increased last quarter, with Comcast and Charter gaining nearly 500,000 subscribers, combined. Phone companies AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier, however, all lost Internet customers. ArsTechnica reports:The 14 largest ISPs, accounting for 95 percent of the US market, gained 192,510 Internet customers in Q2 2016, bringing the total to 91.9 million, Leichtman Research Group reported today. Cable companies accounted for all of the gains, adding 553,293 subscribers for a new total of 57 million. The phone companies lost 360,783 subscribers, bringing them down to 34.9 million. Phone companies' losses more than doubled since Q2 2015, when they lost about 150,000 subscribers. [...] Comcast and Charter, the two biggest ISPs, led the way in subscriber gains. Comcast added 220,000 broadband subscribers to boost its total to 24 million, while Charter (the new owner of Time Warner Cable) added 277,000 subscribers for a new total of 21.8 million. AT&T lost 123,000 subscribers, lowering its total to 15.6 million. Verizon lost 83,000, leaving it with 7 million Internet customers. CenturyLink and Frontier lost 66,000 and 77,000, respectively.
Communications

Next Generation of Wireless -- 5G -- Is All Hype (backchannel.com) 90

Many people have promised us that 5G will be here very soon. And it will be the best thing ever. To quote Lowell McAdam, the CEO of Verizon, 5G is "wireless fiber," and to quote SK Telecom, thanks to 5G we will soon be able to "transfer holograms" because the upcoming standard is "100 times faster" than our current communications system 4G LTE. But if we were to quote Science, the distant future isn't nearly as lofty as the one promised by executives. Backchannel explains: "5G" is a marketing term. There is no 5G standard -- yet. The International Telecommunications Union plans to have standards ready by 2020. So for the moment "5G" refers to a handful of different kinds of technologies that are predicted, but not guaranteed, to emerge at some point in the next 3 to 7 years. (3GPP, a carrier consortium that will be contributing to the ITU process, said last year that until an actual standard exists, '"5G' will remain a marketing & industry term that companies will use as they see fit." At least they're candid.) At the moment, advertising something as "5G" carries no greater significance than saying it's "blazing fast" or "next generation" -- nut because "5G" sounds technical, it's good for sales. We are a long way away from actual deployment. [...] Second, this "wireless fiber" will never happen unless we have... more fiber. Real fiber, in the form of fiber optic cables reaching businesses and homes. (This is the "last mile" problem; fiber already runs between cities.) It's just plain physics. In order to work, 99% of any "5G" wireless deployment will have to be fiber running very close to every home and business. The high-frequency spectrum the carriers are planning to use wobbles billions of times a second but travels incredibly short distances and gets interfered with easily. So it's great at carrying loads of information -- every wobble can be imprinted with data -- but can't go very far at all.
Communications

US Broadband: Still No ISP Choice For Many, Especially at Higher Speeds (arstechnica.com) 95

Despite things getting better with adoption -- however slow -- of Google Fiber in several regions of the United States, the broadband market has gotten slightly less competitive since 2013, says a new report from the FCC. The report adds that, as a result, Americans still have little choice of high-speed broadband providers (PDF). From an ArsTechnica report: At the FCC's 25Mbps download/3Mbps upload broadband standard, there are no ISPs at all in 30 percent of developed census blocks and only one offering service that fast in 48 percent of the blocks. About 55 percent of census blocks have no 100Mbps/10Mbps providers, and only about 10 percent have multiple options at that speed. At the 10Mbps/1Mbps threshold -- which captures slower DSL technology in addition to cable and fiber -- about 90 percent of census blocks have at least two providers. These numbers exclude satellite, which is available nearly everywhere but has high latency and often low data caps. Even these numbers overstate the amount of competition, because an ISP might offer service to only part of a census block. The percentage of households with choice is thus even lower.
AT&T

AT&T Is Paying $7.75 Million in Refunds and Fines Over Sham Calls (fortune.com) 38

AT&T will pay $7.75 million after a federal investigation found it allowed unauthorized third-party charges on its customers' telephone bills, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Monday, reports Reuters (via Fortune). From the report: The company allowed "scammers to charge customers approximately $9 per month for a sham directory assistance service," the FCC said Monday. The fraud was uncovered by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration while investigating two Ohio companies for drug-related crimes and money laundering, the FCC said. The settlement includes $6.8 million in refunds and a $950,000 federal fine, the FCC said. AT&T signed a consent decree with the FCC and agreed to cease billing for nearly all third-party products and services on landline bills and adopt procedures to obtain express consent from customers prior to allowing third-party charges. The company also agreed to revise its billing practices to ensure third-party charges are conspicuously identified on bills.
Network

Cable Companies Urge Judges To Kill 'Net Neutrality' Rules 170

An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Trade associations representing wireless, cable and broadband operators on Friday urged the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse...the Federal Communications Commission's so-called net neutrality rules, put in place last year to make internet service providers treat all internet traffic equally...

The cable groups said the court should correct "serious errors" in a decision "that radically reshapes federal law governing a massive sector of the economy, which flourished due to hundreds of billions of dollars of investment made in reliance on the policy the order throws overboard".. In its filing on Friday, the CTIA said it was illegal to subject broadband internet access to "public-utility style, common carrier regulation" and illegal to impose "common-carrier status on mobile broadband."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he wasn't surprised to see "the big dogs" challenging net neutrality.

Compare cable TV providers at Wirefly.
Communications

AT&T Violated Rule Requiring Low Prices For Schools, FCC Says (arstechnica.com) 58

Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: AT&T overcharged two Florida school districts for phone service and should have to pay about $170,000 to the U.S. government to settle the allegations, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T disputes the charges and will contest the decision. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparently Liability (NAL) to AT&T, an initial step toward enforcing the proposed punishment. The alleged overcharges relate to the FCC's E-Rate program, which funds telecommunications for schools and libraries and is paid for by Americans through surcharges on phone bills. The FCC said AT&T should have to repay $63,760 it improperly received from the FCC in subsidies for phone service provided to Orange and Dixie Counties and pay an additional fine of $106,425. AT&T prices charged to the districts were almost 400 percent higher than they should have been, according to the FCC. AT&T violated the FCC's "lowest corresponding price rule" designed to ensure that schools and libraries "get the best rates available by prohibiting E-Rate service providers from charging them more than the lowest price paid by other similarly situated customers for similar telecommunications services," the FCC said. Instead of charging the lowest available price, "AT&T charged the school districts prices for telephone service that were magnitudes higher than many other customers in Florida," the FCC said. Between 2012 and 2015, the school districts paid "some of the highest prices in the state... for basic telephone services."
AT&T

FCC Calls On Phone Companies To Offer Free Robocall Blocking (fastcompany.com) 120

The FCC chairman on Friday pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. Chairman Tom Wheeler, in letters to CEOs of Verizon Communications, AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular, Level 3 Communications, Frontier Communications, Bandwidth.com, and T-Mobile, said that so-called robocalls, automated pre-recorded telephone calls often from telemarketers or scam artists continue because the industry isn't taking any action. Wheeler demands answers with "concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues" within 30 days. A report on FastCompany adds: Wheeler also urged carriers to create a list of institutions like government agencies and banks that are commonly impersonated by scammers and filter out overseas callers impersonating them through falsified caller ID data
Republicans

RNC Is Preparing For Cyberattacks (cnbc.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: The Republican National Convention will be a popular target for cyberattacks. An official in charge of securing the network has said the RNC already had to fend off a wave of cyberattacks before the convention opened. Many more attacks are expected throughout the convention ranging from "nation-states hunting for intelligence or protesters trying to disrupt the network at the convention," said the consulting chief information officer for the RNC, Max Everett. Donald Trump's campaign appears to only fuel attackers, security experts said. The convention opens Monday afternoon and will attract roughly 50,000 people in addition to a global audience watching from afar. "A successful attack could impact physical security on the ground, for example, by taking connected security scanners offline. It could also affect online activity, for example, by hijacking the livestream and derailing the GOP's message," reports CNBC. The Secret Service has designated the conventions "national special security events." Everett and his team of 70 IT specialists will be using Microsoft and ForeScout software to monitor the network in real time, working with ATT and Cisco on securing external access to the network and a firm called Dark Cubed to share real-time threat information among the firms trying to defend against cyberattacks.
Open Source

AT&T Open Sources Its SDN Framework To The Linux Foundation (fiercetelecom.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes "It's no secret that AT&T has been planning to move to a software-defined network for quite a while. Now, they've decided to open-source the whole thing." From Fierce Telecom: AT&T today announced it will release its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform to the wider telecom industry as an open source offering managed by the Linux Foundation. The goal, the company said, is to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.
AT&T delivered 8.5 million lines of code to the Linux Foundation on Wednesday, saying "We want to build a community -- where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform..." AT&T said Wednesday they've already received interest from other major telecoms, and "we want this to help align the global industry." While their ultimate goal is to virtualize 75% of their own network by 2020, at least one analyst sees a larger trend where the whole telecom industry collectively bypasses equipment vendors and begins "taking network innovation into its own hands."
AT&T

AT&T Thinks Drones Can Fix Terrible Reception At Baseball Games, Music Concerts (marketwatch.com) 114

Cell services are at some of their worst behaviors at music concerts, baseball games and other similar large public gatherings. AT&T thinks it might have a solution for it. In a blog post today, the carrier company announced the idea of building cell extensions into drones and flying them in to handle the large dense traffic demands. From a report:AT&T has dubbed the drones "Flying COWs" -- the COW stands for âoeCell on Wings.â The drones would boost LTE coverage to areas in need of it during occasional large events. They would be tethered to the ground to prevent them from going rogue and flying away. The trial project is part of AT&T's just-launched national drone program, which will focus on how AT&T and its customers can benefit from drones. The program director, Art Pregler, said they wouldn't have to fly too high, perhaps just under the roofline of stadiums or buildings. AT&T also envisions that Flying COWs could provide boosted coverage in disaster response situations, particularly when vehicles aren't otherwise able to drive into the affected areas.
Android

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Fails Consumer Reports Water-Resistance Test (consumerreports.org) 83

An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is apparently not-so-active. It should be the more durable version of the Galaxy S7 family but apparently it's not. Because of this, Consumer reports is not going to mark it as "Recommended" even though it performed very well in all the other tests it ran. [Jerry Beilinson writes from Consumer Reports:] "Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive. Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well. After we removed it from the tank, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds, and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses. We also noticed water in the slot holding the SIM card. For a couple of days following the test, the screens of both phones would light up when the phones were plugged in, though the displays could not be read. The phones never returned to functionality." Samsung has said "The Samsung Galaxy S7 active device is one of the most rugged phones to date and is highly resistant to scratches and IP68 certified. There may be an off-chance that a defective device is not as watertight as it should be." Although, given the fact that Consumer Reports tested multiple devices, Samsung could have a widespread issue on their hands. They company said it is investigating the issue.
Businesses

Landlords, ISPs Team Up To Rip Off Tenants On Broadband (backchannel.com) 173

"Network operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and ATT, in cahoots with [real estate] developers and landlords, routinely use a breathtaking array of kickbacks, lawyerly games of Twister, blunt threats, and downright illegal activities to lock up buildings in exclusive arrangements," reports Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford. itwbennett writes: Eight years ago, the FCC issued an order banning exclusive agreements between landlords and ISPs, but a loophole is being exploited, leaving many tenants in apartment buildings with only one choice of broadband service provider. The loophole works like this: Instead of having an exclusive agreement with one provider, the landlords refuse to let any other companies than their chosen providers access their properties...
"This astounding, enormous, decentralized payola scheme affects millions of American lives," Crawford writes, revealing Comcast's revenue-sharing proposals for property owners and urging cities (and national lawmakers) to require broadband neutrality in residential buildings. Other loopholes are also being exploited, Crawford writes, and "it's why commercial tenants in NYC pay through the nose for awful Internet access service in the fanciest of commercial buildings... We've got to take landlords out of the equation -- all they're doing is looking for payments and deals...and the giant telecom providers in our country are more than happy to pay up."
AT&T

Frontier Teams With AT&T To Block Google Fiber Access To Utility Poles (arstechnica.com) 117

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Frontier submitted a court filing last week supporting ATT's efforts to sue local governments in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky to stop a new ordinance designed to give Google Fiber and similar companies access to utility poles. They're concerned the ordinances will spread to other states. Frontier's filing said, "the issues raised by the case may have important implications for Frontier's business and may impact the development of law in jurisdictions throughout the country where Frontier operates." The ordinance in Louisville lets companies like Google Fiber install wires even if ATT doesn't respond to requests or rejects requests to attach lines. Companies don't have to notify ATT when they want to move ATT's wires to make room for their own wires, assuming the work won't cause customer outages. ATT claims that the ordinance lets competitors "seize ATT's property." Frontier is urging the court to consider the nationwide implications of upholding Louisville's ordinance, saying Louisville's rule "is unprecedented" because "it drastically expands the rights of third parties to use privately owned utility poles, giving non-owners unfettered access to [a] utility's property without the [...] utility in some cases even having knowledge that such third-party intrusion on its facilities is occurring." Frontier said companies should be required to negotiation access with the owners if they didn't pay to install the utility poles. They urged the court to deny Louisville Metro's motion to dismiss ATT's complaint.
Businesses

FCC Says TV Airwaves Being Sold For Wireless Use Are Worth $86.4 Billion (reuters.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday the price of 126 MHz of television airwaves taken from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use in an ongoing auction is $86.4 billion. The FCC disclosed the price in a statement after completing the first part of an auction to repurpose low-frequency wireless spectrum relinquished by television broadcasters. The so-called "broadcast incentive" spectrum auction is one of the commission's most complex and ambitious to date. In this round, called a reverse auction, broadcasters competed to give up spectrum to the FCC for the lowest price. In the next stage, the forward auction, wireless and other companies will bid to buy the airwaves for the highest price. If wireless companies are unwilling to pay $86.4 billion, the FCC may have to hold another round of bidding by broadcasters and sell less spectrum than had been expected, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal points out that $86.4 billion is more than the market cap of T-Mobile and Spring combined. It's roughly double the amount raised in the last FCC auction, where ATT spent $18.2 billion and Verizon spent $10.4 billion. It's highly likely we'll see multiple rounds stretching into 2017 that will eventually match the supply with the demand.
AT&T

Net Neutrality Advocates To FCC: Put the Kibosh On Internet Freebies (cnet.com) 173

An anonymous reader cites a CNET report:Net neutrality advocates demand action. Representatives from Fight the Future, the Center for Media Justice and Free Press on Friday hand-delivered a 6-foot tall package containing 100,000 letters of complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. They ask the agency to take action against AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon for violating the agency's Open Internet order by offering so-called zero-rating service plans. While the practice offers some benefits to customers, critics say it violates the agency's Net neutrality principles, which requires all services on the internet be treated the same. They claim it puts smaller competitors at a disadvantage and highlights the fact that data caps are unnecessary. Carriers say they are simply experimenting with new business models that will make their service more affordable for consumers.

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