Archive for the ‘AT&T’ Category

AT&T’s robocall-blocking expansion won’t block spam calls unless you pay extra

July 10th, 2019
Two Android phones running AT&T's Call Protect and Mobile Security apps.

Enlarge / AT&T's Call Protect and Mobile Security apps for Android. (credit: AT&T)

AT&T yesterday said it will add "automatic fraud blocking and suspected spam-call alerts" to mobile phone lines for no added cost, but the carrier still imposes limits on blocking of spam calls unless customers pay extra.

"New AT&T Mobility consumer lines will come with the anti-robocall service. Millions of existing AT&T customers also will have it automatically added to their accounts over the coming months," AT&T's announcement said.

Despite the change, customers will still have to manually add undesired phone numbers to block lists or pay $4 a month to send all suspected spam calls to voicemail. That's because this is little more than an expansion of AT&T's Call Protect service, which has a basic free tier and a paid tier with automatic blocking of spam calls.

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AT&T takes some Time Warner shows off Netflix, makes them exclusive to HBO Max

July 9th, 2019
A Star Wars Death Star battle station with AT&T's logo and the names of Time Warner properties.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

AT&T will start restricting some Time Warner shows to its own streaming service, despite previously telling the government that it would distribute Time Warner content as widely as possible.

WarnerMedia, the division AT&T created when it bought Time Warner, today announced a new online streaming service called "HBO Max." HBO Max will debut in the spring of 2020 and include exclusives that will no longer be available on other streaming platforms.

HBO Max will have exclusive streaming rights to all episodes of Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Pretty Little Liars. Friends and Pretty Little Liars are currently available on Netflix, so they'll both leave that service by the time HBO Max launches.

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AT&T sued over hidden fee that raises mobile prices above advertised rate

June 24th, 2019
An AT&T retail store in Chicago, with the AT&T logo seen from outside the building.

Enlarge / An AT&T retail store in Chicago in 2018. (credit: Getty Images | jetcityimage)

AT&T is facing a class-action complaint over its practice of charging a $1.99-per-month "Administrative Fee" that isn't disclosed in its advertised rates.

As the complaint notes, "AT&T prominently advertises particular flat monthly rates for its post-paid wireless service plans." But after customers sign up, the telco "covertly increases the actual price" by tacking on the "bogus so-called 'Administrative Fee,'" according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

AT&T "hides" the fee in an easy-to-miss spot in customer bills, the complaint says, and it "misleadingly suggests that the Administrative Fee is akin to a tax or another standard government pass-through fee, when in fact it is simply a way for AT&T to advertise and promise lower rates than it actually charges."

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AT&T cuts another 1,800 jobs as it finishes fiber-Internet buildout

June 17th, 2019
AT&T service truck driving on a street in a residential neighborhood.

Enlarge / AT&T service truck driving on a street in a residential neighborhood on May 17, 2019 in Sunnyvale, Calif. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

AT&T has informed employees of plans to cut another 1,800 jobs from its wireline division, an AT&T workers' union told Ars today.

Last week, AT&T declared more than 1,800 jobs nationwide as "surplus," meaning they are slated to be eliminated in August or September, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) told Ars.

"They've been cutting their employment massively in the past year and a half or so," with cuts affecting both union and non-union jobs, CWA Communications Director Beth Allen told Ars. Under union contracts, AT&T can declare a surplus of jobs each quarter, she said. But even by AT&T standards, last week's surplus declaration "was a very large number," Allen said.

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For 5G, AT&T and T-Mobile buy $1.8 billion worth of 24GHz spectrum across US

June 5th, 2019
The AT&T logo displayed on a smartphone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images)

AT&T and T-Mobile committed to spend nearly $1.8 billion, combined, on high-frequency spectrum for their 5G networks in a Federal Communications Commission auction that sold airwave licenses covering the whole US. Verizon committed to spend $506 million in a separate 5G auction.

AT&T's winning bids in the 24GHz auction totaled $982.5 million for 831 licenses in 383 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs). That should cover most of the US, as the FCC divides the country into 416 PEAs for purposes of the auction. This spectrum will be used for AT&T's real 5G network, not the 4G network that AT&T misleadingly calls "5G E."

T-Mobile's winning bids totaled $803.2 million for 1,346 licenses in 400 PEAs.

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Posted in 5G, AT&T, Biz & IT, FCC, Spectrum Auction, t-mobile, verizon | Comments (0)

Verizon bungled hurricane response by relying on contractors, union argues

May 21st, 2019
A Florida man sets up a sign that says,

Enlarge / PANAMA CITY, Fla. - OCTOBER 19: Mark Mauldin hangs a sign near the front of his property expressing his dissatisfaction with his Verizon cell phone service following Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10. (credit: Getty Images | Scott Olson )

After Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on Florida last year, AT&T restored wireless service more quickly than Verizon because it relied on well-trained employees while Verizon instead used contractors that "did not have the proper credentials," according to a union that represents workers from both telecoms.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) made the allegations yesterday in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, which recently found that carriers' mistakes prolonged outages caused by the hurricane. Many customers had to go without cellular service for more than a week.

It's not surprising for a union to argue that union workers are preferable to contractors, of course. But it seems clear that AT&T did a better job than Verizon after the storm. In the days following the October 2018 hurricane, Florida Governor Rick Scott slammed Verizon for its poor hurricane response while praising AT&T for quickly restoring service.

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, communications workers of america, Hurricane Michael, Policy, verizon | Comments (0)

AT&T denies that selling phone location data was illegal as FCC investigates

May 17th, 2019
A smartphone mounted on a car dashboard and displaying a GPS map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Witthaya Prasongsin)

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all told the Federal Communications Commission that they recently stopped selling their customers' phone location information to other companies. Sprint said it is phasing out the sales and will shut them down by the end of this month.

The details came in letters to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had demanded an update on the carriers' sale of customers' real-time geolocation data. Rosenworcel released the carriers' responses yesterday.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, criticized the Republican-controlled FCC for not taking action against the carriers over the privacy invasions.

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Posted in AT&T, FCC, location data sales, Policy, Sprint, t-mobile, verizon | Comments (0)

AT&T promised 7,000 new jobs to get tax break—it cut 23,000 jobs instead

May 14th, 2019
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson speaking and gesturing in an appearance at the World Economic Forum.

Enlarge / AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

AT&T has cut more than 23,000 jobs since receiving a big tax cut at the end of 2017, despite lobbying heavily for the tax cut by claiming that it would create thousands of jobs.

AT&T in November 2017 pushed for the corporate tax cut by promising to invest an additional $1 billion in 2018, with CEO Randall Stephenson saying that "every billion dollars AT&T invests is 7,000 hard-hat jobs. These are not entry-level jobs. These are 7,000 jobs of people putting fiber in ground, hard-hat jobs that make $70,000 to $80,000 per year."

The corporate tax cut was subsequently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017. The tax cut reportedly gave AT&T an extra $3 billion in cash in 2018.

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Refunds for 300 million phone users sought in lawsuits over location-data sales

May 6th, 2019
A person's hand holding a smartphone that is displaying a map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | skaman306)

The four major US wireless carriers are facing proposed class-action lawsuits accusing them of violating federal law by selling their customers' real-time location data to third parties.

The complaints seeking class action status and financial damages were filed last week against AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint in US District Court for the District of Maryland. The four suits, filed on behalf of customers by lawyers from the Z Law firm in Maryland, all begin with text nearly identical to this intro found in the suit against AT&T:

This action arises out of Defendant's collection of geolocation data and the unauthorized dissemination to third-parties of the geolocation data collected from its users' cell phones. AT&T admittedly sells customer geolocation data to third-parties, including but not limited to data aggregators, who in turn, are able to use or resell the geolocation data with little or no oversight by AT&T. This is an action seeking damages for AT&T gross failure to safeguard highly personal and private consumer geolocation data in violation of federal law.

The proposed classes would include all of the four carriers' customers in the US between 2015 and 2019. In all, that would be 300 million or more customers, as the lawsuits say the proposed classes consist of at least 100 million customers each for AT&T and Verizon and at least 50 million each for Sprint and T-Mobile. Each lawsuit seeks damages for consumers "in an amount to be proven at trial."

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Posted in AT&T, Policy, Sprint, t-mobile, verizon | Comments (0)

AT&T says 5G will be priced like home Internet—pay more for faster speeds

April 24th, 2019
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson standing with arms crossed in front of a backdrop with AT&T logos.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. (credit: AT&T)

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today said that 5G will likely be priced similarly to wireline Internet, with customers paying more for faster speeds.

With 5G, "I will be very surprised if... the pricing regime in wireless doesn't look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line," Stephenson said during an earnings call today. (See transcript.)

Some customers "are willing to pay a premium for 500Mbps to 1Gbps speed and so forth," Stephenson continued. "And so I expect that to be the case. We're two or three years away from seeing that play out."

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