Archive for the ‘AT&T’ Category

Selling 911 location data is illegal—US carriers reportedly did it anyway

February 13th, 2019
A person's hand holding a smartphone that is displaying a map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | skaman306)

Three of the four major wireless carriers have been accused of breaking US law by selling 911 location data to third parties.

"Telecom giants broke the law by selling detailed location data" that was "meant for use only by emergency services," consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said last week in a blog post that urged the Federal Communications Commission to punish the carriers.

Public Knowledge's statement came in response to a Motherboard article last week that provided new details about how carriers collect location data from customers and sell it to third parties.

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Posted in 911 location data, AT&T, FCC, Policy, Sprint, t-mobile | Comments (0)

AT&T sued by Sprint, must defend decision to tell users that 4G is “5G E”

February 8th, 2019
Screenshot from an AT&T commercial showing text that reads,

Enlarge / Screenshot from an AT&T commercial. (credit: AT&T)

Sprint is suing AT&T, alleging that AT&T's misleading "5G E" advertising campaign violates laws prohibiting false advertising and deceptive acts and practices.

AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E," for "5G Evolution." But as we've written, what AT&T calls 5G E consists of technologies that are part of the years-old 4G LTE-Advanced standard and are already used by Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint on their 4G networks. Despite that, AT&T has been advertising this supposed upgrade to 5G E and even changing network indicators on smartphones from 4G to 5G E.

"By making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market," Sprint wrote in a complaint filed yesterday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. "AT&T's false and misleading statements deceive consumers into believing that AT&T now operates a 5G wireless network and, through this deception, AT&T seeks to induce consumers to purchase or renew AT&T's services when they might otherwise have purchased Sprint's services."

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Posted in 5g e, AT&T, Biz & IT, Policy, Sprint | Comments (0)

Google Fiber’s biggest failure: ISP will turn service off in Louisville

February 8th, 2019
A Google Fiber van in Louisville.

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Google Fiber will turn off its network in Louisville, Kentucky and exit the city after a series of fiber installation failures left cables exposed in the roads. Google Fiber's customers in Louisville will have to switch ISPs and will get their final two months of Google Fiber service for free to help make up for the disruption.

Google Fiber went live in Louisville late in 2017, just a few months after construction began. The quick turnaround happened because Google Fiber used a "micro-trenching" strategy that is quicker than traditional underground fiber deployment and doesn't require digging giant holes. Instead of a foot-wide trench, a micro-trench is about an inch wide and four inches deep.

But Louisville residents soon found exposed cables, as a WDRB article noted in March 2018. "When you're walking around the neighborhood, [the lines are] popping up out of the road all over the place," resident Larry Coomes said at the time. "People are tripping over it."

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, Charter, Google Fiber, louisville | Comments (0)

AT&T’s misleading “5G E” indicator comes to 4G iPhones in iOS 12.2 beta

February 5th, 2019
A smartphone with AT&T's

Enlarge / A smartphone with AT&T's "5G E" network indicator. (credit: AT&T)

AT&T's misleading "5G E" network indicator for 4G phones, which was rolled out to some Android smartphones last month, has now come to iPhones in a beta version of iOS 12.2.

AT&T customers who installed the second beta of iOS 12.2 "are noticing their iPhones displaying a '5G E' connection to AT&T's network," MacRumors reported yesterday. 9to5Mac and other news sites provided details on the change, and people on Twitter posted screenshots of the 5G E indicator.

Of course, there is no 5G iPhone yet, and AT&T does not offer 5G mobile service for smartphones. AT&T's 5G E stands for 5G Evolution, but it's actually 4G LTE, albeit with advanced LTE features 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and three-way carrier aggregation.

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Posted in 5G, 5g e, apple, AT&T, Biz & IT, iphone | Comments (0)

Verizon offers free robocall blocking, two years after AT&T and T-Mobile

January 18th, 2019
A Verizon logo at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Enlarge / A Verizon logo at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Verizon yesterday said it will make spam and robocall blocking features free for all wireless customers starting in March, about two years after AT&T and T-Mobile began offering free robocall blocking.

"In March, we will be rolling out our free spam alerting and call blocking tools to all of our wireless customers whose smartphones support these features, including iPhone and Android devices," Verizon's announcement said. "There will be more information on how to sign up for the free service as we get closer to launch."

Verizon added call and spam screening features more than a year ago to its $2.99-per-month Call Filter product, which also lets customers see contact details for unknown callers. Verizon pointed to research showing that its system "correctly identified potential problem phone numbers approximately 93.6 percent of the time."

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, Policy, robocall blocking, stir/shaken, t-mobile, verizon | Comments (0)

After broken promise, AT&T says it’ll stop selling phone location data

January 11th, 2019
A smartphone displaying a map while propped up on a car dashboard.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Witthaya Prasongsin)

Mobile carriers are again promising to stop selling your phone location data to other companies—this time for real.

The four major carriers pledged to stop selling customer location data to third-party data brokers in June 2018, but a Motherboard investigation published this week found that T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T were still doing so.

Earlier this week, AT&T said it "only permit[s] sharing of location when a customer gives permission for cases like fraud prevention or emergency roadside assistance or when required by law." But the Motherboard investigation showed that the data was being re-sold on the black market, allowing pretty much anyone to get the location of other people's phones.

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

AT&T defends misleading “5G” network icons on 4G phones

January 10th, 2019
A smartphone with AT&T's

Enlarge / A smartphone with AT&T's "5G E" network indicator. (credit: AT&T)

An AT&T executive defended the company's rebranding of 4G phones as "5G E," saying that the name change has helped AT&T "br[eak] our industry's narrative" and get inside of its "competitors' heads."

Speaking at CES yesterday, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said AT&T is changing the 4G network indicator on smartphones to 5G E because "we felt like we had to give [customers] an indicator that said your speed now is twice what it was with traditional 4G LTE."

AT&T's 5G E stands for 5G Evolution, but it's just 4G LTE. AT&T says that 5G E is different from its normal 4G network because it uses 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and three-way carrier aggregation. But those technologies are part of the years-old LTE-Advanced standard, and are already used by Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint on their 4G networks.

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Posted in 5G, 5g evolution, AT&T, Biz & IT | Comments (0)

Report: AT&T plans layoffs despite claiming tax cut would create 7,000 jobs

January 9th, 2019
The AT&T logo displayed on a smartphone screen.

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AT&T is reportedly planning a significant round of layoffs, despite receiving a large tax break and various regulatory favors such as the repeal of net neutrality rules.

Motherboard reported the pending layoffs yesterday, saying it obtained the information from AT&T internal documents and an anonymous AT&T source.

"A source at AT&T who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly told Motherboard that company leadership is planning what it's calling a 'geographic rationalization' and employment 'surplus' reduction that will consolidate some aspects of AT&T operations in 10 major operational hubs in New York, California, Texas, New Jersey, Washington State, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington, DC," the news site reported.

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T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T still selling your location data, report says

January 8th, 2019
A person's hand holding a smartphone that is displaying a map.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | skaman306)

In June 2018, all four major US wireless carriers pledged to stop selling their mobile customers' location information to third-party data brokers. The carriers were pressured into making the change after a security problem leaked the real-time location of US cell phone users.

But an investigation by Motherboard found that "T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are [still] selling access to their customers' location data and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country."

The Motherboard report, published today, is extensive and worth reading in full. Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox gave a real T-Mobile phone number to a "bounty hunter," who was able to locate the phone to within a few hundred meters.

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

Verizon’s 5G promise: It won’t falsely claim 4G phones are really 5G

January 8th, 2019
A Verizon logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Scott Olson)

While AT&T pretends to kick off the 5G mobile era early by slapping a 5G network indicator on 4G phones, Verizon Wireless says it won't be doing the same.

"[W]e're calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities," Verizon CTO Kyle Malady wrote in a blog post yesterday [emphasis theirs]. "Verizon is making this commitment today: We won't take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5. We will not call our 4G network a 5G network if customers don't experience a performance or capability upgrade that only 5G can deliver."

One would hope such a promise wouldn't be necessary, but what Verizon described is exactly what AT&T has already done. This past weekend, AT&T started rolling out software updates to Android phones that change the network indicator from "4G" to "5G E."

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Posted in 4G, 5G, AT&T, Biz & IT, verizon | Comments (0)